For Approval: GPLv3

Richard Fontana fontana at
Fri Aug 17 05:01:41 UTC 2007

Chris Travers wrote:
>> As to voting machines, one need not even reach this issue under GPLv3.
> Furthermore, even if one does, nothing prevents a state from conveying
> such software to counties and then issuing further restrictions as a
> condition for accepting the votes as valid.   

I'm not sure, but I don't think a county administration should be seen
as a separate entity from a state government for copyright law purposes.

> I think we can all agree (including myself) that the voting machine
> issue is moot.  It had been raised to me by another developer and I
> posted it before I thought it through entirely.
> I would hope that people don't read this license quite in the way
> requiring additional rights be granted consumers as opposed to corporate
> users.  That would seem to be discriminating against a class of persons
> (though not a class of natural persons) and would be possible an OSD
> conflict depending on how one reads the OSD (but it is still unfair to
> corporate entities in that they are granted fewer rights than natural
> persons).

Indeed, that would be an incorrect reading of GPLv3. Section 6, in
defining "consumer product", states:

 For a particular product received by a particular user, "normally
 used" refers to a typical or common use of that class of product,
 regardless of the status of the particular user or of the way in which
 the particular user actually uses, or expects or is expected to use,
 the product.

(This statement distills a principle in case law interpreting the
Magnuson-Moss Act definition of "consumer product".)

I'd also point out that a number of OSI-approved licenses make
distinctions between commercial and non-commercial users in various ways.

Richard E. Fontana
Software Freedom Law Center
tel. 212-461-1909
fax  212-580-0898

More information about the License-discuss mailing list