That's a grey area...



  • At a previous employ WTF's occurred on a daily basis... everything from developers being made IT managers to database passwords being storred in plain-text in the registry. But I digress.

    The following took place on my second last day with the company, who I'll call Global Composites.

    For months we'd been waiting for a new factory and office building, it had been touted as the promised land that would surely save us from all the trials and tribulations of the past.... however I suspect that the time of problems is far from over.

    The time finally came to shift our datacentre (I use that term lightly) into its new home and that meant also rejoining all the PCs from a previously satellite Head Office into the AD domain once again. However one of these PCs, a laptop was a little different...

    This pc belonged to the company's training officer, someone who apparently had an extensive IT background. Unfortunately, in it's 1 year of use this employee saw fit to fill it with assorted pirated AVI dvd-rips, music, cracked software installations and the like.

    This being a company laptop, a fellow Admin decided to clear these files and in the process in-advertently deleted some psuedo-legitimate music files (ripped training CDs). They were mixed in with other questionable mp3 files, so it was not a hard mistake to make...

    At this point, the laptop was back to working efficiently and we thought that was that... so to speak. However this employee thought it prudent to complain to management about his loss, including his music and illegal content. His point of contact was our new IT manager, someone whom I thought should know the implications of illegal content to a company.

    However it was at this point I was told "You see because the laptop is mentioned in the employee's contract, it is technically partially his and thus must be allowed certain freedoms, one of which is to store his home files if need be. So its a bit of a grey area" - IT Manager. I can understand if this was a salary sacrificed laptop, but the fact is... it wasn't, it was a company laptop that was his work machine for the duration of his employment, pretty clear cut in my opinion. I doubt very much that the company would reimburse the employee his part of the laptop when he left the company...

    It was at this point my fellow Admin was called in for disciplinary action for deleting a user's files....



  • Well, maybe the admin should ask the BSA, the RIAA and the MPAA about their opinion to this matter. Could turn out that the IT manager iis right and he isn't.



  • Living in Slovenia he would be right. and it wouldn't be even gray area. Here we have laws which protects your privacy and event company computers can contain my personal information.

    Few weeks ago police took several computers for the investigation. They were all taken out of the investigation evidence, because police would need court order to check only specific emails. They only had court order which allowed them to take computers out of offices.

    I know, personal information does not belong on company computer and if you have them on it, it should be your problem, not problem of the company.  But when did laws make any sense anyway.



  • How did you know that all of these files were pirated? IANAL, but ripping DVDs or making mp3s out of CDs is nothing illegal in itself, neither is cracking software.

    On the other hand, I think you're right about having private files on work computers IF the company's policies forbid that, which seems not to be the case.



  • @beermouse said:

    neither is cracking software

    "you are not allowed to modify or reverse-engineer any part of this software...", or how do they state it in every End User Lincence Agreement (except open-source, offcourse).



  • @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    "you are not allowed to modify or reverse-engineer any part of this software...", or how do they state it in every End User Lincence Agreement (except open-source, offcourse).
     

    EULA != law. So it could still be legal. Depending on the country's law.



  • Last time I checked it wasn't illegal to take a CD you own and convert the music to MP3 for your IPOD or PC.

     

     Next you're gonna tell me that I am going to jail for ripping off the tag on my pillow!!!

     



  • @amischiefr said:

    Last time I checked it wasn't illegal to take a CD you own and convert the music to MP3 for your IPOD or PC.

     

     Next you're gonna tell me that I am going to jail for ripping off the tag on my pillow!!!

     

     

    Shhh, before the North American Pillow Association (NAPA) hears about this ...



  • @beermouse said:

    ripping DVDs

    Illegal under the DMCA and similar laws.

     

    @beermouse said:

    making mp3s out of CDs

    Not illegal under most copyright laws.

     

    @beermouse said:

    cracking software

    Not really a settled issue.  Software licenses are legal contracts in the US, but there are all kinds of other weird consequences since the contract means that the software publisher actually owns your copy of the software, not you.  In other countries, I have no clue.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @beermouse said:

    ripping DVDs

    Illegal under the DMCA and similar laws.

