[ILUG-BOM] GPL related clarification sought

sherlock at antispam sherlock@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Tue May 10 19:09:16 IST 2005

On Tuesday 10 May 2005 15:05, Devdas Bhagat wrote:
> On 10/05/05 01:53 -0700, Abhishek Daga wrote:

> >
> >
> > Questions
> > a) Does that mean I can buy 1 copy of SuSe/Xandros/RHES/ and
> > distribute it as many times as I want?
> RHES is distributed under a specific (FSF approved) contract. Ask
> your lawyer for information on the specifics.

whatever the contract says u dont care. If the contract prevents u from 
excersing the rights as assigned in the gpl, the contract is null and 
void and RH Suse whoever cannot distribute or prevent you from 

> > b) Some Linux distros have the system of activation keys. Is that
> > in violation of GPL terms?
Which distro. One such - Fortinet - lost a case and gpld everything.

" News.com reports that Fortinet has settled its GPL violation suit. 
"Fortinet has agreed to provide the source code of the Linux kernel 
and other GPL-licensed components to any interested party. The code 
is available upon request, for the cost of distribution, from the 
Fortinet Web site. The company has also agreed to modify its 
licensing agreement to include the GPL licensing terms with all 
Fortinet shipments. The settlement agreement also states that no 
Fortinet partners are subject to legal action."

> > For Instance, if I am required to activate my Distro online then
> > logically the same activation key will NOT work for the copies of
> > the distro? Which therefore prevents me from giving it away for
> > free?

The activation key is for updates from their website. Quite obviously 
bandwidth costs money. Hence the machines with copies you make will not 
be permitted to connect to the website. You could ofcourse setup your 
own website with the upgrades and have your clones connect to the same.

> Again, ask your lawyer for advice.
> > So is the original statement on that site itself interpreted
> > incorrectly or I am reading it out of context?
> This deals with the specifics of copyright and contract laws, and
> as such, the best person to answer this would be your lawyer.

Read my first line - contract or no contract - u dont care. You cannot 
have a contract that violates some other part of the law. In this case 
the rights assigned to a recipient is contingent on the fact that the 
same right is automatically assigned to the next recipient, without 
exception of any kind. So if distributor signs a contract to the 
contrary with anyone they have automatically abrogated their right to 
distribute and are in fact in violation of the copyrights of numerous 
contributors to the distro.  The contract they have made you sign is 
illegal and they have willfully committed an illegal act. and have no 
right to distribute. And as a result you are not bound by the contract 
and are free to distribute and that you too could file a suit of fraud 
against distributor for misleading you into an illegal contract. 
However you cannot file a copyright violation suit against distributor, 
unless you are a code contributor (Afaik Philip Tellis could do so as 
also Karunakar of Indic fame).  Note that contracts permit two parties 
to sign away their own rights, not the rights of others, which is what 
this contract does. This is irrespective of the fact that distributor is 
offering a service of compiling, debugging, packaging etc. These services
are what they can charge for. Infact they can charge the recipient without 
providing any of these services.

Eg you cannot have a contract with me to sell Devdas' house, because u dont 
own it.But suppose Devdas leases his house to you with a clause permitting subleasing, subject to the condition that the subleasee can further sublease
in whole or part and that no leasee can remove this clause in their 
downstream sublease contract. Then you can sublease to me some or all part 
of the apartment and i can do the same and so on. Note that we cannot 
introduce a clause preventing subleasing as per the original contract. So 
If i sign a contract with someone else preventing sub leasing, i 
immediately loose the right to sublease. However I can continue to use my 
portion of the apartment.

I am absolutely sure of the above. However IANAL. So take a legal opinion 
from two lawyers together a copyright expert and a contract expert if you 
plan on tangling legally with RH or Suse or whoever. If you are planning 
a bussiness by placing restrictions on the recipient, perish the thought.

Final word. If the original code is gpld, you can copy and distribute the 
code and the binary to your hearts content - contract or no contract.


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