Subject: Re: Licenses for "Running"
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 06 Jun 2001 10:20:32 -0700

Adam Theo <> writes:

> i have one question right now. i think i understand that copyright, as
> done by the US Fed Gov't, does nothing for *running* a software, only
> for making copies of it, correct?

Basically, yes.  Copyright, as the word implies, controls the right to
copy.  (There is also some control over performance rights in some
circumstances which probably aren't relevant here.)

> therefore, proprietary licenses (such as from Microsoft or such), only
> enforce the fees they charge for being able to make copies of their
> software, not actually running it on user's computers, correct?

I'm not entirely sure what you are saying.  But note that Microsoft's
license is not based on copyright.  In order to use a Microsoft
product, you must read an End User License Agreement (EULA) which
imposes various restrictions on what you are permitted to do.  You
agree to the license by opening the package or by clicking on a button
on your screen.

My understanding is that it is unclear whether EULA are legally
enforceable in the U.S.  My vague recollection is that one case said
they were valid, and several cases said they were not.  The UCITA,
which has been passed in two or three states, says that they are
valid.  Most people act as though they are valid.  Microsoft certainly
does, although it generally uses market pressure rather than legal
pressure to enforce its licenses.

> so, with that established (i hope i understand that right?), is there
> anyway to have 'running clauses' in a license? i take it not, or else
> this would have become the default software license, and besides, a
> 'license' is just really short for 'copyright license'. there is no
> such thing as a 'usage license', i assume?

Most software companies, not just Microsoft, use an EULA, which is a
usage license.