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Re: Questions about legal theory behind (L)GPL

On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 10:32:02 -0800 Michael K. Edwards wrote:

> The GPL purports to bind the licensor to issue a perpetual (barring
> breach) license to copy, sublicense, etc.

I don't see where the GPL permits me to sublicense...

>  That implies a contract
> without termination (although there is a statutory right to terminate,
> e. g., in the US after 35 years).  It's a nice theory that "releasing"
> software under the GPL is a one-shot action, complete as of the moment
> that a licensee receives the tarball, but it just ain't true, at least
> under US law.

I'm not convinced by your arguments: I still can't see where the
licensor is bound to do something.

Suppose Jessica F. Hacker wrote a program and followed the instructrions
she found at the end of the GPLv2 text.
Then she uploaded the source tarball to Savannah and disappeared (in the
sense that nobody ever heard of her anymore).
What are her obligations? I fail to see any...

Anyone who downloads this initial version has some rights (create and
distribute GPL'd modified versions, for instance), but not other ones
(create and distribute proprietary modified versions, for instance).
Note that (as has already been pointed out) none of these rights would
hold if Jessica didn't authorize those operations (and Jessica
authorized the former, but not the latter ones).

I don't know if the GPL is a "contract" or some other thing (it mainly
depends on the definition of the term "contract", which in turn depends
on the jurisdiction...).
But it smells like a unilateral and asymmetrical thing: I cannot see how
it could be considered a bilateral "contract" or bilater something...

The licensor grants some permissions and the licensee gets them without
losing any rights he/she had before...

          Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
  Francesco Poli                             GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4
 Key fingerprint = C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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