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Re: license issue: calling a GPLv2 library

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: license issue: calling a GPLv2 library
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 11:48:39 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alexander Terekhov <> writes:

> Rui Miguel Silva Seabra wrote:
>> Qui, 2006-06-22 Ã s 01:26 +0200, Alexander Terekhov escreveu:
>> > Many contracts don't require signing. Google "manifestation of assent".
>> > One accepts the GPL contract by exercising exclusive right(s) granted
>> > under it.
>> But the GNU GPL is a Copyright *license* not a contract.
> Sez who? (Besides you and other brainwashed GNUtians, that is.)

The GPL:

      5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have
    not signed it.  However, nothing else grants you permission to
    modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works.  These
    actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License.
    Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work
    based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this
    License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying,
    distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it.

Since you are not required to accept the license, it is purely

> Recognizing that the existence of consensual licensing arrangements
> significantly changes the applicable rules and the expectations of the
> parties, federal courts have held that a party cannot normally pursue a
> copyright infringement action based upon the licensees breach of
> covenants in the license agreement. As a general rule, " if the
> [licensees] improper conduct constitutes a breach of a covenant
> undertaken by the licensee . . . and if such covenant constitutes an
> enforceable contractual obligation, then the licensor will have the
> cause of action for contract," not for copyright infringement.

We are talking about a "license agreement" here, like when somebody
clicks "I agree".  There is no such process for the GPL.  As such, it
remains the recipient's option to choose whether he wants to get sued
for breach of copyright or breach of contract in case that he does not
heed the licensing conditions.

This option is not available in cases where the agreement can be
assumed as given by a process of registration or click-through or
similar.  "You are not required to accept this license" is not a part
of the usual software offerings.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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