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Re: What counts as "distribution"

From: David Golden
Subject: Re: What counts as "distribution"
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 18:10:24 +0100
User-agent: KNode/0.10.4

Robert Inder wrote:
> Which it does by imposing _restrictions_ on those from whom they
> received.  I.e. it restricts the distribution...

This a fundamental confusion? _Copyright law_, not the GPL as such,
restricts the distribution of copies.  In legal terms, the copyright
holder has the "distribution right" reserved to them - "distribution"
is the actual word used in Irish law at least:

> Remember: my post started by asking for a definition of "distributing"
> software.  Your distributing / disseminating distinction is the kind
> of thing I have in mind.

So, software distribution really refers to a something that copyright
law defines, to whatever degree. The primary place you want to look for
your definition is thus statutes and case law of the jurisdiction
you're in.  It wouldn't really be the place of the GPL to define it,
only to make reference to it.

I imagine, but haven't checked closely, that the situation is very
similar in other common law jurisdictions at least (it is wise to
ignore the prolific Terekhov troll/crapflooder at this point, he's (a)
nuts and (b) has a habit of commenting as if authoritative on
jurisdictions quite alien to him).

Without the license, the distributor has no right to distribute at all
except that which copyright law might allow. This is why challenging
the GPL in court is mostly self-defeating for the challenger (at least
the proximal one, obviously sacrificial lambs may be thrown into a
court for strategic ends i.e. Microsoft funded fronts and so on).

* You might regard the right to distribute information as a
fundamental right of all that current (and quite disgusting) law
abridges, and I'd agree with that, but the GPL is presumably only
intended to exist while copyright law does**, and I meant only in the
legalistic sense. 

** "Without copyright the GPL would be unenforceable. It would also be

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