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Re: Contracts and licenses

On Tue, 29 Jun 2004, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> * A consideration: if the license document specifies consideration to
>   the licensor, the license can't be free.

For copyleft licenses, at least, the promise of future derivative
works being released with source under similar terms could quite
easily be argued to fulfill consideration.

I'm not aware of any case law specifically addressing this fact, but
given the ability of people to make a contract even with only a
contingent guarantee of renumeration (think insurance, FE) I'd be
surprised if you couldn't make a compelling argument along these

That being said, I'm not so sure that whether or not a license is just
a license or actually forms a contract is important for -legal to
consider,[1] as it is necessarily jurisdiction dependent. As I
understand it, the classification of a license as a license or
contract will alter the types of restrictions or requirements that can
be imposed upon the licensee.

If we take the conservative tack, and assume that all of the
restrictions or requirements are valid and legally binding and
evaluate the license from that perspective, we will have determined
whether or not the license is capable of being free, irregardless of
the outcome of a game of legal roulette.

Don Armstrong

1: Not to say that we shouldn't discuss it for our edification, of
Personally, I think my choice in the mostest-superlative-computer wars
has to be the HP-48 series of calculators.  They'll run almost
anything.  And if they can't, while I'll just plug a Linux box into
the serial port and load up the HP-48 VT-100 emulator.
 -- Jeff Dege, jdege@winternet.com


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