From: Brian Mitchell (spamtrap_at_crayne.org)
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 19:07:30 +0000 (UTC)
email@example.com (hutch--) wrote in message news:<firstname.lastname@example.org>...
> Thanks for your comments, there is some interesting stuff here.
> > The GPL permits you to sell or lease software, section 1 provides for
> > this. What you can't do is stop the person you sell it to from selling
> > it to someone else nor can you stop them from creating derived works.
> I imagine this permit would run out of legs if you put your name on a
> Linux distro and tried to sell it as your own.
That's often a seperate matter, as the distributions (a particular
collection of files) are copywritten, and often not GPLed. You can,
however, create a linux distribution of your own and sell it for
money. Technically speaking, you are charging for the copying service
(see section 1 of the gnu public license).
> > The DMCA *does not* say this at all. It is specific to circumvention,
> > not reverse engineering in general. It is a significant blow to 'fair
> > use', but not as significant as some people believe. See
> > http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf
> You must read the DMCA in a different way with the Russian guy who was
> jailed in the US when he came over for a conference as he had found a
> security problem with PDF format files. Whether or not he made money
> out of fixing the security problem in the PDF format, he still got
> hammered very hard when he had not "cracked" anything and exposed a
> serious flaw in the security of that software.
My understanding of the DMCA as it related to reverse engineering is
1: You may noe circumventt a technical measure that effectively
controls access to a work protected under copyright law (this is what
got the russian programmer).
2: You cant manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or
otherwise traffic in any technology,device,component,etc that is
primary designed for circumventing or market such a technology,
There are exemptions for nonprofit libraries (and related), law
enforcement, interoperabilit, encryption research, and security
research. Most people concentrate on section 1201(f) which reads:
`(f) REVERSE ENGINEERING- (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of
subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to
use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological
measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of
that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those
elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability
of an independently created computer program with other programs, and
that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging
in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification
and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.
My reading of this suggests that it applies only to circumvention (and
related) reverse engineering. I'm not a lawyer, and my interpretation
may be totally wrong, although I also got this impression from
statements of other lawyers (there's a small section about the dmca
and related stuff in the book hacking the xbox, which was quite
> Legislation is as good as it was enforced and whether or not it was
> enforced according to the legislation, it certainly was used against
> this guy.
He violated the dmca. It was because he circumvented. If there is no
protection you are circumventing, you are generally ok. If there is
circumvention you are violating and you are a) conducting security
research or b) conducting crypto research AND you have no other way to
conduct said research AND you notify the copyright holder of your
intent to circumvent their protection, you are permitted to reverse
engineer the circumvention. There's also a less stringent exception
granted for interoperability.
> > GPL *was not* designed to build linux, it predates linux by a good
> > number of years.
> I have heard without tracking it down that the origin of GPL was to
> rip off one of the big reseach universities in the US but what put GPL
> on the map was LINUX which is the main vehicle for GPL software.
Perhaps. I look at gcc and emacs as what put gpl on the map, but I
come from a more unix oriented background. My recollection was that
GPL was used to support a unix clone called GNU (which is a recursivel
algorithm which stands for GNU's Not Unix). GNU was to include all the
userland tools a typical unix would have, as well as a kernel and
such. This was a good deal before linux (I want to say the mid 80s,
but I may be wrong here).
I had not heard about the ripping off of the university thing, but if
it happened it would prob be mit. It could just be an urban myth,
> > The GPL is designed with restrictions that encourage free software
> > development.
> The inverse of this statement is that GPL is designed to discourage
> commercial closed source software and it is not missed by people with
> this background. I happily see GPL as directly compatible with the
> design goals of LINUX but when it becomes a method to try and take
> over another area that predates it back to the origins of computing, I
> see it as being misapplied.
There is absolutely positively no doubt in my mind that the gpl is
designed to discourage proprietary code. Stallman has been quite clear
on that, which is why some people (myself included) prefer the bsd
license for things I wish to give away. The BSD license (atleast, the
modified version) basically says I maintain copyright, dont hold me
responsible for what this code does, and you can distribute derived
and non derived versions of this in souce and binary forms.
It's more free than gnu, but doesn't guarantee that freedom
perpetually (since the license is not viral, it does not guarantee the
license will not change -- indeed in the early linux days, there was a
library called libpcap that had not been ported to linux, and some
linux hackers ported it and changed the license to gpl; that sort of
thing is usually frowned on [although completely lawful] though).
> People as cynical as myself see GPL under LINUX as a profit making
> concern for the number of multinational corporations that use LINUX
> without paying the programmers who did all of the hard work to write
> and maintain it. Literally a world wide collection of programmers
> being exploited at the corporate level so they don't have to pay for
> the development of an operating system of their own.
I think most companies creating derived works should, whenever it is
possible, use bsd licensed software (or software under a very similar
license). I don't mean that they should be one-way leeches of open
source software, they can form a beneficial relationship with the
community that helps both sides. Apples relationship with the bsd
community is a decent example, they are good at giving back some
things, but their core stuff remains theirs.
> > If you wish to create a derived work, that work must also
> > be distributed under the same terms. If that's contrary to your goals,
> > than you may want to use the bsd license (preferably the version with
> > the advertising clause removed) or something similar.
> If I can ever find a use for a UNIX based OS, it probably will be BSD
> as the licence appeals to me as a freeware producer and the OS has a
> very good reputation in technical and security terms.