Some years ago I came across a guy Alexander Terekhov who worked then for IBM and had outspoken views about the viability of the GPL. If I understood it, his opinion was that the license terms of the GPL would not survive resale, due to the well established "first sale doctrine" and its EU equivalent "exhaustion". It basically means that the copyright holder cannot stop you reselling your software, and that the license terms will not apply to the guy receiving it. I tried to understand this further, but Alexander was not always easy for me to comprehend and had then a habit of linking to his own posts elsewhere to bolster his position, leading to a kind of echo chamber of Terekhovs all nodding vigorously at each other. He also back then and evidently more recently too explained legal decisions that did not fit his understanding by calling the Judges in question "morons", etc. Well the forum I met him at had a very high trolling quotient so it just joined the rest of the anti-GPL sentiment there for me in the end and I ignored it.
GPL is a license tooBut I was reminded of this last night when I read about a recent decision against Autodesk which is being widely seen as a victory for Joe Softwarebuyer. From the Patry blog post link above:
...many software companies have taken the position that they can convey the copy to the customer in an over-the-counter transaction for a one-time payment, but describe that transaction as a license; as a license, the first sale doctrine doesn't apply, meaning copyright owners can prevent further distribution of the copy...Doesn't this vindicate Alexander's position? How can GPL terms stick past resale if Autodesk EULA ones don't? Nothing stops "built-in" or "automated" resale to clense software of any licensing restriction. A lot of people seem to be happy about the paid-for world being freed from license conditions, are they going to be happy if it turns out that everyone is also freed from GPL conditions?