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Corel Linux Only For 18 and Up 392

Caspian writes "There's an interesting-- and disturbing-- clause in the EULA for Corel's new Linux distribution-- namely, you can't download it unless you're over 18. No mention of an exception for those with parental permission is mentioned. As one who first used Linux at 13 or 14, and first installed it himself at 16, I'm shocked and very much upset. Thoughts?" We've got the offended section of the EULA attached below. Interestingly enough, Corel Linux is based on Debian which has a huge percentage of minor aged developers. Apparently they aren't even allowed to download their own code.

The snippet in question is very close to the top of the EULA. Here are the top few lines-- read for yourself, or read it off of Corel's site here:

End User License Agreement


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Corel Linux Only For 18 and Up

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  • On one new years eve me and a friend made batch files that used the more, and some command with 8,N,1:9600 and the lovely |. You could use a terminal program and one person could dial up the other person dos box and use it like you where teleneted in. It was fucked up!.

    Another time I broke my monitor and I type pipe | prn:lp01 and it piped everything from my screen
    and printed it out on paper.
  • Is it just me or did Corel's site for Linux go down? /. strikes again.
  • Hmm, I take your point. However the age where you can enter into a legally binding contract varies between countries. That will be the cause of much wierdness if they try and stick to this.

    Also, doesn't restricting access to the software violate the GPL? Corel Linux is sitting ontop of Debian isn't it? In which case it definately violates the Debian social contract.

  • Who cares? We all might care soon if Corel is right. Let me quote from the original comment:

    "Can a minor consent to release code under the GPL when they may not be legally able to establish contracts?

    The fact that we might like the answer to be yes does not necessarily make it so...

    That's an excellent point. What if a minor contributed to a major part of an open source project and submitted it. If they can't enter a legal contract, then the code they submit is not legally under the GPL. Which would _maybe_ mean that a big mean company could come along and use it without releasing the source. Granted, this would be difficult since it's tough to tell who's a minor and who's not, and exactly what their conrtibution would have been, but it's something to think about. Doesn't the FSF require releases for developers, and don't those releases have to be signed by someone over 18 or their legal gaurdian?
  • That's why most video places require that you be 18 or have a parents consent to have rental privliges there. The parents then are responsible for the contract. This might be the defacto case regardless of the parents knowledge of the license.
  • Nah, It's in the Linux kernel also :)

    linux/fs/binfmt_aout.c: /* Fuck me plenty... */

    But, I think the foul words are dissapearing faast to be more corporate friendly. Personally I think we should be able to write FUCK if that is the appropriate word to use in the context.

    Although the Oxford learners dictionary failes to capture the true meaning of the word, by stating that fuck means 'have sexual intercourse with'. At least intuetively I think that the true meaning of Fuck is more ...something?... There really isn't an english substitute for the word, but it is intuitively understandable that when a function call says 'Fuck Me plenty!' that it is a highly scalable implementation, extremely usefull, low overhead and roboust function call which you can call very often. In fact the words stand out in the source, so you will more intuitively find the correct place in the source to look at.

    On the other hand 'fucked up' communicates that the function call is more that buggy/defect/incorrect but that you have managed to break a piece of incomprehensible spagetti code with significant amount of complexity. And complete re-engineering effort might be required.

    I think that it unfortunate that certain words are considered bad, because all words communicate meaning. It is much better advocate responsible use of language, rather than amputating it.

    The foul language debate I think could be paralleled to the banning of GOTO in structured languages, although goto in many instances a really bad word to use wich truly hurt the fealings of people maintaining code, just removing it resulted in less powerfull languages.

    After the intitial Anti-goto purity hysteria calmed down, better forms of getting out of deeply nested structures came about. Although GOTO is still unspeakable, we do have the words 'continue' and 'break' which are used in Java and C although they essentially are correctly used goto's in disguise.

    Words like Fuck, Screwed and Shit can be used to good effect in computer programming.


    Fuck me - This is the function you are looking for and you can use this to your hearts content, it will never break.

    Use me - Same as above, but read the specification carefully for proper input parameters.

  • I am not a lawyer, but...

    The difference between downloading software and buying a book is that when you download you are creating a new copy of the software, whereas the book is a copy manufactured by the publisher -- and the publisher does have to have a contract, licence, etc.

