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Re: GPL 3 and patents question

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: GPL 3 and patents question
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 11:08:57 +0000
User-agent: tin/1.4.5-20010409 ("One More Nightmare") (UNIX) (Linux/2.0.35 (i686))

"Alfred M\. Szmidt" <> wrote on Tue, 31 Jan 2006 21:43:54 +0100:
>    Let's assume, that GPL 3 is finalized as is today, and that at that
>    time the country I live in - Switzerland - still does not allow
>    patents on software.

> Software patents are still illegal in the majority of European
> countries.

>    I write some software on my own, and because I live in Switzerland
>    I do not care about if what I write is infringing any patents in
>    some other countries. I decide to not keep the software for myself
>    but rather make it available to others by publishing it.

>    Q1: Can I use GPL 3 or would that force me to verify my software is
>    encumbered by patents to not violate myself the terms of the GPL 3,
>    or be forced to license the patent I would infringe outside of the
>    place I live?

[ .... ]

>    Q3: If answer to Q2 ist, that I cannot transfer the obligation to
>    check for patents to the user, can I simply license the software
>    under GPL 3 with the added clause, that someone may use the
>    software only in places which do not know about software patents?


> This would also make the software non-free.  The ability to use it for
> any purpose, anywhere in the world, is a right that all users must
> have.

No:  This was even covered in GPL2:

  8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in
certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the
original copyright holder who places the Program under this License
may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding
those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among
countries not thus excluded.  In such case, this License incorporates
the limitation as if written in the body of this License.

[ .... ]

Alan Mackenzie (Munich, Germany)
Email: aacm@muuc.dee; to decode, wherever there is a repeated letter
(like "aa"), remove half of them (leaving, say, "a").

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