Linked by David Adams on Wed 30th Nov 2011 20:23 UTC
Editorial A reader asks: "Can someone comment on the legality of using my brother's old Snow Leopard DVD to install OS X? My brother has Lion, so why can't he choose to give it to me? It doesn't violate Apple's 1 license per 1 computer policy."
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The GPL is not a EULA
by lemur2 on Thu 1st Dec 2011 10:08 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

FTA:

To use Mac OS X or any software, including open source, you implicitly agree to a contract with that software's author. That's the End User License Agreement, or EULA.


This is not correct for GPL-licensed software.

The author of GPL-licensed sofwtare has said, in effect, that they are granting everybody unconditional permission to use (as in to install, optionally to modify, and to run) their software.

There is no agreement required. Everybody has been granted these permissions whether they "agree" or not. There is no contract involved, as this is purely a one-sided grant of permission. It is not as if anyone is going to say ... oh no, I don't have that permission. No siree, not me!

GPL-licensed software authors also grant conditional permission to copy and redistribute their software, but that is another matter. This also doesn't require agreement, as these additional permissions are granted as long as the conditions are met. If the conditions are not met, there is no grant of permission.

The GPL Is a License, not a Contract

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20031214210634851

Here is a definition of 'license' from Steven H. Gifis' "Law Dictionary, 2d Edition:

"LICENSE: A right granted which gives one permission to do something which he could not legally do absent such permission; 'leave to do a thing which the LICENSOR [the party granting the license] could prevent.'"

A contract, on the other hand, is defined like this:

"a promise, or set of promises, for breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty. I Williston, Contracts Section 1. The essentials of a valid contract are 'parties competent to contract, a proper subject-matter, consideration, mutuality of agreement, and mutuality of obligation.' 286 N.W. 844, 846: 'a transaction involving two or more individuals whereby each becomes obligated to the other, with reciprocal rights to demand performance of what is promised by each respectively.' 282 P. 2d 1084, 1088. 'The total legal obligation which results from the parties' agreement as affected by law.' U.C.C. Section 1-201."


Edited 2011-12-01 10:27 UTC

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Um.. one does indeed have to agree to the GPL in the form of adhering to it's four granted freedoms do they not? If one modifies the code, compiles it distributes the binary and does not provide access to the modified source code they are breaking the agreement to adhere to the GPL. Specifically; infringing copyright by removing permissions which the license requires they pass down to the recipient of the derivitive work.

If what one wants a license inherently agreed to with no limitations then that would be a copy-center type license more like BSD, MIT or the DWTFPL ( http://sam.zoy.org/wtfpl/ ).

Reply Parent Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Um.. one does indeed have to agree to the GPL in the form of adhering to it's four granted freedoms do they not? If one modifies the code, compiles it distributes the binary and does not provide access to the modified source code they are breaking the agreement to adhere to the GPL. Specifically; infringing copyright by removing permissions which the license requires they pass down to the recipient of the derivitive work.


Nope.

The GPL license grants everybody unconditional permission to obtain, install, optionally to modify, and to run the software which comes under that license.

The GPL license also grants conditional permission to copy and redistribute the software which comes under that license.

The conditional permissions are granted only if the conditions are met (which happens to be the very nature of a "condition", BTW). The unconditional permissions are granted regardless.

There is no agreement required from any recipient. Nothing to sign, no EULA agreement to agree to, nothing even to click on. All recipients get the unconditional permissions and, if they meet the conditions, they also get the conditional permissions, regardless if they "agree" or not.

Teacher: "Everyone has permission to go to the toilet if they want, but not to go to the playground unless they have handed up their assignment".

It doesn't matter if the students "agree", or not. Clear enough, wouldn't you say? Even ten-year-olds should be able to understand this.

If someone does modify the GPL-licensed code, compile it and then distribute the binary, and does not provide access to the modified source code, since they have not met the conditions of the GPL then they simply have no permission to do that. Copyright law insists that people who distribute copies of (or derivatives of) copyrighted works must first obtain permission from the original authors of the works.

It is all perfectly clear and straightforward. There is simply no "agreement" required. One doesn't need to have "agreed" to a law in order to be bound by it, nor does one need to "agree" to be given a permission that one wouldn't normally get. The granter of a permission gets total say over what conditions must be met before the permission is granted, the receiver of the permission does not get any opportunity to agree or disagree. Without permission, one doesn't have permission. Its a bleeding obvious statement on the face of it, in effect a non-sequitur.

The GPL is a license, a simple grant of permissions, some of which are granted conditionally. It is not a EULA, and it is not a contract.

Edited 2011-12-02 00:35 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1