(U.S. only) state government question

Lewis Scott - sclewi Scott.Lewis at acxiom.com
Wed Feb 16 23:18:28 UTC 2005

Before getting to the licensing issue, someone needs to determine who
effectively "owns" the code in question.  It is likely that the state
government for which the developer works has been assigned the copyright.
If so, the State would have to authorize the licensure.
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan <jcowan at reutershealth.com>
To: Alex Bligh <alex at alex.org.uk>
CC: license-discuss at opensource.org <license-discuss at opensource.org>
Sent: Wed Feb 16 16:44:55 2005
Subject: Re: (U.S. only) state government question

Alex Bligh scripsit:

> I am not especially familiar with US law, but if the license is
> as a contract to license (& perhaps otherwise), and the jurisdiction
> is prohibited, I see no particular reason why it shouldn't be considered
> severable and the license then would fall under the jurisdiction mandated
> by whatever statute mandates the above principle (so presumably the
> jurisdiction of the contracting state).

Presumably yes.  What makes the CPL (and certain other licenses such as
the QPL) peculiar is that they are usable by any licensor, but reflect
the *license drafter's* home law rather than the licensor's.

This is plausible from the viewpoint of the drafter, who can't be expected
to predict how a random foreign jurisdiction would interpret the license;
but it is a question whether, given a licensor in jurisdiction A and a
licensee in jurisdiction B, neither of them New York, whether the courts
of either A or B will apply New York law just because the CPL says to do so.

> Another question stemming from unfamiliarity with US law: is there a
> confusion here between governing law, and jurisdiction?

Good point, which I meant to mention but forgot to.  The CPL specifies
only the governing law.  Some other licenses, like the AFL and the QPL,
also specify the jurisdiction.  (The AFL makes the governing law and the
jurisdiction the licensor's.)

I don't know half of you half as well           John Cowan
as I should like, and I like less than half     jcowan at reutershealth.com
of you half as well as you deserve.             http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
        --Bilbo                                 http://www.reutershealth.com

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