Limits of Licenses

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. rod at
Mon Mar 27 18:21:08 UTC 2000

I do not know why, but people often think that contracts of adhesion are unlawful. They are not unless they violate public policy (unconscionability), which is a very high hurdle in most courts. 
> Justin Wells wrote:
> > Can a copyright license demand that I stop using a work that I 
> have acquired
> > lawfully if I later violate the license and infringe on the 
> copyright? Can
> > it demand that I destroy my copy?
The short answer is yes. Shareware agreements make such demands frequently. 

> > 
> > Many licenses include langaue insisting that you must cease all use of
> > the software and/or destroy your copies of it if you violate the license
> > terms. I'm wondering if you can do that in a copyright license.
> Hmm, I doubt it.

Sure, you can. You can also use self-help measures to protect your copyright.
> > What reason is there to believe that free software licenses are valid at
> > all? If they really are contracts of adhesion, isn't that going to get
> > them struck down right there? I thought there was some precedent for
> > throwing out a contract, even if it's reasonable, just on the grounds
> > that it was a contract of adhesion--and if you have even one 
> objectionable
> > term, then you get into hot water.
> Contracts of adhesion are interpreted strictly against the party drafting
> them; he cannot be heard to say "I didn't mean what I said".  But they are
> neither void nor voidable as such, and a good thing too, or we'd none of
> us have to pay our rents or credit-card agreements.  :-)

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M.
rod at

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