[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: OpenSSL and GPLed programs

"Chloe Hoffman" <chloehoffman@hotmail.com> writes:

> I don't see how "contract issues are entirely moot". Certainly at
> least the terms of the license must be interpreted to determine if
> they are complied with. AFAIK copyright law does not deal with such
> issues. Rather contract law has a long established tradition for
> interpreting and defining unilateral "contracts". I would be
> interested to see cites otherwise. I am talking U.S. law here but
> would be interested in laws of other countries as well.

It's not a contract.  It's a license.  Your description of a long
established tradition is entirely correct: it's the tradition of how
to interpret grants of permission (which are operative in cases of
copyright, trespass, and so forth).  That tradition is *not* contract,
and calling it "contract" again and again only serves to confuse the

> Also, I am not convinced that most "open source" licenses are not
> contracts. 

I don't know about "most".  I know about particular ones, and they

> My view is that a good argument can be made that that a
> licensee, in consideration for receiving the right to modify,
> distribute, etc the code and in consideration for foregoing the right
> to sue the licensor (limitation of liability) accepts the license
> contract by modifying, distributing, etc. the code. Indeed if it were
> otherwise, the limitation of liability would have no effect because
> the public license model you propose is unilateral.

The absence of any negotiation makes very clear that it isn't
contract.  The limitation of liability is defensible on entirely
different grounds.

> Well I think I know a little bit of law as an attorney. I hoped I was
> providing useful information. I'd be happy to go away if you prefer.

You seem out of your depth here.  A tax attorney, for example, may be
exceedingly good at his job and still be totally out of his depth when
it comes to the details of the criminal law: a detective probably has
a better knowledge of the elements of most serious crimes than does a
tax attorney.  

I've been engaged in issues of free software IP law for over a decade,
and I know the subject inside and out.  And I'm not the only one on
this list; there are many such. 


Reply to: