Fwd: [linux-elitists] Wow, M$ is even more evil than I thought

Seth David Schoen schoen@loyalty.org
Mon Apr 2 19:57:55 PDT 2001

Heather writes:

> > > In
> > > such case, the copyright holder can license or even re-assign that
> > > copyright, including all rights, to whomever he/she desires -- and
> > > that _includes_revoking_ and past or current licenses!
> > 
> > False. 
> > 
> > Nobody has ever legally revoked a grant of GPL or another of the
> > "classic" free licenses on existing code. In cases where the license has
> > changed (recent example: Ogg Vorbis) the new license has applied to a
> > new version.
> Nit: just because all people who have bailed on the GPL to date, have chosen
> to make it clear that their new license plan relates to the new version,
> doesn't change their right as The Real Copyright Holder to yank licensing
> on old stuff.
> OTOH, reality does, since US is really a study in case law, and if they 
> took it to court, a holder of The Random Chunk of Source Code could clearly
> state that they are propogating their own adjusted copy (derivitive works
> are vehemently createble, according to GPL) -

But derivation is a copyright right just as much as distribution
(well, almost); I don't know why you could take back permission for
one and not the other.

> The smart Chain Yanking Tune-Changer would make it clear the provisions
> of GPL (subsection mentioned elsewhere) make it clear that if one holder
> denies access, all derivates must cease distribution.


The reason licenses might not be perpetual even when they have no
particular term is that licenses to do things with real and personal
property can generally be revoked.  And a promise without exchange of
consideration is also not usually legally enforceable.  Some people
say that distribution itself, or bug reports, or development, is a
form of consideration, but there is an objection that there no
"privity of contract" there.

Privity is a term of art I don't quite understand.  But it's something
you don't have in most software licensing, whether proprietary or

> The point of the FSF thing is to (1) make it really really clear who the
> singular copyright holder is, this makes it easier to establish clear cases,
> (2) to thus allow FSF's horde of lawyers to stand up for the code, and 
> (political, definitely unmentioned, but likely a very important reason
> from the RMS point of view) since the original author is no longer the
> holder, the original author can't revoke the license, and the FSF overall
> intends to maintain the GPL, which then lets the original author plus
> multitude more, continue to bang on the code, ad insanitum.

"ad insanitatem", probably, although that connotes illness more than
madness; maybe "ad dementiam"?

Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org>  | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp.  http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/  | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down:  http://www.loyalty.org/   (CAF)  | not have leisure.  -- Pirke Avot 2:5

More information about the linux-elitists mailing list