Perry E. Metzger (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 12:22:12 -0500

> From: Lee Daniel Crocker <>
> There is a difference between a voluntary shrink-wrap license and
> the Gnu copyleft; in the former, your acceptance of the terms must
> precede your purchase, as evidenced by exchange of consideration.
> That makes it a contract--and offer is made, accepted, and executed.
> Stallman's software is free, and since no consideration is exchanged,
> there can be no contract.

There is consideration. It simply is intangible. You get use of the
source code, the author gets intangible rewards -- pleasure, spread of
personal fame, etc. I've asked lawyers about this sort of issue in
the past. According to them, it is unlikely that any modern court
would refuse to enforce a copyleft on the basis of a lack of exchange
of consideration -- this is (apparently) rarely if ever an issue in
any modern contract dispute, simply because "consideration" is such a
fuzzy concept.

I know fairly good lawyers (like Lance Rose) who claim that a properly
phrased "free software" license is indeed enforceable in court.