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I think you've answered your own question. If the sale of the routers to Verizon was illegal
(because ActionTec had no license for the software), why would Verizon be covered by first
sale doctrine when they resell them?
BusyBox developers go after Verizon
Posted Dec 10, 2007 14:48 UTC (Mon) by sepreece (subscriber, #19270)
First sale assumes a legal copy, so, no, it probably wouldn't apply if Actiontec had
distributed illegally [*] Under the terms of the license, in such a situation Verizon would be
under the normal license terms (that is, they would have all normal GPLv2 rights and
However, at the time I wrote the note I assumed Actiontec's distribution was legal, because I
had no reason to think otherwise (the complaint was only against Verizon). I have since read
something that suggests the authors may also have had an issue with Actiontec, but that was
not visible in the announcement, so I didn't know about it. Today, Actiontec has the source on
their website; I have no idea whether they had provided an appropriate offer letter with the
products or whether the source was on their website prior to the complaint.
[*] maybe. IANAL. The GPL is different enough from normal licenses that it's hard to know how
a court would apply it in such a case. A court might hold that the intent of section (4) was
to treat recipients of illegal distribution as though the distribution had been legal, and
that therefore first sale would apply. Or it might hold that the section (4) should be read
directly, as imposing the GPL terms. Or it might hold something entirely different, rooted in
commercial law rather than in the license.
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