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Re: Fwd: figlet license change from Artistic to Clarified Artistic or Artistic 2.0?

On Tue, Nov 02, 2004 at 08:03:49PM -0500, John Cowan wrote:
> The AFL's restrictions are intended to protect the licensor and his
> original licensees.  Other persons (including said licensees if they
> choose to become licensors as well) can undertake whatever obligations
> they wish to.

It seems that this license is actually doing two fundamentally distinct
things: granting a license to people to do stuff, and making promises
from the distributor/licensor.  I think this combination is what makes it
so confusing: it looks like it requires these promises be made by everyone.
This is probably partially a result of the GPL's influence, and partially
because almost no free licenses place any kind of "restrictions" on the
licensor (calling them restrictions is also confusing; that's not really
what they are, since they're voluntary and you lose nothing if you don't
want to make them).

I'm sure there's some way to make this stuff clearer for people used to
more typical free licenses, but I'm not sure what it is.

Could you give an example of something that would "contradict the AFL",
that isn't allowed?  (If I'm allowed to distribute the work under the X11
license, then it seems like anything is allowed, except for obvious things
like removing the author's name.)

> I was referring to corporate licenses that are OSI-open-source or FSF-free
> or both.  (Is there a current list of Debian-free licenses?)

I'm not sure.

> > However, it seems that a similar possible problem exists with contracts:
> > that they're not binding without consideration.  
> "Consideration is as much a matter of form as seal."  Any benefit to the
> licensee, however slight, constitutes consideration.  A court has to go
> out of its way to find that there is no consideration whatever.  (IANAL.)

This is an assertion of how the law works, I've seen contradicting assertions,
and I've seen claims that it may be very different depending on where you are
(that contract law isn't nearly as uniform as copyright law, which does vary
but tends to sit in a couple major camps).  I can't draw any useful
conclusions from all that, though I'd speculate that all of them may be
correct: that in some places, any benefit is consideration, and others require

> > It seems to me that the "free software contracts aren't enforcable due to
> > lack of consideration" claims are more likely than the nebulous "we're
> > not sure, but some people seem to think copyright licenses are revokable"
> > claims (at least the contract concern is based in a specific legal principle),
> So is the other: that a bare license, *because* it is not a contract, is
> revokable.

This isn't a legal principle, it's an assertion.  Why is my grant of
copyright license revokable?  I just can't find comparisons to "permission
to trespass" very convincing.  (I've also heard things along the lines
of "allow people to trespass on your land for long enough and you can no
longer prevent it"--some kind of implicit permission--and I'm very sure
that has no relation to copyright law.)

Glenn Maynard

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