A specific example is section 2.1.3 of the NVIDIA license agreement: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/drivers/geforce-license/, from which I quote:

No Sublicensing or Distribution. Customer may not sell, rent, sublicense, distribute or transfer the SOFTWARE; or use the SOFTWARE for public performance or broadcast; or provide commercial hosting services with the SOFTWARE.

So what does it mean for some software to be used for "public performance"?

Hypothetically, say I want to publish a research paper, and I use an NVIDIA GPU to obtain data/results (e.g. training neural networks), and put that data in my paper. Does this count as public performance and violate this agreement?

  • Wow. It's illegal to show something in public with your NVIDIA graphics card? Someone call the media because that will be horrible PR. Jun 30, 2021 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


"public performance" is a term used in copyright law mostly for music, dance, drama, and audio-visual works, where it means to actually perform the work in front of an audience. For a book it could mean to read the book aloud in front of an audience. It is not largely used for software.

I suppose that demonstrating or running the software in front of an audience would be a public performance. Running the software and using its output in a publication would not be a "public performance" as I understand it. As long as the user has the right to access the software, which normally includes the right to run it, the output may be used with no further or special permission.

  • Since the software is a driver for a graphics chip, I imagine that the text is intended to exclude the incorporation of graphics using the driver into the performance of a musical, stage, or audiovisual work.
    – phoog
    Jun 29, 2021 at 22:47
  • @phoog which is an absolutely ridiculous intention and will be a PR disaster as soon as you post it to Reddit or Hacker News. Jun 30, 2021 at 15:41
  • @user253751 not necessarily. The company wants to license performance use under different terms, presumably charging more money. That's their prerogative, and frankly it doesn't bother me if they want to gouge the likes of Disney. I'm sure they won't be policing student projects at the performing arts school (which anyway probably has a different license as an academic institution).
    – phoog
    Jun 30, 2021 at 15:56
  • @phoog The fact it's not enforced doesn't mean it's not absolutely ridiculous and a PR disaster. Jun 30, 2021 at 16:27
  • @user253751 well why don't you post it and see?
    – phoog
    Jun 30, 2021 at 16:41

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