Legal soundness comes to open source distribution

David Johnson david at
Wed Aug 14 04:00:38 UTC 2002

On Tuesday 13 August 2002 08:30 pm, Carol A. Kunze wrote:

> You have to OWN the copy.   When I say that in a proprietary license the
> licensor reserves title to the copy, I am saying the licensor takes the
> view that the user does not OWN the copy.
> ... If you buy a
> house you can do what you want with it, if you rent it you only get the
> rights your lease give you.

This is where the big disconnect occurs between the user and the 
manufacturer/licensor. When I rent a house, I KNOW that I am renting a house. 
But with software I have no clue. I have undergone every single motion of 
purchasing a product, obtained a sales receipt that itemizes a copy fo the 
software, yet I do not own it. Moreover, I don't even know this fact until 
the first time I try to use it.

I am of the archaic and jurassic opinion that law that cannot be understood by 
the average layman is bad law. When the average consumer thinks they are 
buying a copy of Windows when they are not, because the law says they 
haven't, then the law is an accomplice to fraud.

Skipping back to the middle of the last paragraph...

>The payment that is made is for a license to USE the software.

>From where I sit, it seems like the user is purchasing the right to VIEW the 
license. Only when they actually view the license and subsequently agree to 
it, do they gain the right to use the software.

> I still do not understand why the OSI definition would have to change.  Why
> is the requirement for clickwrap any different from those licenses which
> OSI has blessed and which in fact are intended to be agreements?   Can
> someone clue me in here?

The main issue in my mind is not the simple click-wrap. That already exists in 
several forms for several Open Source products. Instead, the real issue (to 
me) is whether an Open Source license can require derivative works or 
downstream distribution to also use click-wrap.

David Johnson
pgp public key on website
license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list