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Re: Questions about legal theory behind (L)GPL

On Sat, Jan 08, 2005 at 04:21:32PM -0500, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> But in the case of the GPL, he's not bound.  It's just that he's
> already issued the license -- or are you talking about some case other
> than an author releasing his own works under the GPL?

I don't think he's claiming that the GPL itself is a contract.

I think he's saying that it constitutes an offer of a contract.

More specifically, it offers an exchange:

A person is granted the right to copy and distribute derived works based
on the GPL'd Program if the person releases any added material under
compatible terms.

Then again, it seems to me that you're saying that since all offers to
release derived works are only valid if the terms of added material are
compatible with the terms of the original, which is probably also correct.

Anyways, near as I can piece together, here's the exchange in
value that Michael K. Edwards is talking about:

  gains the right to distribute derived works based on the GPL'd
  program (and I have no argument -- this is valuable)

  gains ... this is where I have a problem seeing his argument.  And,
  without some benefit to the Licensor, the contract is unilateral,
  benefiting only the Licensee.

The Licensor is asking that the new materials be released under
compatible terms, but that's a public benefit and needn't benefit
the Licensor at all.

I suppose you could claim that this makes the resulting contract
trilateral (with "the public" as the third party, and "good will"
being the thing of value received by the Licensor from "the public").
But I'd be hard-pressed to find any contract law precedent for this line
of thought.


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