     

    @beermouse said:

    making mp3s out of CDs

    Not illegal under most copyright laws.

     

    @beermouse said:

    cracking software

    Not really a settled issue.  Software licenses are legal contracts in the US, but there are all kinds of other weird consequences since the contract means that the software publisher actually owns your copy of the software, not you.  In other countries, I have no clue.

    So then, the Administrator was destroying evidence, right?



  • @Juifeng said:

    @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    "you are not allowed to modify or reverse-engineer any part of this software...", or how do they state it in every End User Lincence Agreement (except open-source, offcourse).
     

    EULA != law. So it could still be legal. Depending on the country's law.

     But I agree. Cmiiw, but an EULA has never been tested in court. I believe GPL is (result: either abide GPL or use copyright. If you think GPL is not valid normal copyright laws apply).



  • @dtech said:

    But I agree. Cmiiw, but an EULA has never been tested in court. I believe GPL is (result: either abide GPL or use copyright. If you think GPL is not valid normal copyright laws apply).

    Software licenses have been tested in US courts and are valid contracts.  The GPL is one such license.  There are some odd side-effects of this, though, as the purchaser does not own licensed software so it raises other legal questions that have not been settled. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @dtech said:

    But I agree. Cmiiw, but an EULA has never been tested in court. I believe GPL is (result: either abide GPL or use copyright. If you think GPL is not valid normal copyright laws apply).

    Software licenses have been tested in US courts and are valid contracts. 

    Depends on the type of license. Shrink-wrapped EULAs have a mixed record in court. The general consensus seems to be that they're legal but there are a lot of mitigating factors than can nullify them. On the other hand, click-through licenses have been almost universally upheld.



  • @bstorer said:

    Depends on the type of license. Shrink-wrapped EULAs have a mixed record in court. The general consensus seems to be that they're legal but there are a lot of mitigating factors than can nullify them. On the other hand, click-through licenses have been almost universally upheld.

    Mostly what seems to be the case is that shrink-wrap licenses are okay if the terms are presented to the user with an "I agree" type button and with the requirement that the merchant that sold the software must give a refund if the license is not agreed to.



  • I had that happen to me, but that was because my company REFUSED to buy development tools for us like TOAD for developing in oracle, and refused to do any research to find any alternatives. They just told us to use toad, but did not give us a license... Sorry they did give us a license to an OLD unstable version that crashed every 2 hrs at best. I downloaded a new version which crashed every 6 hrs (woo). And I was never given a licence to the old version anyways.

     

    However policy was clear: No illegal software, if found it is deleted, and possibly the employee is fired.



  • @dlikhten said:

    my company REFUSED to buy development tools for
    us like TOAD for developing in oracle, and refused to do any research
    to find any alternatives
    There are quite a few free Oracle development tools out there.  Maybe at the time, there weren't as many, but most of them are still shit.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @beermouse said:

    making mp3s out of CDs

    Not illegal under most copyright laws.

     

    Illegal under UK copyright law. Unless they changed it within the past few months.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Software licenses have been tested in US courts and are valid contracts.  The GPL is one such license.

    The GPL is not a EULA.  It is a distribution license, not a contract.  Its enforcability comes directly from copyright law, not contract law.  The GPL places no restrictions on the end user.

    EULAs as contracts have been tested in [i]some[/i] state courts.  The concept fails as often as it passes.  There are serious problems with EULAs as contracts -- specifically that you pay for the software before you can read the EULA, you don't sign your EULA like you would a contract,  various unconscionable clauses in "standard" EULAS, and a few other things that sane contract law requires.



  • @poopdeville said:

    The GPL is not a EULA.  It is a distribution license, not a contract.  Its enforcability comes directly from copyright law, not contract law.  The GPL places no restrictions on the end user.

    They are the same thing.  There is no such thing as "enforceability" of a license within copyright law.  License enforceability comes into play because you do not own the software that you purchase / download.  Instead, you are permitted to use the software so long as you follow a certain set of legal obligations, but you do not own it like you do a book or movie or other creative work that is government by copyright law.

