does a free license make software free?

David Picón Álvarez eleuteri at
Tue Oct 16 18:54:28 UTC 2007

From: "Alex Hudson" <home at>
> 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.

I would actually say this is strictly untrue in many jurisdictions. At least 
in many with civil codes, a contract is not an exchange of considerations, 
but some kind of mutual agreement that creates an obligation. For instance, 
donations are contracts under this regime, and if I agree to donate 
something to you, in normal circumstances, I can't simply revoke it.

> 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.

I suspect there are at least 3 approaches to give action to the recipient. 
One is to say that the GPL is a contract and creates an obligation on the 
granter to fulfill it. A second one is to say the information given by the 
granter is a public offer, and when accepted by the recipient binds the 
granter to fulfill the conditions of the offer (GPL). A third is the 
doctrine of non-negation of one's own acts. This means that if you give me a 
licence to enter your home, for instance, you can't then deny your own act 
and sue me for entering your private property.


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