[linux-elitists] SCO licences unnecessary?

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Wed Aug 6 01:24:46 PDT 2003

on Wed, Aug 06, 2003 at 02:06:10PM +1000, Martin Pool (mbp@samba.org) wrote:
> Suspending disbelief, let's assume that there really is some amount of
> proprietary SCO code in the kernel, and that it has not already been
> licenced by SCO under the GPL.  (I can't see how, but let's pretend.)
> Under yesterday's plan, SCO think they are being clever by asking for
> licence fees without themselves distributing Linux and therefore
> breaching the GPL.  They are granting "right to use" licences to
> end-users without the right to modify or redistribute.
> As far as I know, there is no concept of "right to use" in copyright
> law.  As Eben Moglen wrote, "In general, users of copyrighted works do
> not need licenses..."
> People who are only using Linux and not distributing it -- the only
> people who SCO are now threatening -- seem to be the ones who have
> exactly nothing to fear.


Your exclusive rights as an author or copyright holder are in 17 USC §
106.  Listing those applicable to software, these are the rights:

 - to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

 - to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

 - to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the
   public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease,
   or lending;

Moreover, in the case of a computer program, the owner of a copy of a
computer program has the "use" right granted, insofar as such can be
granted under copyright, in that the making of the copy of a computer
program necessary to run this program is allowed.  Or in legalese (yes,
the preceding _is_ English ;-):

    17 USC § 117

    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an
    infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make
    or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that
    computer program provided: that such a new copy or adaptation is
    created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer
    program in conjunction with a machine. 

Find both these at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/

Note that Copyright law covers (well, with the exception of 1012),
_copying_).  Not use.  Not ideas.  Not methods.  Copies, copying,
reproduction, distribution (and in audiovisual works, public performance
and display).

Note too that it's signing a contract which fell into Caldera/SCO's
hands which got IBM into hot water in the first place.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    "Yes," said Marvin. "Wearily I sit here, pain and misery my only
    companions. And vast intelligence of course. And infinite sorrow.
    -- HHGTG
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