Viral permissiveness

David Woolley forums at
Sat Jan 24 18:08:20 UTC 2009

dtemeles at wrote:

> A non-exclusive license is an agreement by the licensor not to sue the 
> licensee for using the code in a manner that absent the license would 
> infringe the monopoly rights granted under the Copyright Act to the 
> licensor.  If the licensor is not the author of the code or an exclusive 
> licensee (ergo assignee) of one or more copyright interests in the code, 
> then the Copyright Act does not grant any monopoly rights to the 
> licensor.  Therefore the licensor would have no right to sue for 
> infringing the re-licensed code in the first place.  In short, a 
> non-exclusive licensee of code cannot sue others for "infringing" 
> copyrights in that code because he has no copyrights in it.  He would 
> have copyrights only in the modifications he created.

I'd point out that a similar strategy is often used by suppliers of 
closed source software components.  Their licence to the developer 
requires that the developer assert copyright and provide equivalent 
protection for the component developer to that in the licence to the 
David Woolley
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that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.

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