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Re: GPL traitor !

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 2009 08:44:50 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.92 (gnu/linux)

Hyman Rosen <> writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> Sigh.  A program is not a legally responsible entity.  The responsible
>> party is the _writer_ of the program.  I can't push away the
>> responsibility about what a program of mine does to somebody else.
>> Computer viruses are _exclusively_ executed by people different from the
>> virus author, on thousands of computers.  Does it make _them_ reponsible
>> for what their computers do?  Does it make the infected _programs_
>> responsible?  Does it make the _computers_ responsible?  Does it make
>> the _virus_ responsible?
>> No, the responsible party is the virus _author_.  What happens is a
>> consequence of what _he_ did and intended.
> The reason for that is the law:
>     <>
>     (5)(A)(i) knowingly causes the transmission of a program,
>     information, code, or command, and as a result of such
>     conduct, intentionally causes damage without authorization,
>     to a protected computer;
> Virus writers did not automatically become criminals. The law needed
> to be amended to make them so. Barring such a special law, actions
> done by a computer program are the responsibility of the person who
> causes that program to run.

Yes, and the virus author is the one who _causes_ the program to run.
That the virus action is set up to be _triggered_ unwittingly by other
parties does not make the _triggering_ party responsible.

The laws are not there to figure out the responsibility, they are there
for figuring out appropriate _criminal_ punishments.  Virus writers were
(and still are) _accountable_ for the damage they cause.  But previous
to these laws, they need not expect a jail sentence (except debtors'
jail).  Yes, there _were_ jailings, but judges were straining for laws
to apply.  And those worked primarily with military/state computers.

> In any case, the actions taken by a computer pursuant to readying a
> dynamically loaded library for execution are explicitly defined as not
> infringing by US copyright law and are permitted by the GPL with no
> restriction.

We are talking about the actions taken by the computer programmer
pursuant to loading and using a dynamically loaded library as an
integral part of the executing program.  Not about the computer.  A
computer is not a legally responsible entity.

David Kastrup

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