'Browse-wrap' licenses invalid

Carol A. Kunze ckunze at ix.netcom.com
Sat Jul 7 23:16:55 UTC 2001

The GPL does more than grant additional rights.  It also places an 
important limitation on a user's right to license derivative works in which 
she owns the copyright.

Under the copyright law, the author of an authorized derivative work would 
have the right to decide under what conditions (license) to distribute that 

So clause 5 says : Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or 
any work based on the Program), you indicate your *acceptance* of this 
License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, 
distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it.

To this extent, the GPL does more than just add to what one would get under 
the Copyright Act.


At 07:37 PM 7/7/01 -0500, Jimmy Wales wrote:
>In such a situation, wouldn't the situation therefore just default to
>Wouldn't it be correct to say that a license which imposes _additional
>restrictions_ *beyond copyright* on you is invalid unless you have actually
>assented, but that a license which grants _additional rights_ is valid?
>The GPL is admirably exact: "You are not required to accept this
>License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants
>you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative
>works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this
>If I'm right, then a decision of this type is not harmful to open
>source licenses (generally), because they simply grant additional
>rights to the end user, rather than attempt to restrict beyond copyright.
>But some proprietary licenses, which purport to require all kinds of
>additional conditions on you beyond copyright (e.g., no backup copies,
>no reverse engineering) may fail.
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Carol A. Kunze
Napa, CA
ckunze at ix.netcom.com
707.371.1807 (fax)

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