Re: Contracts and licenses
Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
Arnoud Engelfriet <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> > 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?
After there is an offer and an acceptance, a contract is formed (which
can result in legal remedy if one of the parties defaults).
My response: I do not accept the license grant. Therefore, I
have rejected your offer and so I am not bound to do anything
So if you say you want to give me your watch, and I say I want it, can
you not accept my desire, and so reject my offer to receive your
The offer to give the watch ("you say you want to give me your watch")
is the offer, "I say I want it", the acceptance. After these two actions
are perfomed, a contract is formed.
In the case of the shell script, a contract is offered by 'me': "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.", but not necessarily accepted by 'you'.
If the contract were accepted by 'you', there would be an obligation for
'you' to send 'me' a dollar (If 'you' does not deliver the dollar, 'me'
could take the matter to court, where 'you' might be compelled to do
so). If not, neither party has any obligation: It is not possible to
have obligations under a contract without accepting it.
Acceptance need not be formal though: acting as if the contract has been
accepted is sufficient to signify acceptance in most cases (so if 'you'
modifies and distributes the program, this can be taken as an acceptance
of the contract, and therefore 'you' is obligated to deliver the dollar).
The textbook example of this is getting on a bus: In posting their fares
on the side of the bus, the bus company offers a contract to you (and
everyone else that reads it) to provide carriage in exchange for money.
By getting on the bus and giving money to the driver, you simultaneously
accept the contract, and carry out your obligation under it. Should the
bus break down, the bus company is contractually obligated to either
refund your money, or send another bud to take you to your destination.