licenses, contracts, and copyrights
Posted Apr 7, 2005 21:45 UTC (Thu) by giraffedata
In reply to: The kernel and BitKeeper part ways
Parent article: The kernel and BitKeeper part ways
I'd like to clarify some of the legal issues that have been misstated in this thread.
First, there are two entirely separate issues here: licensing under copyright law and contracts. You can't "break" a license, but you can break a contract. A license is never "binding" on a licensee, but a contract is binding on both parties.
You need a license from the copyright owner to copy something. You don't need to execute a contract with him. You don't need a license to use a copy the copyright owner gave you.
I'll take Xman's word for it that the mystery developer who spoiled it all got his copy from BitMover under a EULA (which is a contract) and assume that in the contract he promised not to reverse engineer. So copyright law and licenses have nothing to do with the controversy.
As for severability, if there's a law making the reverse engineering clause unenforceable, that law could easily also nullify any severability or backup clause, so we just don't know. Example: California has a law that says a loan contract of a certain type that states an interest rate of >10% is enforced as if it says 0%. The rest of the contract still applies. But if there's a clause that says if the interest rate is found illegal, then the loan must be repaid immediately, that clause gets wiped out by the same law. When people write laws to forbid people from agreeing to certain things, they don't mess around.
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