Copyright vs? Click-wrap "contract"

John Cowan jcowan at
Fri Nov 1 11:58:52 UTC 2002

Brendan Hide scripsit:

> 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, 
> [remainder snipped]

[second example snipped]

> These look like licenses to me.

They're not.  They are warnings that the standard rights of copyright
owners are reserved.  A license includes a grant of rights: these
notices are anti-licenses that don't grant anything.

But as owner of a lawful copy, you still have lots of rights, just not
the five standard copyright rights.

> 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 
> list).

ZA is a signatory to the international copyright treaties, so its law
is pretty well aligned with everyone else's.  It may differ in the
question of copyright terms, moral rights, etc.

> I should have said "do anything beyond the rights given to you by fair 
> use law" rather than use.

You are misusing the term "fair use".  Anyway, the ZA legal term is "fair

> 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. 

Minors can't make valid agreements.

Not reading a license does not relieve you of it, any more than trying
to walk out of a store with something is legal if you haven't read the
price tag.

> You can't make a "backup" copy unless the license specifically says so.

This is a matter of local law, and may be true in ZA.

Her he asked if O'Hare Doctor tidings sent from far     John Cowan
coast and she with grameful sigh him answered that
O'Hare Doctor in heaven was. Sad was the man that word
to hear that him so heavied in bowels ruthful. All      jcowan at
she there told him, ruing death for friend so young,
algate sore unwilling God's rightwiseness to withsay.   _Ulysses_, "Oxen"
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