Subject: Re: [FYI] Microsoft license spurns open source
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <shap@eros-os.org>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2001 12:39:51 -0400

> Microsoft lawyers have joined the company's campaign against open-
> source software, restricting how developers may use what it terms
> "viral software" in connection with Microsoft programming tools.

The legal theory behind these constraints escapes me -- or at least my
ignorance of law impedes my comprehension.

If I sell you a hammer, I'm not permitted to say "You cannot use it to pound
nails manufactured by Microsoft." Once the good changes hands, my control
over it ends. I can say I won't warranty such use, but what you do is solely
under your control. [This creates a mess for liability cases, but that's
another issue]

It seems that software licenses allow much more invasive restrictions. I
question whether these restrictions are proper, and whether we should not
begin to organize a response to them. Perhaps: "open licensing initiative"?
The purpose of this is not to promote open source, it's to promote fair
licensing practices in which the licensee is not unnecessarily and
improperly induced to sign away vital organs to the licensor.

In any case, can someone who actually knows about this stuff explain the
legal theory under which such invasive licenses are considered enforceable?
I'm particularly concerned about how this issue interacts with click-wrap
licenses.

What limits exist on what can be enforced in such a license?


Jonathan