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Re: Circumventing the GPL

From: John Hasler
Subject: Re: Circumventing the GPL
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 10:30:45 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.2 (gnu/linux)

Hyman writes:
> Authors can give up some exclusive rights.

Yes, copyright owners can give up some rights: the one in your example has
done so.

> In the scenario I propose, the author has completely honored the GPL -
> with every copy he sells, he includes the source, and has no further
> obligation.

He has also sold his right to distribute source to the buyer of the copies.
Quite legal.

> There may be a deal he has entered into not to distribute the program in
> particular ways, but that's fine - he's the author, he's not obligated to
> distribute if he doesn't want to.

He no longer can distribute source: he sold that right.

> The person who has purchased the copy...

...Has also purchased the exclusive right to distribute the source and is
therefor one of the copyright owners.

> The person who has purchased the copy is then free to sell it without
> getting permission from the copyright holder, the author.  Because that
> sale does not require a license, the recipient has not received it under
> the terms of the GPL, and has no one from whom he can demand the source
> code.

The owners of the work that your "author" based his work on can sue both
parties (both of whom now own an interest in the copyright in the work
under discussion) for copyright infringement when they attempt to
distribute the work without complying with the terms of the GPL.  The
"purchaser's" claim of first sale will be disallowed because of his
ownership of the exclusive right to distribute source, which makes him a
part-owner of the copyright.
John Hasler
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI USA

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