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Re: Re: Re: GPL/artistic licence issues

by danger (Priest)
on May 28, 2001 at 17:29 UTC ( #83723=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Re: GPL/artistic licence issues
in thread Non-Disclosure Legal Fun w/ my ex-Employer

It is my understanding that the GPL and Artistic licences apply to copying and distributing the "program". I am free to modify perl (or any other module or such licenced software) and 'use' it as I wish (whether I'm an individual or a company). If that means I create a web application based on those modified programs and run it on my server (perhaps charging a fee for usage), I am not required to release source --- because I am not "distributing" the product, merely providing a service (or, as chromatic says: I would only be providing output from a GPL'd program). Once I decide to sell, or give away, or otherwise *distribute* the application itself, then I am bound by the terms of the GPL or Artistic licence (which are different in what they actually allow me to do).

If you coded programs for "the company", the company (probably) owns those programs. They do not own any of the original open source code that your products were based on (or that your products used) and they cannot restrict your future use of such code (probably stating the obvious here). But, they do own your new code, and any modifications you made to the original code while in their employment. (Note: this interpretation is based on assuming relatively standard employment agreements you likely signed when you were hired). So, yes, they can restrict you from using code you wrote for them (which isn't really yours) to make new products.

Should you decide to "independently" recreate their modified software you may still have legal problems --- convincing a court that you recreated it independently of your work for the company may prove difficult at best (hard to claim 'clean room' status since you were intimately involved with their project).


Comment on Re: Re: Re: GPL/artistic licence issues
Re (tilly) 4: GPL/artistic licence issues
by tilly (Archbishop) on May 28, 2001 at 21:03 UTC
    It is my understanding that software licenses currently have a major gap in how they address the right to public performance. Public performance you ask? Well here is a listing of the rights controlled under copyright law. Public performance and public display are listed 4'th and 5'th.

    As noted, software falls in a class of works that is covered under public performance, but this area of the law has not really been explored yet. However it will become increasingly important. For instance one of the key changes that is being looked at for GPL version 3 is the use of public performance to prevent application service providers from using GPLed software without releasing the source to their changes.

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