Subject: Re: GNU and classified software
From: Norbert Bollow <>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 16:38:04 +0200

> > > > So here's an evil meme:  Dr. Crispie's Evil Proprietary GCC Club.
> >
> > The non-sharing constraint violates GPL, and there isn't an intellectual
> > property contract.
> How so?  A company can constrain an employee from distributing GPL'd wares.
> Why can't an Evil Club constrain members from sharing?

The club can constrain members from sharing but then the club
cannot at the same time distribute the software to the members 
with permission to use it for non-club purposes.  In the same
way, companies which constrain an employee from distributing a
derivative product of a GPL'd program cannot legally allow the
employees to use this derivative product for their own private
(non company related) purposes.  The difference is that I think
that the FSF is not very likely to sue a company which violates
the GPL on a small scale without really, harming anyone - while
on the other hand I'm pretty sure that the FSF will sue your
Evil Club if it distributes a derivative product of GCC to
members and prohibits them from redistributing it.

The club is allowed to develop a proprietary version of GCC and
avoid distributing it at all.  It particular, this means that
the proprietary version of GCC must not be made available to the
members for using it in their own businesses - that would be
distibution from one legal entity (the club) to another legal
entity (the member's business).  The club is allowed to simply
use the "proprietary GCC" on behalf of the members, i.e. the club
would handle all compilation and installation of software for the

This is not a problem, because the goal of the GNU GPL is to
maximize the market share of Free Software among all software
that is distributed to anyone - it is not the goal of the GNU
GPL to restrict the possible business models for software-
related service businesses.

Greetings, Norbert.

Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59     Fax +41 1 972 20 69

  But for that you don't need an "Evil Club", then you
simply have a business which compiles and installs software for


However if the club does not distribute the "propritary GCC" to
the members, but just uses it on their behalf (the club might
handle all compilation and installation of software for the
members), that is allowed by the GNU GPL.

, as it should be because this
kind of set-up harms only the club members and not yone
else.  (distributing the modified version of GCC
but rather using it to provide a service.

It is good that the club cannot _distribute_ 

> > Have all members sign all IP rights to Dr. Crispie and
> > you might have something, though..:-)
> I also don't see how that changes things.
> Crispin
> --
> Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
> Chief Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc.
> Security Hardened Linux Distribution: