The GPL and secrecy

Francois-Rene Rideau
Tue, 18 Jan 2000 05:53:01 +0100

A complement to my clarification: I didn't say it well in the last part
of my post, but as Greg Lang <> puts it very well, one way the
hole can be filled in interpreting the GPL as it is, is that:

> "In my interpretation, a license is personal -- towards individuals
> only.  Companies are not individuals and have no right as such."
> Unfortunately, a company legally comes down to its proprietor, who is a
> person, thus putting a slight damper on that effect.  However, following
> your logic, you CAN eliminate corporations from using the GPL to their
> advantage, because a corporation is an understood legal entity, seperate
> from the actual humans that run it and the shareholders that actually
> provide the working capital for the company.
> I'm sure that someone has probably already brought this up to you, but I
> thought I should probably inform you anyways.
> Thanks again for speaking out for the masses and making a point that was
> welllll worth making!

That's about how I thought the GPL should be read, when I asked RMS' opinion:
If the company gives GPL code to an employee or contractor, that individual
is a separate person, not part of a collective; and as such, if the company
distributes GPL'ed code to its employees for work, and the employee
distributes modifications back, they are all subject to the GPL that prevents
NDA and other restrictions (or else, the company can be sued for violation).
A corporation represents its owners, not its employees. In as much as anyone
is "part" of the company, for which it can be considered that there is
internal copy and use and no distribution, it is shareholders that are thus.

Thanks a lot, Greg, for managing to put it simply, where I failed to do so.

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | ]
[  TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System  |  ]
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