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Re: Circumventing the GPL

From: Tim Smith
Subject: Re: Circumventing the GPL
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 12:20:23 -0700
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b2 (PPC Mac OS X)

In article <85iquux95b.fsf@lola.goethe.zz>, David Kastrup <> 
> >> > The copies were pretty clearly made lawfully under GPL.  I am clearly the
> >> > owner of the copies.  So, why can't I take advantage of first sale and
> >> > sell them, without the need of copyright permission?
> >> 
> >> Because you agreed not to sell them without source when you accepted the
> >> GPL which you did when you made the copies.  
> >
> > Ahhh. But don't you know that the GPL is not a contract (agreement) in
> > the GNU Republic, uncle Hasler? :-)
> You can claim either agreement or non-agreement with the conditions.
> Your choice.  In the latter case, you had no permission to copy in the
> first place.

Ah, but note that in my hypothetical, when I made the copies, I had no 
intention of distributing them.  I was making them for my own use, and 
did use all of them.  Thus, at the time they were made, they were 
"lawfully made".

It was only later, when they were now just physical junk to me, that I 
decide to dispose of them the same way I do with other excess physical 

Can that later act retroactively change the creation of the copies from 
lawful to unlawful?  If so, how retroactive can it be?  What if I make a 
copy for my own use.  Ten years pass, and I'm cleaning out my old junk, 
and find the CD.  I had the source once, but have lost it.  Can I 
distribute that physical CD?

I think that if I were making the copies with intent to distribute, then 
a good argument could be made that the copies are unlawful.  The court 
would see this as trying to cheat on the license, and find some way in 
equity to bitch slap me.

But that's not my hypothetical--in my hypothetical there was never any 
intent to cheat.

--Tim Smith

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