Limits of Licenses

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. rod at
Mon Mar 27 22:00:59 UTC 2000

I doubt that anyone can ensure that a large company will not attempt to
squash you if they find a bug. :-) Seriously, your best defense is to pay a
lawyer to help you draft the license you want. If your budget doesn't
provide for that, stay as close to theterms of the GNU GPL as possible, if
you want a copyleft license. ...A couple of comments below...

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

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Justin Wells [mailto:jread at]
> Sent: Monday, March 27, 2000 3:42 PM
> To: license-discuss at
> Subject: Re: Limits of Licenses
> On Mon, Mar 27, 2000 at 01:21:08PM -0500, Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. wrote:
> >
> > 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.
> Is this a contract of adhesion:
>    We are willing to license our software to you at no charge only if you
>    accept all the terms of this agreement. We are willing to negotiate
>    different license terms with you for a fee, please contact us at....
This is definitely confusing. It sounds like you are charging people for the
privilege of negoiating a contract with you. I would not do that, if I were
you. What you may want to think about is setting up to licenses with
distinct terms and letting users agree to one or the other. If you really
want to negotiate individual licenses, then do so, but consider the
rationale for doing so. In other words, why? Open source licenses are public
licenses offering the same terms to everyone. As long as your terms are
clear, they make sense, and people have the option of rejecting them, I
would not be too concerned about the contract of adhesion  issue.
>    ... standard looking OSS license ...
> What I'm hoping exempts it from being a contract of adhesion is:
>   1) there is no charge
>   2) offer to negotiate different terms
>   3) you get to see the license and software as a whole BEFORE deciding
>      that you want to agree to the terms
> I'd rather not have the license interpreted strictly against me, the
> tiny little legal-resource-poor software developer, when squaring off
> against the big, deep pocketed corporation that sues me because a bug
> in my software interrupted their business.
> Justin

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