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Re: Question About GNU General Public License

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Question About GNU General Public License
Date: 14 Jul 2004 11:51:54 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

Isaac <> writes:

> On Tue, 13 Jul 2004 11:38:53 +0100, Rui Miguel Seabra <> wrote:
> > 
> > On Tue, 2004-07-13 at 11:44 +0200, Alexander Terekhov wrote:
> >> David Kastrup wrote:
> >> [...]
> >> > Linking, whether static or dynamic, changes the program
> >> > It doesn't change the program.
> > 
> > Oh really? Then why doesn't the program fullfil its purpose
> > without the library, either at compile time or at run time?
> If I broke into your office and stole an unfinished program that
> would not compile, would it be a copyright infringement for me to
> post the code to the internet?

Actually, no.  Since you did not acquire a legal copy in the first
place, every use of the program is criminal.  Copyright does not come
into play here at all.  If I steal a set of GPL-licenced CDROM images
from RedHat and post them on the internet before publishing has
occured, this is not a copyright infringement, but theft.  I can't
make "personal" or "backup" copies of stolen software.  Copyright
does not apply.  I can't republish GPLed stolen software, since it
was not GPLed to me.

> It is certainly possible to have a copyright in an incomplete
> program that will not run.

Certainly.  But you'll have a hard time explaining to a court that
what you sold to the customer and that what the customer desired to
have was an incomplete program that will not run.  In particular if
you give the customer tested instructions and scripts for combining
your program with copyrighted material.

If I sell bombs with instructions "fill in fertilizer XYZ-34 here",
can I explain to a court of law that I am not actually selling bombs
since the things won't explode before the customer fills in
the fertilizer which I don't sell?

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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