Copyright vs? Click-wrap "contract"

Brendan Hide brendan at
Fri Nov 1 08:44:50 UTC 2002

  See below. I should have made some extra things clear.

David Johnson wrote:

>On Thursday 31 October 2002 07:42 am, Brendan Hide wrote:
>>You have the right to do *anything* with a copyrighted work only if you
>>have agreed and complied with (and read) the license.
<Added emphasis> I didn't mean that without the license you can do only 
nothing. I just meant that if you haven't read the license, you should 
assume that you don't have any additional rights.

>Bull pucky!
Good one - LOL

>The vast majority of copyrighted works don't even have licenses. 
>Reaching my hand over about two feet, I find myself picking up a copyrighted 
>work at random. This appears to be "In the Court of the Crimson King", by 
>King Crimson. Let's see if there's a license in there is not. Let me 
>reach in the other direction... "The C++ Standard Libary" by Nicolai 
> license.
>Licenses and copyrights are beasts residing in different phyla
The first two books I pick up from the shelves:
The Concise Oxford Dictionary, reads:
"(c) Oxford University Press 1999

Database right Oxford University Press (makers)
First published 1999

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, 
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any 
means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University 
Press, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the 
appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning 
reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights 
Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above."

Cryptography in C and C++ reads:
"Copyright (c)2001 by Michael Welschenbach

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or 
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, 
including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or 
retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the copyright 
owner and the publisher."

These look like licenses to me.

You're also supposed to get fair use rights, of course. I forgot to 
mention that I'm South African and that my experience of US law is 
limited to cliché television programs (and reading the license-discuss 

>>Imagine you pick up some software from a store, but the box contains
>>everything except the license. Do you have the right to use the
>>software? Legally, you need to secure a license before you can use the
>>software. Of course, nobody would, in their right mind anyway, sue you
>>for using the software you paid them for.    
I should have said "do anything beyond the rights given to you by fair 
use law" rather than use.

>If I pick up some software from a store and pay for it, and obtain a sales 
>reciept, then I am the legal owner of that copy. If I have a sales receipt 
>then a sale has been made. As an owner of the copy, I possess numerous 
>rights, including the right to use, dispose of, make archival copies of, and 
>reverse engineer the software.
Does this mean that, if I don't read the license for MS Windows XP (I 
haven't and never will - I refuse to install such a trojan), and I let 
my 8-year-old sister click on "Agree", that I can reverse-engineer 
Windows XP? In South Africa, the receipt would count for diddly squat. 
You can't make a "backup" copy unless the license specifically says so.

>Of course, many lawyers will disagree with me. But the boxes and receipts in 
>my possession argue in my favor. One example: Windows ME. The box clearly 
>says "Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition Operating System". The same is 
>listed on the "Certificate of Authenticity".
Brendan Hide
brendan at
Technical Writer

SA Computer Magazine
+27 21 715 7134

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