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Re: Big blow to proprietary linking nonsense.

From: amicus_curious
Subject: Re: Big blow to proprietary linking nonsense.
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2010 15:55:55 -0000

"Hyman Rosen" <> wrote in message news:G1jIn.16893$Ak3.8753@newsfe16.iad...
On 5/17/2010 5:39 PM, amicus_curious wrote:
Well, OK, so say that I post some link somewhere saying that you can get
the Busy Box or whatever source from some place that has it. Now you
have said many times that covers the waterfront for using and conveying
the GPL program. So it is legitimately conveyed and subsequently it is
legitimately modified by adding Rjack's proprietary piece to it to form
the improved program. You cannot sue the customer and I don't see where
you can sue the distributor since he has published the link to the
source meeting the GPL requirement

Sorry, I can't figure out from your description above who the
actors are and what they are doing.

Have you been conveniently stupid all your life or has that happened recently. I am sure you get the point, having been around this forum for so long, but I will go more slowly:

The GPL requires that the
conveyor of a covered work provide the source code for the
version of the work being conveyed.

Exactly. So to please the SFLC, Rjack conveys the original version of, say, Busy Box, by posting the source somewhere.

The GPL permits changes to
be made without restriction or requirement to a copy of the
work which is not conveyed. Someone may add a non-free piece to
a GPLed work, but may then not convey the combined work. So if
a "customer" wishes to modify a GPLed work, he is allowed to do
so - indeed, I imagine there are any number of companies who
make in-house modifications to GPLed works and never convey
those works, and so never provide the source for their changes.

But the GPL goes beyond the pall here. Rjack has simply augmented the program that was properly conveyed to the end user by means of adding in his improvements and authorizes the end user to use the combination via some proprietary license that restricts the user from further redistribution of the combination. That is a legitimate action under the copyright laws and under the GPL as I have framed it. The mere fact that Rjack has found a very efficient way of modifying the end user's copy of the GPL work, i.e., a recompilation, is immaterial, at least to the copyright laws.

Remember, the purpose of the GPL is to provide freedom for users
of software. That's why users are permitted to do all of this
without restriction. But in order to provide freedom for all users,
once someone wants to convey a covered work, they must do so under
the terms of the GPL, so that the recipients can share in the same

That is, of course, a joke, but, even so, the end user is just as free as Rjack to use the Busy Box software in the same form as used by Rjack.

The recipient of the illegally conveyed program has no
right to further convey it, or to do anything else with
it - holders of illegal copies of a work don't get any

Well, in my scenario that is just what Rjack would want, since the user
is not allowed to further convey Rjack's additions either. It is pretty
much like selling a program that uses some GPL program as a base but not
putting the whole thing under the GPL. Who cares what the user does with
the original GPL program, there isn't any commercial value in that. The
key is being able to obtain the commercial value from the add-on that
does something new.

As I said, the GPL requires that the someone who conveys a covered
work provide the source to the version being conveyed, so I don't
know what you mean by "selling a program that uses some GPL program
as a base but not putting the whole thing under the GPL". That is an
infringement of the copyright of the base program.

Well, you can say that all day, but it has no effect. You say that a user may take a GPL work and modify it and use it himself with no obligations to anyone and that is the key to the issue. Say that some company wishes to to just that, for example Google. Now there is no "Google user" per se, just a company that employs a lot of people who know how to code. So one or more of them make the modifications and receive payment for those services in doing that work. The result is conveyed to Google as a legal entity and no disclosure is made of the exact modifications in use. That is no different than an end user hiring Rjack to make necessary modifications and receiving the result and not disclosing any source.

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