Wired Article on the GPL

Richard Watts rrw1000 at cl.cam.ac.uk
Thu Mar 30 21:39:30 UTC 2000

On Thursday 30 March 2000, Nils Lohner
<lohner at hew.ecf.teradyne.com> wrote:

>In message <20000330110655.J594 at perlsupport.com>, Chip Salzenberg writes:
>>According to John Cowan:
>>> Chip Salzenberg wrote:
>>> > In other words, the license adheres to the code, not the author.
>>> A license that isn't a contract (a bare permission) can be freely
>>> revoked by the licensor, as in an invitation to enter onto land: if
>>> the landowner changes his mind, the licensee instantly becomes a
>>> trespasser.
>>*shock*  *dismay*
>>I never thought I'd say this, but:  'Only UCITA can save us now.'
>This does not make sense.  If I bought the software, and the license is 
>changed afterwards, I have to abide by a new license? 

 No. If you buy the software, there's a contract, and that contract is
 binding. It's only if you get the software completely free, without
 having to give anything (valuable) away for it that there is no
 contract, because a contract requires a valuable consideration from
 both parties.

 Though ISTR that some European legal systems do recognise the
existence of gratuitous contracts, so the Frenchmen in the audience
may be safe(r). Don't count on it though - IANAL...

> I would argue that I 
>should have to abide by the license under which I bought it as I have never 
>had a chance to acept or reject the other license.  

 If Mattel change the licence, you aren't necessarily bound by the new
licence - you can choose to destroy your copies of the software and
walk away. Indeed, it doesn't seem likely that Mattel will be
licencing this particular bit of software at all :-).


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