Re: License issues, MySQL

From: George Greer (
Date: 08/29/01

On Wed, 29 Aug 2001, Mysidia wrote:

>As a matter of fair use, it is at least widely noted that software
>licenses cannot control what you can do with software once you get it.
>Although neither the GPL nor the click-wrap- license-software people
>would prefer that be known, both [in my opinion] operate successfully
>through scare tactics.

GPL doesn't care what you're doing with the software if you're complying
with the license: (copy/modification seem to be so you can make modified
copies of the software available for distribution)

     Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not
     covered by this License; they are outside its scope.  The act of
     running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program
     is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the
     Program (independent of having been made by running the Program).
     Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.

If you distribute the program you can break your license:

     5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not
     signed it.  However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or
     distribute the Program or its derivative works.  These actions are
     prohibited by law if you do not accept this License.  Therefore, by
     modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the
     Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and
     all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying
     the Program or works based on it.

So if you use the program, you've accepted the license.  If you haven't
accepted the license then you're stealing software you have no right to.
If you never distribute the program, you won't break your license and can
do whatever you want.

>Only way for the author of GPL'd code to stop that would be essentially
>to force all users to sign a contract prior to legally attaining a copy
>of the package, since once the user legally has the package they have the
>right to use and copy it for their personal use and can't be forced to
>agree to any contract <G>.

I'm pretty sure the GPL would've been shot down in court already if that
was true.  If it's that trivially broken, someone would've just spent the
money to do so.

>This is perhaps why end-user software EULAs "Point and click to accept"
>agreements that try to govern your use of the software or prevent you
>from *gasp* reverse-engineering it have in the past failed...

What you can do in a license/contract probably falls under the realm of
"you can't sign yourself into slavery"...a subjective thing defined by the

>"Install: By clicking accept you your soul is now the exclusive
> property of <inser large SW company here>.  Accepting is easy,
> just click accept, accept below, turn off your computer,
> press the X above, hit control+alt+del, pull the plug, or press
> any key."
>"               [ Accept ]       [ Accept ] "

That's already outlawed even in contracts.  You can't sell yourself in
slavery, give up your first-born son, etc etc. Where the line is drawn I do
not know, ask a lawyer.

George Greer

I'm not a lawyer, nor would I want to be one.

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