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Re: software licensing


"Stephen J. Carpenter" <sjc@delphi.com> writes:
> Personally I don't see how this can possibly be legally enforcable...
> and in the case of the GPL...I don't see that it would even violate the
> GPL.

I believe it does, because the only way to avoid redistribution is for
one person to work on the program, alone, and never give it to anyone
else for any reason.  That isn't the situation being considered here...

> The GPL (AFAIK) does NOT say that you can't decide to NOT distribute it.
> (how many negatives cna I squeeze into a sentance?)

Indeed, you don't have to distribute your modifications.  However, in
this case, the code is being distributed, albeit inside a particular

> This sounds to me almost like saying that, last night I modified
> the kernel source for 2.1.119 because it wouldn't compile...I never
> distributed my modified code (and have no intention to...I am sure its
> probably already been fixed) ....so am I to believe that I am violating
> the licence because I am keeping my modifications?

No, but you aren't giving your modified kernel to your employees for
their use.  If you were to give that kernel to anyone else, you would
not be able to prohibit them from giving it away without violating the

> Likewise...if a company was using a piece of free software and modified
> it to suit their needs...noone disputes that this is wrong....but
> if they decide not to re-distribute it...isn't that their perogative?
> (maybe they don't have very good internet acess?)

The guiding principle of copyright law is "what is not explicitly
permitted is forbidden".  The GPL does not give permission for any
form of distribution other than an infectiously-GPLed one; it does not
make an exception for in-house or development use.  Therefore, we must
interpret it as meaning that ANY COPYING, no matter under what
circumstances, must be done under its terms or not at all.

Even an in-house product will be copied to the employees; hence, even
an in-house GPLed project carries its GPL through its entire lifetime,
and the employees must -- if the license is to be honored -- be given
the right to redistribute.

The only way around this is to argue that in-house distribution
is permissible under copyright law, so that the GPL doesn't apply.  If
that is the case, then Microsoft and friends have much more to worry
about than us open source guys :-)

- --Rob

- -- 
Rob Tillotson  N9MTB  <robt@debian.org>

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