Software Law Bits & Bytes: GNU and MIT Licensing by Grant Harrison

Editor’s Note – Grant Harrison is a new Bits-and-Bytes author for Patently-O focusing on rising software law issues. Welcome Grant! – DC

by Grant Harrison

GNU Licensing: GNU licensing serves to keep software developed and maintained by open source developers free and open to the public. If an entity takes software that is licensed with a GNU and then they modify it, they must re-release the modified software back to the public.

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MIT Licensing: MIT licensing for software is perhaps the most common permissive license due to the fact that it has very few restrictions on reuse as long as developers include the MIT license terms and copyright notice. If an entity takes open source software and then adds to it, they do not need to re-release their version of the software back to the public.  The extreme permissiveness of MIT licensing means that we rarely see lawsuits arise.

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21 thoughts on “Software Law Bits & Bytes: GNU and MIT Licensing by Grant Harrison

  1. 4

    Your over-simplification of the GPL is incorrect. It only requires disclosure of modifications if the licensee distributes the modified software, not those made and used internally. Second, the licensee is only obliged to give the modifications to their distributees, not the population at large.

    1. 4.1

      Pamela,

      What does “distribute” entail, and is there really a big distinction with those who ONLY “use internally?”

      I would think that even as there might “be” a difference, the underlying discussion is simply not really concerned at all with those that ONLY “use internally,” as that use typically will NOT be the type of use that engenders the discussion of “follow-on activities that raise the actual issues at hand.

      In other words, even though you may be “technically correct” with a certain point being “over-simplified,” the crux of the matter actually at point here makes that “over-simplification” to be inconsequential.

  2. 3

    Martin Snyder (leaking from next post): Nobody really pointed out the guts of the problem(s): information inventions and the place in the patent system of logic and instructions.

    Right. That’s because the so-called “reformers” habitually refuse to acknowledge that there’s a few issues where pretty much every normal person agrees with the results that the courts have already (and reasonably) arrived at, e.g., the issue that the Supreme Court dealt with in Mayo v. Prometheus (using patent claims to protect ineligible abstractions in tangible prior art contexts) and the use of prior art tech to detect previously unknown natural phenomena (the Sequenom problem).

    And you know who is a huge part of this problem (which is mainly due to a lack of education): Dennis Crouch and his barely existent blog buddy Jason. At one point in time they were much more willing to discuss the fundamentals. And then they became very quiet. Take a guess why that is, Martin. Your first guess is probably the correct one.

    So instead of addressing the issues and trying to come up with statutory language that differentiates the good from the bad, we get dustkicking and embarrassing speeches about “losing to China” and “I’m only alive because of Diamond v. Diehr”. It’s sickening.

    1. 3.1

      The Ends (even IF accepted as you would have them) do not justify the Means.

      1. 3.1.1

        Your empty aphorisms are meaningless, Bildo. Get off the high horse and get back to cleaning up the horse’s piles, like your d@ddy taught you.

        1. 3.1.1.1

          Stultifying.

          You, who post nigh constant empty ad hominem, continue to take issue with a short and direct, easy to insert and English sentence that has a most perfect fit from its meaning to its application on this blog.

          Any impression of “high horse” simply happens BECAUSE the use is so fitting.

          I “get” that you don’t like it.

          The answer to your not liking it is NOT to stop using it. The answer is for you to change your ways so that it is no longer applicable to you.

    2. 3.2

      At one point in time they were much more willing to discuss the fundamentals.,/I>”

      Malcolm, YOU have never been willing to discuss — in any sense of being inte11ectually honest — the fundamentals.

      There be “sickening” here alright – just not how (or what) you portray.

      1. 3.2.1

        Malcolm, YOU have never been willing to discuss — in any sense of being inte11ectually honest — the fundamentals.

        And you’re a path 0 logical li @r, Bildo. And Dennis Crouch is your prime enabler (at least here). Shame on both you.

        1. 3.2.1.1

          More of that oh so typical Malcolm Accuse Others…

          (Tell me again about that level of posts being expunged for being inappropriate — are you blaming someone else for your own blight?)

