[License-discuss] Companies that encourage license violations

Pamela Chestek pamela at chesteklegal.com
Fri Sep 18 16:22:02 UTC 2015

On 9/16/2015 11:32 PM, John Cowan wrote:
>> Doesn't that mean that the word "irrevocable" is meaningless? We don't
>> like words without meaning in contracts, especially one so central to
>> the entire premise of free software.
> It's my view (and I'm not alone in this) that the vast majority of free
> software licenses are not contracts at all, and are like licenses to
> enter upon land: that is, they are permissions by the owner to do things
> that would otherwise be forbidden to all by the owner's proprietary rights
> in the property.  As such, they are not supported by consideration and
> can be revoked at the will of the licensor.  Most proprietary licenses
> are not like this: the license is provided in exchange for obvious
> consideration in the form of money paid by the licensee.
Without entering into that quagmire (other than to quote Heather Meeker,
"The Free Software Foundation has long taken the position that open
source licenses are licenses rather than contracts -- however, this can
be misleading because the two are not mutually exclusive. Most licensing
contracts are both conditional licenses and contracts"), my use of the
word "contract" was simply inapt. The principle applies in the
interpretation of all types legal documents.


Pamela S. Chestek
Chestek Legal
PO Box 2492
Raleigh, NC 27602
pamela at chesteklegal.com

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