Subject: Re: GPL v3 article - is this the public performance idea?
From: Seth Gordon <>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 08:20:55 -0400

Ben Tilly wrote:
> 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.  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.

IANAL, I think it would be a real stretch to interpret the use of a 
program to control a Web site as a "performance" of that program under 
copyright law.

In the case where a musical work is being performed, you could argue 
that the performance is really a special form of distribution: the 
experience of hearing the live performance is a partial substitution for 
the experience of hearing a copy of a recording that you obtain 
yourself, and someone who records the performance could reconstruct a 
lot of the original sheet music and lyrics from the recording.

By contrast, even if Google or Amazon uses derivatives of GPL-ed 
software on its back end, having that software would not at all 
substitute for using their services, and you couldn't reverse-engineer 
the code from merely the interactions you have with it over the Web.