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Re: You can't get a copy unless you accept the GPL

Adam McKenna writes:

> On Mon, Jun 07, 2004 at 11:32:22PM +0200, Francesco Poli wrote:
>> That would bring me to the conclusion that I must accept the GPL in
>> order to make a copy of a GPL'd work.
>> See for example GPL#4:
>> [   4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program
>> [ except as expressly provided under this License.
>> On the other hand GPL#5 itself says I'm required to accept the GPL only
>> in order to distribute or modify...
>> Could you explain how's that possible?
> http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/117.html
> Interpret as you will.  I interpret this to mean that I can make copies of
> and/or modifications to a program for personal use, and that that act is not
> defined as 'copying' for purposes of copyright.  Copyright only becomes
> involved when I decide to distribute copies or modifications to a third
> party, at which time I will have to accept the GPL and abide by its terms.

I'm not sure how you interpret that as allowing modifications for
personal use -- creating a derivative work or other adaptation would
not be "an essential step in the utilization of the computer program"
(etc; note the qualification in the original "for no other purpose").
Contrary to your claim, copyright law governs most tangible copies,
derived works, and adaptations.  That is why it explicitly allows what
it does.

You can Google(tm) for the cases involving MAI Systems Corp from the
early and mid 1990s (e.g. MAI v Peak) that held that execution of
programs by people other than the owner of a copy constituted
copyright infringement vis a vis 17 USC 117; these inspired the 1998
addition of 17 USC 117(c) and (d) to protect other maintenance and
repair people, but the holdings still apply to other third parties who
execute a program on someone else's computer.

"Interpret as you will."


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