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Re: GPL and other licences

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: GPL and other licences
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 01:28:17 +0100

On Mon, 13 Feb 2006 23:27:23 +0100
"Alfred M\. Szmidt" <> wrote:

> This is netiquette.  Group reply is common. 

It is not, and additionally it is customary to mention that you mailed
and posted in your reply if you do so. 

> If you have such a hard
> time figuring out who wrote what, look at the CC and reference fields.
> I happen to like this quotaion style, do not try and enforce what you
> consider sane on me, I'm not doing that to you.

You should follow the quoting and attribution style in use in this
group, not what you happen to like. That is, if you're interested in
getting answers. Of course, you could just be a rude person.

> _IF_ I give you access to my computer, _AND_ to the actual content,
> _YES_.  How hard can it be to understand this?  I have now several
> times said this.  Please _READ_ what is written.

That was not what I asked. You have placed a lot of software (under the
GPL and under more restrictive licenses) and on your disk, and for the
sake of the argument, your disk needs to be recovered. You give the
disk to a repair person, and grant this person access to your disk,
ostensibly for the purposes of recovering it. During the recovery, the
repair person notices that some directories contain the file COPYING
(usually associated with GPLed software), and decides --without asking
your permission-- that because the GPL allows copies to be made, that
these directories are fair game and copies them for her use. Or maybe
keeps a copy of the whole 80GB because it contains a file called

Think about this situation, and then answer the following questions.
Please note that I will consider an incomplete or evasive answer as
proof that you are clueless.

* Does a third party with obviously lawful access to your disk, but not
for the purposes of making personal copies of well-defined files, have
the right to decide, for themselves, that certain files on your disk are
GPLed and thus can be freely acquired? 

* Is the presence of the file COPYING a reliable indicator of the
license status of the files on a computer storage device?

* How does a third party, without your approval or instructions,
determine which files -if any- are covered by the GPL? 

* How could you prove which files are not covered by the GPL if the text
of the GPL appears in a directory (are all the files in that directory
covered? All files in all sub-directories? The whole disk?)

* Does all GPLed software include a comprehensive and exhaustive list of
all the files it contains, with suitable hashes so that prospective
copiers can make sure they only copy genuine GPLed files and not a
straggler with the same name?

* Are files that do not contain a copyright notice affected by the
presence of a file containing the text of the GPL on the same medium?

* Are files that contain a different copyright notice still covered by
the GPL if the text of the GPL is somewhere on the medium?

* What happens if the texts of the GPL, BSDL, MPL, Artistic License
and the Microsoft and Adobe EULA all appear on the medium.

* Is it a condition of the GPL that all material released under the GPL
should contain a notice stating that it is covered by the GPL?

* Do the copyright statutes mandate a copyright notice? (Hint: No).

* Can files not under the GPL be copied if they are in a directory that
contains a file with the text of the GPL?

* What recourse would you have if certain files were not under the GPL,
did not contain a copyright notice, and you would like to stop the
computer repair person from distributing your unpublished love letters
to Carly Fiorina, written in C++ without exceptions, under the GPL?

BTW, stating that your computer only contains GPLed software and that
you never wrote love letters to Carly is disingenuous. 

>   Do you think its OK for a computer repair person to copy software
>   from your machine because she notices that a directory contains the
>   file "COPYING"?
> _IF_ I have him access to the content, _YES_.

Even if only to try and recover a crashed disk?

OK, then please answer *all* the questions above. 


As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning,
and meaningful statements lose precision. -- Lotfi Zadeh 

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