     

    @poopdeville said:

    EULAs as contracts have been tested in some state courts.

    Which doesn't matter because they've been upheld by the federal courts which take precedence here.

     

    @poopdeville said:

    The concept fails as often as it passes.

    No, it doesn't.  The only times licensing has failed has been when the end-user was not given the opportunity to accept the license through some kind of "I agree" button.  Because there was no explicit consent to the contract, it was not legal.

     

    @poopdeville said:

    There are serious problems with EULAs as contracts -- specifically that you pay for the software before you can read the EULA

    As I said above, this absolutely does not matter.  If you do not accept the EULA, you can return the software (not that some retailers won't give you a hard time about it).  Purchasing the software is not the same thing as agreeing to the contract.

     

    @poopdeville said:

    you don't sign your EULA like you would a contract

    No signature is required for a contract (where do people get these ideas?), only explicit consent (or in some cases, implicit consent is enough).  Think about services you have signed up for over the Internet or telephone -- no signature required.  Your signature is simply a way to prove that you provided explicit consent for a paper contract.

     

    @poopdeville said:

    various unconscionable clauses in "standard" EULAS

    Like what?  I'm not aware of anything that isn't legal under contract law within standard EULAs, but if there were such things, they would simply be unenforceable, just like any illegal clause of any contract.

     

    @poopdeville said:

    and a few other things that sane contract law requires.

    Like what?



  • Woohoo, thread derailed!

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @poopdeville said:

    The GPL is not a EULA.  It is a distribution license, not a contract.  Its enforcability comes directly from copyright law, not contract law.  The GPL places no restrictions on the end user.

    They are the same thing.  There is no such thing as "enforceability" of a license within copyright law.  License enforceability comes into play because you do not own the software that you purchase / download.  Instead, you are permitted to use the software so long as you follow a certain set of legal obligations, but you do not own it like you do a book or movie or other creative work that is government by copyright law.


    Last time I read the GPL, it was no contract between two parties, but a license under which a text (often times source code) can be published, describing how it may be used. It's also not touching any copyright, since that right stays with the writer/coder/company.

    @morbiuswilters said:


    @poopdeville said:

    you don't sign your EULA like you would a contract

    No signature is required for a contract (where do people get these ideas?), only explicit consent (or in some cases, implicit consent is enough).  Think about services you have signed up for over the Internet or telephone -- no signature required.  Your signature is simply a way to prove that you provided explicit consent for a paper contract.

     


    You can have agreements between two or more parties without signing a contract. However, contracts need to be signed. An EULA is not called a contract for that reason.

     




  • @beermouse said:

    Last time I read the GPL, it was no contract between two parties, but a license under which a text (often times source code) can be published, describing how it may be used. It's also not touching any copyright, since that right stays with the writer/coder/company.

    License is essentially a promise not to sue for using a (copyrighted or patented) work, as long as you abide by some rules stated in the license. For all purposes, it's a contract between you and copyright or patent holders.

    "A contract is an exchange of promises between two or more parties to do or refrain from doing an act which is enforceable in a court of law". I don't see how licence agreement is not a contract. Moreover, small deals, such as retail purchases, are contracts, too.

     



  • @beermouse said:

    You can have agreements between two or more parties without signing a contract. However, contracts need to be signed.

    Nonsense.  Many (most?) agreements are contracts, whether the agreement was made orally (no signature at all) or in writing.  You don't need a signature on a written contract either, though it's the usual way of recording that you accepted the contract. 

    Why, just last night I made a contract with the postal service merely by dropping a properly-stamped envelope in a mailbox.  No signature, and they didn't even see me do it!

    Trying to prove that you made a non-written contract with another party -- now that can get annoying.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @poopdeville said:

    The GPL is not a EULA.  It is a distribution license, not a contract.  Its enforcability comes directly from copyright law, not contract law.  The GPL places no restrictions on the end user.

    They are the same thing.  There is no such thing as "enforceability" of a license within copyright law.  License enforceability comes into play because you do not own the software that you purchase / download.  Instead, you are permitted to use the software so long as you follow a certain set of legal obligations, but you do not own it like you do a book or movie or other creative work that is government by copyright law.

