The regrettable use of "all" in Section 7 of the GPL

jcowan at jcowan at
Thu Feb 19 18:05:00 UTC 2004

Mahesh T. Pai scripsit:

> That is a problem with the law, not with the GNU GPL. The GPL ccannot,
> and does not seek to override the law.

But the GPL does say:  if one person cannot receive and redistribute, no one
can, at least within a single country.

> You need to clarify what you  mean by `distribution of GNU s/w to them
> is forbidden by law'. Can I  still give them non-free (or did you mean
> non-gnu-but-free?) software?


> The next part of your question, `... and if they do happen to have GNU
> s/o on any computers they  may own, they cannot redistribute it.'  GPL
> does not really apply in most jurisdictions* if a person does not want
> to redistribute the software.

But the GPL is intended to guarantee that any recipient has the same rights
as any sender.  A person thus constrained doesn't have those rights.

> * I think that in some jurisdictions, the users cannot modify software
>   for their own use. AFAIK. 

The U.S. right to do so is very narrow: it can be done only (a) in order to
make the software to run on a machine of a type other than that it was
originally intended for, or (b) for archival purposes.  See 17 U.S.C. 117.

Is a chair finely made tragic or comic? Is the          John Cowan
portrait of Mona Lisa good if I desire to see           jcowan at
it? Is the bust of Sir Philip Crampton lyrical,
epical or dramatic?  If a man hacking in fury 
at a block of wood make there an image of a cow,
is that image a work of art? If not, why not?               --Stephen Dedalus
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