On Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 11:00:00PM +0200, Henrik Ingo wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 10:53 PM, Rick Moen <r...@linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> > Quoting Henrik Ingo (henrik.i...@avoinelama.fi):
> >
> >> On this topic there are many opinions out there and little case law,
> >> but personally I've always thought that if the FSF as the author of
> >> the GPL thinks something is permitted, then at least that much must be
> >> permitted and you can quite safely do that.
> >
> > In the general case (obviously excepting GNU packages), FSF is not the
> > copyright holder and licensor.  Hence, it cannot speak properly to other
> > licensors' intentions, and its opinions are not relevant to what such
> > licensors are willing and able to permit.  (It would not in that case
> > have standing in any related litigation, either, but that's a different
> > subject.)
> This is an important point, yes. Otoh the GPL is the same license for
> everyone that uses it. At least in an ideal world it cannot apply in
> one way to your software and another to mine, since it is the same
> text. Lacking more legal precedent (on this particular topic) we can
> only guess what the real answer is, but it seems the authors of the
> license text should at least get a say in that general discussion,
> even if they wouldn't have standing in some particular lawsuit.

My understanding is that the primary factors involved in determining the
legal outcome of a conflict over license terms are (in no particular

1. What is the common understanding of the license?

2. What is the licensor's intent?

3. What could the licensee have reasonably believed the license to mean?

4. What does law on the books have to say about the matter?

5. What does court precedent establish the terms to mean?

6. How good is your lawyer?

In that, the only way the opinion of the license's author really seems to
factor into things once the license has already been written is as a
contribution to the common understanding of the license.  For that
purpose, however, it is only one of many potential inputs to the common
understanding of the license.

What the licensee might reasonably believe the license to mean can be
determined in court by, in part, the common understanding of the license.
The same applies to the licensor's intent.  Neither, however, is (likely
to be) strictly dictated by common understanding of the license.

That's my understanding, in any case.  Of course, I am not a lawyer, this
should not be regarded as legal advice, et cetera, yaddda yadda, don't
take my word for it, get a lawyer.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]
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