Public Domain Python

Pat McCann thisis at
Tue Sep 19 09:56:03 CEST 2000

> [Tim]
> > The GPL is not a contract, and by deliberate intent ...
> > The ploy here was to try to rely solely on copyright law, which
> > is much more uniform across jurisdictions (& especially across
> > national boundaries) than contract law.
> [Pat McCann]
> > Despite your humble protestations against accusations of having
> > legal knowledge, you've shown before that you understand the theory
> > of contracts better than that displayed above.

> [Tim]
> [...] Even within the U.S., you reported here just the
> other day that *some* states require the exchange of "valuable
> consideration" on both sides in order for a contract to be recognized.

Not some states; some jurisdictions. (IIRC, I used "places".)  I've been
guessing, based on a couple hints in law web pages, that the consideration
thing is obsolete except in a few countries.  This subject has arisen
often enough I'm going to try to find more info on it later this week.

> > Here's why I think the GPL does form a contract: ...
> Sorry, but I don't want to argue about the GPL at all, and especially not on

Yeh, I can understand that, and I'm sure you'll understand when people do
want to argue when you say argumentative things about the GPL on

> Here's the first page of a fine article where you can read some
> U.S. law professors arguing about it (incl. the FSF's general counsel, Eben
> Moglen):

I've read Moglen's writing before and hesitate to do so again, but upon
your recommendation I'll take a look at it.  I have him on my "crackpot"
list and found theories in what I read too far out to take seriously.
I hope this piece is more down to earth.

> Until it comes up in court, there are only lawyers' conflicting opinions
> about the issue (and after it comes up in court twice, likely judges'
> conflicting opinions too <0.5 wink>).  FWIW, the GPL sure "smells like" a
> contract to me, but that's purely from a mildly educated layman's POV -- and
> the CWI license smelled just as much like a contract to me.

Funny that you'd state that the GPL isn't a contract, then.  But there's 
no need to explain; I know you don't like to argue about the GPL on

Winks and grins.

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