Subject: RE: Automatic GPL termination
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 08:40:52 -0700

 Wed, 12 Sep 2007 08:40:52 -0700

How does this differ from a sublicensing regime, where the license or its
sublicenses are terminable upon the failure of the licensee to obey license

Direct license or sublicense, the result is the same, particularly if the
license is written properly.

/Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Philippe Verdy [mailto:verdy]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 8:29 AM
> To: 'dlw';
> Subject: RE: Automatic GPL termination
> > De : dlw []
> > After a GPL derivative work is released over the internet to thousands
> > of servers how does a plaintiff  return all the initial copyright
> > permissions that were exchanged prior to terminating the license?
> > Sometimes it's impossible to put the cat back in the bag.
> Wrong: when one redistribute a GPL-covered package, even illegally, he
> does
> not directly sublicence it, even if it is illegal. Instead the GPL states
> that the licence is ganted by the original authors, not by the
> distributor.
> The distributor must then terminate its licence, but others are not
> affected. This means that each time you download a GPL-covered software
> from
> any source, you don't get the licence from that source but from the
> original
> authors, and you must agree with the terms given by the original author.
> There's no sub-licencing scheme in the GPL, the relations are always
> directly between the licensee (user of the covered work) and the original
> authors, and each licensee need to conform to the terms defined by the
> original authors, independently of the other terms that may have been
> imposed (or suppressed) illegitimately by the distributor.
> This also means that the other licensees that discover that the GPL
> software
> they use has been illegally distributed, must ensure that their licence is
> valid according to what the original authors are saying, and they can't
> trust the distributor, unless they have paid the distributor to get a
> guarantee that the copy of the software licence they obtained from them is
> valid:
> Independantly of the termination of the licence of the distributor, the
> distributor will have to manage itself all issues with its past users to
> which it has provided illegal licences. The authors need not contact each
> individual user; but it will continue to be up to the distributor to
> assume
> its legal responsibility for its illegal action face to other users
> complains. So the good question for users is to keep a provable track of
> the
> distributor (they can't complain directly to the authors, if the
> distributor
> has abused its rights and hidden the true authors).
> The termination of the licence of a distributor does not leave it
> completely
> out of its legal obligations face to the other licensees: it's up to him
> to
> manage these issues (but nothing forbids the licensees to seek assistance
> with the originalauthors to initiate a group action against the
> distributor
> whose licence was terminated for abuse). Immediately the termination means
> that the distributor must stop conveying the covered work, and looses all
> its rights to redistributing it, even when respecting the initial
> mandatary
> conditions that he has violated (if he does continue, despite his licence
> has been namely terminated, this is a criminal offense which will be
> considered in a group legal action against him by its users).
> If the distributor has granted licences under his own name instead of the
> author, this is a falsification of identity, and he remains fully liable
> of
> the damages made to his users, and this is even worse if he charged them
> by
> giving licences himself to them. A distributor CANNOT grant himself GPL
> licences to users to whom he conveys the program.
> With the GPL, the distribution right is transferable, but NOT the right to
> grant licences (distributors are acting as mandated proxies for the
> original
> authors)