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Re: GPL and other licences

From: Alfred M. Szmidt
Subject: Re: GPL and other licences
Date: Mon, 06 Feb 2006 23:52:48 +0100

   I am not. A company is a legal entity that enters into agreements
   as itself. Agents of the company are not party to these
   agreements. It is not because a work is released under the GPL that
   you can grab from whenever you please.

I never claimed that.  Please reread what my claim is: If company A
gives me a legally obtained CD with GPLed software on it, then company
A cannot dictate what I can do with it, since the copyright license
gives me explicit permission to redistribute, if I want to.

   >    > Property != Software!  Why are you confusing the two?  I'm not
   >    > talking about property, we agree on that.  If the company lends
   >    > me a car, then it isn't my car.  Simple as that.  Why are you
   >    > insisting on this?
   >    And if the company gives you its software to perform your duties,
   >    it isn't your software, simple as that. You have only the right to
   >    use the software as instructed by the company, like you have only
   >    the right to use the company car as instructed by the company.
   > No, not true.  The company cannot dictate the terms of how the
   > software can be used, only the copyright holder can.  If the license
   > of the software disallow something, the company cannot go and say that
   > it is allowed.

   Of course they can. The copyright holder most definitely cannot control
   how the software is used (unless there is a contract stipulating

The company is not the copyright holder.  And on top of that, the
program is licensed under the GNU GPL.  So how the software can be
used is already defined.

   > If the license of the design allows me to do this, yes.

   Only if the design is licensed to _you_. The license is not an
   intrinsic property of the design or software, but a grant of rights
   from the copyright holder to _you_. This is were you are confused. The
   fact that a design or software is intangible has got nothing to do with
   the right to copy, it's whether _you_ have a license to do so. And in
   the case of your employer entrusting you with a CD, you do not acquire
   a copy, or a license, and hence the provisions of the GPL (or copyright
   law in general) do not apply to you. 

I do aquire a license if the employer entrusts me with the CD.  It is
the same thing if I give a CD with the same content (legally obtained)
to a friend.  They recive a license to use/modify/look/redistribute.

There are no laws that say that a company gets to dictate the terms of
someone elses copyrighted material.  If the license explicitly states
that the material can only be used in building A, that is a different
matter.  But with the GNU GPL, there is no such clause, and allows
anyone who recived the software leagally to use, modify and
redistribute the software.  The company cannot redictate the terms of
the license.

You'd have a point if the license explictly disallowed this, but as it
is, it doesn't.

   Simply repeating a mantra doesn't make it true, you know. "To have
   something in ones hand" is not the same as "being the owner of a
   legal copy".

I'm assuming that the `thing' was obtained legally, if it wasn't, then
the case is quite clear.

   OK, this again shows where you go wrong. The license is not part of
   the content, but an agreement between two parties. This is why the
   copyright holder can license the same work under different licenses
   to different people.

This is something different entierly.

   But it _is_ relevant - the postman is not the owner of the CDs he's
   delivering (though he has the CDs in his hands), and you as an
   employee/agent of the company are not the owner of the CDs with the
   GPLed software. Thus, neither you nor the postman can invoke the
   license, or have the right to copy the CD.

Since the postman didn't obtain the CD's _leagally_, it really doesn't
matter.  Employee recived the CD's leagally from his employeer, and
the employeer recived the CD's directly from the copyright holder.
The CD's contain GPLed licensed software.  Since the GPL explcitly
allows me to use, redistribute, etc, then the company cannot state
that I am not allowed to do so.

If you are not in legal posession of the CDs to begin with, then there
is no point in the discussion.  All arguments from me are based on the
assumption that the content was legally obtained!

   > Since the company gave me a copy of the CD legally, I am legally bound
   > by the software licenses that are on the CD, and can only do the
   > things that those software licenses dictate me to do.  If they allow
   > me to redistribute the software to others, then I am allowed to do so.

   Wrong. I tried to explain that the company handed you a CD for specific
   purposes, but they did not transfer ownership of said CD. The fact that
   the word "to give" can mean a transfer of ownership (I give you this
   present) as well as a mere temporary transfer (I gave the parcel to the
   postman) does not mean that you can pick and choose the meaning that
   suits you. _If_ the company transferred ownership of the CD containing
   GPLed software, then yes, you can decide to enter into a license
   agreement with the copyright holders when you decide to redistribute
   the software. If, on the other hand, they "gave" you the CD so you
   could place it in a cupboard, you have absolutely no rights, whatever
   the license the company obtained the software under.

Sighs.  Once again, confusion between property and non-property.  I'm
getting quite tired of restating the following: The company owns the
CD.  The company is not the copyright holder.  If the company gives me
the CDs, then I'm not allowed to resell those CDs.  I am on the other
hand allowed to do what the license of the software which is located
on the CDs allows me to do.  If it allows me to redistribute the code,
then I am allowed to do this, the company cannot redictate the terms
of the copyright license.

Please, stop confusing property and non-property.  Last time: Employee
is not the owner of the CDs, company is not the copyright holder,
employee is not allow to throw the CDs out the window without the
employeers explict permission.  Employee is allowed on the other hand
to redistribute the software _IFF_ the license of the software allows
him to do this.

   Please get rid of the backslash in your name. It looks ridiculous.

Now I see where I got the Backslash nick name from.  I have no idea
how to get rid of it.  I don't even know where it comes from.  My From
line contains no backslash.  But all my outgoing messages have a
backslash...  Though, my outbox doesn't.

Cheers (and sorry if I bit your head of in the previous mail with the
Backslash nickname, I read my mail in reverse chronical order so I
didn't see this one before the other one).

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