    It's all a little weirder when you consider software on CDs. I think most countries still count running software as copying it (you copy it from CD to disc, and disc to RAM), which is the excuse people give for all these shrink-wrap licences.

    The example they might point to is buying a painting from an artist. The artist retains the copyright, so you can't publish copies of the painting without licensing it from the artist, even though you own the object itself. This makes perfect sense for physical objects, but seems strange to many people when applied to intangibles like software.

    The FSF attempt to turn this strange system on its head with the GPL, by offering the General Public a licence gratis. Thus everyone can copy GPL software -- so long as they can enter in to the licence agreement. This all falls down if they can't, but most authors of GPL software will turn a blind eye to underage contributors.

    From what other posters have said, Corel's situation might be different, because it is possible in Canada for minors to enter a contract without being bound by it, or it might just be that they are making explicit something that the GPL takes for granted.

  • by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @07:13AM (#1503524)
    First: I can understand their concern that the agreement be as binding as possible. This is most effeciently guaranteed by limiting users to those 18 years of age or older.

    Second: If I were to violate the license (and were 18- years old) I would not care about a clause saying I was not allowed to have the software in the first place. If I'm violating one part of the agreement, why not both?

    Third: What about the rest of the license. If you live in Canada, you are bound by the laws of Quebec. Anywhere else however, and you are bound by the laws in Ireland?!? What particular Irish law does Corel have in mind here? Is Corel based in Ireland, and I just haven't heard about it yet?

    Fourth: "All right, title and interest in the Software Programs, including source code, documentation, appearance, structure and organization, are held by Corel Corporation, Corel Corporation Limited, and others and are protected by copyright and other laws." Which is reasonable until you remember how "software programs" was defined: "Corel LINUX is a modular operating system made up of individual software components that were created by various individuals and entities ("Software Programs")." This definition clearly includes GPL'd code, the rights to which, by definition, cannot be "held by Corel Corporation, Corel Corporation Limited, and others" as the license says.

    These concerns have been made known to Corel via email. I will keep you all posted re their response.
  • MFC == Microsoft Fried Chicken, At least that is what I heard the Borland developers called it.

    Microsoft calles MFC Microoft Foundation Classes.
  • The GPL says that *anyone* can use it and modify it and redistribute. That includes minors. When will Corel accept the fact that they have no power over who uses their distro?
  • How dare you. I am 17 and have been using Linux since I was 14 and did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe a few of us are in favor of and would like to see the GPL upheld? Immediatly casting of all people under 18 as idiots who can't understand the GPL or kinivng brats who just want to screw the FSF is outrageous. What magicl transformation happened to you when you turned 18 that instantly made you worldy and trustworthy? Linux was from the begining and still is only succesful because of the contributions of thousands of coders around the world. The next time tht you find out the small piece of software that is vital to your systems operation was written someone underage i don't think you'll take such a narrow few then.. I believe we should call for a boycot of Corel Linux until they change the license and if they refuse coders who are underage should stop providing updates to their existing software. Why should we not be able to enjoy the furits of our own labors?
  • Or the 3½" penguin-in-the-box is inflatable or simply not wearing a proper loincloth...

    Anyway, methinks this "adults only" clause is a brilliant marketing idea because as we type hundreds of millions of minors are rushing to Corel's ftp-site to grab a piece of this forbidden fruit.

    Go, little devils, go!
  • Makes sense to have it in there from Corel's point of view, since if you're under 18 it makes you responsible for it, and also if you DO, say, make something proprietary out of GCC (mentioned earlier) and try to sell it the company you try to sell it to SHOULD think "hey, this is a minor, we >can't) and that would make the GPL enforceable on minors...

