What is considered off-site usage?

Chuck Swiger chuck at codefab.com
Wed Mar 12 22:12:02 UTC 2008

On Mar 12, 2008, at 2:32 PM, Dirk Dierickx wrote:
> At my workplace we're still having problems with the GPL licensed  
> software, just now we had to take down a wiki because it was GPL  
> licensed. Complete madness, but so far i have not been able to get  
> through to our legal dept.

Presumably your legal department knows your circumstances best.  I  
find it tough to understand why they would be concerned about the use  
of a wiki licensed under the GPL, though.  The GPL applies to the wiki  
software, not to the documents and so forth you create or attach to  
the wiki.

> I continue to do research because i know there is not an issue but  
> it's difficult to build a good case, especially against these legal  
> types.  When skimming through the GPL faq i found the following;
>> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#InternalDistribution
> The part of interest is this;
> "However, when the organization transfers copies to other  
> organizations or individuals, that is distribution. In particular,  
> providing copies to contractors for use off-site is distribution."
> As we work with contractors a lot, local as well based in India, and  
> legal has expressed their concerns with the GPL and contractors in  
> specific, this faq entry is interesting.
> It's important that 'off-site distribution' is defined correctly. A  
> local on-site contractor will be no problem in this case, but do  
> contractors based in India using the tool over a vpn connection fall  
> in this category? The server is still ours, it's still our network,  
> is this 'distribution'?

As Matt just said, the GPL defines distribution in terms of whether  
the program is being shared to someone outside of your organization.   
However, merely interacting with the program "through a computer  
network, with no transfer of a copy, is not conveying." (per GPLv3  
section 0).

> Thanks for your advice.

Careful with that word-- your lawyer is qualified to give advise and  
familiar with your particular circumstances; we can't.  (Also as Matt  
said, IANAL/TINLA.  :-)


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