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contracts vs. licenses, OSI, and Debian (was: The QPL licence)

On Sun, Apr 25, 2004 at 07:29:57PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> To veer off the subject a little, we don't like licenses which engage
> in too much contract-like behavior, because they're usually non-free.
> In particular, any license which requires that you agree to it in
> order to *use* it -- since use is not normally restricted by copyright
> law -- is trying to be a contract, and is also non-free.

Indeed.  Larry Rosen, who is an attorney and is the legal advisor to the
Board of the Open Source Initiative[1], is a major advocate of
converting copyright licenses into contracts[2], as are major media[3]
and proprietary software[4][5] companies.

I personally think this explains a great many of the divergences between
Debian's assessment of licenses and OSI's.

[1] http://opensource.org/docs/board.php
[2] http://www.rosenlaw.com/html/GL19.pdf
[3] http://www.ipjustice.org/321/321Studios.pdf
[4] http://www.cyber.com.au/cyber/about/comparing_the_gpl_to_eula.pdf
[5] http://www.gripe2ed.com/scoop/story/2003/10/18/115821/71

G. Branden Robinson                |    If a man ate a pound of pasta and a
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    pound of antipasto, would they
branden@debian.org                 |    cancel out, leaving him still
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    hungry?              -- Scott Adams

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