    Interesting note - my Win95 licenses have no such age restrictions in them that I can find, either in the general area, the US area or the Australia/NZ area. Does that mean if you're under 18 and buy Windows you're exempt from the license restrictions?
  • however, most software is not "sold" to you, they are "licensed" to you. Which is a big difference since you have to abide by the rules since you DO NOT OWN it, the company still does :)
  • I'm going to make a blind guess that you live in the U.S. If this is the case, then while it sucks in some ways, you as a minor cannot make a legally binding contract. Don't believe everyone who's said this so far? Go ask a decent lawyer. They'll tell you the same thing. Don't be "insulted" by Corel just because they take the time to point out that you can't legally agree to the terms of the contract. Everyone else assumes that you understand that you aren't legally allowed to consent to their contracts. It's not like they're going to come sue you for using their software anyway. Unless you start to ignore the terms and do illegal things with it, in which case they've got that special clause there which gives them a little bit of extra protection. In these litigation crazy United States, they need everything they can get. (Also, don't forget that Corel is a Canadian company and that somehow Canadian law may require such a clause (I'm really guessing on that one though, so anyone who has any commentary, please add)).
  • Does this mean that If you are a minor that your have to get someone to get your linux along as well as your beer.
  • Does this mean that If you are a minor that your have to get someone to get your linux as well as your beer.
  • by MattJ131 ( 92897 )
    They're only hurting themselves by doing that. I am 15 years old and I first installed Linux on my Powermac at age 13. If Corel is going to do that, they're going to lose a significant portion of their potential user base (the 'teenage hacker' faction) to other Linux distros or even other *nix based OSes which are minor-friendly. Not that its going to stop people under 18 from downloading it, anymore than telling them software and MP3 piracy is illegal.

    I'd still be curious to know how much of Corel's source code was written by people under 18...

    - Matt
    43rd law of computing:
    Anything that can go wr
    /usr/games/fortune: Segmentation fault (Core dumped)

  • He didn't say all minors will break the licence or that they cannot understand it.

    He was merely pointing out the fear a company would have about minors getting thier software unlicenced.
  • by hey! ( 33014 )
    If we accept your premise, then the minor would not be able to use the software at all (e.g. nothing but the GPL gives him any right to copy the software).

  • Makes sense to have it in there from Corel's point of view, since if you're under 18 it makes you responsible for it, and also if you DO, say, make something proprietary out of GCC (mentioned earlier) and try to sell it the company you try to sell it to SHOULD think "hey, this is a minor, we CAN'T legally buy something from him".

    I also saw the GPL as being much closer to "buying" software, rather than "leasing" it like most licenses say. Case could be made that when I downloaded Corel Linux (or Debian or whatever) that I just "bought" it (it was cheap! :-)) and that would make the GPL enforceable on minors...

    Interesting note - my Win95 licenses have no such age restrictions in them that I can find, either in the general area, the US area or the Australia/NZ area. Does that mean if you're under 18 and buy Windows you're exempt from the license restrictions?
  • Is it not also available in the store?
    Is it a GPL violation to restrict distribution in a certain channel, when the exact same product is available through other channels? I don't think so.
    They aren't saying that nobody under 18 can use corel linux.. just that nobody under 18 can DOWNLOAD IT FROM THEIR SITE.
    You can always go buy it.... or order it.

    Overall, distribution is not hindered.

    What if I sold debian boxed sets in an XXX shop? (okay.. wierd idea, but hey...).. would you say I can't because nobody under 18 is allowed in the shop?

  • I think the purpose of the clause is to make sure that the person agreeing is the same person who will be held legally responsible for his actions.

    Here in Norway, anyone under 15 who breaks the law will cause his parents to get into legal trouble.

    Can't see how it will have more effect than the "you must be over 18 to click here" signs on the Other Kind of download sites.
  • The easiest way is simply to ignore the licence...

    I've read a few licences in my life and most of them are not possible too agree with.
    After some reading between the lines, they all seem to say:
    "Allthough you have payed for this product *WE* still own it and you can only do what we *allow* you to do with it.
    And since you are reading this, you've opened the package and therfore allready agreed to this licence-agreement. Mouhahahaha! (evil laughter)"

    Who in his/hers right mind would agree to something like that?
    Who in his/hers right mind dreams up a licence like that?
    The evil cat in Dilbert?

    Ok, for a company it is hard to ignore a licence-agreement, but I've nerver heard of anyone who's been sued for using a product without agreeing with the licence at home.

  • In the US, the law doesn't allow minors to enter into any kind of contract (although there may be an exception if the parent or legal guardian consents). IANAL, but I'm guessing the boilerplate is standard contract speak to make the license "null and void" in the case of minors, as downloading the software constitutes accepting the terms of the contract/license.

    So before people go crucifying Corel, this may be in there just to cover Corel's legal tuckus, and not keep Corel Linux out of the hands of the very people who make it possible.

    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • by BlueUnderwear ( 73957 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @01:50AM (#1503545)
    maybe they did it because of all the F-words In the keRnel Source, or whaT do you think ? ;-)
  • Does this mean I'll have to use my AdultCheck(R) ID to use CorelLinux? ;-)

    Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
    Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
    I've never been the same since.