    No, they're very different. If you get your hands on a piece of GPL-licensed software, you are permitted to use it regardless of if you agree to the GPL or not. The GPL is a copyright license (and thus, falls under copyright law rather than contract law) that permits you to make and distribute additional copies of the software under certain conditions.



    Software with EULAs require you to agree to the EULA before you are allowed to use the software, and the EULA falls under contract law rather than copyright law.



  • @Carnildo said:

    If you get your hands on a piece of GPL-licensed software, you are permitted to use it regardless of if you agree to the GPL or not. The GPL is a copyright license (and thus, falls under copyright law rather than contract law) that permits you to make and distribute additional copies of the software under certain conditions.

    I would argue that you are substantially agreeing to the GPL by only using the software and not redistributing it or any derived works.  Whether it's also a contract or just a license (I'm not wading into that debate), you can't possibly breach the contract or the license if you never redistribute the software or derivatives.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @poopdeville said:

    The GPL is not a EULA.  It is a distribution license, not a contract.  Its enforcability comes directly from copyright law, not contract law.  The GPL places no restrictions on the end user.

    They are the same thing.  There is no such thing as "enforceability" of a license within copyright law.  License enforceability comes into play because you do not own the software that you purchase / download.  Instead, you are permitted to use the software so long as you follow a certain set of legal obligations, but you do not own it like you do a book or movie or other creative work that is government by copyright law.

     

    No, you are wrong. 

    The GPL sets limits on a DISTRIBUTOR'S right to reproduce or distribute a "product".  It does not place limits on the "end user's" ability to use or modify the software.  This is what distinguishes the GPL from an END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT, which place legal obligations on the USER.

     The "enforcability" of the GPL derives from copyright law -- if a distributor does not want to comply with the GPL, the distributor must comply with "regular" copyright law, where "All Rights (are) Reserved" by default.  In this case, the distributor has no right to distribute the software unless he is in fact the copyright holder to begin with.  This is unlike EULA's, where you can be obligated to NOT use software you hold the copyright for in certain ways -- say, because of contractual obligations.  Consider a work for hire, where the contractor negotiated that only up to 10 users can use it.

     @morbiuswilters said:

     

    @poopdeville said:

    various unconscionable clauses in "standard" EULAS

    Like what?  I'm not aware of anything that isn't legal under contract law within standard EULAs, but if there were such things, they would simply be unenforceable, just like any illegal clause of any contract.

     

     No right to sue, no guarantee for fitness of purpose, etc.

     Not that there [i]is[/i] a standard EULA.  But these kinds of clauses are relatively common, and render entire real-world contracts unenforcable.

     @wikipedia said:


    The enforceability of an EULA depends on several factors, one of them
    being the court in which the case is heard. Some courts that have
    addressed the validity of the shrinkwrap license agreements have found
    some EULAs to be invalid, characterizing them as contracts of adhesion, unconscionable, and/or unacceptable pursuant to the U.C.C. —see, for instance, Step-Saver Data Systems, Inc. v. Wyse Technology (939 F.2d 91), Vault Corp. v. Quaid Software Ltd. (at harvard.edu) and Rich, Mass Market Software and the Shrinkwrap License (23 Colo. Law 1321.17). Other courts have determined that the shrinkwrap license agreement is valid and enforceable: see ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg (at findlaw.com), Microsoft v. Harmony Computers (846 F. Supp. 208, 212, E.D.N.Y. 1994), Novell v. Network Trade Center (at harvard.edu), and Arizona Cartridge Remanufacturers Association Inc. v. Lexmark International Inc.
    may have some bearing as well. No Court has ruled on the validity of
    EULAs generally; decisions are limited to particular provisions and
    terms.


     



  • @Carnildo said:

    No, they're very different. If you get your hands on a piece of GPL-licensed software, you are permitted to use it regardless of if you agree to the GPL or not. The GPL is a copyright license (and thus, falls under copyright law rather than contract law) that permits you to make and distribute additional copies of the software under certain conditions.



