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Re: [WASTE-dev-public] Do not package WASTE! UNAUTHORIZED SOFTWARE [Was: Re: Questions about waste licence and code.]

On 5/19/05, Raul Miller <moth.debian@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 5/19/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> > The GPL is anomalous in that the drafter has published a widely
> > believed, but patently false, set of claims about its legal basis in
> > the "FSF FAQ".
> For the record, I disagree that this faq is "patently false".
> It is, in places, a bit simplistic, but I wouldn't advise anyone
> delve into those fine points of law unless they've retained
> the services of a lawyer (at which point the FAQ is merely
> an interesting commentary -- it has less weight than
> professional advice).

The FAQ is not merely an "interesting commentary" -- it is the
published stance of the FSF, to which its General Counsel refers all
inquiries.  Although I am not legally qualified to judge, I believe
that he can have no reasonable basis under the law in his jurisdiction
for many of the assertions that it contains, particularly the
assertion that the GPL is a creature of copyright law and not an
ordinary offer of contract.  That may yet become a problem for him
personally as well as for the FSF.

This is not a "fine point of law", it is first-year law student stuff
that anyone with a modicum of familiarity with legalese can easily
verify for himself or herself by the use of two law references (Nimmer
on Copyright and Corbin on Contracts) found in every law library in
the US.  These law references are probably also available from most
law libraries in any English-speaking country and the bigger ones
anywhere in the world, as are their equivalents for other national
implementations.  The fact that all licenses are (terms in) contracts
is also blatantly obvious from a few hours' perusal of the primary
literature -- statute and appellate case law -- which is available for
free through www.findlaw.com.  Don't believe me; look it up for

> Furthermore, that FAQ is far and away better than anything
> you've proposed.

If that is a challenge to produce an adequate summary of my writings
to date on the topic, I think I'll take it up, in my own sweet time. 
It won't be legal advice (IANAL), but it will be firmly grounded in
the applicable law to the best of my ability, which is a hell of a lot
more than you can say for the FSF FAQ.

- Michael

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