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Re: software licensing

On Wed, Sep 02, 1998 at 07:50:10AM -0500, john@dhh.gt.org wrote:
> Rob Tillotson writes:
> > 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.
> 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.

The boss can't fire an employee for no reason, at least in Germany (where
the working contract is subject to special laws). As further redistributing
of GPL code is no incident, the employer has no power on the employee. The
employee can request the source code for GPL'ed binaries in his work place
(I'm not sure if he can sue, or only the copyright holder), as this is
subject of the GPL (if the employer is not willing to follow the GPL, or
can't for whatever reason, he can't distribute the program at all).

An employer could sue his exemployer for firing him, if all he did was
redistributing modified GPL code (in Germany and many other countries).

But firing the employee is not necessary for mobbing. Creating bad working
conditions at the work place is much worse, and I think the social and
psychological pressure is much more important in such a case (preventing the
employee from making use of his rights).


"Rhubarb is no Egyptian god."        Debian GNU/Linux        finger brinkmd@ 
Marcus Brinkmann                   http://www.debian.org    master.debian.org
Marcus.Brinkmann@ruhr-uni-bochum.de                        for public  PGP Key
http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/Marcus.Brinkmann/       PGP Key ID 36E7CD09

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