    Software with EULAs require you to agree to the EULA before you are allowed to use the software, and the EULA falls under contract law rather than copyright law.

    No, they are very much similar within the context I was arguing.  If you get your hands on a piece of GPL software, you are the owner of that piece of software which means you have all the rights any owner of a piece of software (or any copyrighted work) does.  You can use it, you can make modifications to it and you can make a million copies of it if you want.  When you pay for proprietary software, you are not the owner of the software, which means you have none of the rights granted.  However, if you agree to a contract (the license) you are permitted some rights.  With the GPL, if you agree to their contract (the GPL) you are permitted rights that an owner of a copy is not normally permitted (the right of redistribution) in exchange for following the contract.

     

    So my point being that shrinkwrap/proprietary licenses and the GPL are both types of contracts that grant you extended rights beyond what you would normally possess in exchange for compliance with certain terms.  The only difference is that with the GPL that if someone uses their legal right to distribute a copy to you (either by being the copyright owner or by following the terms of the contract) then you have the full rights of an owner of a copy of the software, something proprietary software publishers tend to reserve solely for themselves. 



  • @poopdeville said:

    No, you are wrong. 

    The GPL sets limits on a DISTRIBUTOR'S right to reproduce or distribute a "product".  It does not place limits on the "end user's" ability to use or modify the software.  This is what distinguishes the GPL from an END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT, which place legal obligations on the USER.

    The "enforcability" of the GPL derives from copyright law -- if a distributor does not want to comply with the GPL, the distributor must comply with "regular" copyright law, where "All Rights (are) Reserved" by default.  In this case, the distributor has no right to distribute the software unless he is in fact the copyright holder to begin with.  This is unlike EULA's, where you can be obligated to NOT use software you hold the copyright for in certain ways -- say, because of contractual obligations.  Consider a work for hire, where the contractor negotiated that only up to 10 users can use it.

    Read above.   Both licenses are contracts and they both derive their power from copyright law.  I understand there is a difference in terms of what restrictions are applied, but that wasn't what I was talking about.  Both proprietary licenses and the GPL are contracts that are enforced through contract law.  Both get people to agree to the contract by offering rights above and beyond what are normally allowed.  Additionally, there is one implicit constraint put on the end-user by the GPL: the end user must obtain their copy from someone who agreed to the GPL or who owned the copyright.  This is a rather minor point, but if the user obtains their copy from someone who did not follow the GPL, their copy is an unauthorized copy and they are violating copyright law (which is how the copyright holder can go after the distributor who did not follow the GPL in the first place).  What this means is that theoretically you can be sued or even criminally prosecuted (where applicable) for simply using GPL'd software that came from a non-GPL-complying source.  Now, the chances of that happening are pretty slim, but it is still possible.  Your second point is completely outside the realm of this discussion -- we are not discussing contracts that are agreed to for reasons other than compliance with copyright law.

     

    @poopdeville said:

    No right to sue, no guarantee for fitness of purpose, etc.

    Not that there is a standard EULA.  But these kinds of clauses are relatively common, and render entire real-world contracts unenforcable.

    I wouldn't call those things wrong, although they may be illegal.  If you agree to the contract, you should be bound by it.


    @wikipedia said:

    blah blah blah

    So how does this affect most EULAs?  It sounds like those licenses were not compliant with the law in some respect, which most EULAs are.



  • @beermouse said:

    Woohoo, thread derailed!
    Hardly.  We're not talking about Siberian Muff Divers yet.



  • @beermouse said:

    Last time I read the GPL, it was no contract between two parties, but a license under which a text (often times source code) can be published, describing how it may be used. It's also not touching any copyright, since that right stays with the writer/coder/company.

    Licenses are contracts.  Read above.

     

    @beermouse said:

    You can have agreements between two or more parties without signing a contract. However, contracts need to be signed. An EULA is not called a contract for that reason.

    You'e already been pwn3d by AssimilatedByBorg on this point, but I'd just like to reiterate how absurdly ignorant you sound.



  •  Hey guys, long time reader, first time poster :)

     

     

    I'm the admin in question here, just thought i'd clarify a few things...

