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Re: Contracts and licenses

Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> Humberto Massa <humberto.massa@almg.gov.br> writes:
> > *And* I go to Criminal Court and denounce you for copyright
> > infringement, and now we're talking *real* jail time and hefty fines
> That's criminal in Brasil?  Not a tort?  Wacky.  So you don't get any
> damages from me infringing your copyrights?

Copyright infringement is a crime in most countries in the world.
Willful infringement in the US is punishable by several years in
prison (17 USC 506 and 18 USC 2319). 

Of course separately the copyright holder can sue the infringer
for damages. 

> > All supposing the "wear yp" clause is legal (which prolly is NOT).
> How come?  In the US, I could certainly sign a contract agreeing to
> wear yellow underpants in exchange for a license to copy and modify
> various works.  I suspect that this hints at the difference between
> the Brazilian legal term you're translating as "contract" and what I'm
> talking about.

Contract partners typically may not agree to things that
violate basic principles of law. A contract to sell illegal
drugs is void, as would be a contract to kill someone for

Perhaps we shouldn't use the word "contract" but rather
"agreement". If I make an offer, and you accept it, we
have an "agreement". Normally that means I now have an
obligation (to fulfill my offer). In most cases you also
have an obligation (to give me the "consideration"). That
case is what you call a "contract".

> Here, I send you this shell script I have written, which highlights
> 3com devices: 'cat /proc/pci | tr 3 \*'.  I grant you a license to
> use, modify, and distribute it, and to distribute any derived works
> you make -- HOWEVER, I demand you send me a dollar for this.
> Now, are you obligated to send me a dollar?  If not, why not.  You
> *have* the license.  I granted it to you.  How can I enforce our
> contract?

My response: I do not accept the license grant. Therefore, I 
have rejected your offer and so I am not bound to do anything 
in return. 

> > Any copies necessary for _the_ _operations_ _you're_ _licensed_ _to_
> > _do_! This means you're infringing in my copyright if I put a clause
> > "you may not click the File/Save menu entry" and you do so.
> Do you really mean that copyright can restrict reading a book?  That
> is, I could sell you a book, but not give you a license to read it?
> Or sell you a program, but not give you a license to run it?

Copyright perhaps can't, but you can agree to almost everything.
There's a big dispute here about copy protection measures and
their impact on fair use. You have the right to make a copy for
private use, but what if the copyright holder asks you to agree
in the license agreement that you do not exercise that right?


Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies: http://www.iusmentis.com/

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