OT: Legalese [Re: And another Ubuntu convert!]

Bart Silverstrim bsilver at chrononomicon.com
Tue Jan 27 17:10:40 UTC 2009

Derek Broughton wrote:
> Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>> Derek Broughton wrote:

>> You don't own products like Windows or MS
>> Office if you purchase a copy, you license it for use.
> Indeed - but Mario and I were specifically using deCSS and DVDs as an 
> example.  Software has always been licensed, Entertainment generally hasn't 
> (at least explicitly).  See below.  otoh, I have dared MS many times to try 
> to sue me in a Canadian court over exactly how I use Windows.  I maintain 
> that their license restrictions hold no water in a Canadian court - if I 
> bought their software on a particular computer, and am still using it on 
> that computer,  its none of their business if it's in a partition or a VM.

I honestly don't know anymore...the use would be spelled out in the 
license agreement. But they change that depending on circumstances.

>> You bought the right to use it under their terms, hence the license. If
>> you disagree with it you don't buy it.
> I maintain that I don't disagree with their license, just their 
> interpretation. :-)

Then again, it's the copyright holder's to interpret initially, isn't 
it? :-)

Essentially they're doing whatever they can to make you pay money for 
using their work. If you're doing something they think they can get more 
money for and it's not insane enough to be rejected, potentially, by a 
court, they're going to bully you into seeing things their way. I'm just 
speculating though.

>> Of course, I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if you have a
>> friend that gives you his lunch snack in the cafeteria on the condition
>> that you sing the Sweet Child of Mine every morning in fourth period
>> math and you agree then you can't just take it and walk away because you
>> disagree with having to look like an idiot. 
> That's fine, but if he gives you his lunch and after you eat it, tells you 
> that you have to sing the song, that's not a contract.  That's not even an 
> "unenforceable contract" - in the eyes of the law, it is no contract at all.  
> This is essentially what DRM'ing movies does.

You usually know about the DRM ahead of time, or can return said media 
for a refund if you discover this later. And I (again not a lawyer) 
don't know if licenses are a contract, are they?

This stuff has to be accepted before use. Enforceable? Maybe not. But 
it's why whenever my bank changes policies they send more paperwork for 
me to gloss over, and when Microsoft sends updates on Patch Tuesday I 
periodically see an amended agreement before installing that states that 
I have to accept this for other software products to install this update.

But like those stupid disclaimers in emails about "eyes only delete if 
not recipient blah blah" this is something that I never heard of being 
fully tested in court and probably not enforceable.

>> Software and movies come
>> with licenses you agree to when you use them.
> Movies _don't_.  Try to find a single DVD that says anywhere "to be played 
> only on licensed DVD players".

I haven't seen that particular clause, but It thought the big warning 
screen when you first start the movie was a copyright notice and 
license, isn't it? There are restrictions on movies like not showing 
them to audiences, etc., basically telling  you you're allowed to view 
the movie for yourself and your family but not do things to make money...no?

More information about the ubuntu-users mailing list