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[Discuss] OSS licenses (was Home NAS redux)

On Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 8:15 AM, Edward Ned Harvey (blu)
<blu at> wrote:
>> From: at [mailto:discuss-
>> at] On Behalf Of Edward Ned Harvey
>> Should the FSF feel compelled to go sue GitHub?  And should they be
>> entitled to any settlement they extort out of GitHub?
> In my opinion, the answer to this question is No:
> Unless the copyright holder assigns the FSF the right to sue on behalf of them, a 3rd party shouldn't have the right to exercise someone else's rights.
> If I write some closed-source software, and I license it to Joe Schmoe, and then Joe pirates it all over the world, a violation of the license terms that I granted him...  Why should the FSF or anybody else be entitled to sue Joe and make money off my work?

I'm afraid that I've lost track in this conversation.   Are you
asserting that FSF or any other free software related entity does this
or perhaps that they should do this?   I'm pretty sure that they not
only don't they do this, that they make it clear that the law doesn't
allow this, and that's actually why the FSF wants people to assign
rights to them so they actually can sue people for GPL violations.

What the FSF has done is sue for violations of copyright for software
for which they do have such rights and in the settlement say if you
want to regain the right to use OUR software, you have to start
abiding by the requirements on HIS software as well.  Now if you don't
actually want people to have to abide by the licensing terms that you
explicitly placed on your software, why don't you just change your
license rather then complaining when some third party who happens to
have leverage for something completely unrelated to you points out to
the offender that your license is also being violated.

As for the "making money" part, I've had a number of conversations
with Bradley Kuhn (FSF, SLFC, SFC) over the years and my impression is
that they "make money" in the sense that if these organizations
weren't non-profits to which people donate money they would have gone
bankrupt a long time ago based on the costs/payments related to their
enforcement of software licenses.  They explicitly aren't trying to
make money off of this, nor are they incurring excess expenses (no
private jets or caviar).

I can't find any good references to refresh my memory, but I think you
may be confusing the FSF with the BSA (Business Software Alliance).
The BSA does license enforcement for commercial software and my vague
recollection is that they are pretty draconian about it.

Bill Bogstad

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