Possession = ownership? Sounds nice, but in reality …

As an introduction to this, I suggest people interested in such matters subscribe to the daily GigaLaw list of the top Internet- and software-related legal news, where I first saw this story.

OK, so the 2nd circuit says if you’re essentially the owner of software, you’re allowed to defeat any sort of protection on the source that prevents modification. And that’s good for free software, you say?

Well, sort of. Except the vast majority of programs aren’t owned by the end user, but rather licensed to them quite restrictively. But depending on the rights that license grants, certain programs may be affected.

2nd Circuit Judge Pierre Leval said, “It seems anomalous for a user whose degree of ownership of a copy is so complete that he may lawfully use it and keep it forever, or if so disposed, throw it in the trash, to be nonetheless unauthorized to fix it when it develops a bug, or to make an archival copy as backup security.”

IANAL, etc.