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Re: Copying/modification/distribution/sale combos and setting terms on use

On Sat, 2002-11-23 at 04:15, Glenn Maynard wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 23, 2002 at 04:20:02AM -0600, J.B. Nicholson-Owens wrote:
> > 1. <[🔎] 87of8uo9m2.fsf@becket.becket.net> has got me wondering if we really
> >    should specify that we want to combine
> > 
> >       copying, modification, distribution, sale
> > 
> >    into any arbitrary combination (e.g., copying+modification,
> >    sale+distribution, copying+modification+distribution+sale).  After all,
> >    if the UWash lawyers were right about how clauses like these are
> >    understood and we need to clarify modification+distribution, why do we
> >    not want clear specification on any other desirable combination of these
> >    actions?
> The FSF response about this, I believe, wasn't that this is necessarily the
> actual court position of a naive reading of "x, y, or z"; but rather that it's
> UW's reading (to get out of having previously made the software free) and that
> it's wise to heed copyright holders' interpretations of their licenses, even if
> they're strange.
> However, it seems that "x, y, and/or z" should close the loophole.  I
> wonder if someone would try to interpret that as saying "you must do
> all of them or exactly one".  :)

Not to sound too cynical  but it's been my experience that people will
try to interpret any string of words in the way that is most expansive
with regard to their rights, regardless of how severely they have to
torture the language or how twisted the meaning becomes.

That being said, most states in the US (I know that's a rather parochial
way to say it, but US law is all I have any experience with) have a
provision in their statutes to the effect that contracts (which includes
software licenses) are to be interpreted according to the plain English
meaning of their words unless some express provision of the document
itself explicitly shows that the parties have agreed to a different

Within that framework, this license appears to be free, although I don't
like the appearance of the word "use" in the list of rights that are
conditional on acceptance of the license.  I agree with the FSF that I
don't think conditions on merely RUNNING lawfully-obtained software are
enforceable under US copyright law, but it's a dangerously murky area.


There is no problem that cannot be resolved by the appropriate
application of high explosives.

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