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Re: freedomization task list [was: Re: Dangerous precedent being

Henning Makholm <henning@makholm.net> writes:

> Yes, but I was thinking the other way around: the author of the
> program does not necessarily get any consideration out of putting
> his program under the GPL (which ought to count as a promise to
> enter the described contract with anyone who accepts the conditions).

It doesn't matter; the GPL isn't a contract.

> > The GPL is also not a contract, it's a public license.
> Huh? Are "public licenses" a sui generis case in American law?

No, the GPL is in the category of a grant of permission.  If I give
you permission to walk on my land, that's a grant of permission.  The
GPL gives you permission to copy the program (something copyright law
would otherwise prohibit) as long as you conform to some

We have an "owner" who authored the software and holds the copypright
for something distributed under GPL, and a "copier" who has made a
copy of it.

If the copy is in violation of the GPL, then the owner can sue the
copier.  He sues for violation of copyright--for making an illegal
copy--not for "violation of the GPL".  The copier can defend himself
by proving that the GPL gave him permission to copy, and then the
issue will be about whether the copier complied with the GPL.  But the
actual tort is copyright violation, not breach of contract.

The owner hasn't gotten any "consideration", and therefore he hasn't
bound himself by contract, so the copier can't sue the owner.  But so
what?  What would he sue FOR?


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