RealNetworks' RTSP Proxy License

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. rod at
Sat Sep 8 02:16:43 UTC 2001

Be careful here. A license is a type of contractual arrangement. John's
description of open source licensing is correct except for his last sentence
about acceptance. For purposes of setting forth distinctions between open
source licensing and other forms of software licenses, you are headed in the
wrong direction by reference to acceptance. Ostensibly, a licensee must
consent to the terms of the license in order to be bound - - as is true of
any contract. How that consent manifests itself is a different question.
John was also correct that the important factor distinguishing open source
licenses from other software licenses has much more to do with the grant
clause (i.e. users may copy, modify, distribute...).  Sorry, Joseph,  I am
not convinced formalisms such as whether the license permits acceptance by
unilateral performance or bilateral promise is anything more than a dead-end
as far as open source is concerned.


Rod Dixon
Visiting Assistant Professor of Law
Rutgers University Law School - Camden
rod at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at]
> Sent: Friday, September 07, 2001 2:49 PM
> To: reagle at
> Cc: Jeffry Smith; license-discuss at; www-archive at
> Subject: Re: RealNetworks' RTSP Proxy License
> Joseph Reagle scripsit:
> > I've noted this distinction between an acceptance of a license
> > (unilateral?) and contract (bilateral?) before [1]; it's an interesting
> > (and perhaps) important distinction that I don't completely
> understand yet.
> Contracts are bilateral in the sense that they are founded on an offer
> and an acceptance.  Open source licenses generally tell you that you
> may do certain things (otherwise forbidden by statute) on certain
> conditions.  If you don't do the things, the license doesn't accept you.
> --
> John Cowan 
> cowan at
> Please leave your values        |       Check your assumptions.  In fact,
>    at the front desk.           |          check your assumptions
> at the door.
>      --sign in Paris hotel      |            --Miles Vorkosigan
> --
> license-discuss archive is at

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