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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 15:01:56 -0500

At Sat, 10 Oct 2009 14:32:50 -0400 "amicus_curious" <> wrote:

> "Robert Heller" <> wrote in message 
> news:o8udnc2yU_A6W03XnZ2dnUVZ_jydnZ2d@posted.localnet...
> >
> > If one has, for example, a shrink wrapped copy, never opened (and thus
> > never installed), it is perfectly legal to re-sell that copy.  I
> > believe that was's case.  Once you install it (eg open the
> > box), then one 'has made a copy'.  If you resell the box/CD/whatever,
> > someone ends up with a non-legal copy (assuming that the software in
> > question was not GPL or other open source, which was the case with the
> > eBay vender vs Autodesk case that defended).
> >
> That appears to be a wrong understanding of the facts presented in the case. 
> The eBay vendor obtained these used copies of AutoCAD from sources that had 
> moved to newer versions and had obtained the original materials.  In the 

Which I guess implies that the original version was de-installed (the
copy on the hard drive was deleted in favor of the new version).  No
unauthorized *copies* would exist.

> case of the GPL, there is no need to root around getting old copies, you can 
> just as easily obtain a new copy at zero cost.  Now that new copy can be 
> passed on as one pleases, with or without source, following the logic of the 
> eBay/AutoCAD case. 

If it is passed on *as is*, there is no need to include the sources --
since the source is itself available from the same source as the new copy. 
The GPL does not require you to re-distribute the sources if you didn't
modify them, you just need to be sure to include some kind of 'pointer'
to those sources.  You only have to make the source code *available*.

More often as not, GPL software is available in source form, so
downloading the source arvhive and passing that along is entirely
reasonable, possible, and legal, with or without the the logic of the
eBay/AutoCAD case.  As far as the GPL is concerned, eBay/AutoCAD case
is pretty much irrelevant.  If one *modifies* a piece of GPL software
and distributes that, that is something different, since you have
*created* a *derived work* and the eBay/AutoCAD case would not apply,
since what you have is not a mere copy.


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

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