Re: Some licensing questions regarding celestia
Brian C <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
> If so, I can say with certainty that the FSF claims that the GPL is not
> a contract. I attended their recent seminar on the GPL at Stanford Law
> School (August '03 See http://patron.fsf.org/course-offering.html ) and
> heard presentations from Exec. Director Bradley Kuhn and one of their
> attorneys, Daniel Ravicher, who both were adamant that the GPL is not a
That's good to hear. I would prefer licences not to be contracts.
However, it might be that in Australia and Germany licences are
treated as contracts.
> One of the key reasons they say it's not a contract is because they
> don't want you to be forced to accept the terms of the GPL to run GPL'd
This I don't understand. The issues of whether you need permission to
run software and whether a licence is a contract seem fairly
independent to me.
Perhaps it doesn't matter too much whether a licence is a contract.
These two cases are fairly equivalent:
Case 1: The GPL is just a licence. There's no need for consideration,
and someone who releases software under the GPL cannot withdraw their
permission because the existing licence remains valid.
Case 2: The GPL is in effect a contract in which the copyright owner
promises not to sue for copyright infringement. In return, people use
the software and don't sue for damage caused, so there is
consideration. If a copyright owner tried to sue someone for copyright
infringement the people affected could countersue for the full value
of the software, which for something like the Linux kernel might be
thousands of millions. Alternatively, they could just ask: "How much
do you charge for licensing the software to me under the GPL? I sue
you for that much plus costs. Or you could just continue to license it
to me, as you promised."
I prefer case 1 where possible.