     

     Regardless of the legality of it all, each user agrees to a standard 'computer agreement' when they sign in to their computer, with a signed hardcopy in their HR file... but.. here's some extracts of that agreement:)

     

    "All personal data is to be stored at one central point which shall be provided to the employees by MyCompany Pty Ltd. All personal data stored outside this provided location will be assumed to be of a disposable nature and its integrity can not be guaranteed."  -- this wasn't done

     

    "The following activities are strictly prohibited, with no exceptions:"

     "Unauthorized copying of copyrighted material including, but not limited to, digitization and distribution of photographs from magazines, books or other copyrighted sources, copyrighted music, and the installation of any copyrighted software for which MyCompany Pty Ltd or the end user does not have an active license is strictly prohibited."

     "Violations of the rights of any person or company protected by copyright, trade secret, patent or other intellectual property, or similar laws or regulations, including, but not limited to, the installation or distribution or burning of "pirated" or other software products that are not appropriately licensed for use by MyCompany Pty Ltd."

     Note that it doesn't really say anything concrete about legalities, rather 'copyrighted' material - if you want to get picky :P

     


    Oh, and the user in question was standing next to me all while i was doing this, and pointed out certain directories for me to not delete, as they were (legit) personal files..  so under his instruction, i didn't delete them :P

     

     

    No doubt someone will get picky with what i've said... but eh, IT admins gotta be thick skinned :P



  • @Cael said:

     Hey guys, long time reader, first time poster :)

    Welcome. 

     

    @Cael said:

     Note that it doesn't really say anything concrete about legalities, rather 'copyrighted' material - if you want to get picky :P

    If you want to get super-picky, "unauthorized copying of copyrighted materials" means the distribution of said materials.  So ripping your own personally-owned CDs technically doesn't violate that.  Then again, I don't understand why you wouldn't have the ability to re-rip any material stored on a work machine.  So the whole things seems moot and kind of whiny WRT to the OP.  Thanks for posting -- it's rare we get to hear both sides of a WTF.



  •  Yeah, he actually had the original media of the 'training CDs' sitting next to his laptop :)

     

    Regardless of all the above, downloaded divx's of movies, along with ripped copies(for distribution, by admission)of DVDs(full vob rips), that is really what made it a WTF....

     

     

     

    Oh, the training co-ordinator had no disciplinary action taken against him, by the way :)



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    [quote user="beermouse"]ripping DVDs

    Illegal under the DMCA and similar laws.

    [/quote]
    I seem to recall a specific exemption in the DMCA for circumventing copy-protection for the purpose of interoperability. Thus if you own the DVD and are making a copy of it to play in a device that has no DVD drive...



  • @joemck said:

    I seem to recall a specific exemption in the DMCA for circumventing copy-protection for the purpose of interoperability. Thus if you own the DVD and are making a copy of it to play in a device that has no DVD drive...
    'Fraid not. The DMCA allows reverse engineering a computer program, including the circumvention of copy-protection, for the purpose of designing an interoperable, independent program. That's it.
    @17 USC 1201(f)(4) said:
    For purposes of this subsection, the term ''interoperability'' means the ability of computer programs to exchange information, and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    the end user must obtain their copy from someone who agreed to the GPL or who owned the copyright.

    Morb, you need to go back and re-read the GPL, as you obviously don't understand. When you download a copy of a GPLed program, you don't own it any more than other software. You merely can do more with it. But most importantly, there is no requirements on simple end users. None. You go after the non-compliant distributors by going after the non-compliant distributors. I've been watching this arena for a long time, and end-users are *never* sued due to non-compliance of their distributors. They may, on the other hand, be SOL as far as updates go, if the distributor has made any modifications without releasing the source code.

    That having been said, if someone distributes GPLed code in an illegal fashion (by not making the source available, or by modifying the source in illegal manners - such as stripping attribution), that company loses even the permission to run the code as a simple end user.



