GPL Issue

Raj Mathur ( राज =?utf-8?b?IOCkruCkvuCkpeClgeCksA==?=) raju at
Wed Sep 22 03:57:38 UTC 2010

On Wednesday 22 Sep 2010, dtemeles at wrote:
> [snip]
> Software licenses are by their very nature an agreement between the
> licensor and licensee.  In other words, they are a contract. There is
> nothing magic about open source licenses vs. proprietary licenses.
> Both grant rights to use code subject to the terms of the license.
> Both are agreements.  Both are subject to enforcement under state
> contract law.

Regardless of legal precedence or lack thereof, a software licence is 
not a bilateral or multilateral agreement -- it is a unilateral grant of 
privileges from the licensor to the licensee.  There cannot be a 
contract between two parties, at least one of whom is unaware of the 
other's existence; in many cases, both parties are unaware of the 
other's existence (e.g. Linux kernel developers do not know all their 
users and users do not know about kernel developers).

The agreement of a software user to its licence is, similarly, one-way.  
I don't call up RMS every time I install a new version of Emacs on my 
computer.  Either I agree to the terms laid out under which I can use 
the software, or I don't use it.  If I don't agree to the terms and 
continue using the software, I am in violation of copyright; however, 
since there has been no mutual contract between RMS and I or my 
representatives, there can logically be no contract violation.

IA most definitely NAL.


-- Raj
Raj Mathur                raju at
       GPG: 78D4 FC67 367F 40E2 0DD5  0FEF C968 D0EF CC68 D17F
PsyTrance & Chill:   ||   It is the mind that moves

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