February 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Music for nitches

  • Giant robot: DOMESTICITY

« Q & A session | Main | Lehtovaara. Back on my radar »


David Stein

Sorry - this is incorrect. A license is a contract.

Here's where you're mistaken: Most contracts are "bilateral," i.e., negotiated between two or more specific parties. Each party intends to contract particularly with the others. *However*, you can also have "unilateral" contracts: offers to the general public, where anyone can enter into a contract with you by performing some kind of condition.

One common "unilateral" offer is a commercial advertisement, e.g., "Our store will sell you three cans of peaches for $1." This is an offer to the public - including you - to enter into a contract with the advertiser. You accept this contract (thereby binding both you and the advertiser) by showing up at the store and carrying three cans of peaches to the cash register. At that moment, you have a legally binding contract with the advertiser - they can't back down.

Copyright licenses like the CC operate *exactly* the same way. The licensor is extending a contractual offer any member of the public to become a licensee. By accepting the license and using the software, the licensee promises to abide by the terms of the license (open-source redistribution, accreditation, indemnification of the licensor from liability, etc.) And the licensor promises not to sue the licensee for a copyright violation, so long as the licensee's acts do not violate the terms of the license. That is a mutual exchange of rights and obligations - i.e., a contract.

- David Stein

The comments to this entry are closed.