CPE exception

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at fsfe.org
Thu Jun 7 14:53:52 UTC 2007

Florian Weimer <fw at deneb.enyo.de> writes:
> This clause from the current draft comes a bit as a surprise:
> | You may convey covered works to others for the sole purpose of
> | having them make modifications exclusively for you, or provide you
> | with facilities for running those works, provided that you comply
> | with the terms of this License in conveying all material for which
> | you do not hold copyright.  Those thus making or running the covered
> | works for you must do so exclusively on your behalf, under your
> | direction and control, on terms that prohibit them from making any
> | copies of your copyrighted material outside their relationship with
> | you.
> I understand that this is intended to give people the freedom to run
> their local modifcations non-locally, perhaps in some kind of service
> provider environment.  However, I don't like how it muddies the waters
> as far as Customer Premises Equipment (CPE; routers, TV set-top boxes,
> etc.)  is concerned.

If my set-top box provider gives me some GPLv3'd software on my set-top box,
I agree that he could claim that me running the software constitutes me
providing a service for him (since it may be collecting personal info about
me which he is selling to marketing firms), but I don't think he could argue
that he gave me the software for the *sole purpose* of "[providing him] with
facilities for running that software".

His advertising materials would be enough evidence to destroy this argument
in court.

But if there's an extra word or two that you think would make this clearer,
please make a comment asap.

> It also makes the GPLv3 incompatible with the prevalent interpretation
> of the Sleepycat license

Maybe they are still compatible.  Maybe a GPLv3+Sleepcat codebase could be
legally distributed (thus they are "licence compatible"), but that codebase
could not make use of the above service-provider exception.

...but I can't understand the Sleepycat licence, so I don't have confidence
in my interpretations.  The licence defines nothing, so everything relies on
legal interpretation and advice:

CiarĂ¡n O'Riordan __________________ \ http://fsfeurope.org/projects/gplv3
http://ciaran.compsoc.com/ _________ \  GPLv3 and other work supported by
http://fsfe.org/fellows/ciaran/weblog \   Fellowship: http://www.fsfe.org

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