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Re: GPL/artistic licence issues

by OeufMayo (Curate)
on May 28, 2001 at 00:42 UTC ( #83640=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


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

ObDisclaimer: I am not a lawyer, though I should have normally become one. I just chose Perl instead of Law, go figure...

Hey AM!
In France, the law about copyright makes really clear that everything you do during the time spent in a company and for tasks that are described in your contract belongs to the company.
No matter the nice GPL forewords you may write at the top of your file. As long as you're hired to write programs, all the programs you write during your work hours aren't yours.

Now, that being said, you may be aware that Perl (and most of the modules that come with Perl, including LWP) is ruled by two licenses: the GPL (french translation) and the Artistic License. If you read the 5th article of the Artistic License, you'll notice that one can distribute a program (or package) in another product. This other product doesn't need to be available for free.

That being said, I don't think that your (future-ex)company will apply the GPL for the programms you wrote, if it has half a clue of where its interests are... Since they belong to it, the License can easily be switched to the Artistic License.

As for distributing the sources of the programs. As I understand the Artistic License, you don't have to provide the source of the package, as long as you document where can you find the original version, and what modifications did you make to the package.

/msg me if you want more infos on how coypright and intelectual property works in France!

<kbd>--
my $OeufMayo = new PerlMonger::Paris({http => 'paris.mongueurs.net'});</kbd>


Comment on Re: GPL/artistic licence issues
Re: Re: GPL/artistic licence issues
by Anonymous Monk on May 28, 2001 at 17:18 UTC
    In France, the law about copyright makes really clear that everything you do during the time spent in a company and for tasks that are described in your contract belongs to the company. No matter the nice GPL forewords you may write at the top of your file. As long as you're hired to write programs, all the programs you write during your work hours aren't yours.

    I agree, but
    As the product I wrote for the company use and modify the LWP which is GPL'ed -> this product is GPL'ed (even if owned by my company).
    So I should be allowed (at least) to modify and sell it ?(I should be granted an acess to the source and a right to modify)
    In this case how could I be sued for copy ?
    Or did I miss something ?

      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).

        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.

      if (you|the company) releases it, it has to be under the GPL (considering LWP is only licensed under GPL, which it ISN'T)... You could then sell it.
      The entire thing depends on weither or not 'it is released'. If the company decides not to release it, there isn't much you can do about it.

      Greetz
      Beatnik
      ... Quidquid perl dictum sit, altum viditur.

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