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Re: software licensing

Rob Tillotson writes:
> But you *do* have possession of a copy of the proprietary software; if
> you didn't, there wouldn't be anything there to run.

Possession is not ownership.  If I issue one of the kids that stack hay for
me a set of hay hooks and tell him to stack hay with them and instead he
uses them to play Tarzan in the barn rafters, I can fire him for it.  If I
issue him a copy of gcc and tell him to compile programs with it and
instead he makes copies to give his friends I can fire him for that.  It's
my copy and he misused it.  Nothing to do with the GPL.

> Presumably your employer was given the right to that copy by its owner,
> either by virtue of buying it on its own media or by paying a license
> fee.

Just as the GPL gives the owner of a copy of a piece of GPL software the
right to make copies.

> Free software is no different under the law than proprietary software;
> only the licensing terms are different.

One of the differences being that I can make all the copies I want.  And so
can a company.

> I just don't think it somehow becomes okay just because the software is
> free instead of proprietary.

The GPL does not obligate me to distribute GPL software just because I
exercise the right it gives me to make copies.  The GPL permits me to sell
copies of GPL software.  According to your interpretation If I issue a copy
of a GPL program to an employee so that he can offer it for sale, he is
free to make copies of it and sell them in competition with me, and I can't
fire him.
John Hasler
john@dhh.gt.org (John Hasler)
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI

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