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Re: GPL/LGPL confusion



On Mon, Jul 02, 2001 at 11:05:51AM -0700, Adam J. Richter wrote:
> >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. [...]
> 	"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. 

From dict:

  License \Li"cense\ (l[imac]"sens), n. [Written also {licence}.]
     [F. licence, L. licentia, fr. licere to be permitted, prob.
     orig., to be left free to one; akin to linquere to leave. See
     {Loan}, and cf. {Illicit}, {Leisure}.]
     1. Authority or liberty given to do or forbear any act;
        especially, a formal permission from the proper
        authorities to perform certain acts or to carry on a
        certain business, which without such permission would be
        illegal; a grant of permission; as, a license to preach,
        to practice medicine, to sell gunpowder or intoxicating
        liquors.
        [1913 Webster]

A license is a grant of permission from whoever's authorized to grant
that permission.

> 	If you write copyright permissions and call it a "license",

What else are you meant to call it?

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/s196.html

(s196 of the Copyright Act for Australia)

> 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?!?

You can't violate a license, you can only not abide by it. If, in so
doing, you're abiding by some other license you've been granted on the
given work, that's all well and good. If you're not, you're breaking
copyright, and can be sued by the copyright holder, and possibly others
on the copyright holder's behalf. (If the copyright holder's dead, the
estate of the copyright holder could sue, eg; the Oz copyright act has
specific provisions if the author has exclusively licensed the work to
another: in particular *both* parties have to sue, the author can't do
that alone, nor can the licensee. A brief skim and grep didn't show up
anything corresponding as far as public licenses are concerned)

> >>       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?"

[aj@blae ~]$ grep -in sublicense /usr/share/doc/xfree86-common/copyright 
20:the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense,
54:to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
84:to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
209:lish, distribute, sublicense and/or sell copies of Subject Software (defined
275:cure such breach within 30 days of the breach. Any sublicense to the Subject
277:License absent termination by the terms of such sublicense. Provisions which,
405:lish, distribute, sublicense and/or sell copies of Subject Software (defined
470:cure such breach within 30 days of the breach. Any sublicense to the Subject
472:License absent termination by the terms of such sublicense. Provisions which,

You might have to go far enough afield to be looking under laws related
to power of attorney or something to find the legal basis for the ability
to sublicense.

> 	If you visit 
> http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html#GPLCompatibleLicenses,
> 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,

I have no idea why the FSF's site would have a different text for the X11
license than the Debian pckage or the xfree86 website.

Cheers,
aj

-- 
Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

``_Any_ increase in interface difficulty, in exchange for a benefit you
  do not understand, cannot perceive, or don't care about, is too much.''
                      -- John S. Novak, III (The Humblest Man on the Net)

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