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Re: Attorney fees

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Attorney fees
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 22:57:31 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux)

rjack <> writes:

> Hyman Rosen wrote:
>> Now, suing someone for monetary damages because they have been distributing
>> copyrighted works without a license is exactly what normal copyright cases
>> are all about. Trying to twist this Eagle case to match GPL copyright
>> infringement suits is laughable.
> Section 2(b) of the GPL requires:
>  b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
>     whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
>     part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
>     parties under the terms of this License.
> Now feast your eyes on the phrase: "licensed as a whole at no charge
> to all third parties"... see the *no charge* ? The language of the GPL
> itself requires that no monetary damages are possible for the source
> code authors.

Nonsense.  The source code authors are not bound by their own license.
Any third party without any other license is not allowed to charge for
licensing.  But the authors _certainly_ are free to charge whatever they
like for whatever license they grant.  They can even charge a customer
for licensing software under the GPL to him.  Customers may not in turn
charge for licensing (unless he pays for that right).  But they would
not be allowed as plaintiffs, anyway.  No standing.

In fact, there are companies (like Trolltech) that have an explicit
business model centered about licensing stuff under the GPL for free,
but charging for other licensing.

So there are even business models around the GPL.

> No monetary damages are possible, no "moral rights can be
> vindicated. Why litigate?

Monetary damages _are_ certainly possible.  Now the author might
possibly not have the intent to actually license under any other

But that does not mean that his authorship can just be disregarded, like
you are not allowed to steal food even if the owner might not intend to
eat or sell it.

> So why does Eben Moglen line his pockets handsomely while asking
> programmers to distribute their work at "no charge" to the general
> public?

But he doesn't.  People may or may not choose to license their work
under the GPL, and they may or may not choose to collect a fee for such
or other licensing.  It is only the _recipient_ of such software who
does not have this freedom in compensation or sublicensing.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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