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GPLv3:

  1. Acceptance Not Required for Having Copies.

You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or run a copy of the Program.

But if Acceptance Not Required to run a copy of the Program, then also sections 15. Disclaimer of Warranty. and 16. Limitation of Liability. don't apply.

I hope I am wrong? But why so?

Without accepting the license, the work is still copyrighted. So the user doesn't have permission to run the program?

And without permission to run the program, there's also no warranty and no liability?

  • Note that "9. Acceptance Not Required" does also not apply if the user does not accept the GPL. – Martin Rosenau Feb 15 at 16:18
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    In the US, if you have a lawful copy of a computer program, you have the right to run it. If I make a copy of a GPLed program, which I can legally do by accepting the license, I can give it to you. You need no permission to accept the copy or to run it. In the US, the GPLv3 is stating the legalities of the situation. – David Thornley Feb 15 at 16:44
  • I asked more-or-less the same question here opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/7363 My explicit concern was somewhat different than yours, but what seems to me (and I think to you, too) like the general goofiness of that section, is what also gave rise to my issue. – John Forkosh Feb 19 at 6:47
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The software is copyrighted whether or not a license is accepted. However, the copyright holders provide a public license (the GPL) that waives some of the copyright holder's rights. For example, the copyright holders waive their exclusive right to make copies, on the condition that whoever makes a copy abides by the requirements laid out in the license. This is effectively a contract that is offered to the public.

Nothing except that license gives you the right to do things that are by default reserved by copyright.

Copyright does not reserve the right to run a software, therefore you do not need permission from the copyright holders, and do not have to accept the license. The GPL makes this explicit for the avoidance of doubt.

Warranties are unrelated to copyright and differ substantially between jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions do not assume implied warranties, others make it impossible to disclaim all warranties. However, a warranty disclaimer is not a contract between author and user, but a shield for the author against claims of damages by the user: if the user has been told that the software is not necessarily fit for any purpose, but uses it anyway and something goes wrong, that's on the user. If the user drags the author before a court, the author can point at the disclaimer and say “I told you so”. But again, this is super jurisdiction-dependent.

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