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Re: GPL and other licences

From: Alfred M. Szmidt
Subject: Re: GPL and other licences
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 02:10:22 +0100

   > 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.

This is a GNU list, GNU Emacs is the defacto editor for the GNU system
and project, rmail is the default mail reader in emacs.  My quoting
style, and reply methods use the defaults from rmail.  If anything, it
is you who are not following the style used in this group, project,
and by the founder of the GNU project.  Will you bitch at Richard for
using the exact same style as I and many GNU users happen to use?

Seriously, if you have so little to do that you have to complain about
something like this then you really ought to find something to hack

Now I'll simply ignore any and all requests from you about this
particular issue of `style'.  It is just that, style, and not a law,
or rule.  That you are so childish about this is really not my

   > _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 COPYING.

The existance of a COPYING file does not change the copyright status
of a file.  If you think that it does, then it shows that you have not
studied copyright law, even basic copyright law.

   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.

Once again you resort to name calling.  The only person who is
clueless is the person who cannot dicuss something without name

   * 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? 

This assumes that the person can slap a license over files that do not
have such a license, which is illegal unless you are the copyright

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

COPYING is a verbatim copy of the license, it has no legal
significance over what a file is licensed under.

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

A copyright notice in the file.  I suggest you read the `How to Apply
These Terms to Your New Programs' from the GNU GPL is a good place to

   * 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?)

Only files with proper copyright notices can be protected by
copyright, if there is no copyright notices: no rights.

   * 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?

I have no idea what you mean here.

   * 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?

If the file does not contain a copyright notice, then `no rights' is
applied.  This is basic copyright law, one would assume that you had
understood copyright law to participate in this discussion.

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

If they contain copyright notices, then the license that the copyright
notice states is what the license of that particular file is.

   * 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?

It is a requirement by law to state this, otherwise: no rights.

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

No, they don't.  But if you have no copyright notice: no rights.  The
copyright notices states what you can and cannot do, in extention to
copyright law.  Since the file does not contain a copyright notice,
then default copyright comes into place, i.e.: no rights.

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

Depends on the license of those paricular files.  A copy of the GPL
does not change the status of the copyright of a paricular file, the
copyright notice in the file does this.

   * 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?

If I love Carly dearly, I wouldn't mind having those letters
distributed.  I'd hope that Carly would like the letters, and ask me
on a date.

   >   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?

I'll leave it as an excerise for you to answer that based on all the

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

I really fail to see why I should answer them, you are obviously not
capable of following normal discussion rules, and have resorted to
name calling on several ocassions.

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