An article I read in Wired Magazine kind of ticked me off, although technically I should be ticked at myself for not reading the fine print of the software I purchase.
A recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals says that software you purchase is subject to the license agreements contained with the software. Nothing new there. But if the license states that you may not resell or otherwise redistribute the software that you purchased, then you’re stuck with it. Up until this time, there was something called the “First Sale Doctrine” which states that one who purchases a copyrighted work may sell that copy without the copyright owner’s permission.
Autodesk is a software manufacturer that produces a program called AutoCAD. The license agreement for AutoCAD states that the software may not be transferred or leased without Autodesk’s written consent.
When an eBay member tried to sell a copy of Autodesk AutoCAD on eBay, Autodesk demanded that eBay remove the listing, which it did. When the seller then tried to re-list the software, his eBay account was terminated.
The seller, Timothy Verner, filed a lawsuit. The trial court held that the First Sale Doctrine applied. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court (.pdf), stating that someone who possesses a copy of a copyrighted work without owning it (such as a licensee) must abide by the license agreement and cannot transfer it to another person if the licensing agreement does not allow it.
Some parties are now concerned that companies will start creating licensing agreements for all kinds of products – with strict rules of transfer. You can’t sell or give away books you’ve read. Could the sale of a car of home come with a license and licensing agreements in the future?
This case reinforces the need to invest in free software and to encourage those who create free software.
I’ve been using OpenOffice for almost a year now. The latest version is amazingly simple to use and deals very well with Microsoft Office documents. Companies that are still leasing Microsoft Office products are throwing their money away.
I use GIMP instead of the Adobe Photoshop products. There might not be quite as many bells and whistles, but GIMP is still a comprehensive free product.
If it weren’t for a couple of office programs that I use on a regular basis which are only available in Windows (document scanning and voice recognition), I’d switch all of my computers to the free Linux Ubuntu operation system. Almost all of Ubuntu’s programs are free as well.
I still use Ubuntu on a regular basis, but switch back and forth with Windows depending on what I need to do. I’m currently experimenting with using Sun’s VirtualBox to run the programs inside of a Linux setup so I can dump Windows completely.
There are links to large collections of free software in the “Other Useful Links” page I keep up in the right margin. Take a look at some of the programs. Many of them are similar to commercial products … and you don’t have to worry about being involved in litigation if you dare to transfer the program to someone else.
Wonder if I can license blog posts …