Relicensing and rebasing LibreOffice
Posted Jun 2, 2012 1:55 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata
In reply to: Relicensing and rebasing LibreOffice
Parent article: Relicensing and rebasing LibreOffice
If it is legal for the final recipient to have the bits, does it really matter the exact method that that user got the bits?
If you mean legally, than it pretty clearly does matter. It matters mainly because copyright law is based on traditional hardware copying, and legislators have been slow to adapt it to the complex world of software.
This causes some crazy results, but a) courts are bound by law even if it's crazy; and b) it's hard to come up with laws that avoid the crazy outcomes without also avoiding the intended ones. It's a complicated area.
I read about a company that runs a building with hundreds of little antennas in it, providing a separate feed of TV broadcasts to each of its customers. This was because some smart lawyers determined that would be legal where simply splitting the signal from one antenna would be a copyright violation.
I also read about a service where customers make fair use copies of their music CDs and transmit the data to a company which stores the data for backup and other fair uses. I suppose the company kept a thousand identical copies of the same album because smart lawyers determined that was legal where having one shared copy isn't. And I wonder if it makes a difference if they store them in a modern compressing storage system that stores those thousand copies with pointers to the same area on a disk platter.
But you don't have to get that weird to see copyright law doing the wrong thing in an individual case. Just look at the simple case of a teenager copying a music album that he absolutely would not have bought himself. Nothing really wrong with that, but clearly illegal.
Worse: a company spends $20K independently developing some code that someone else already wrote, because that other person refused to license it. What a waste.
But all good rules come with collateral damage.
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