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Re: APSL Hidden Nasty's

Jules Bean writes:
> But you think that minors cannot work on GPL programs?

I said *if* a minor cannot agree to the GPL.  I'm not entirely certain he

It is my understanding that the theory behind the unenforceability of
contracts with minors is that they are considered to be unable to
understand the consequences of entering into a contract.  Thus if you get
our 16 year old to agree to pay you $1000 a week for the use of your
program and then sue him when he doesn't pay, the judge will tell you that
the kid didn't know what he was getting into and you won't get your money.
You probably will get your program back, though.

One could argue that the GPL is different in that in accepting it the kid
doesn't give anything up and so his decision cannot harm him.  At worst the
copyright owner would be unable to require specific performance and would
have to settle for revoking the rights granted by the GPL, putting the kid
where he would be had he never accepted it.  Not much of a problem, really.

A more serious question is whether a minor can license his own work without
his guardian's consent.  I don't think he can.  I think that a court would
rule that in doing so he is giving up valuable rights and that he is not
competent to make the decision to do so.  It is probable that a license
(free or not) granted by a minor is void unless he gets his guardian's

> Come to that, minors presumably can't install (commercial or otherwise)
> software themselves..

Sure they can.  It is perfectly legal to enter into a contract with a
minor.  You just can't sue to enforce it.  Thus our 16 year old can buy a
game, cheerfully click on yes when asked if he agrees not to reverse
engineer it, and then do so anyway with complete impunity.

> Or make use of 'public domain' data.

John Hasler
john@dhh.gt.org (John Hasler)
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI

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