Header file legal issues (was Re: process.h patch)

David Elliott dfe at infinite-internet.net
Thu Feb 15 01:39:34 CST 2001

Patrik Stridvall wrote:

> > One fly in the legal ointment is that while the headers may not be
> > copyrighable, the shrinkwrap license may still be legal as a contract.
> > There's a case where a court suggested that someone who buys a copy
> > of a product that contains a shrinkwrap license agreement and unwraps
> > it is legally bound to follow it, while the person who later finds the
> > unwrapped CD 'on the street' with no such license is allowed to copy
> > the portions that are unprotected by copyright.
> If that is so, wouldn't it mean that if you have a pirated copy of the
> headers
> you can legally copy and distribute parts that are unprotected by copyright.
> :-)

Oh, the irony of it all.

> Anyway, you don't need to go to such extremes, since the legal status of
> shrinkwrap licenses in Europe is much more doubtful, just have somebody in
> Europe do it.
> I can't see why something posted on wine-patches shouldn't be equal with
> found on the street, in the meaning that things that is unprotected by
> copyright can be legally incorperated in the main tree.
> This is probably true regardless of the legal status of shrinkwrap licenses
> in Europe, especially since it is IMHO entire reasonable, given existing
> European cases, to assume that they don't have an legally meaning.

I would say in the US they should not and really don't have legal meaning
either.  There have not really been enough cases to say one way or the other.
Yes, so far there have been stupid cases where justices decided that the
shrink-wrap license actually meant something, but I can see that issue going
the other direction soon.  I think the courts already have enough to do without
dealing with BS over a shrink-wrap license.

> > It's unclear where
> > the anti-trust issue fits in there.
> I pass, not my area of expertize. :-)
> > Food for thought, anyhow...
> Yes.

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