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Re: Intellectual Property II

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Intellectual Property II
Date: Tue, 07 Feb 2006 18:28:40 +0100

Rahul Dhesi wrote:
> Alexander Terekhov <> writes:
> [ 26 lines of quoted text ]
> [ 4 lines of erroneous original content ]
> [ 49 lines of quoted text ]
> [ 4 lines of signature ]

I gather that GNUtians have sometimes problems with simple counting. Oh 
BTW, Rahul, y'know I'm your fan.

>Several times I've copied software and only discovered that it's under the
>GPL once I've unpacked it and found the license agreement inside.  In fact, I
>can't think of a single occasion where I've been asked to agree to the GPL
>before being allowed to copy some GNU software.  So it seems to me that the
>GPL is exactly like a SWL on this point -- maybe not in theory, but in
>practice, which is what's important.

No, no, you all have it wrong.  Here is the critical difference between
the GPL and the typical shrink-wrapped license, based on US law.

- When you buy software from a store, you pay $x and get back software
  product y.  You have *entered into a contract* and for the price you
  paid, you now *own* a copy of product y, which you may use as allowed
  by US copyright law.  Any license statement inside a shrink-wrap (or
  even one readable before you buy the package) is totally, utterly,
  irrelevant (unless it grants you rights that you don't already have
  under copyright law, and this is a rare case that I have never

- When you get GNU software by anonymous ftp, *there is no contract*
  and you have no legal right to use it.  You are granted rights by the
  GPL that you did not have, but these are not legal rights, because
  you cannot enter into a binding contract without consideration.  So
  although you are permitted to use the software, you have no
  enforceable legal right to do so.

- When you order a tape from the FSF, the situation is unclear.
  If your payment is clearly only a handling free, then any contract
  that exists is solely for the purpose of the tape being shipped to
  you, and it does not govern the contents of the tape.  If the payment
  is actually for the software itself, then there is a contract that
  affects how you use it.
Rahul Dhesi <>


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