Fwd: [linux-elitists] Wow, M$ is even more evil than I thought

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Tue Apr 3 14:17:12 PDT 2001


on Mon, Apr 02, 2001 at 01:30:46PM -0700, Don Marti (dmarti@zgp.org) wrote:
> begin  Bryan-TheBS-Smith quotation of Mon, Apr 02, 2001 at 04:18:50PM -0400:

My own comments interspersed below.

> > The
> > copyright holder has the right to release his/her own GPL code as
> > another license -- otherwise, "dual licenses" couldn't exist. 
> 
> True.

More specifically, a license *grants a right*.  Without this grant, a
third party _doesn't have_ this right.  An author _has_ the right and
has no dependency on a license for its grant.  Hence, an author isn't
bound by licensing terms to his/her own works.

The confounding case is where multiple authors are involved, as is the
case in most mature free software, barring copyright assignment.

> > In such case, the copyright holder can license or even re-assign
> > that copyright, including all rights, to whomever he/she desires --
> > and that _includes_revoking_ and past or current licenses!
> 
> False. 
> 
> Nobody has ever legally revoked a grant of GPL or another of the
> "classic" free licenses on existing code. In cases where the license has
> changed (recent example: Ogg Vorbis) the new license has applied to a
> new version.

More to the point, this could be seen as a misrepresentation of the
original grant, and a breech of implied or explicit contract.
Retracting grants of copyright under GPL are likely to be difficult to
unenforceable.

> > It is because of this, the FSF recommends that all
> > maintainers/participants of GNU/GPL projects sign over all copyright
> > reservations to them.
> 
> No, FSF has other reasons for the copyright assignment. 

Largely falling under the infringement and rights of enforcemnt clauses
of US copyright wall (under which the GPL is written).  While
infringement of copyright in anonymous or jointly authored works is
illegal, legal remedies are thought far stronger in the case of a single
defined author or beneficiary.  Hence the assignment of rights to the
FSF, which then becomes legal owner of works and is capable of suing for
damages.  

Note that this assignment is only for works under the GNU rubric, it is
*not* automatic under the GPL.  There is a specific grant of copyright
which must be executed, completely independent of the GPL, to do this.

Or:  GNU projects are a subset of works licensed under the GPL and LGPL.
I'm not aware of any non-[L]GPLd GNU projects (exceptions appreciated).

> > Now in the case of Microsoft Passport.COM, no, they could not
> > "revoke" the GPL version -- and I was NOT making that case.  Why? 
> > Because they are not the sole copyright holder.  *BUT* as a
> > copyright holder, they can redistribute, re-license and/or do
> > anything else with it as they see fit.  
> 
> Interesting point. You should pitch Dan Gillmor with a short mail, if
> you haven't already.

Note that if the work effected by such a Passport clause is being
transmitted by someone who doesn't have authority to grant copyright,
that the EULA itself is unable to claim this power.  I can't lawfully
give what I don't lawfully have.

-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>    http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/         http://www.kuro5hin.org
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