Alexandre Oliva aoliva@redhat.com
Tue Jul 17 00:54:00 GMT 2007

On Jul 16, 2007, kenner@vlsi1.ultra.nyu.edu (Richard Kenner) wrote:

>> You look for copyright notices, ask the holders whether they own all
>> of that, ask the distributor who owns any other bits.  If they don't
>> know or won't tell, they're up for contributory infringement, 

> No, they're not because you have no contractual relationship with them.

Err, sorry, yes, what I wrote was a mess and completely unclear.  The
"they" above was the distributor, not necessarily the copyright
holders, and the distributor would be up for contributory infringement
should they include code from third parties without permission.

You're of course right as to (no) obligations of the original
copyright holder.  They might as well charge for the service, but
refusal to do so would obviously not amount to contributory
infringement, since the contributory infringement would be on the
distributor who added code without authorization from its copyright

> For that matter, I doubt the FSF would answer either.

But this is simpler; the FSF publishes the releases, so anyone can
compare what they got with what the FSF published, and then ask the
distributor "do you hold the copyright for these differences?"

>> When you receive a copy of Microsoft Windows from a reseller on a
>> street corner, how do you know who else, if anybody, might have a
>> copyright claim on it?

> Why do you think that Microsoft goes to so much trouble to protect their
> CD's with things like holograms?  Precisely to help provide an answer to
> this question.  But even with that, if it's somebody on a street corner,
> you really DON'T know that it isn't counterfeit and might infringe somebody
> else's copyright.  If it's in a reputable store and it looks like undamaged
> Microsoft packaging, you have much more reason to trust it.

Why?  How do you know who else, if anybody, might have a copyright
claim on it?  Why would you trust Microsoft, that won't even let you
see the code, and won't idemnify you, but you wouldn't trust a Free
Software vendor, who will let you see the code, and might even be
willing to idemnify you?

> I'm not sure what a "copyright license" means.

A copyright license is a permission from a copyright holder to perform
acts that require permission from copyright holders.

> A "software license" is a contract that states under what terms you
> can use copyrighted software.

A license is not a contract.  A license (permission to do something)
can be part of a contract.  You're probably thinking "license
agreement" or "license contract".

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
FSF Latin America Board Member         http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{redhat.com, gcc.gnu.org}
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{lsd.ic.unicamp.br, gnu.org}

More information about the Gcc mailing list