Re: Open Source licensing, Take 2

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Tue May 10 2005 - 20:35:51 CDT

On Tuesday 10 May 2005 14:59, Edmund R. Kennedy wrote:
> A contract or license is only as good as the last court case it went
> through.

To be pedantic, a license is only as good as the last court case *in
your circuit* that considered that particular contract. In other
words, just about no software license has ever been explicitly tested
to any real degree. I wonder if the SCOTUS has ever heard a software
license at all, for example. This isn't just true of Free Software
licenses, it's equally true of commercial ones.

But y'know what: I've signed a fair number of contracts in my life.
I'm sure some other list members have signed even more. So far, not a
single one has ever been heard in court, as to validity. I -did- once
have a small claims case with a landlord, but it wasn't about the
validity of the contract, just some issues of compliance (damage
deposit, etc).

However, the GPL has been examined by a really large number of really
smart lawyers. Other licenses have too, though probably none quite as
much as GPL. If no glaring issue has bubbled up, it would be
sophistical for us to speculate one might exist, and make decisions
based on that remote possibility.

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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:33 2005

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