[License-discuss] Companies that encourage license violations

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Thu Sep 10 16:21:46 UTC 2015

Lawrence Rosen scripsit:

> Bending the words to suit my fancy, a GPL program intentionally posted
> by its author somewhere on the web and freely copied by others is
> thereafter "in transit."  I don't see how any author can successfully
> revoke a valid GPL license for existing copies that she already placed
> in the wild.

There might be practical difficulties about notifying the relevant
licensees or potential licensees, leading to the estoppel scenario I
mentioned, but licenses are in general fully revocable by the owner.
Indeed, courts have held that even words like "I hereby grant you the
permanent right to [whatever] on my property" create only a license, not
an easement (a servitude to the distinguished civilians on this list).

> Again you've sent me into litigation fantasies.... When is this ever a
> problem?

Consider the author John M. Ford, who died leaving a substantial body of
work, much of it excellent science fiction.  Alas, he died intestate,
and control of his work has fallen into the hands of his family, who
deeply disapproved of him, his life, and his work, and are determined
to see it perish in oblivion.  You would cry too if it happened to
you.  (Well, *you* wouldn't, Larry, because you know better than to die
intestate, but in general, it's a problem.)

John Cowan          http://www.ccil.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
The Imperials are decadent, 300 pound free-range chickens (except they have
teeth, arms instead of wings, and dinosaurlike tails).  --Elyse Grasso

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