Subject: Re: Copyright Law vs Contract Law.
From: Seth Gordon <>
Date: 20 Dec 2002 09:08:21 -0500

(Disclaimer: IANAL.)

On Thu, 2002-12-19 at 21:00, Adam Theo wrote:
> The biggest question we are facing right now is whether copyright law
> should be sufficient to legally force the developer to release the
> source code when the money or time requirement is solved for, or if
> contract law will have to be used instead.

The more I think about this, the less sure I am of the answer, but you
probably need some kind of contract.

Suppose the developer releases a program in binary form only, attaches a
license to the code that says "all rights reserved until January 1,
2004, and after that this code is released under the GPL", and then
changes her mind about the license change on December 31.  If nobody
else has received a copy of the source code with that license, then
there's no way to compel the developer to release it, because a promise
to make a gift is not a contract -- there has to be some "consideration"
given on both sides.

If the license says "all rights reserved until $10,000 accumulates in
the account of the Foobar Software Foundation...", and the developer
changes her mind after the Foundation gets the stipulated bucks, then
the people who donated can probably sue to either get their money back
or make the developer change the license, since they donated the money
in the expectation that they would get the GPLed software.  But if none
of the donors complain, then I don't think a third party would have
standing to sue.
"Jews have made great sacrifices for their faith, but sacrificing a
-- or a favorite food -- may well be too much to expect."  --David
// seth gordon // // //