Subject: Re: terms
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen)
Date: Fri, 5 Dec 1997 18:04:02 -0500 (EST)

On Fri, 5 Dec 1997, Brian Bartholomew wrote:
> > I don't believe this is possible- a license only gives the terms for
> > distribution: you can distribute this in the following
> > circumstances, or no circumstances at all.  You can't force someone
> > to distribute software if they don't wish to at all.
> 
> Why?  I've seen licenses with all sorts of conditions in them, such as
> not dissassembling or reverse engineering.  Couldn't you legally
> require someone to stand on their head for five minutes every Tuesday
> if they choose to use your software?
> 
> Is this one of those problems where a license is not a general purpose
> contract, because no value is exchanged (micropayments?) or no
> signature/acceptance-of-terms is received?

These licenses are not valid in the US, and, as far as I know, they are
not valid in any other countries either, for precisely this reason --
exchange of value happened before you read the license. You may note that
the publishers of Undocumented Windows and Undocumented DOS have not been
prosecuted by Microsoft, although they have certainly violated the
prohibitions against disassembly and reverse-engineering. 

Several court cases have established this invalidity of these
"shrink-wrap" licenses.  One court case, more recently, has upheld them.

There are currently some proposed amendments to UCC 2b that would legalize
these shrink-wrap licenses.  I believe this is morally wrong and socially
harmful, and I hope the proposed amendments are not accepted.

Kragen