Implications for switching licenses mid-stream

John Cowan cowan at
Thu Apr 24 19:51:00 UTC 2008

Rick Moen scripsit:

> I'm sure this is all very interesting, but the difference between
> something one has a right to do, on the one hand, and something one can
> do without anyone else having even iota of ability to raise, let alone
> enforce, a valid legal objection capable of enjoining that deed, on the
> other hand, strikes me as being absolutely, positively academic in every
> sense of the term.

Again, not at all.  I'm simply pointing out that you are taking too narrow
a view of the situation.

If Alice has a clause in her will directing her executor Bob to give Charlie
a lamp that belongs to Dave, then if Charlie sues Bob for the lamp, Bob's
reply will be that Alice had no power to bequeath it.  (Depending on the
form of words, it may be Bob's duty instead to give Charlie the value of the
lamp in cash, or to attempt to buy the lamp from Dave and give it to Charlie.)

This is a lack of power on Alice's part; if Bob acquires the lamp by some other
means, he may nevertheless give it to Charlie, but is not bound to do so qua

Similarly, if I have no power to sublicense unmodified BSD source, but I do
so anyway, then you have the liberty of ignoring my added constraints,
at least under legal theory B.

That you can cover for the plentiful            John Cowan
and often gaping errors, misconstruals,
and disinformation in your posts                cowan at
through sheer volume -- that is another
misconception.  --Mike to Peter

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