  3. 2

    Hans Sauer, a g@slighting @-h0-le:

    “However you may feel about clones and patents, most people would agree that clones are just about the most unnaturally occurring thing under the sun”

    There’s nothing “unnatural” about clones, Hans, you disgusting li @r. Asexual reproduction is probably the most common form of reproduction in nature.

    [Sauer also noted] in another case, a patented automotive drive shaft was struck down as an abstract idea “even though one can literally drop it on one’s foot.”

    You can drop a book or a hard drive filled with non-obvious medical data on your foot, too, Hans. And Hans knows this. What an appalling excuse for a human being.

    1. 2.1

      Hans Sauer, a g@slighting @-h0-le:

      Malcolm Mooney, desperate to increase his lead in improper posts being expunged.

      Never mind the fact that Malcolm has had more posts expunged than ALL OTHERS combined.

      You do know that the term cloning is NOT the same as the natural act of asexual reproduction, right?

      But you also know that your “book” analogy is inte11ectually dishonest, too — not that such ever stops you from your apoplectic rants….

      1. 2.1.1

        cloning is NOT the same as the natural act of asexual reproduction, right?

        LOL

        Nice try, Bildo. Who are arguing with, you ridiculous pile of dustkicking pigs—t?

        1. 2.1.1.1

          Apparently, pointing out a simple fact is somehow “arguing” with you.

          No argument from me – feel free to ignore reality (as you do often do).

        2. 2.1.1.2

          link to thoughtco.com


          Some organisms generate clones naturally through asexual reproduction. Plants, algae, fungi, and protozoa produce spores that develop into new individuals that are genetically identical to the parent organism. Bacteria are capable of creating clones through a type of reproduction called binary fission. In binary fission, the bacterial DNA is replicated and the original cell is divided into two identical cells.

          Natural cloning also occurs in animal organisms during processes such as budding (offspring grows out of the body of the parent), fragmentation (the body of the parent breaks into distinct pieces, each of which can produce an offspring), and parthenogenesis. In humans and other mammals, the formation of identical twins is a type of natural cloning. In this case, two individuals develop from one fertilized egg.

          Compare: “[C]lones are just about the most unnaturally occurring thing under the sun” — Hans “I Am Paid To Lie” Sauer

          1. 2.1.1.2.1

            Obviously, the use of the word cloning is directed towards reproduction of items that sexually reproduce.

            Obtuse. Is it deliberate?

  4. 1

    software developed and maintained by open source developers free and open to the public.

    Oh my goodness this sounds like something Karl Marx would have come with up! Presumably there is no progress in the logic instruction arts being promoted here but perhaps a “developer” can chime in and let everybody know how inferior and backwards this system is relative to the advanced concept that I should own exclusive rights to a “non-obvious” look-up table for 20 years.

    1. 1.1

      Your response is most odd, as no one has ever questioned the voluntary nature of using the patent system.

      You are acting as if someone is arguing against that voluntary nature.

      No one — ever — has.

      1. 1.1.1

        no one has ever questioned the voluntary nature of using the patent system.

        And I’m not questioning it now, Bildo. Try not to salivate too much on your strawman while you beat him off.

        By the way, you know what’s hilarious? All the patent maximalists who are literally claiming to be alive today only because of expansive patent protection. You people are f —-ing psych0tic.

        1. 1.1.1.1

          Your typical meme of Accuse Others is showing as your post at 1 IS the strawman.

          That’s what my post at 1.1 is pointing out.

          Do I really need to use the exact words so that you can follow along?

          All else from you is mindless ad hominem.

          1. 1.1.1.1.1

            my post at 1.1 is pointing out.

            My post is mocking reactionary glibertarian patent maximalists like you. Because it’s easy and fun!

            1. 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Your “swagger” of mocking through strawmen certainly appears “fun” to you, but that same type of “Trump-self-centeredness” does NOT make your attempts at mocking anything to be OF anything that actually mocks anything (except, of course, it does mock yourself).

              How very Trump-like of you to be unable to see this.

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