Open Source application GPL legality

John Cowan cowan at
Wed Oct 14 18:48:33 UTC 2009

Dag-Erling Smørgrav scripsit:

> > This is not always true.  Some restrictions constitute copyright
> > misuse.
> Please explain.

For example, if you allow people to make copies of your program only on
condition that they are not allowed to develop a similar program
(Lasercomb America Inc. v. Reynolds, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit,
August 16, 1990 911 F.2d 970, 15 USPQ2d 1846,
online at ).

Copyright misuse on one side, and fair use on the other, are the two
boundaries of the general principle that in copyrights you may do as
you like with your own property.  (There exist analogous limitations on
all property rights, in fact.)

Only do what only you can do.               John Cowan <cowan at>
  --Edsger W. Dijkstra's advice
    to a student in search of a thesis

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