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Re: Licence of SteelBlue

I would note in the U.S. (at least) however the following:

§ 204. Execution of transfers of copyright ownership
(a)A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner?s duly authorized agent.

Although with the new U.S. E-sign (electronic signature legislation), the meaning of "signed" and "writing" could have a different scope than traditionally understood. I haven't studied the new enacted legislation to determine the impact.

This is not legal advice, a client-attorney relationship is not hereby established, etc. etc.

From: Henning Makholm <henning@makholm.net>
To: Tomasz Wegrzanowski <maniek@beer.com>
CC: Henning Makholm <henning@makholm.net>, Juhapekka Tolvanen <juhtolv@st.jyu.fi>, debian-legal@lists.debian.org, debian-devel@lists.debian.org
Subject: Re: Licence of SteelBlue
Date: 26 Jul 2000 22:02:06 +0200

Scripsit Tomasz Wegrzanowski <maniek@beer.com>

> Nothing in copyright law allow you to make such claims in a license.

A "license" means two things:

1. The permission from the owner of an intellectual property right
   for someone to do whatever the IPR protects.

2. The contract in which the owner of an intellectual property right
   agrees to give someone a license (sense 1) in exchange for certain
   goods or promises, to be specified in the contract.

The document we're talking about is clearly a license in sense 2. You
can either not accept it - in which case you will be bound by nothing
- or you can accept it - in which case you will get a license (sense
1) *and* become liable to do *whatever* the contract says you agree
to do in return.

What these return liabilities may consist of is not governed by
copyright law, but by normal contract law. It would make a
perfectly legal contract to say:

| Party A allows party B to copy his computer program X.
| In return, party B will
| 1) pet a cat, and
| 2) assign to party A the copyright to any future novels he
|    writes featuring a protagonist with the name of John.

Even though the novels may not be connected with program X by
copyright law, the contract nevertheless *creates* a connection.

What is *not* possible is for party A to unilaterally *offer* to
party B this contract, then - without any evidence that B has
accepted the contract - claim ownership of books that B write
about guys named John.

That is, however, not the point of the license we're discussing
presently. It says that *if* I want to copy the program *and* I
create patches *then* I must give these them these patches.
If, somehow, I create patches *without* copying the program,
then their copyright statement simply does not apply to me, and
I do not have to do the things they require.

Henning Makholm "Slip den panserraket og læg dig på jorden med ansigtet nedad!"

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