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Re: Microsoft needs a help strategy

From: ZnU
Subject: Re: Microsoft needs a help strategy
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 21:30:16 -0500
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b2 (Intel Mac OS X)

In article <4980ee5f$0$21796$>,
 "amicus_curious" <> wrote:

> "ZnU" <znu@fake.invalid> wrote in message 
> > In article <4980a453$0$21838$>,
> > "amicus_curious" <> wrote:
> >
> >> "David Kastrup" <> wrote in message
> >> 85bptrnsam.fsf@lola.goethe.zz">news:85bptrnsam.fsf@lola.goethe.zz...
> >>
> >> >
> >> > The recipient of GPLed software is free to declare the GPL void and
> >> > revert to default copyright rules.
> >> >
> >> What is at issue today, though, is the nature of such "default copyright
> >> rules".  If there is no fee charged to use the work or to redistribute 
> >> the
> >> work, the copyright can be ignored unless the author can show some degree 
> >> of
> >> harm to himself.
> >
> > If we're talking about Party A redistributing Party B's unmodified GPL'd
> > work without making the source available, this may be true. But this is
> > trivial, since the source is available to anyone who wants it in this
> > instance from Party B. If a court found against the GPL in a case along
> > these lines, nothing substantial would change.
> >
> > If we're talking about Party A modifying Party B's GPL'd work and
> > redistributing the modified software without making the source
> > available, it seems fairly clear that Party B *has* been harmed in this
> > transaction.
> >
> First off, that has not yet occurred in the SFLC lawsuits.  They all turn, 
> so far, on a company using some tiny Linux and BusyBox utilities on a single 
> purpose device.  There is nothing new to disclose, just one more mirror of 
> some version of BusyBox.
> But if there ever were anything like that, it is not so clear that Party B 
> is harmed.  If Party B has no expectation of any gain financially, then 
> there can be no harm if he doesn't get any.  If the only benefit is some 
> form of publicity or such, that has to be evaluated.  Other third parties 
> may not benefit if the change is not disclosed, but they are not authors and 
> so harm to them is inconsequential to the issue.

I agree with you that harm to third parties is irrelevant as a legal 

But Party B clearly is harmed, despite there being no money involved.

Say Party A and Party B both have an interest in having an Ostrich Farm 
Management application developed, which they both intend to use. So they 
sign a contract: Party B will write modules to keep track of issues 
related to bird mating and feeding, Party A will write the module to 
connect the application to the International Electronic Ostrich 
Exchange, and and they'll all trade source code so they can 
independently develop and maintain the entire application afterwards.

Party B finishes his modules first, and fires the source off to Party A. 
When Party A finishes his modules, though, he refuses to share the 
source with Party B.

No money has changed hands at all during this process. Yet Party A has 
clearly violated the contract, and Party B has clearly been harmed as a 

The GPL's requirements to disclose the source for derivative works, and 
to license those works such that they can be modified and redistributed 
under the same terms as the original work, are fundamentally intended to 
create a situation like the one above, but without requiring prior 
arrangement between the involved parties. The harm is precisely as real.

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them
‹ that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer
apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too
small, but whether it works [...]"        -- Barack Obama, January 20th, 2008

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