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Re: GPL traitor !

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 19:35:09 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.92 (gnu/linux)

Hyman Rosen <> writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> It isn't.  The essential copy is the copy in the computer main memory,
>> and that is the same whether you link dynamically or statically.
> "Essential" copy? What in the world are you talking about? Any
> copies of programs or libraries made while executing them do not
> infringe copyright, by specific declaration in US law.
> Copyright law is about copying.

Law is not about circumventing the letter of the law.  If you take a
program code and xor it with 55 and hand it somebody, it is not a copy
of the original.  But if the intended use is not as a random generator,
what the judges will look at is what happens, and what is effectively
being used in the end.

I can't drop a rock on somebody walking below and blame gravity for his
death, and I can't put instructions for dynamic linking into a program
and blame the dynamic linker or the person running the program according
to instructions for the created in-memory copy.

> The act of producing a statically linked program involves creating
> copies of the libraries and binding them into a collective work.

No difference for dynamic linking.  It happens at a different point of
time, that is all, but is similarly inevitable.

> A dynamically linked program does not contain copies of the libraries
> it invokes when executed.

You are confused.  An executing program is the memory image of the
program, and the running memory image most certainly contains copies of
the libraries.

> No permission is required from the copyright holders of the libraries
> in order to make and distribute the program because the program does
> not contain copies of the libraries. What the program does when
> executed is entirely irrelevant to what copyrights apply to the
> program.

It is entirely relevant.  You can't separate releasing a rock from its
hitting the person below.  If there is no other option for executing the
program, and if you sell the program with the purpose to have it
executed and it only works by binding into other libraries, you can't
blame the binding on mechanic devices or the person calling the program.

> So it is irrelevant what a program does when executed.

That's what you say.  Inevitable consequences, however, are by most
courts considered the responsibility of the causing person.

>> The in-memory running copy that actually is the intended (and only
>> sensible) use and copy is what counts.
> This is false, and obviously so. For example, if someone makes
> unpermissioned copies of DVDs, those copies are illegal regardless of
> whether they are ever played.

Gadgets are never illegal.  Creating them may be.  If we assume that
somebody likes to inhale the fumes of burning toner and finds that his
copy machine cranks out just the right amount of toner per paper when he
copies page 430 from "Catch 22", then no court in the world will be
fining him for producing a copious amount of those pages and stacking
them before his fireplace for consumption.  As long as all he does is
burn them.

Because the content is not being used as content.  Because that may be
hard to verify, a court may demand of him to put his piles through the
shredder in advance and not store substantial amounts of the unshredded

> Copyright law does not prohibit the "essential" copy which finally
> appears in the DVD player, it simply prohibits making copies without
> permission of the rights holders.  By your interpretation, bootleggers
> would have the affirmative defense that captured copies had never been
> played!

Huh?  The defense would need to be that the copies were never intended
for playing.  Try making that plausible.  If you succeed, you'll save
the day.

> If I give you the benefit of doubt that you are not trolling, you at
> best seem to have a view of copyright law that is entirely at odds
> with the actual contents of that law, at least in the US.

Copyright law protects the use of the content, not of the media.

>>> Not least, that copying is done by the person who executes the
>>> program, not by the copyright holder of the program.
>> Nonsense.  The copying is done by the dynamic library loader
>> according to the instructions of the program author.
> So what? A copy machine makes copies according to the instructions of
> the copier manufacturer,

Huh?  It needs no input to instruct it what to put on paper?

> but it is the person using the machine to make unauthorized copies who
> is liable for infringement, not Xerox.

If you have a copy machine that will only and exclusively work when you
put on a copy of "Catch 22" and will only _then_ produce a faithful copy
(just balking for everything else), you'll find that the copy machine
producer will have a hard time arguing that he is not responsible for
what the machine does because it was entirely the customer's choice to
put on "Catch 22".

> It is through the action of the person executing the program that the
> copies happen.

You mean, I sell binary garbage to the person for a lot of money, and
this binary garbage just happens to call some libraries and miraculously
does some work I never intended it to do?  Tell that to the courts.
Good luck.

> The actions taken by a computer program when executed are not relevant
> to the permissions required to copy that program.

The actions taken by a rock when dropped are entirely relevant to the
permissability of letting go of that rock.

The intent of law is not to find nice ways of circumventing their

David Kastrup

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