The "Death Penalty"...
Posted Mar 28, 2012 0:47 UTC (Wed) by rqosa
In reply to: The "Death Penalty"...
Parent article: Enforcing the GPL with Judo moves (The H)
> You've said many times that you don't need to keep the content of the RAM used by your NIC device and you don't need to have any license to enjoy exceptions granted by §117.
For the §117 rights, that's true — because it doesn't matter whether the private copies you made are one, two, …, or N generations away from the "original". So, for example, you can copy it from NIC to HDD (passing through CPU RAM and the disk controller along the way), then from HDD to a flash drive, from flash drive to another computer's HDD, etc etc.
But the first-sale right is a different matter altogether — it means that you are allowed to sell the "original", but not any copies of it (in fact, §117 says that you must destroy all such copies when you sell the "original"). So if the courts decide that the NIC RAM was the "original copy", then you can't exercise your first-sale rights at all for downloaded software.
> when the content of the RAM used by your NIC device is lost you still keep original (or else §117 will demand that you destroy all copies)
No, §117 doesn't demand that you destroy all copies when the original is destroyed. (If it did, that would totally negate the point of allowing you to make "archival copies".) It demands that you destroy them when you lose the right to possess the original copy — in other words, when you sell the original copy, or when a court decides that you didn't actually own the original copy in the first place (which is what happened in Vernor v. Autodesk).
> correct original is most definitely the copy on HDD
That's not obvious at all.
> I agree, I messed up when I thought GPL-circumvention scheme requires use of §117: it does not
Yes, now that I think about it, it's not actually correct that "they would need to invoke more than just §117, but also the "first sale" right" — instead, §117 is totally irrelevant in this case, and all that matters is whether "first sale" applies or not.
> at least not directly. Instead it uses indirectly: to establish just what is “original copy”.
§117 does not clarify exactly what is the "original copy" in the case of software distributed by download. That is something that's up to the courts to decide.
And I expect that in the event that a router manufacturer did try to invoke first-sale rights in the manner that you described, the courts would quickly establish a legal precedent that the first-sale right only applies to distribution by tangible media, and not to downloads. In fact, I believe that this is already the general consensus, at least among companies in the pay-to-download business (e.g. GamersGate, GOG.com, eMusic, Amazon, etc.), and among companies in the used-media business (e.g. thrift stores, used record stores, etc.). For example, suppose that I take a DVD+RW disc full of Windows games (DRM-less ones, even) that I downloaded from a pay-to-download store to a local thrift store, and say to them "I bought these legitimately and I've deleted all my copies of them other than the ones on this disc, so it's legal for you to buy this disc and resell it; will you buy it from me?" They'd tell me "no, we won't buy it" for sure, because they're not willing to take the risk that first-sale rights don't apply in this case. (And this same thrift store does sell used CD-ROMs with PC software.)
> Take your pick: either you need a license (implied or otherwise) to download and use any software or you don't need it and then it's Ok to sell GPL-compliant routers without source using aforementioned scheme. You can not have both at the same time.
Take your pick: either the source-less firmware in the router is the "original copy" (in which case the Chinese supplier is guilty of copyright infringement), or it is a non-original copy (and maybe not even an exact copy) made by the US manufacturer (in which case the US router manufacturer is guilty of copyright infringement). You are the one who's trying to have it both ways!
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