  • @tgape said:

    Morb, you need to go back and re-read the GPL, as you obviously don't understand. When you download a copy of a GPLed program, you don't own it any more than other software. You merely can do more with it. But most importantly, there is no requirements on simple end users. None. You go after the non-compliant distributors by going after the non-compliant distributors. I've been watching this arena for a long time, and end-users are never sued due to non-compliance of their distributors. They may, on the other hand, be SOL as far as updates go, if the distributor has made any modifications without releasing the source code.

    @GPL v2 said:

    5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not
    signed it.

     

    Because the GPL does not (and cannot) require and end user to accept the license, the end user has the full rights afforded to an owner of a copy.  Because you have not agreed to a contract that explicitly states that your copy of the software remains the property of the copyright holder, any legal acquisition of GPL'd software makes you the owner of said copy.  You only have to agree to the GPL if you redistribute software licensed under it.  However, if you obtain your copy from someone who did not follow the license, your copy is an invalid and an infringement of copyright.  This means you are technically breaking the law.  As I said, it is unlikely anyone would ever go after an end-user for this, but it is still a true legal consequence of the GPL.  You actually brought up a much more salient point -- that end-users could be left out in the cold if they used a product distributed by a GPL-violating entity.  Even if it is unlikely for the copyright owner to go after end-users who obtained copies from a GPL-violating distributor, the copyright owner is very likely to go after the distributor themselves, which means that any products that end-users depend on should be vetted for distributor compliance so as not to leave the end-user stuck with unsupported (and legally-unsupportable) software.

     

    I think perhaps you need to go back and educate yourself on the basics of copyright law and software licensing.  Proprietary software remains the property of the copyright holder because to be granted usage of it you must agree to a contract which states this.  Therefore, when you purchase proprietary software you are purchasing a license, not a copy of the work.  The copy is provided incidentally but it is not usable without agreement from the end-user to the license/contract.  Courts have ruled that shrinkwrap licenses are legal because there is no implicit guarantee one is purchasing a copy (as opposed to a license) when one purchases retail software.  However, courts have also seemed to say that returning opened software in cases where the end-user does not agree to the license should be allowable, not that most retail stores will honor this.  Trying to get them to would probably be a waste of your time and would most likely have to be taken to the US Supreme Court since no standing precedent mandates such a policy. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    However, if you obtain your copy from someone who did not follow the license, your copy is an invalid and an infringement of copyright.  This means you are technically breaking the law.
    While I grant that there are situations that this is true (for example, if you use a copy which has been modified in violation of the GPL), it is not automatically the case:
    @GPL v2 said:
    4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.



  • @bstorer said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    However, if you obtain your copy from someone who did not follow the license, your copy is an invalid and an infringement of copyright.  This means you are technically breaking the law.
    While I grant that there are situations that this is true (for example, if you use a copy which has been modified in violation of the GPL), it is not automatically the case:
    @GPL v2 said:
    4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.

    This is referring to the rights granted by the license.  End-users do not have to agree to the license to use the software, though, as they already have the full rights afforded by owning a copy.  If an upstream distributor violates the license, then they no longer have the protections afforded by the GPL.  At that point it falls back to being a case of copyright infringment, which by definition means each of the copies distributed was an illegal copy.  The GPL itself cannot modify that since end-users don't have to agree to it.  If a copyright holder wants to go after a violating infringer, they have to make the case that the copies distributed were in violation of the license and thus did not receive indemnity from copyright infringement laws.  As I said, though, copyright holders are unlikely to go after end-users who have illegal copies.  Still, having the copyright holder declare the copies as violating is one of the odd consequences of the copyright holder filing a lawsuit against the distributor.



  • @bstorer said:

    @17 USC 1201(f)(4) said:
    For purposes of this subsection, the term ''interoperability'' means the ability of computer programs to exchange information, and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.

    Hypothetically speaking:
    What if I write a program that allows arbitrary playback buffer sizes? What if I then pull complete DVD into the playback buffer? What if said buffer is persisted on a local harddrive due to memory (RAM) constraints? What if said buffer is constructed as a direct representation of the DVD's raw surface data? (I.e. a DVD image.)

    To the letter of that clause in the DMCA I am breaking copyright protection to enable my own (unefficiently written) program to exchange information to be able to play back a DVD...



