does a free license make software free?

Ben Finney ben at
Tue Oct 16 02:49:17 UTC 2007

On 15-Oct-2007, Michael Kesper wrote:
> Am Montag, den 15.10.2007, 11:25 +1000 schrieb Ben Finney:
> > The license is not a contract. The recipient of the work has 
> > certain freedoms, but has *no* power over the copyright holder.
> This is interesting. Are you sure of that, I mean, do lawyers agree 
> to this?

I'm convinced of it. Whether any particular lawyer agrees, I can't 
answer for them.

> > In summary: The copyright holder always has the rights granted 
> > under copyright law. They can grant those rights to others under 
> > specific terms, but the copyright holder is not themselves bound 
> > by those terms.
> I really love the way law contradicts common thinking. ;)

The vast majority of effects of copyright do indeed contradict common 
thinking. (I recommend _Digital Copyright_, a book by Jessica Litman, 
that explores how copyright clashes with people's expectations in the 
information age.)

This specific point doesn't seem to contradict common thinking, 
though. Why should "Here, *I made this*, you can have a copy and do 
stuff with it under FOO conditions" bind the person granting that 
permission to the same conditions? I can't think what common thinking 
would make that leap of logic.

 \     "I wish I had a dollar for every time I spent a dollar, because |
  `\        then, yahoo!, I'd have all my money back."  -- Jack Handey |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney <ben at>
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