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Bounding GPL compliance times

Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 10, 2011 23:44 UTC (Thu) by PaulWay (subscriber, #45600)
Parent article: Bounding GPL compliance times

Surely there is plenty of legal precedent in other situations about how long a delay between a request to comply with a license and compliance can take. Warranty claims, freedom of information requests, product safety and testing information, and so forth. I do agree that it would be nice to make it more explicit, but it doesn't actually make it more likely that they'll comply if they don't want to.

Have fun,

Paul


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Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 11, 2011 18:57 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

how long a delay between a request to comply with a license and compliance

It's not a request to comply with a license; it's a request for source code. It's a condition of the license under which people copy/distribute this code that they supply source code to anyone who requests it.

BTW, note that the proposed wording is essentially a suggestion. The author knows that Linus can't specify a time limit without losing his own license to distribute this code (because he would be adding restrictions).

Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 12, 2011 1:31 UTC (Sat) by jthill (subscriber, #56558) [Link]

It seems to me that when or whether someone takes legal action for violating the terms of a license has nothing to do with the obligation to comply with those terms.

And that granting permission to violate a license for fourteen days, consequence-free, does not constitute adding restrictions to that license.

Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 12, 2011 3:04 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

And that granting permission to violate a license for fourteen days, consequence-free, does not constitute adding restrictions to that license

Are you maybe under the impression that the conditions of the kernel license require anyone who distributes kernel object code to distribute the source code along with it? It doesn't. It just says if someone who gets the object code from you asks for the source code, you have to give it. And it doesn't say how quickly.

Your phrasing "permission to violate a license" confuses the issue too. A license isn't something one can violate. A license doesn't require anyone to do anything. It just gives permission. The only thing to be violated is copyright, which you violate when you distribute code without a license, which is what you're doing if you don't meet the conditions of any license which was offered to you.

Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 12, 2011 3:58 UTC (Sat) by jthill (subscriber, #56558) [Link]

No, but I confess I hadn't noticed the requirement to make an offer doesn't constitute a requirement to make good on it, particularly not one so ridiculously easy to fulfill.

How anyone could not see that "violate a license" means "do things not permitted by that license" is beyond me tonight. Maybe I'll figure it out in the morning, apologies in advance.

Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 13, 2011 2:04 UTC (Sun) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

How anyone could not see that "violate a license" means "do things not permitted by that license" is beyond me tonight.

Well for one thing, that's not what anybody means when he says "violate a license." There are an infinite number of things any given license does not permit. The kernel license, for example, does not permit me to walk through Linus' back yard. If I walk through Linus' back yard, am I violating the license?

The phrasing "violate the license" or "permission to violate the license" tends to make newcomers to the issue imagine that an author has more power than he has -- that when you use the author's code, you live by the author's rules and he can write any law he wants into "the license." You can't understand GPL issues unless you fully understand that the only power the author has is to stop people from copying his code, and then only according to some specific leglislation giving him that power.

Even you may have fallen into the trap of confusing conditional permission with a prohibition when you were surprised that GPL doesn't require a distributor to make good on his promise to supply source code. A conditional license to distribute simply doesn't have the power to make someone do something after he has already distributed (copied).

GPL authors obviously expect a judge to say that the offer of source code has to be genuine, which means the offeror intended and expected to make good on it. So if he has no good reason for refusing a request for source code, that's strong evidence he never made a genuine offer, which means he never had permission to copy, which means he has violated copyright.

Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 13, 2011 9:18 UTC (Sun) by jthill (subscriber, #56558) [Link]

You can't understand GPL issues unless you fully understand that the only power the author has is to stop people from copying his code, and then only according to some specific legislation giving him that power

Yes. Quick last bit of diagnostics first? It seems to me I was just carrying a little more context. We're discussing a specific case, a company's act of distribution, and the terms under which their license permits that act, in a situation where permission is required by law and either the license permits it or nothing within notice does.

In the general case, without that context, I can see it could be interpreted in misleading ways. And overreaching with licenses is an especially sensitive issue now. A quick google for "license violation" tells me it's going to be difficult to uproot the usage. Not good; creating and taking advantage of confusion like that is the business of rented mouths and their thralls.

Even you may have fallen into the trap of confusing conditional permission with a prohibition when you were surprised that GPL doesn't require a distributor to make good on his promise
Mmm. I certainly missed the consequence, but not from that particular confusion. Looking at it again this, erm, now yesterday, morning prompted me to check V3. That indefinite article gets just as much help there. I guess I'm not the first to think that's going to wind up troublesome. Seems to me there are some very wrong ways to proceed here.

Bounding GPL compliance times

Posted Feb 18, 2011 19:38 UTC (Fri) by oak (guest, #2786) [Link]

Note that with Linux kernel using GPLv2, the consequence of violating the license is much serious than with GPLv3.

Quoting from "5.2 Termination" section of GPL compliance guide:
http://www.softwarefreedom.org/resources/2008/compliance-...

"Since your rights under GPLv2 terminate automatically upon your initial violation, all subsequent distributions are violations and infringements of copyright. Therefore, even if you resolve a violation on your own, you must still seek a reinstatement of rights from the copyright holders whose licenses you violated, lest you remain liable for infringement for even compliant distributions made subsequent to the initial violation.

GPLv3 is more lenient. If you have distributed only v3-licensed programs, you may be eligible under v3 ยง 8 for automatic reinstatement of rights."

With the number of kernel copyright holders, if your license is terminated (i.e. you cannot legally sell your devices), it may be practically impossible to get it re-instated under GPLv2 as it requires contacting all the copyright holders AND getting them to agree that you can still do the distribution.


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