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Re: Why not contribute? (to GCC)


> However, that isn't only/quite what I meant. My understanding of 
> copyright law is that it *only* protects distribution rights of the 
> works. For example, as long as I use the software internally within a 
> single legal entity (company, house hold, or whatever is acceptable to 
> the courts), I do not need to abide by *any* of the rules listed in the 
> license, as I am not re-distributing the works.

VERY FALSE!  If a company buys one copy of a book, they most certainly may
NOT make a copy of that book for every employee!  To give a more relevant
example, do you really think that a company can buy one copy of Windows and
install it on all their computers?

The owner of a copyright gets to say under what conditions somebody can
COPY their work.  Executing a computer program involves COPYING it from
disk into memory.  That's making a copy.  There was even a case where a
jury held that calling a subroutine in a separate library is making a copy
of that library.

> Most licenses, specifically including the GPL, specify rules that
> define what requirements I must meet before I am allowed to
> re-distribute the works.

No, they specify the conditions under which you're allowed to COPY the
works.  Some, like the GPL, choose only to deal with "redistribution"
(which, by the way, isn't as well-defined as you might like to think it is:
I distinction remember an in-person discussion with RMS years ago where the
question was whether it was a violation of the GPL to only have binary, and
not sources, in a bomb, specifically whether dropping the bomb on somebody
was "distributing" the software), but most proprietary licenses talk about
the conditions under which you're allowed to make a COPY, whether that copy
is considered "distributing" or NOT.

> If re-distribute these works according to requirements, and then 
> somebody down stream from me obtains a copy through me and then violates 
> their licensing agreement in such a that I can demonstrate loss to a 
> judge. I think I can sue.

If you are the copyright holder and somebody (no matter how they got it)
violates the copyright, then yes, you can.

> Why do I have to "own" the software to have a case? 

You have to own the COPYRIGHT: it's not clear what "owning" the software
means.  If you don't own the copyright, then you have no legal interest in
the work.  You are confusing yourself by thinking in terms of a "license".
The license is just a way of conveying a set of permissions under which
copies can be made.  Although it somewhat has the status of a contract,
and so contract law applies, it's primarily an instrument of COPYRIGHT law.
Most importantly, you can't license something you don't have copyright 
ownership of.


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