German software licensing law

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at
Tue Sep 27 15:27:34 UTC 2005

Seth Johnson <seth.johnson at> writes:
> The reason the GPL applies without consent is because copyright
> "just applies."

No.  The GPL is a valid grant of rights, even without consent, because it's
only a grant of rights.

> The GPL asserts authorial rights

No.  Authors assert authorial rights.

> , most essentially the right to
> control derivative works.

This is done by authors.  And to be clear, derivatives aren't controlled,
only the publication of derivatives are.

> > and I didn't even say that the GPL "exempt[s] you from [a] right".
> { For example, the GPL grants you exceptions to copyright law
> { (copyright law says "you can't copy", the GPL says "you are
> { exempt from that - so you can copy - IF you also pass on these
> { freedoms...".

...and note that the word "right" is not in the above paragraph.

The GPL exempts you from restrictions (mostly caused by copyright law), not

> > I don't think I can see your point, or what you're trying to explain.

> The GPL doesn't require consent because copyright "just applies."

I disagree that the mechanisms of the application of copyright is the reason
why the GPL doesn't require consent.

For example, if copyright only applied when ownership was registered their
ownership with a government, the GPL still wouldn't require consent from

> The trade in considerations you're describing (I give you
> exemptions if you pass on freedoms) would require a contract.

I disagree.  The GPL already does this.  "You're prohibited from copying by
copyright law, but you can copy (you're exempt from that restriction) if (or
'on condition that') you make the source available to recipients."

Obviously this could also be done by using a contract, but I disagree that a
contract is required.

CiarĂ¡n O'Riordan, ___________________/        Join the Fellowship of FSFE to _/ support the campaigns against software
___________________________________/      patents and IPRED2

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