On Novell and Microsoft
Posted Nov 7, 2006 21:23 UTC (Tue) by iabervon
Parent article: On Novell and Microsoft
People are misreading section 7 of the GPL. Section 7 states only that, if you cannot fulfill your GPL obligations due to other obligations, you cannot use your GPL priviledges. If you have a patent license which permits you to fulfill your GPL obligations, but the recipients of the code don't have a patent license, that's not your problem.
Furthermore, you have no GPL obligation to negotiate a patent license for the recipients of the code, any more than you have any obligation to lobby for whatever the software does to be legal in their jurisdictions, or provide them hardware the software runs on, or anything else. All you are obliged to provide them with is the source, licensed under the GPL. For that matter, you could distribute software under the GPL whose source is subject to export restrictions in your country, so long as you, personally, are able to send the source anywhere you actually send the binaries. If someone else gets it, and wants to export the binaries, it's entirely their problem to get the appropriate export license for he source, which they are required to do in order to be able to export the binaries (as explained by section 7); the non-transferability of your export license is not an issue, because your sole obligation is the copyright licensing and availability of the source.
In general, relying on section 7 of the GPL for an argument is unwise, because it ends with "This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License." That is, the FSF believes that section 7 is unnecessary, so you're probably wrong if you think that section 7 implies something that the rest of the GPL doesn't.
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