A new open source license

Ken Arromdee arromdee at inetnow.net
Tue May 11 15:08:14 UTC 1999

Perhaps this is a bit of an odd objection, since I'm objecting to something
taken verbatim from the GPL, but I've argued about this clause in the GPL

On 11 May 1999, Russell Nelson wrote:
> You are not required to accept this license, since you have not signed it.
> However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute any
> code, library, or any derivative works thereof. These actions are
> prohibited by law if you do not accept this license.

The logical consequence of this is not "somebody who distributes has accepted
the license".  It is "somebody who distributes either has accepted the
license, or is illegally pirating the Code".

This is not trivial, since a distributor might decide that they are better off
being a pirate than having accepted the license; for instance, consider what
happened to MOSIX, where if the author accepted the GPL he might be violating
Israeli export restrictions.  I would imagine that violating those would lead
to punishment rather more severe than the punishment for pirating software.

> Therefore, by using,
> modifying or distributing any code, library (or any work based on the
> code), you indicate your acceptance of the License set forth below, and all
> its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying such Code,
> library, or works based on them.

The clause following the "Therefore" doesn't logically follow from the clauses
that it is supposed to logically follow from.  Someone who copies the code
doesn't _automatically_ accept the conditions.  If they distribute but don't
accept the conditions, then they're a software pirate and you can sue them...
but you can't act as if the license has been accepted and can't, for instance,
copy the modifications.

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