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Re: software licensing

Rob Tillotson writes:
> 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.

It is obviously true that threatening to murder someone is not a violation
of the GPL. So what?  It's a copyright license, not a code of criminal law.

> The hypothetical employer is applying force to prevent the application of
> the GPL; how is that not a violation of the GPL?

The employer has made copies of the program, but has not distributed them.
He owns the copies, which his employees are using under his direction as
part of their jobs.  As the copies are his property, he gets to say what is
done with them.  In particular, he can tell his employees not to make or
distribute any copies without his permission.  This is a matter of property
rights, not copyright.  Of course, if an employee does make a copy (not
using the employers materials) and give it away the employer cannot get
that copy back or prevent further distribution.

> There are two contracts being offered by the employer: the employment
> contract, which says "don't distribute the software", and the GPL...

The GPL is not a contract.

> ...in force because the employees have been given the code...

The employees have not been given the code.  They have temporary possession
of copies of it which belong to the employer.

The GPL simply has nothing to do with this situation.  What it does is
prevents me from giving you a copy of my 8008 port of gcc and saying "Now
look carefully at the license I've attached.  You must pay me $500 for
every copy of this that you give out."
John Hasler
john@dhh.gt.org (John Hasler)
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI

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