Version 6 (modified by kmaclean, 15 years ago) (diff)


Articles on Licensing

Summary: A software licence is not necessarily a contract. It can be, but that requires a couple of preconditions to be satisfied.


One of those preconditions is the existence of consideration on both sides. Consideration is a legal concept that simply means a quid-pro-quo, or something of value given by each party in exchange for what the other party provides

There may be other preconditions of the existence of a contract that are also missing. One is that the contract must be accepted by the licensee, and that acceptance must be manifested in some way. clicking on an "I agree" icon can be sufficient to indicate assent to a contract; these are known as "click-wrap" agreements, and at least in one case in America the courts have upheld this form of agreement.5 On the other hand simply receiving a set of licence conditions in the documentation of software isn't necessarily enough to create a contract between the licensor and licensee.


A licence does not grant you a legal right to the property that is being licensed to you. All it does is to make something lawful that would otherwise be unlawful. Therefore, unlike in the case of a contract, the conditions that are placed on a licence can't give the licensor any more rights or powers than he already has. All they can do is place limits or conditions on the licensee's entitlement to exercise the rights that copyright law grants exclusively to the licensor.

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice