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Re: Effect of transfer of copyright on free software licenses?

From: Tim Smith
Subject: Re: Effect of transfer of copyright on free software licenses?
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 14:26:40 -0700
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b2 (Intel Mac OS X)

In article <>,
 John Hasler <> wrote:

> Hyman Rosen writes:
> > That's why we're discussing the transfer issue. It's possible that a
> > transfer of copyright to a GPL-hostile entity could cause downstream
> > distribution to be disallowed.
> Well, there is promissory estoppel, of course.  I would also argue that the

Promissory estoppel only works against those who make promises to you.

> downstream licenses are not new licenses granted at the time of acquisition
> of copies but prospective licenses granted by the author to everyone who
> ever might receive a copy.  I argue that I can grant you a license now to
> my work which you may exercise any time in the future should you come into
> possession of a copy of a copy.  Since I, the current copyright owner, am
> granting you a license now, the possibility that someone else might acquire
> the copyright between now and the time that you acquire a copy of the work
> is irrelevant.

What about people who were not born at the time you made this license 
grant to everyone?

Also, note that GPL talks about acceptance of the license. It could be 
quite reasonably argued that what you are doing is making an OFFER to 
everyone, which they accept by actually acquiring a copy of your 
software (or, more likely, by distributing it or modifying it).

--Tim Smith

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