IBM/SCO/GPL (Was: Re: (L)GPL remarks and FreeGIS licensing)

edA-qa mort-ora-y eda-qa at
Tue Aug 26 19:28:45 UTC 2003

Rui Miguel Seabra wrote:
> A software license is _NOT_ a contract (although it is somewhat
> analogous).

If it is not a contract, then it is nothing.  Private individuals do not 
have the right to draft up agreements that dictate the terms under which 
another individual can live their life, or use/distribute their 
software... unless that agreement is a contract.

> If you want to redistribute copies or derived works, you are also
> granted permission to do it, so long as you give the same rights to
> whoever receives to software.

I am speaking solely about distribution rights, since I agree there is a 
whole unusual can of worms lurking in the "right to use" agreements, 
like EULA.

> If you do, you don't have to agree with the author for permission to do
> it as long as you do it in a certain way.

Yes, you do have to agree with the author.  The author has put his code 
under the GPL, which is a grant of contract to anybody who should accept 
its terms.  It is an agreement between two parties.

My viewpoint comes from Canada, but I assume it is similar elsewhere.  A 
contract does not need to have a formal set of signatures or a witness, 
indeed it doesn't even need to be written down.  Oral agreements are 
legally still contracts.

Based on the contracts I've had hear in Germany, and those I've received 
from France, Russia, and the USA, it seems, to me, then GPL would 
qualify as a contract when the code is distributed (whether it is legal 
in all these contexts I am not sure).

(Point to clarify.  The GPL on its own is not the contract, the contract 
is the GPL + the will of the copyright holders to distribute under its 
terms + the will of the recipient to accept those terms. This point is 
not relevant to this discussion though.)

edA-qa mort-ora-y
Idea Architect

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