[Gllug] Getting Microsoft off a Dell purchase - anyone done this?

Doug Winter doug at pigeonhold.com
Mon Jul 10 15:02:31 UTC 2006

Paul M wrote:
> But this is not being claimed. When you buy a piece of software with a
> licence you are entering into a contract -- one that gives you certain
> rights to use a piece of someone elses intellectual property. This is
> already covered by Contract law, which is well established. There
> aren't any restrictions on what you can do with the physical medium --
> you are free to hang the CD in your garden as a bird scarer -- but you
> are not buying the software. That would require acquiring the
> copyright for the IP. What you are buying  is certain rights to use
> it, which you didn't have before (subject to the terms of the contract
> you entered into).

Sort of.  When you buy a piece of copyrighted material you own it.  You 
don't own the copyright, but you own that copy of the work.  When you 
buy a novel, for example, you do not license it.  You own it.  This is 
also the typical situation with software, when there is no license 
agreement, and is the case for example with GPL software, where there is 
no license agreement.

Software companies have tried to change this so that you don't own your 
copy at all - you are entering into a license agreement with them.  One 
of the major motivators for this was amendments to US copyright law 
(section 117) which granted owners additional rights - the right to copy 
a work for the purpose of installing it and running it, and the right to 
make backups.  These are granted specifically to 'owners'.  By changing 
the relationship to that of licensee, the software companies hope to 
avoid granting these rights.

Of course this only works if they can show their license agreement holds 
- if it doesn,t then you do indeed own your copy of the software and can 
do what you like with it, within the restrictions of copyright law.


doug at pigeonhold.com
Gllug mailing list  -  Gllug at gllug.org.uk

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