Re: issues with the AGPL
On Tuesday 24 March 2009 05:57:11 pm Miriam Ruiz wrote:
> 2009/3/25 Sean Kellogg <email@example.com>:
> > On Tuesday 24 March 2009 05:22:34 pm Greg Harris wrote:
> >> > Free-software licenses especially are (by definition) unilateral
> >> > grants of permission, so I can't see how you lump them under contract.
> >> Um, no. Software licenses are one instance of a class of unilateral
> >> contracts. Another instance is product warranties. Yet another class is
> >> a store's advertised prices for goods. There are others.
> > Mr. Harris here is correct, for *most* cases. There does exist, however, a hypothetical license which is NOT a contract... though you don't see them very often. This is where person A gives something to person B without any expectation from person B. This is a unilateral grant of permission and would not be enforceable as a contract for lack of consideration. However, the license is still good until such time as A withdraws the grant, which he could conceivably do at any time. It's no different than if I invite you into my house, which the court sees as a license to enter my property, converting the person from trespasser to invitee.... but I can kick that person out whenever I like. The moment we sign a lease (another form of contract) I lose that power because the contract grants the leasor the right to be on the premises and is enforceable (assuming I got something in the lease, like rent money).
> > In case anyone is wondering, the general point of view of law professor who write articles about such things is that the GPL *is* a contract, because it requires the recipient to forbear certain warranty rights.
> All that is for USA, right? Do you know whether it works that way in
> other countries than USA, and probably UK, Canada and Australia too?
Pretty much everything I stated above is from common law and predates the formation of the United States. It's probably a safe bet that it applies to any political entity that was under British rule at one time or another. Having said that, it is also codified in the Uniform Commercial Code, which is a U.S. produced set of "best practices" law which are heavily influential in any part of the world that wants to do business with the United States. I have no doubt that there are many jurisdictions that don't follow the UCC -- or anything close to it -- but my understanding is the global legal community is fairly uniform on naming conventions like these. It's the implication of the UCC that jurisdictions tend to diverge (even between individual U.S. states you see lots of variation in how the UCC is implemented).
But I'm not an expert on international law, much less the national laws of any other country.