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[ossig] What's your take on this.



Hi everyone,

What's your take on this?

On August 26, the Selangor state enforcement unit of the Domestic Trade 
and Consumer
Affairs Ministry conducted a raid on two premises selling mainly 
computer
game and software CDs at the Summit shopping centre in USJ-Subang Jaya
around midday, August 25 (yesterday) and in the process netted some 
copies
of Red Hat Enterprise Linux V3.0 and FreeBSD 5.0 open source operating
systems in a haul of 4,400 CDs containing mainly pirated proprietary 
computer games
and pirated proprietary software.

I asked the ministry's Assistant State director, Enforcement Division, 
En.
Othman Ahmad how they could prosecute someone for selling CDs of the 
above
open source software since the GNU General Public Licence allows people 
to
use, copy, modify and re-distribute the program as long as they include 
the
source code and give others exactly the same rights to use, copy, 
modify and
re-distribute the software uunder the same terms.

Well, I could have well been speaking to him in Greek as the ministry
official didn't quite understand the concept of the GNU-GPL and said 
that
users can download the software for free and use it as long as it's for
their personal use but if they resell it, then they can be
charged and prosecuted.

Othman said there are three laws under which the ministry can
prosecute sellers of CDs containing Linux or other open source software.

1.    Under the Copyright Act 1987. They will call the copyright owner 
and
ask them if they want to prosecute and go ahead if they say yes.

Failing 1. the ministry can go ahead and prosecute under.

2.    Under the Trade Description Act 1972, Original Label (Label Tulen)
order 2002 where all software CDs sold must carry an original label or
certificate.

3.    Under the Price Control Act (Akta Kawalan Harga) 1946 whereby the
packaging must bear the full name and address of either the 
manufacturer,
authorsied distributor or dealer.

Also what chance of success will the minsitry have in prosecuting 
vendors of
CDs containing open source software, since it's unlikely they can get 
any
copyright owner to prosecute under 1. above but they certainly could
prosecute under 2. amd 3. if they were so determined.

The implications of this as I'm sure you all realise is that selling 
packaged, shrink-wrapped  Red Hat Linux, Linspire, Mandrake, etc 
costinga  couple of hundred ringgit or more is fine but selling the 
same as crudely bundled CDs costing RM15 in Low Yat Plaza, Imbi Plaza, 
Summit, etc risks prosecution, while most communication have-nots in 
Malaysia don't have the wired or wireless broadband links to download 
ISO images at will.

It also means that if you're one of the luckier ones with broadband 
access and want to do the community a favour by burning a few Linux, 
FreeBSD, etc CDs and sell it to anyone who wants them at prices 
covering your costs, you'd be risking prosecution.

Of course, all this is academic and the Ministry would find it easier 
to overlook a handful of CDs containing open source software when they 
have an overwhelming number of pirated proprietary software and games 
to prosecute the vendors for.

However, I'm interested in your views which I may mention in the 
article I'm writing.
 

Thanks and Regards

Charles F. Moreira
In.Tech, Star Publications



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