Subject: Re: GPL v3 article - is this the public performance idea?
From: Ben Tilly <>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 01:45:35 -0400

On Apr 9, 2005 11:31 PM, Karsten M. Self <> wrote:
> on Fri, Apr 08, 2005 at 05:42:22PM -0700, Ben Tilly ( wrote:
> > Mike Olson of Sleepycat is quoted in:
> >
> >
> >
> > There is a nice little flamewar on /. about the result.  Everyone and his dog
> > thinks that the change in terms is impossible, nobody would go for it.
> >
> > Personally I'm wondering whether this is the idea that Bruce Perens
> > mentioned to me several years ago, that hosting a website is a public
> > performance, copyright law gives copyright owners the right to control
> > public performances, and the GPL v2 does not grant the right to
> > publically perform works.
> The GPL doesn't speak to this at all.  Section 0:
>     Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not
>     covered by this License; they are outside its scope.  The act of
>     running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the
>     Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on
>     the Program (independent of having been made by running the
>     Program).  Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.
> My read is that anything not restricted by the GPL is allowed.  That's
> consistent with RMS and Eben Moglen's statements WRT v2 and v3
> development.

My read is that the GPL does no restricting at all - copyright law does.
The GPL grants permissions under terms that you might want to take
advantage of.  Therefore if the interpretation of copyright law changed
so that running a website is a public performance of the code that
does so, then you'd need permission to publically perform code - and
the GPL doesn't grant that to you.

> It's also useful to note that v3 has been "under development" for
> _years_, going back to the late 1990s at least.

Yup.  It is an open question whether it takes longer to produce the
Hurd or the GPL v3. :-)

> > Therefore if the GPL v3 did grant this right, it could use it to push
> > Amazon etc to share source code just like the GPL currently pushes
> > proprietary software vendors to do so.
> s/grant/regulated/

No.  The regulation is done by copyright law.  The GPL offers terms
under which copyright law will not be applied against you.

> > If it is not that, then what is it?
> >
> > The idea of allowing companies to opt out of sharing code for a fee is
> > new to me, I'm kind of curious how that would work.
> Send me $1000 and we'll talk.

Good try, but sorry. :-)