(OT) - Major Blow to Copyleft Theory

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at gatech.edu
Tue Aug 28 07:21:58 UTC 2007

Chris Travers wrote:
> In my view, the large issue with the Artistic License (and the BSD
> License, and others) is that, unlike the *vast majority* of copyright
> licenses, there is no expectation on return of any sort from the license
> itself.

That's not really correct.  It says, "provided that you duplicate all of
the original copyright notices and associated disclaimers.", "place your
modifications in the Public Domain or otherwise make them Freely
Available" OR "rename any non-standard executables so the names do not
conflict with standard executables, which must also be provided" OR
[other choices], etc.

> Thus while the *vast majority* of copyright licenses provide an
> exchange of promises, some do not.

I disagree.  Every FOSS license provides an exchange of promises, even
Fair license (http://www.opensource.org/licenses/fair.php):

(plain text)

<Copyright Information>

Usage of the works is permitted provided that this
instrument is retained with the works, so that any entity
that uses the works is notified of this instrument.


which requires that "this instrument is retained with the work

> Secondly, even if the Artistic License is a gift, you still have the
> question as to copyright infringement and copyright law as it exists
> outside the bounds of that gift.

I agree.  That was Radcliffe's argument.  He said the conditions limited
the scope of the license, and the defendants exceeded that scope,
opening the door for copyright infringement.

> Would this not effectively render any non-contract OSS licenses to be
> useless?  (The GPL as a contract would still be safe ;-) ).

In this line of thinking, all "licenses" are contracts so this (complete
uselessness) is not a concern.

Matt Flaschen

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