  • Yipes. Sorry about that, guys. I didn't know that things were like that outside the US. (BELIEVE ME, I'm not a pro-US individual; I don't like it at all, but I AM used to it.) You learn something new every day. :/
  • I can't help get the feeling that by "enhancing" linux they are attempting to bend it all out of whack.

    Presumably the Over 18 clause exists purely because they are trying to force a contract down your throat in the form of a EULA.

    Doesn't this violate the GPL in some way by effectively restricting who can download the source of a distribution?

  • There's a little twist that prevents the GPL from being invalid if someone who cannot legally agree to the licence downloads GPL source.

    Normaly copyright law provides _more_ protection than the GPL. The GPL grants you the right to modify and distribute, with important restrictions. You wouldn't normally have this right, even if you could see the source. If you can't be bound by the GPL, then you no longer have any of those rights to modify and distribute, and everything falls back on the author's basic copyright.

    Maybe we should get our legal friends to host an AskSlashdot on the subject? The relevance to other EULAs, such as movies or video games, is intriguing. Although I suspect the fall-back to copyright will protect the owner.
  • by pigpogm ( 70382 ) <michael@pigpog.com> on Friday November 26, 1999 @01:52AM (#1503550) Homepage
    I'm guessing that they've enhanced the X window system, and it's now the XXX window system.

    On a more serious note, does the GPL not exclude them from doing this?
  • The subject says it all. The reason why the EULA states you need to be over 18 is simply becouse anyone under the age of 18 can't enter a legally binding contract.

    I hadn't thought of that before now, but it's a darned good point that needs to be addressed..
  • What does the GPL say about this? Can you exclude a single group of persons from the software. Anyone that's into the GPL legals that know?
  • Have you seen some of the language in the source? I would not read it to either one of my daughters.
  • by p3d0 ( 42270 )
    That's a pretty good way to say "first post" without getting moderated away. In fact you managed to get moderated up instead of down! Kudos.
    Patrick Doyle
  • Does this mean that if a kid buys MS Windows, or any other proprietary program, he/she is not bound by it's EULA?

    No. The EULA gives you the rights to use the software and specifies under which conditions you are allowed to do that. Theoretically, you must agree on the EULA before using the software. Since the law in most countries does not allow kids to be bound by a contract (the EULA), then the kids are not allowed to use the program.

    But of course, the parents of the kid can be bound by the EULA and allow her to use the program. Then the parents are responsible for letting the kid do whatever she wants with the program.

    According to the law, there are many things that minors cannot do on their own. Agreeing on a EULA is just one of these things that require parental approval. Actually, now that I think about it, even agreeing on the GPL is something that a minor is not supposed to do.

  • Hehe, I can see the headlines now: "Penguin accused of raping minor and posting images on website"
  • Kind of paradoxal. minors aren't affected by EULA's, then why would they care about this restriction we are talking about ? :)
  • It's hard to be sure if this is an oversight, or just some over-zealous lawyers, but somehow I doubt Corel plan to ship pornographic-mpeg-collection.deb along with the distribution. So there's little point in baying for Corel's blood at this point when polite requests that they remove this particular bit of boilerplate from their legalese will almost certainly result in the problem being fixed less than a month from now, and perhaps within days.

    On the other hand, if they do plan to include hardcore pornography, what was the download site again?
  • You're lucky to be in Germany where ISDN is quite cheap. Most households in the UK don't have ISDN...

    In that case you have my sympathy. I think that just strengthens my point then, if Germany isn't even the worst-case scenario. That was actually a best-case scenario for Germany, since, particularly for a really large download, the $/byte ratio is better for ISDN than for modem.

  • Here in the UK there are laws that (IIRC) say somthing like a minor (ie 18) can not be bound by a contract (which is why you normally need a signature from a parent to open bank acounts etc). Could it be that Corel are trying to plug a hole that prevents minors being bound by an EULA ??

  • IANAL, but one of the many people caught up in the debian maintainer mess so I've given some thought to the DFSG.

    This clause only makes sense if it's interpreted as applying to discrimination *not required by law*. The alternative is asserting that the original (and Debian's) license supercedes the law and courts, a risky position. We may not agree with the way minors are treated, but it's insane to disregard it.

