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Re: software licensing

On 2 Sep 1998, Rob Tillotson wrote:

> john@dhh.gt.org writes:
> > But the GPL does not and cannot affect the conditions of employment of my
> > employees.  Assume that I acquire a piece of BSD code, modify it, and give
> > copies to my employees, telling them that they are not make any copies or
> > give it to anyone else.  One of them does so, gets caught, and I fire him.
> > I can now sue him and any one he gave copies to and force them to destroy
> > the illegal copies.  If the same happens with GPL code, I can still fire
> > the employee, but I can do nothing about the copies.
> If this argument is valid, I could also just as easily say "the GPL
> does not and cannot affect my trigger finger on this gun pointed at
> your head"; after all, I can still shoot the poor guy who copies my
> software, but since I can't do anything about the copies it's not a
> violation of the GPL.  The hypothetical employer is applying force to
> prevent the application of the GPL; how is that not a violation of the
> GPL?  Employees may have no right to work, but that does not mean that
> firings or threats of firings cannot have any consequences at all.
> There are two contracts being offered by the employer: the employment
> contract, which says "don't distribute the software", and the GPL (in
> force because the employees have been given the code) which says "do
> distribute the software".  They cannot be satisfied simultaneously, so
> one of them must effectively lose a term in order to satisfy the
> other.

That's not quite true.

The GPL says that the employer may only distribute the copies to his
employees on the condition that he allows them to redistribute them under
the GPL.  So, if his employment cotract with his employees forbids them
from doing that, then the GPL forbids him from distributing it to them.

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