Wired Article on the GPL

Matthew C. Weigel weigel+ at pitt.edu
Thu Mar 30 21:53:52 UTC 2000

On Thu, 30 Mar 2000, John Cowan wrote:

> Remember that we are talking about the GPL here, not some random
> proprietary license.  The GPL grants you permissions to take certain
> actions provided you meet certain conditions.  The actions are copying,
> distributing, and making derivative works.  You neither accept nor reject
> the GPL; it grants you permissions whether you want them or not.

Ummm... yes, you can accept or reject the GPL, if I understand it correctly. 
You either accept the terms of the license -- the restrictions placed on
distribution, for instance -- or you don't, and if you don't, you have no
legal recourse for distribution.

I haven't been following this discussion too closely (I have, in fact, made
several attempts to unsubscribe per the directions sent to me when I
subscribed), but regardless of whether a license is very restrictive, and
regardless of whether the author of the license chooses to call it a
"copyleft," it's a license granting rights over copyrighted material.  If
you choose to not accept the license, then you can't use the software.

Of course, there's no reason to *not* accept the GPL, if you're not planning
on doing any distribution or derivative works, since your use is not
restricted.  But it's still an option.

> If the copyright owner revokes the permissions, you are probably out of
> luck.

Can a copyright owner revoke a license which has no 'revocation' clause?  It
seems that other licenses, such as the APSL, were scrupulous in including
such a clause so as to be able to revoke the license.

 Matthew Weigel
 weigel+ at pitt.edu

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