Wired Article on the GPL

W. Yip weng at yours.com
Fri Mar 31 22:37:50 UTC 2000

On Fri, 31 Mar 2000 13:51:06 -0800, Chip Salzenberg <chip at valinux.com>
>According to Richard Watts:
>>  Of course, the author also gets vicarious benefits from the
>> perceived greater reliability of the software he uses which is based
>> on the software he's written, even if none of it was actually
>> distributed to him [...]
>I've got a better argument there (though, of course, IANAL):
>What makes a consideration valuable to a person depends on his value
>system.  For example, most people like money, but some people care
>about other things more.  So if free software is important to the
>original author, I would call an addition to the body of free software
>a "valuable consideration".  And surely a test case would prominently
>feature the original author testifying to that effect.

No. In UK law your analysis would not work because consideration is not
subjective. It does not have to be considered adequate by the parties for
existence of a contract. This means that a disparity in value between the
articles or acts or omissions exchanged does not prevent a finding of
consideration. It must be of *some* economic value, but acts or omissions
of very small value can be consideration. 

As for intangibles like promises and forbearance, it must be recognised as
having economic value before it can take on the status of consideration.

Extremely trivial objects have be regarded as consideration, ranging from
chocolate wrappers to 'worthless' gaming chips

In my first year as a law student in UK, a primary issue in the tutorial on
consideration involved questioning whether this construct ought to be
necessary at all. Indeed, there is considerable academic opinion that it
should be abolished. Primarily this is because it is a very uncertain legal
construct that inhibits business (we are now wasting time talking about it
aren't we?), while it is always down to the (arbitrary) decision of the
courts at the end of the day. 

Apparently, in some jurisdictions consideration is not required for a
contractual formation.

IMHO, consideration is one of those moot points best left for discussion on
the specific facts when a dispute arises, after which the best argument

see, for UK, pg. 79 Treitel, G.H.  "Law of Contract 9th Ed." Sweet and

IANAL (yet)

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