  • @Ragnax said:

    @bstorer said:
    @17 USC 1201(f)(4) said:
    For purposes of this subsection, the term ''interoperability'' means the ability of computer programs to exchange information, and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.

    Hypothetically speaking:
    What if I write a program that allows arbitrary playback buffer sizes? What if I then pull complete DVD into the playback buffer? What if said buffer is persisted on a local harddrive due to memory (RAM) constraints? What if said buffer is constructed as a direct representation of the DVD's raw surface data? (I.e. a DVD image.)

    To the letter of that clause in the DMCA I am breaking copyright protection to enable my own (unefficiently written) program to exchange information to be able to play back a DVD...



    Heard that argument a milion times before and i highly doubt it will hold water. The point of the laws is the intent. The intent of either making a copy of it or watching it. One is allowed the other isn't.

    So if you can convince a judge/jury (or other local justice system) that your intent wasn't to copy the media but that it's simply a buffer for viewing it. Then hurray to you, but i wouldn't hold my breath.



  • @stratos said:

    Heard that argument a milion times before and i highly doubt it will hold water. The point of the laws is the intent. The intent of either making a copy of it or watching it. One is allowed the other isn't.

    So if you can convince a judge/jury (or other local justice system) that your intent wasn't to copy the media but that it's simply a buffer for viewing it. Then hurray to you, but i wouldn't hold my breath.

    The thing is, with US copyright law you are allowed to make a copy of a digital work -- even a backup -- you just aren't allowed to distribute it.  What the DMCA adds on top is mostly restrictions on breaking content protection for any purpose.  So breaking CSS to watch a DVD or to copy it makes no difference since both are DMCA violations.



  • @Ragnax said:

    To the letter of that clause in the DMCA I am breaking copyright protection to enable my own (unefficiently written) program to exchange information to be able to play back a DVD...

    Last I checked, a DVD is still not a computer program.



  •  CSS is an encryption algorithm designed to protect content against copyright violation. Any attempt to bypass CSS is actionable under the DMCA, regardless of the intent of the user, unless it's "for interoperability," or one of a very small set of other exceptions. In point of fact, you could be sued under the DMCA for using a DVD player which you own to play a DVD that you possess and are licensed to view, because the player bypasses CSS to play the movie. The only reason you aren't is because studios aren't that stupid. Yet.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @poopdeville said:
    various unconscionable clauses in "standard" EULAS
    Like what?  I'm not aware of anything that isn't legal under contract law within standard EULAs, but if there were such things, they would simply be unenforceable, just like any illegal clause of any contract.
    Umm, not quite. If contract terms are illegal, the entire contract is void; it's only because of boilerplate "severability" clauses that EULA's survive unscathed, which state that if part of it is unenforceable the rest remains in full force.

     Responding to your comment in a later post about sticking to a contract you agree to, and you misunderstanding the difference between "unconscionable" and "illegal"...

    For one example, and I can provide more, look at the case "Bragg vs. Linden Lab." 4chan-compatible summary: You can buy stuff in Second Life with real money and the CEO said that the stuff you buy is actually yours. Bragg bought stuff. Second Life's EULA contains, excerpted and summaries, clauses to the effect of "We can take anything we want that you paid for, whether we have a reason or not. If you don't like it, fly to California and pay a couple thousand dollars for three people in our pocket to say 'Nup, they didn't do anything wrong.' Oh, and by the way, you can't sue us." (Actually a standard part of most EULAs.) Linden said "MINE!" and Bragg was butthurt, and didn't feel like flying out to Cali and throwing more of his money away. So he sued in Pennsylvania, his home state. The Pennsylvania court said he could because a)him having to fly out to Cali and pay money to beg for his stuff back when Linden can just take it away again is just wrong, b)Linden obviously put that in the eula JUST to keep from being sued even when they should be, and c) it's not like Bragg could just call up Linden and say "Yo, wanna play SL but hate that arbitration clause thing, wanna let me just, you know, ignore it?"

    Judge's deranged babblings...

    Anyway, the rest of your points are right-on-point, perfection at its finest.


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