    As a trivial example, let's consider a family which uses "NetNanny" to keep a minor child from accessing a porn site. We might all agree this is silly and pointless, but it's within the parent's legal rights. The kid downloads Debian and installs it, and bypasses the parental controls. (If you're a conservative Republican, insert a sentence stating that the kid is so enflamed by the images on his screen that he goes out and rapes a girlscout going door to door selling cookies.) The parents (and DA) are pissed, and they're looking for someone to sue. Could Debian and/or Corel be held partially responsible, perhaps under an "attractive nuisance" ordinance? Even if the case is thrown out, how much will it cost?

    It's easy to stand on a soapbox and say that Corel shouldn't care, but are you on the hook for the legal bills if you're wrong? An angry parent could still sue Corel for enabling their kid to access a porn site, but with that nod to existing law Corel will have a far better chance of getting the case thrown out immediately.

    I'm not particularly happy about these clauses appearing in EULAs, but I recognize it as a sign that more people are taking us seriously, for better and worst.
  • Shipping and Handling? That's all. Shit that's a pretty good deal. They could be charging $500 for it and there's nothing anybody could do beyond entering the market and competing. Doesn't anybody remember how much GCC tapes cost from the FSF? Something like $400 at one time.


  • Interestingly, this would mean the opposite of what the original post said: if a minor downloads a GPLed piece of software, he cannot agree to the license, and is therefore not allowed to modify and further distribute it. Which isn't to great for young Open Source developers...

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • Where are my moderator points when I need them? Good point! Hurrah.

  • You fail to read the text and just went by
    the title so you could easily qualify in the
    category that you try to imply that I categorize

    Have you read a bit you would have realized that
    my critic was at Corel and not at the kids.

    If my son trashes the computer he will awould get
    it him trouble. Installing Corel Linux trashes the
    computer, isn't that clear enough?

    I was being sarcastic about the age restriction.
    Restricting downloads to lower than 18 isn't
    something people should be concerned. How
    the heck can they enforce this?
    As usual the crowd on slashdot went bunkers.

  • Great... does this mean that I'll get carded before I'm able to log into the GNU ftp server?

  • What makes this interesting is how the other day I noticed that "bigleaves.jpg" was removed from KDE's backagrounds. Corel had a good reason for doing that, so that big companies who install CL can't go through the backgrounds and say, "What? These Linux people and Corel are nothing but drug pushers!" Aside: Corel's own backgrounds they put in there are very cool looking.

    So basically they are removing potentially offensive content (yes, some people find that offensive, sigh) but are still requiring over-18 to download it.

    I guess I'll have to wait for a statement from Corel themselves, if one does come.
  • Look, we've given them several chances and they've still proven themselves to be 100% clueless. I am not going to help them any longer. I think it's time to start talking lawsuit.

    Bruce Perens

  • I find it puzzling that Corel would do such a thing. But it came as no surprise to me. Remember the beta agreement.

    There were many Slashdot users who slagged many other users who put up red flags with the beta agreement. No fear, trust Corel. Well they've done it again. Not only does this clause violate the GPL, it makes no sense. It is not like Linux is pornographic material. I guess maybe in some NT circles it is that or maybe it's "forbidden fruit."

    Corel needs to re-examine what Open Source software means and they also need to fire a few lawyers while there at it.

    Cough, cough. I told you so. Corel is bad for Linux.
  • This topic was already discussed on November 17th, in the article entitled New Mozilla, Corel, and Napster Releases. [slashdot.org]

    In particular, the comment Watch out, it's not for the youngins!!! [slashdot.org] began discussion on this very matter.

    My response was thus, [slashdot.org] and I'll repeat it...

    In response to

    To be a dull, pragmatic reply to what was meant to be a humorous post, I'm sure this is because minors (in the US...hmmm...) can't agree to contracts such as license agreements.

    I wrote:

    This is also true in Canada, and is likely true in many other jurisdictions.

    It's quite a dilemna; if they include components that have licensing agreements that require some degree of consent on the part of the user, they require an "adult's" consent.

    It is particularly a problem for software that requires something like unto the "dastardly" MSFT EULA; it is less of an issue with Free Software, but even there, there is some need to be able to enforce the terms of GPL, XFree86 License, and other such licenses, and that can certainly be problematic for the young'uns.

