They're involved in the distribution
Posted Jul 9, 2007 14:21 UTC (Mon) by sepreece
In reply to: They're involved in the distribution
Parent article: Microsoft's proclamation on GPLv3
Well, the FSF's lawyers are paid to believe as the FSF does and to claim (as lawyers everywhere do) as broad a version of their client's position as possible. Taking their opinion as gospel would be naive.
The specific conditions here are tricky. If Microsoft is directly involved in the transaction between the third party and Novell, then maybe they could be judged to be a party to the license. If they are simply reimbursing the purchaser (as, for instance, Best Buy does when it redeems a store rebate), it would be much harder to find them entangled in the license terms. [IANAL]
The argument about the "or any later version" language is incorrect. Yes, a downstream distributor may choose to distribute under "any later version" if the author chose that language. That decision would bind that distributor and those to whom she distributes, but cannot percolate back upstream. The FAQ clarifies this, especially with regard to patent licenses: "When you convey GPLed software, you must follow the terms and conditions of one particular version of the license." Someone distributing under "GPLv2 or any later version" cannot be said to be distributing under GPLv3, unless the distribution was specifically identified as being under a specific later version. [IANAL]
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