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Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 15:25:17 +0200

On Fri, 18 Jun 2004 12:14:50 +0000 (UTC) (Lee Hollaar) wrote:

> In the United States, the "owner of a copy of a computer program"
> has an absolute privilege to copy or adapt that computer program
> as long as it is "an essential step of the utilization of the
> computer program with a machine."  17 USC 117(a).
> No permission of the copyright holder is required.  The copyright
> owner has only the rights listed in 17 USC 106, and Section 117
> starts out by saying "Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106,
> it is not an infringement ..."
> The GPL does not claim that a person with lawful possession of a
> copy of the computer program is not the owner of that tangible
> medium, as many proprietary licenses do.  The GPL does not say
> that an exact copy made of a work is not lawful.
> So, if I lawfully own a copy of a tarball because I was allowed
> to download it and write it to media that I own, then I get to
> copy and adapt it in any way necessary to use it on a machine,
> including extracting a particular function and combine it with
> other computer programs.

OK, I knew that. But as much as you are allowed to copy
and derive to run the program on your machine, you do
not have the right to distribute those copies and 
derivative works, right? (this what this whole thread
is about).

> First sale has nothing to do with the absolute privilege for the
> owner of a copy of a computer program to copy and adapt the
> computer program as necessary to use it in the way the owner
> sees fit.

But that was not what I claimed! I said that using first
sale to get around accepting the GPL before one could
distribute copies is unworkable. The OP claimed that by
proceeding as follows he could redistribute copies of
GPLed material without accepting (and thus be bound by)
the license:

1. Download x copies of a GPLed program, so that he has
   x copies subject to first sale,
2. Extract the desired files, or bits of files, from
   a copy, 
3. Combine the extracted files with other files to form
   a new program, which is an aggregation, and not a 
   derivative work,
4. Distribute the result x times without complying with
   the GPL.

The rationale is that 2. is allowed through first sale,
3. by calling it an aggregation, even though the 
resulting work is meant to be a functional program, and
that 4. is OK because he downloaded x copies and first
sale allows the resale of each copy.

To me, it sounds like Shyster re-incarnated.

"What is stated clearly conceives easily."  -- Inspired sales droid

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