does a free license make software free?

Alex Hudson home at
Tue Oct 16 17:53:27 UTC 2007

On Tue, 2007-10-16 at 17:23 +0100, Sam Liddicott wrote:
> > 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.

That's not strictly true in many jurisdictions, including the UK, and
it's also not true to say that all distribution of GPL'd software would
necessarily preclude consideration in either direction.
> 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.

I think you're missing my point.

I'm not saying the original author is distributing under the terms of
GPL, just that if they claim to do that but fail to perform, recipients
may have some kind of recourse.



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