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The 9th Circuit just made most of us criminals.

From: RJack
Subject: The 9th Circuit just made most of us criminals.
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2010 16:01:06 -0000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100802 Thunderbird/3.1.2

Your software EULA can make you a criminal if you don't hire a lawyer
and have him review your license terms:

"[5] We hold today that a software user is a licensee rather than an
owner of a copy where the copyright owner (1) specifies that the user is
granted a license; (2) significantly restricts the user’s ability to
transfer the software; and (3) imposes notable use restrictions...

Because Vernor was not an owner, his customers are also not owners of
Release 14 copies. Therefore, when they install Release 14 on their
computers, the copies of the software that they make during installation
infringe Autodesk’s exclusive reproduction right because they too are
not entitled to the benefit of the essential step defense. [n.13] 17
U.S.C. §§ 106(1), 117(a)(1)...

[n]13 It may seem intuitive that every lawful user of a copyrighted
software program, whether they own their copies or are merely licensed
to use them, should be entitled to an “essential step defense” that
provides that they do not infringe simply by using a computer program
that they lawfully acquired. However, the Copyright Act confers this
defense only on owners of software copies. See 17 U.S.C. § 117. In
contrast, a licensee’s right to use the software, including the right to
copy the software into RAM, is conferred by the terms of its license
agreement." VERNOR v. AUTODESK, No. 09-35969, ( 9th Cir. 2010)

Now consider:

17 USC 101 Definitions. --
“Copies” are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work
is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the
work can be perceived,  reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either
directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term “copies”
*includes* the material object, other than a phonorecord, in which the
work is first fixed."

OK folks, now when you buy your shiny new Dell or Lenovo computer with
the operating system and all those fancy third party applications
installed, who owns the hard drive platters and ROM chips in what you
first thought was *your* new computer? According to the 9th Circuit you
may not even be empowered to *erase* the software from the material
object (copy).

The GPL significantly restricts the user’s ability to transfer the
software (transfer under the GPL only) and imposes notable derivative


RJack :)

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