[ILUG] SuSE redistribution
rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Apr 25 11:02:33 IST 2005
Quoting Michael Conry (michael.conry at gmail.com):
> But I have some sympathy with Rory's points too regarding the
> reasonableness of accepting SuSE's licence at face value, and in good
I haven't actually yet seen that licence. I note that, as quoted, it
refers to permissions granted to capital-s "Software", that term
presumably defined by Novell earlier in the document as referring to
some particular property in the usual lawyerly fashion. In a couple of
days, I expect to have a set of the five CDs, and look forward to seeing
what that and other relevant contents say in their natural context.
> Clearly, if (imagine) there was an appropriate leopard-guarded licence
> somewhere within SuSE that authorised them to allow you to
> redistribute RealPlayer (and the other contested packages), then that
> would be sufficient to allow redistribution of the compilation, even
> if the rpms contained a licence that did not extend this right.
Per copyright law, licences don't actually need to be in writing at all.
One can be held to have granted a licence to one's work under copyright
through nothing more than (e.g.) oral declarations _or_ even merely the
conduct of yourself and the other parties.
What I'm saying, however, is that (e.g.) Adobe Systems suddenly granting
the public such extremely uncharacteristic rights _and_ also failing to
reference that grant very plainly along _with_ the software seems doubly
> In fact, one might (reasonably, I think) take the licence from the rpm
> to apply to the copy of Real you install on your computer (i.e. you
> cannot install to PC, then redistribute those installed files) since
> you have to actually open the rpm to see it, while one could
> reasonably take the compilation-copyright on the disk to apply to the
> compilation and constituent parts.
Well, the latter simply cannot be. It's a matter of property rights:
As mentioned, Novell simply isn't (unaided) in a position to grant
rights to included components it doesn't own. That interpretation,
accordingly, just isn't credible.
The former is true but doesn't help: As with all copyrighted material,
as a lawful recipient of a copy you don't get the right of distribution
by default at all. That is a reserved right, that can be granted to you
only by the copyright owner, if at all. So, if can successfully claim
as a matter of law to have not been bound by Real Networks's licence,
then you may not lawfully hand copies onwards until you get that right
from Real Networks via some other means.
Licences concerning Novell's "compilation copyright" CANNOT grant rights
to the constituent parts, because the abstract property in question, by
its _very definition_, doesn't cover those parts at all.
Several people seem to want to insist that the term means an ownership
claim to the entire contents. Think. Turn your brains on, people: The
term not only simply doesn't mean that, it also would defy common sense
and the nature of the property titles in question for it to mean that.
> * Even though SuSE tells us we have the right to do something (copy
> the disk)....
I'm not even sure Novell / SUSE _did_ say that. I'll be able to say
more when I have those five CDs -- but I _will_ say that SUSE employees
have a long history of making completely wrong statements on this matter
that are clueless about the rights of the firm's business partners, and
that turn out upon examination of the product to be easily disproveable.
> As I've said above, it is *possible* for there to be appropriate
> permission for SuSE to issue the licence they put on the CD
Without buy-in from the various property owners, this would obviously be
a nonsensical statement. And similar statements have been made about
prior SUSE releases, and turned out to be quite wrong.
But hey, Adobe Systems (e.g.) could have turned all nice and friendly
between 9.1 and 9.3 -- despite the contrary evidence I JUST POSTED
when I cited the current directly-downloadable version's EULA, quoting
Adobe Systems directly.
> So, my point in discussing this hypothetical case is to say that there
> must be a point at which it is reasonable to simply take a licence at
> face value.
Unfortunately, nobody _has_ posted the relevant licence statements.
Someone posted an incredibly brief and selective excerpt from some
Novell document in 9.3 that appears to refer, judging by the limited
context provided, to Novell's compilation copyright rights only.
Separately, I suggested that someone with a copy of the 9.3 disks do a
test installation of one or two of the packages I cited -- but those
people declined. Faced with Rory's cheekily incorrect claim about the
Acroread current downloadable version's licence, I _did_ quote the
relevant phrases from it, and they affirmed exactly what I've been
saying was likely still true based on my examination of 9.1.
Which brings us up to the present. I'll be able to say more when I have
the 9.3 disks. If one of the slackers who already _have_ 9.3 care to do
the same, you know how to reach this list.
> Now, should the licence on the SuSE CD/DVD should be taken at face
Begs the question of _what licence_. You know it to be a collection of
works with diverse ownership -- and you know have excellent reason to
think that at least four of the constituent packages completely lack the
right of redistribution. Yet you think it's reasonable to redistribute
the entire set anyway?
Well, suit yourself, but I do think that interpretation smells of
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