Subject: Re: Judgment Day for the GPL? - Determining the Legality of the GPL
From: Ben_Tilly@trepp.com
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 13:05:23 -0400


Saw it on /., made me re-read the GPL a few times.

IANAL, but my reading is that the GPL is an offer of a contract between the
copyright holder and the user.  It's specific purporse is to offer terms
under which the user may have permission from the copyright holder to do
things that copyright requires permission from the copyright holder to do.
This is made very explicit by term 5.  I had fun reconciling term 5 with 11
and 12 (what happens if someone refuses to accept the license and then sues
for loss of data) until it was pointed out to me that that is a non-issue
if the GPL is applied to code following the FSF directions to the letter.

However for me the huge question mark is public performance.  Karsten tried
to convince me that there was an argument for it being allowed, but I am
not sure.  The GPL expressely does not cover public performance, it is only
concerned with copying, distribution, and modification.  So what happens if
a copyright holder sues some company saying that their using it on the
internet is public performance which they don't have a license for?

This cuts to the core of many free software businesses, and I would
therefore like it if there was a release 3 of the GPL making the status of
public performance explicit.

Cheers,
Ben