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[Caml-list] User library license
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Date: 2003-02-24 (13:44)
From: John Max Skaller <skaller@o...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] User library license
Brian Hurt wrote:

> There is a theory in IP law circles that the *only* way a copyrightable
> work can become public domain is for the copyright to expire.  And that 
> simply distributing the work without a license doesn't mean that a license 
> (with arbitrary terms) could be imposed at a later point.

There is a very serious fundamental flaw of understanding here.

A (typical) licence does NOT impose any constraints on the client.
Totally to the contrary, a licence applies constraints on the vendor.

The client is first restricted by copyright laws, and then
the licence RELEASES the client from certain constraints
of the copyright under certain conditions, and as such

The licence is NOT any kind of agreement.

In a court, the author might sue the client for breaching
copyright, and the client might claim that the use
was in accordance with the licence .. and
PERMITTED THE USE e made of the code which would
otherwise breach copyright.

I would not like to have to prove that since I do NOT
have a signed piece of paper with the authors permission
to make such copies as would otherwise be proscribed.
I'd probably only feel confident if the source was
encrypted and signed by PGP and matched the authors loudly
proclaimed public key. I think a judge would believe that.

So you can see that companies have a twofold problem with
GPL and other such licences: first is that they may
not feel they can use the code with the permissions granted
by the author, and second that they have grave doubts
they can actually prove those permissions were granted.

BTW: I wonder what would happen if say Microsoft breached
GPL. It would be funny because I don't think GNU could sue them.
i mean, even if the case were proved, it is a civil matter and
they'd have to sue for damages .. only GNU doesn't make any money
out of their code and so the damages would have to be zero :-)

I suspect RedHat could sue for damages .. and might actually
be awarded a non-zero sum, but the best GNU would ever get
is an order to stop distribution.

John Max Skaller, mailto:skaller@ozemail.com.au
snail:10/1 Toxteth Rd, Glebe, NSW 2037, Australia.

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