How To Break The GPL

Justin Wells jread at
Fri Mar 3 22:44:09 UTC 2000

On Fri, Mar 03, 2000 at 04:51:03PM -0500, John Cowan wrote:
> Ah, but then you raise this question:  If the GPL is an ordinary
> contract, where's the consideration?

There's lots of consideration:

  -- fame from becoming well known as the author of a free software work

  -- expectation that you will receive further copyrighted material in 
     return, from someone who contributed to your project (this is 
     explicitly mentioned as being of value in US title 17, the 
     copyright act).

  -- the service of distributing your copyrighted work to other people
     for you so that they can provide one of the above

  -- personal satisfaction in knowing that others use your software

Consideration can be anything of value, and all of the above seem to 
be things of value. I don't think a court would have a hard time 
finding consideration. 

Also, is the GPL a copyright *grant* or a copyright *license*? A grant
assigns ownership rights to other people. A license simply gives 
everyone some permission to use it. 

I think the GPL is a *license* and probably depends on there being
some consideration.

I am not a lawyer, so take all this with a grain of salt.


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