    A more pointed question, that isn't directly relevant to this particular situation:

    Can a minor consent to release code under the GPL when they may not be legally able to establish contracts?

    The fact that we might like the answer to be yes does not necessarily make it so...

  • Actually, at least in Canada, minors can be held to contracts for necessities like shelter, food, etc.

    This was because if you couldn't hold a minor to these things, minors would be unable to buy food, rent an apartment, etc.

    If a minor could walk into a restaurant, eat, and leave without paying, legally, restaurants would, of course, stop serving minors without an adult.

    So, minor can be held to these contracts.

    I would imagine the USA has a similar rule.

    BTW, the kid who wrecked the car would be out of luck because when he handed you the money an took the keys/papers, the contract was finished. He could get out of payments, but he couldn't get back the money he had already paid.
  • The purpose of requiring you to not be a minor is probably to make sure you can legally allow yourself to be bound to the agreement. Of course, if you're a minor, you can't legally be bound anyways, so you can't be considered to be doing anything wrong by downloading the software... right?
  • So, you're saying that a minor can violate copyrights without any problems? So, there's no legal reason why Billy can't pirate games?

    If the copyright has force, then the GPL rests on the agreement that you will do something in trade for the rights to the code.

    The kid would be able to use GPL code, because the GPL doesn't prevent usage in any way.

    But, the offer is made with the implicit assumption that the other party is capable of entering a contract.

    If a car dealership prints a price on a car, you can make them sell you the car for that price because this is equivalent to you asking for a price, and them telling you. But, a minor could not get that car because the dealership wouldn't have made the offer to a minor.

    So, no valid offer was extended to the minor, thus they can't enterer into a voidable contract, and they have no permission to rerelease the source code in any form.

    This owuld be different if they asked for and received permission, because then the contract would have been intentionally extended to them despite their age.

    But, even then, once they void the contract, the other party isn't held to their end anymore, except for whatever was due before the voiding.

    Example, if a minor made payments, getting one item (volume on an encyclopedia) per payment, they could void the contract at any time and you would owe them any paid for but as yet undelivered volumes, but you wouldn't owe them the rest of the volumes. But, you wouldn't be able to hold any penalties against them.

    This is why all (sensible) business for nonessential items with minors is done in a cash-up-front manner.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @08:21AM (#1503605) Homepage Journal
    I'm not a lawyer, but we've been learning about this in my Business Law course that is taught by one.

    Minors have an absolute right to void any contract into which they enter. That means that, to use the prof's example, if you sell your $20,000 car to a 17-year-old kid, he pulls out of the driveway and is immediately hit by a garbage truck which totally demolishes the car, he can immediately void the contract and get his money back and you're left with a $20,000 junkpile.

    For this reason, many businesses would refuse to deal with minors at all, which causes problems for "liberated minors" who live on their own and have to buy certain things. This is covered by the Doctrine of Necessities, which states (IIRC) that certain businesses that sell neccesities have to deal with minors, and are legally entitled to "reasonable compensation" for their goods. These necessities include food, clothing, and utilities, and California adds TV and a car to that list (but then, that's California for you).

    There have been cases of minors abusing this privilege--for example, my prof told about how his son built up a huge CD collection by joining BMG's "get so many CDs for $1" offer, then voiding the contract...multiple times. He also told about a minor who flew first class on an airline all over the place, then immediately voided the contract and cancelled the check after touching down.

    The upshot is, businesses have to be cautious when dealing with minors...and you should be cautious, too, especially if one of them wants to buy your car. It's regrettable from the standpoint of "hey, kids have rights too!" people, but it's a legal necessity.
  • Corel's had enough time to learn that they aren't allowed to add terms to our GPL licenses. Period. Not even for the best of reasons. Sorry, Corel, just can't do it. The reason this is so bad is that someone has to go through that over-18 certification to download the source to my GPL code, when they have already gotten the binary from Corel. Thus it's infringing upon my license.

    I've helped them out a few times, but they fail to learn anything. I can't help them any longer.


  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday November 26, 1999 @08:41AM (#1503619) Homepage Journal
    But by using the GPL, I have decided to distribute my software to minors, even though they might not be required to honor the license. And the GPL requires that my license terms not be modified by Corel or anyone else, even for the best of reasons. Sorry, Corel, just can't do it.


  • You missed the point completely.

    Anyone can decide who downloads, for reasons that are relevant only to the owner of the FTP site.

