ZDNet article on GPL is wrong and misleading. PJ (paralegal) does not fully understand the law she's spoke about.
Date: Fri Jan 04 2019 - 01:59:54 EST
Often cited now is a ZDNet article as proof that the black-letter law is
In there is quoted:
In 2008, Pamela Jones at Groklaw remarked to an earlier attempt to take
code out of the kernel, "[You] can't retroactively revoke licenses
previously granted, unless the license terms allow you to do so. The
most you can do is stop granting new licenses."
(Pamela Jones was a paralegal).
Jones continued "Here's the GPL v2. See any terms allowing you to
revoke? Me neither." In short, we've seen this problem before.
Now, this is true for commercial licenses which are contracts, that is
because an interest is attached: You payed consideration for the terms
of the contract. The contract states a method of revocation, you payed
the owner for that term, that term controls.
This is NOT true for a license (permission to use property) that has
simply been given to you.
This is a crucial point that they keep ignoring, intentionally.
I have the legal books they are reading and operating from, and they
simply speak about commercial licensing contracts.
They're helpful if you're just going through the motions to get cases
before a judge, but without knowing the rest of the law: one doesn't
know what one doesn't know.
Basically how they are researching the law is: "ok let's look up the
subject: Copyright", they then look up "revocation", and read how the
courts generally resolve these issues, these issues always involving
commercial paid licensing contracts, and not gratuitous licenses.
They do not ask "well why is it that these various copyright licenses
are irrevocable?". The reason is: they are irrevocable because the taker
has payed for them to be irrevocable. They payed the owner for that
term, and the owner can't then take away what he gave them.
(A lawyer, generally, knows this and has a wider view of the law. A
paralegal: no - they work mostly on whatever their employer works on.
And yet ZD Net and everyone else cites her and ignores the underlying
Which simply is not the case with a gratuitous grant of permission.
They either didn't pay attention to that part in law school, forgot
about it, or are trying to defend the position of their clients.
Many of the various linux programmers simply gave permission, and didn't
ask for anything in return. Additionally the takers did not give them
anything in return (not that an un-asked for payment would sufficent: it
Thus it is a gratuity from linux-coder-1007 to
downloading-and-hacking-entity-10000007 that said entity may use
linux-coder-1007's code, and modify it, and redistribute the
It's a pure gratuitous license from linux-coder-1007 to whomever.
And that permission can be rescinded by linux-coder-1007 when he wishes.
Basically the words of a paralegal is taken as gospel truth, the words
of a license attorney, even when explaining the issues in great detail,
including their foundations, is taken as dog shit.
"LOL NOPE: PJ said otherwise in 2005, u wrong!"
<"PJ is repeating the rule she knows from a section in Copyright
Litigation Handbook, which applies to commercial copyright contracts,
very specifically _because_ they are _commercial_ _contracts_ (that is:
the taking side has secured his interest, there has been a meeting of
the minds, etc). And yes I have the same handbook, along with many many
"Haha fuck you you don't know anything and are LYING!"