When can licenses be revoked? (was: License Proliferation)

Alex Bligh alex at alex.org.uk
Fri Sep 9 09:03:45 UTC 2005

--On 09 September 2005 10:36 +1000 Brendan Scott <lists at opensourcelaw.biz> 

> So I will further refine that last email to be AU specific

On AU law I cannot comment and I will thus bow to your knowledge.

> The question is whether the *mere presence* of a contract renders the
> licence irrevocable - which to me overstates the case.

I think (and this is from memory) it's the presence of consideration, rather
than contract per-se, that makes the license irrevocable in more recent
judgments, though saying that I haven't got my hand on case-law, nor
can I see anything but a technical difference between the two. I *think*
(and I am equally unqualified to comment on US law) USC makes similar
provisions for gratuitous licenses and that means "without consideration".

> There are
> certainly situations where a contract will effect this, but it is hard to
> see how it will in the general case.  If it did any hire contract would
> effectively be a lease.

I'm not sure that's right, because neither a hire contract nor a license
imbue proprietary rights and I don't see why termination provisions change


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