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Re: APSL Hidden Nasty's

On 18 Mar 1999, John Hasler wrote:

> 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
> can't.
> 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.

I checked with my local friendly software lawyer.  He said that minors can
enter into copyright licenses - the key point being that a copyright
license *gives* a right which the minor didn't have before (so he can't
complain it's restricting him).  That does leave open the question that a
minor might well be able to avoid the more circuitous twists of a license,
if he claims he didn't understand his obligations.

> 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
> permission.

Interesting point.  I passed that question on to my friend.


|  Jelibean aka  | jules@jellybean.co.uk         |  6 Evelyn Rd	       |
|  Jules aka     | jules@debian.org              |  Richmond, Surrey   |
|  Julian Bean   | jmlb2@hermes.cam.ac.uk        |  TW9 2TF *UK*       |
|  War doesn't demonstrate who's right... just who's left.             |
|  When privacy is outlawed... only the outlaws have privacy.          |

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