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Re: Mgetty should be in non-free?

Brian Ristuccia writes:
> I phrased this incorrectly. "To sell a software package, a book, or a movie
> is to give the recipient all rights to the software package, the book, or
> the movie."

To sell *the copyright* on a software package, a book, or a movie is to
give the recipient all rights to the software package, the book, or the

> According to Microsoft, copies of Windows are never sold; They are only
> licensed.

That is part of an attempt to make enforceable their EULA which denies you
some of the rights you get when you buy a copy of a copyrighted work.

> But what I was getting at was that you can't sell something (windows,
> mgetty, gcc, etc.), because you don't own it in the first place.  You
> only own the copy.

Which is what you sell.

> Authors sell books to publishers.

Authors sell copyright licenses to publishers.  When an author says "I sold
my book to Doubleday" he is using a context-dependent shorthand for "I sold
a copyright license on my book to Doubleday".

> Publishers sell copies of books to people.

Publishers sell books to people.  Go into a book store and announce your
desire to buy a particular book.  The clerk will quote you a price of
$29.95 and offer to take your credit card, not suggest that you contact the
author's agent.

> If I sell you a CD contining a copy of GCC, it looks like I'm selling you
> a copy of the GCC software.

You are.

> In reality, I'm selling the service of making a copy and perhaps the
> media the copy resides on.

Media with the work on it: a copy.

> How do we determine in the case of the CDr containing mgetty that it's a
> copy of mgetty that's being sold and not the media or the service?

By looking on the CD.  I give you five bucks and you give me a CD with
mgetty on it: you just sold me a copy of mgetty.  The fact that you also
offer blank CD's, CD's containing the collected works of Richard Stallman,
and CD's containing the Kama Sutra for the same price is irrelevant.

> The license saying "don't make profit directly out of selling mgetty" has
> no bearing on the right the license already granted to distribute mgetty,
> since you don't have the right to sell mgetty itself in the first place.

I think you will find that a court will tell you that it is perfectly clear
that by "selling mgetty" the author means "selling copies of mgetty".

> Don't say "but the user should know that he means make profit from
> selling a _copy_ of mgetty".

That is exactly what the judge will say.

> If the author meant copy, he should have said copy.

Yes, he should.  However, the usage "sell X" meaning "sell a copy of X" is
common usage.  In legal documents prepared by non-lawyers common usage
John Hasler
john@dhh.gt.org (John Hasler)
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI

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