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Re: US court says software is owned, not licensed

From: Robert Heller
Subject: Re: US court says software is owned, not licensed
Date: Sat, 10 Oct 2009 09:51:08 -0500

At Sat, 10 Oct 2009 15:09:49 +0100 Nigel Feltham <> 

> Alexander Terekhov wrote:
> > 
> > Nigel Feltham wrote:
> > [...]
> >> The only permission you have to make any extra copies of busybox is that
> >> provided by the GPL in exchange for following it's rules which specify
> >> that source has to be provided.
> > 
> > But that's pure license/contract breach claim, not copyright
> > infringement. Consider also
> > 
> >
> It's both - copying software without permission is a copyright infringement
> and the only thing that gives you permission to do any copying of GPL
> software that isn't provided as part of normal copyright law is the GPL
> licence. If you breach the terms of the license then you no longer have
> permission to distribute copies of the software (other than on media
> provided by the copyright holder) so are infringing copyright law as well. 

I think that the point of the case (eBay vender vs
Autodesk), is that if you have A copy in your possesion, you have the
right to dispose of that copy (eg selling it).  This is distint from
*making a copy* of the copy.  The only way this is a copyright
infringement would be if you also had *made a copy* of the software
(which would probably include the copy made when installing the

> This is the main reason companies who breach the terms of the GPL are
> normally so quick to resolve the situation (where just letting customers
> know where to get the source is enough) - until they comply with the
> licence they are distributing copies of the software without permission of
> the copyright holder and just giving customers a link to a sourcecode
> website is far easier than risking ending up in a copyright infringement
> court.
> This is also the main reason SCO chickened out of their attempt to
> invalidate the GPL - they presumably realised that if the GPL is invalid
> then they never had permission to distribute the code and had committed
> mass piracy of every GPL licenced product they've ever distributed. Either
> the licence is valid and they're complying with it's terms or they're
> pirates, hard to argue that the licence doesn't exist under those
> circumstances.

Robert Heller             -- 978-544-6933
Deepwoods Software        -- Download the Model Railroad System  -- Binaries for Linux and MS-Windows       --

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