For Approval: mindmason license (MML)

glen martin gmartin at
Thu Sep 2 22:33:10 UTC 2004

On Thu, 2004-09-02 at 09:06, Lasse R. Nielsen wrote:
> On Thu, 2 Sep 2004 17:45:21 +0200, Stephan Meyer <stephan.meyer at>  
> wrote:
> > Please elaborate on how one can "legally obtain" a copy of a computer  
> > program while rejecting the license terms that come with it.
> Easy. You, the author and copyright holder of the software, publishes the
> software for free download on your web page. You do not require any  
> agreement
> to any license before downloading. I download it. I now have a legally
> obtained copy of the program (legal because you have the right to  
> distribute it),
> without having agreed to anything.
> That is how most open source licenses works. I have yet to agree to  
> anything before
> downloading a project from SourceForge.
> The job of the license is not to prevent me from obtaining the software.  
> It puts
> limits on how I can re-distribute it, or derivative works, because that is  
> a right
> normally restricted to the copyright holder.

IANAL, but it seems to me that this is half-right. By virtue of
the work being copyrighted, I am bound by agreement, implicit at
least, by merely downloading. Agreement being, of course, copyright
law itself.  The license offered does not restrict my behaviour, 
since I have no rights presently to any of the behaviours deriving
to copyright owners; instead the license grants me some rights
bound by some terms.

Now I suppose you can legally download and reject the terms *in the
license* if you don't care to engage in any behaviour restricted to
a copyright owner, but nothing defends you from the requirements of
copyright law itself except an acceptance of the license.

In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that the software isn't open
source until the license is accepted. It seems that without license
acceptance there is nothing particularly open about it. Though no
doubt there is some case law or conflicting legal principle here that
not being a lawyer I am unaware of. So, YMMV. Or Reality May Vary.


More information about the License-discuss mailing list