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Re: Circumventing the GPL

From: John Hasler
Subject: Re: Circumventing the GPL
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2008 20:15:34 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.2 (gnu/linux)

I wrote:
> The sale is then no longer an arms-length transaction.  A US Federal
> judge will see right through the subterfuge and tell A that it is a
> distributor.

Hyman writes:
> Why does it have to be arms-length? 

In order to be a first sale under the intent of the law.  "First sale"
clearly contemplates a transaction such as walking into a bookstore,
grabbing a book, plunking down $20, and walking out.  You propose a
contract wherein the seller gives up some of his exclusive rights as
author.  Surely you don't expect the court to let A get away with not
providing source when A has acquired the exclusive right to do so.

> Where is the subterfuge?

In the attempt to evade the intent of the GPL.

> A software developer is perfectly free to enter an arrangement whereby he
> agrees *not* to distribute software. If the software is GPLed, he cannot
> require recipients not to distribute, but he is free to choose not to
> distribute his own software, and to accept payment for doing so.

Yes, of course he is.  There is nothing illegal about what you propose.  It
just won't work as a GPL evasion.

Do you think no one has ever tried to use a similar scheme to evade his
obligations before?  The courts have seen it all.
John Hasler
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI USA

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