Subject: Re: GNU and classified software
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 12:12:13 -0400

> Why is it relevant whether or not the code is a work for hire when
> deciding whether giving it to the government is distributing it?

If a GPL compiler is handed from one employee to another, it's not a
distribution -- its a transfer within a single legal entity.

Similarly, if the contracting agent (in this case the government) legally
owns the artifact (the modified GCC), then it's probably not a distribution
as far as the courts are concerned.

You are correct that a contractor is not an employee, and that the
modification is therefore not a work for hire. My recollection, however, is
that in a contracting arrangement the ownership of the result vests in the
party hiring the contractor unless other provisions are made.

Thus, the contractor passing the modified GCC back to the government is
rather like a good samaritan returning your property to you. It's not a

On your other points, thanks for clarification and well said.