does a free license make software free?

Sam Liddicott sam at
Tue Oct 16 16:23:10 UTC 2007

* Alex Hudson wrote, On 16/10/07 09:12:
> On Tue, 2007-10-16 at 12:49 +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
>> 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.
> It wouldn't necessarily bind someone to the same conditions, but there
> is effectively an agreement there on the same text.
The same way if I let someone use my property under certain conditions
for a purpose, I am also then eternally bound to use my own property
only according to those conditions?
> The "contract" versus "license" thing is mostly disinteresting; it's a
> jurisdictional thing, and in many places a license is [part of] a
> contract. I don't think the discussion is really about that though; it's
> about what effects if any the GPL has on a licensor.
If the distributor owns the work, then he does not distribute through
the GPL but through rights of ownership.
The GPL grants additional distribution rights to others that may be used
by those who require them.
> The obvious test case would be if a licensor distributed copies of their
> software in binary-only form with a written offer to give the source:
> under a strict "permissions only" reading, a licensee cannot enforce
> that.
AFAIK contract law in my country suggests that unless the licensee has
given something in return it would not be part of a valid contract, and
the written offer would be unenforcable.
> However, I wouldn't be surprised if a licensee could get some kind of
> remedy if the licensor doesn't release source, particularly if the
> software was sold to them - the GPL would almost certainly then be part
> of the contract. 
The GPL will only be part of the contract if it is ACTUALLY part of the
contract (read the contract).
As the sole-owner licensor does not need GPL permissions in order to
distribute and so is not bound by GPL constraints for so distributing.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Discussion mailing list