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Re: Fwd: Re: Bug#278474: mimetex: licensing issue

[Nothing contained within should be construed as legal advice.]

John Forkosh <john@forkosh.com>
>      Your discussion was brought to my attention, so I thought I'd
> explain my reasoning regarding the paragraph in mimetex's gpl
> licensing terms (at http://www.forkosh.com/mimetex.html) which reads
>   By using mimeTeX, you warrant that you have read, understood
>   and agreed to these terms and conditions, and that you are at least
>   18 years of age and possess the legal right and ability to enter
>   into this agreement and to use mimeTeX in accordance with it.

The GNU GPL does not restrict usage[1] at all. "The act of running the
Program is not restricted." What you have done is effectively limited
the usage of mimeTeX to people who are over the age of 18 and people
who poesses the legal right to enter into an agreement. That's a
further restriction beyond the GPL itself, and therefore incompatible
with the GPL.

> Returning to the gpl, the same 15-year-old could, for example,
> incorporate gpl'ed code into a proprietary product, and there'd be
> no legal recourse.

This is incorrect. Copyright law is as binding on un-emancipated
minors as it is on people of the majority.

> He could even sue the author of a gpl'ed program for damages if the
> program misbehaves.  The author would probably win, but couldn't
> just use the gpl to get the case dismissed.

Said person could sue the author of the GPLed program even if they
were of the majority.

> It seems to me that the gpl fails to adequately address this kind of
> loophole -- that is, in order to agree to the terms of the gpl you
> must first be a legally competent person.  Am I missing something
> here?

I really don't think this loophole is worth closing personally. It's
primarily an issue with legal systems in countries who impose physical
age based (rather than mental age based) systems of majority.

In the future, if you really think that this (or something else) is a
major issue, please talk to the FSF first before adding additional
restrictions on top of the GPL. People there have a great deal of
experience in dealing with issues like these and can refer you to
people who can give actual legal advice.

Don Armstrong

1: In the non-modification, non-distribution sense of the word.

Guns Don't Kill People.
*I* Kill People.

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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