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Re: GPL and other licences

From: Bernd Jendrissek
Subject: Re: GPL and other licences
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2006 09:32:37 +0000 (UTC)
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In article <> Stefaan A Eeckels
<> wrote:
>Actually, as far as I understand it, you would be the only person in
>trouble. The company might have a pre-release of David's GPLed
>software, but this does not give you, their employee, the right to copy
>and distribute it. The fact that the software is licensed to the
>company under the GPL does not mean that it is licensed to you under
>the GPL, and hence you would be in the dock for theft (of the CD, and
>the software).

The company would be vicariously responsible for the actions of its
agent, no?

That responsibility would either include liability to David the
copyright holder, or it would not.

If liability to David arises, the licence was obviously not an
unencumbered GPL, since GPL gives the company exactly the rights which
the employee exercised.  If David imposed an NDA or other restriction,
surely that preempts the GPL (but only because he as copyright holder is
free to distribute under any conditions he wishes)?

If the company did receive the software under an unencumbered GPL, are
there any other vicarious liabilities that may arise?  I suppose there
could be, if the software embodies "Born Secret" (pretend for a moment
it is constitutional) or is libelous, for example.  I don't see this as
having anything to do with the GPL though, although I seems to me that
the GPL does address this possibility (see part of section 7 below (*)).

Other than that I fail to see how the employee can get into any trouble
other than insuburdination, which is a matter between employer and
employee only.  If David doesn't want employees distributing his
software before he wants it distributed, I'm sure he's smart enough not
to distribute it under the (unencumbered) GPL in the first place!

(*) Part of GPLv2 section 7:

  7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License.  If you cannot
distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
may not distribute the Program at all.  ...

- -- 
"If you lie to the compiler, it will get its revenge." - Henry Spencer
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