[License-discuss] Open Source Eventually License Development

Eben Moglen moglen at softwarefreedom.org
Thu Aug 15 04:16:15 UTC 2013

On Wednesday, 14 August 2013, John Cowan wrote:

  This procedure is not equivalent, except in the long run, to the kind
  of license Fred Trotter wants, because its effect on particular copies
  is different.  Suppose that Alice sells Bob the source code to Yoyomat,
  a proprietary program with delayed GPL.  After the term has passed, Bob
  may now distribute *that very copy* of Yoyomat freely to Charlie under
  the terms of the GPL.  In the scenario you outline, he may not; he must
  obtain a new copy from the escrow agent.

No, Mr Cowan, that's a charming idea, but it's completely wrong.
These are non-exclusive licenses we are discussing.  Everyone is
permitted to copy, modify and redistribute the licensed work on the
stated free terms.  Surely you don't suppose that the licensor could
successfully sue for infringement, after publishing a non-exclusive
free license, because of further copying or modification of a
pre-existing copy of the very same bits?  (You will also notice the
complete inconsistency between the operation of your proposed doctrine
and the first sale rule.)  

My described conveyance is, in every respect, legally identical to
what Fred Trotter was asking about.  Really, you can trust me to know
how free software licenses basically work.


 Eben Moglen                            v: 212-461-1901 
 Professor of Law, Columbia Law School  f: 212-580-0898       moglen@
 Founding Director, Software Freedom Law Center            columbia.edu
 1995 Broadway (68th Street), fl #17, NYC 10023        softwarefreedom.org

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