[License-discuss] Companies that encourage license violations
lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Sat Sep 5 19:48:44 UTC 2015
John Cowan replied in response to Pam Chestek's comment:
> Consider a work available under GPL+proprietary terms, where you get to do non-GPL things if you have paid. Then it would not be enough to show that the work was available under a proprietary license to allow you to download it and do those things.
What non-GPL things are you talking about? Probably I'm just confused by the distinction you are trying to make with Pam. You've driven me into litigation fantasies....
The author of a work can license it any confusing and profitable way she wants. She can dual- and triple-license it. She can even permit her customers to avoid conditions of the GPL under which she also licensed her original work.
But a more general GPL work available publicly (e.g., Linux) is and remains under the GPL forever. Restricting copyright for that GPL work (or derivative works thereof) is not allowed by the author of the original GPL work. So says the GPL.
It becomes confusing when a company adds *incompatible* proprietary terms to the GPL for a publicly available work. Is this a contract that any company can negotiate with its customers? Is that ever effective at restricting GPL freedoms?
I think Pam is correct: "A license attaches to the intangible copyright, not to the tangible copy of the work you received." This means that, if you can find a GPL-licensed work in the wild, help yourself to it under the terms of the GPL even if you also bought a proprietary license somewhere. That is not a *copyright license* violation.
But I'd also try to avoid *contractual* litigation by never agreeing to *restrictive* proprietary contracts for GPL software. Don't contract away your free software. I've never seen anyone actually try to do that, which is why I'm confused by John Cowan's comment.
From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at mercury.ccil.org]
Sent: Saturday, September 5, 2015 11:25 AM
To: license-discuss at opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-discuss] Companies that encourage license violations
Pamela Chestek scripsit:
> I think this statement is a fallacy, but I'm happy to hear other
> opinions. A license attaches to the intangible copyright, not to the
> tangible copy of the work you received. So as long as I can show that
> the same copyrighted work was available under a license, and that I am
> in compliance with the license, then I am a licensed user no matter
> where I got my copy of the work.
That can't be right. Consider a work available under GPL+proprietary terms, where you get to do non-GPL things if you have paid. Then it would not be enough to show that the work was available under a proprietary license to allow you to download it and do those things.
John Cowan http://www.ccil.org/~cowan cowan at ccil.org
How they ever reached any conclusion at all is starkly unknowable
to the human mind. --"Backstage Lensman", Randall Garrett
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