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Re: Using non-GPL libraries in a GPL program

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Using non-GPL libraries in a GPL program
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2008 22:07:53 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux)

rjack <> writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> rjack <> writes:
>>>> A unenforceable license is very useful, without a license, you cannot
>>>> do anything.
>> Well, here is a quote for you from the GPL:
>>       9. Acceptance Not Required for Having Copies.
>>       You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or
>>     run a copy of the Program.  Ancillary propagation of a covered work
>>     occurring solely as a consequence of using peer-to-peer transmission
>>     to receive a copy likewise does not require acceptance.  However,
>>     nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate or
>>     modify any covered work.  These actions infringe copyright if you do
>>     not accept this License.  Therefore, by modifying or propagating a
>>     covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so.
>> A license you need not accept is not enforceable, obviously.  It is the
>> choice of the recipient whether or not he wants to use the license.  If
>> he does, he has to heed its terms.  If he doesn't, he is restricted to
>> what copyright law allows him.
> Sigh... The semantic maneuvering some individuals employ to deny that
> a license is a contract is simply amazing. Perhaps it would be helpful
> to observe the underlying legal and ontological foundations of
> "license".
> Well, here is a quote for you from the United States Court of Appeals
> for the Federal Circuit:
> "Whether express or implied, a license is a contract 'governed by
> ordinary principles of state contract law.'"; McCoy v. Mitsuboshi
> Cutlery, Inc., 67. F.3d 917, (United States Court of Appeals for the
> Federal Circuit 1995)

It becomes a contract once both parties sign their acceptance.  Previous
to that it is a one-sided warranty for one party, a piece of paper for
the other.  It still differs from a contract in several ways.  For
example, a contract is invalid if signed under force or duress, and it
remains valid even if one of the undersigners changes his mind.  The
license terms, however, are not coupled to an act of undersigning, nor
can there be any contract penalties.  If a person breaks the license
terms, you can sue for damages and for compliance.  But you can't set
any penalties into a license apart from withdrawal of the license

> If you examine the ruling above you see "a license is a
> contract". Notice the existential "is"? [N.1] No amount of tortured
> verbiage will alter this fact -- that a LICENSE "is" a CONTRACT.

So why can't it specify contract penalties?

> Now, all this smarmy word salad ("Ancillary propagation",
>"peer-to-peer transmission", "propogation") concerning contingent
>existence in paragraph 9 of the GPL is Moglen-Stallman blather.

I'll take the blather of a law professor over that of a Usenet troll any

> It is really easy to repeat several times, "a license is a
> contract"...  "a license is a contract"..."a license is a
> contract". The word c-o-n-t-r-a-c-t will soon flow smoothly from your
> lips. A short time thereafter, you will be admired by your peers as a
> consummate professional!

But who wants to be a consummate professional Usenet troll?

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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