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Re: GPL/LGPL confusion

>From: Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au>
>You know, I think we've been looking at this wrong.

>Saying "you can't relicense" is just wrong. [...]

	I don't how it works in Australia, but you apparently have
no idea how the Title 17 (the US copyright laws) read in the United

	"License" is not a completely well defined term, and, more
importantly, it is not a legislated system by which you can directly
get the courts to enforce something.  The fact that you see that
terminology widely used does not change that.  Copyright owners of
many persuasions like the term because it suggests a broader monopoly
that copyright actually conveys.  A good book that covers this issue
is _The Nature Of Copyright: A Law Of Users Rights_ by L. Ray
Patterson and Stanley W. Lindberg.  It is, I believe, the only text
endorsed by Robert W. Kastenmeier, the then-chairman of the house
committee on intellectual property who presided over the drafting of
the 1976 Copyright Act.

	If you write copyright permissions and call it a "license",
the courts may interpret it as a unilateral grant of permissions
related to *your* copyright interests only, and (more likely) they may
interpret it the offer phase of the formation of a contract.  Ask
yourself this, if somebody violates the "license", what law creates
the private right action by which you could sue them to enforce it?!?
When you think about this, you'll realize that you're actually talking
about either copyright infringement (title 17) or breach of contract
(state law in the US, mostly the Uniform Commercial Code).

	If you reply further, please identify who would have the right
to sue whom if the "license" were violated, and based, roughly, on
what law.

	I am not a lawyer, so please do not rely on this as legal advice.

>>       Your right to copy a piece of content comes from the
>> permissions granted to you by the owners of its copyrights, not by
>> intermediaries who have no actual copyright interest or authorization
>> to act as an agent for the copyright owners.
>That's only true if the original copyright holders didn't specifically
>give you permission to sublicense in their copyright license though...

	What actual legal act are you referring to when you say
"sublicense?"  Are you talking about forming a binding contract?  Are
you talking about granting permissions with respect to your own
copyright?  Are you are talking about having some limited power of
attorney with respect to copyrights that are not yours?  If you claim
that "sublicense" as it would apply to copyright is a term precisely
defined in the law, tell me where.

	If you visit 
and look at the list of GPL compatible "licenses", and click on the
link labelled "The X11 license", you will notice that the word
"sublicense" DOES NOT APPEAR in the X11 license, and the FSF gets
very good legal advice.  I know that one person who provides legal
advice to them is a law professor at Columbia University.

Adam J. Richter     __     ______________   4880 Stevens Creek Blvd, Suite 104
adam@yggdrasil.com     \ /                  San Jose, California 95129-1034
+1 408 261-6630         | g g d r a s i l   United States of America
fax +1 408 261-6631      "Free Software For The Rest Of Us."

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