[linux-elitists] Bizarre press release of the day

Seth David Schoen schoen@loyalty.org
Fri Nov 21 11:23:08 PST 2003

Adam Kessel writes:

> On Fri, Nov 21, 2003 at 09:39:02AM -0700, Jonathan Corbet wrote:
> > Anybody ever heard of Wolf Greenfield & Sacks?  They've just seen fit to
> > send out a press release trashing the GPL:
> It's not so bizarre. It's still an open question how far private parties
> can legally contract around default copyright law.  If the GPL proved to
> be unenforceable, many other shrinkwrap licenses would be vulnerable to
> attack, e.g., licenses that purport to limit the end user's fair use or
> reverse engineering rights. If copyright law provides a ceiling for IP
> protection rather than a floor, then agreements which try to "raise the
> ceiling" may be without effect.

The difference that Eben Moglen keeps pointing out between the GPL and
purported proprietary licenses is that the purported proprietary
licenses purport to take away copyright rights of end-users, whereas
the GPL purports to grant additional rights to end users.

To make a weak but heartfelt analogy to real property, isn't there an
important difference between my saying "I may come into your house!"
and my saying "You may come into my house!"?

There are many different conclusions that could be drawn from this
analogy, but the relevant one here is that it's not clear whether
legal conclusions about the GPL should have much relationship to legal
conclusions about proprietary software licenses.

Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org> | Very frankly, I am opposed to people
     http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/   | being programmed by others.
     http://vitanuova.loyalty.org/     |     -- Fred Rogers (1928-2003),
                                       |        464 U.S. 417, 445 (1984)

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