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Re: Psystar's legal reply brief in response to Apple

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Psystar's legal reply brief in response to Apple
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2010 15:57:52 -0000
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alexander Terekhov <> writes:

> Hyman Rosen wrote:
> [...]
>> > GPL3 _does_ claim you need to accept the license to modify the work even
>> > without distribution, or else you're infringing on copyright. This does
>> > not actually appear to be the case.
>> No. See section 0. <>
>>      To “modify” a work means... 
> Yes, yes, after redefining the meaning of the word "free" for
> themselves, the two major GNUtians (Eben and Richard) felt free (in the
> old sense of "free") to redefine many other words (such as "modify") and
> modify (in the old sense of "modify") their meaning as well. 

You'll find that legal papers have no problems even defining terms like
"you" and "we".  Not leaving things open to interpretation is rather an
advantage.  It is even more important in unilaterally written papers
(like a license to multiple and unknown licensees) than with a contract
written up by lawyers of two parties.  In the latter case, one can
assume more or less a common understanding being cast into words.

Defining terms means that the recipient of the license as well as the
licensor (often not the same as the author of the license) are in
agreement about what the license permits and prohibits.

Where the exact meaning of the word "modify" is relevant in laws, you'll
have corresponding explanations, commentaries and case law.  But that
does not define what "modify" means in a license, or a contract.  Not
even when the license does not have a definition of its own.  The recent
SCO lawsuit centered about the unilateral claim that "excluded assets"
in a contract was understood by both parties to mean "included assets".

And if that could have been persuadingly shown, it would indeed have had
the consequences of that meaning.  Now it is rather a challenge to prove
that words have been used contrary to their common meaning, so it is a
bad idea to implicitly or explicitly define words as something running
totally counter to their usual meaning.

But the definitions in the GPL are quite with the spirit of the words
both in lingual as well as legal contexts.

David Kastrup

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