Legal soundness comes to open source distribution

Bruce Dodson bruce_dodson at
Tue Aug 13 02:06:01 UTC 2002

I thought that section 117 was about the right to crack a program's copy
protection (if necessary) in order to make a legitimate backup copy.  Well,
that's an oversimplification, but I think it's closer to the truth than Mr.
Bernstein's argument.  It goes to show that you shouldn't believe every
opinion that you read on the Internet.

(Follow the references back to the source; the quotes under "patches" both
seem to be taken out of context.  If you read them in their intended context
you "might" find that they don't support Mr. Bernstein's opinion nearly as


----- Original Message -----
From: "Russell Nelson" <nelson at>
To: <license-discuss at>
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2002 6:59 PM
Subject: Re: Legal soundness comes to open source distribution

> [ Catching up on mail from ten days ago ]
> Carol A. Kunze writes:
>  > Here is the theoretical difference between proprietary and traditional
>  > BSD) free software.   With the former the user agrees to a license and
>  > not get title to the copy of the program.  Without agreeing to the
>  > (and the use restrictions in it), the user has no legal right to use
>  > copy of the software that they possess but do not own.  Basically, its
>  > license transaction where the user has no ownership in the copy of the
>  > software they possess.
> My understanding is that, if you have legally acquired a copy of the
> software, you have the right to run it.
> Absent a contract otherwise, a user can do anything they want to their
> copy, including use it, modify it, give it away, or resell it to
> someone else.
> So why form a contract, then?  To get a warranty disclaimer.  To get
> the recipient to agree that they lose their patent grant if they sue
> for patent infringement.
> If we can get those things without a contract, that would be a perfect
> world.
>  > > The question here is whether we should amend the Open Source
>  > > Definition so that it is clear whether click-wrap licenses are
>  > > allowable or not.  We could go either way, but we want to hear from
>  > > you first.  Your opinions solicited, and engaged!
>  >
>  > OSI has already blessed licenses which are intended to be agreements or
>  > contracts (see IBM license), so I'm confused about what the point is
>  > here.    And why OSI definition would have to change.  Am I missing
>  > something?
> They're not enforcable, at least as I understand it.
> --
> -russ nelson     |
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