    Some don't want to bog their nets, so they set user limits.

    Some don't want anonymity, so they ask for real emails.

    Some don't want foreigners using their site, so they enforce country.

    Some don't want minors, for reasons that are not really known to us, so they ask if you are 18.

    Hell, someone could decide "I'll let you download
    if you pay me $5". WALNUT CREEK USED TO DO THAT.
    They had special named accounts for paying customers.

    Get it now?
  • In most places your parent or guardian is responsible for your compliance with a contract, your ownership of copyrights, etc.

  • Nicely stated, but it's already the case. The GPL does not restrict use. It grants you the right to use as a copyright permission, without the actual requirement that you be able to enter into a contract.

    Some other Open Source licenses are tear-open contracts, but the GPL is not. It's a straight copyright permission.



  • When you become an 'adult', you'll find that there are plenty of laws that have been enacted because of 'the few' to protect/limit the actions of 'the many'.

    This is nothing new, and has nothing to do with age. It's a consequence of the way our legal system works.

    By the same argument, you could be saying "how dare our government enact a law making it illegal for adults to have sex with underaged teenagers - do they think that *all* of us adults wants to have sex with underage teenagers? This is *OUTRAGEOUS*!" ...

    So you'd better get used to it, kiddo. It's a permanent thing.
  • One conceivable reason for the over-18 stipulation has to do with the legal binding in the EULA -- since for the most part minors aren't (legally) considered capable of making any decisions, having them click a button agreeing to a license agreement doesn't necessarily make the EULA binding as it would be with an adult.

    IOW, the American government's approach to dealing with minors sucks, as if that point needed any more reinforcement.

  • by DaveHowe ( 51510 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @01:56AM (#1503663)
    I suspect this is yet more Corel "standard boilerplate" stupidity - In many places, contracts with minors aren't binding on them (but are on you) so Corel would be justified in restricting licencing of products they want the licence to be enforcable on to those that they can hope to do so with. The fact that this is their Open Source licence and standard rules don't apply (I am sure you all remember the Recent screwup over a non-GPL for the beta) seems to be hard to install into the mindset of their legal department. I will Email Corel Politely and let them know - you never know, they may even post a reply here..... :+)
  • by teraflop user ( 58792 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @02:00AM (#1503670)
    I agree with the first poster that this is almost certainly to ensure that the downloader is legally responsible to become a party to the license.

    This would appear to be against the non-discrimination clause of the DFSG, but on the othr hand, what is the alternative? You can't ask someone to make a legally binding agreement who cannot legally enter a legally binding agreement.

    To copy anything under GPL involves acceptance of the license, so my guess is that minors already need parental permission to copy GPL licensed (or any free) software.

    I don't see that the 'if any part of this agreement is illegal the rest still applies' clause helps either.

    Interesting, but inconvenient.
  • I'm not interested in consulting. I have my own company to run and it will soon become a conflict of interest. But you can see I'm frustrated, because I have tried to smooth these conflicts down twice already: once with the beta-test license, and once with an APT linking issue.

    A lot of the software contributors were legal minors at the time they contributed the software, and some of them still are, and Corel accepted _their_ licenses. Should those contributors now turn around and say they had no legal right to give Corel those licenses and thus they are void? Or shall we assume that they had the collusion of their parent or guardian and thus the licenses are legal, in which case Corel should make the same assumption in their license?

  • I'll tell you which part of the GPL --

    The section which discusses not discriminating against any person or group of persons. It's very clear in the GPL that is not tolerated, and discrimating again minors, which would be a group, violates that clause.
  • by Raphael ( 18701 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @02:03AM (#1503677) Homepage Journal

    That's right. Many countries have laws stating that minors cannot be bound by a contract. So a minor is not supposed to agree on the EULA - that's something that her parents should do.

    I see no malice there - Corel is simply trying to be as careful as possible (too much, maybe?). They are not trying to prevent people from using Linux. I'm sure that some people at Corel do know that parts of the code on their CD has been written by minors.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday November 26, 1999 @09:51AM (#1503680) Homepage Journal
    That would be true if the license was a license for use of their FTP site. But it's an end-user software license, and you have to click yes to get access to my software.

    And yes, I'm frustrated and it shows, because I have tried to smooth out problems with them twice before, once with the beta license and once with an APT linking issue.

    I'll chill out now, but I don't think I can help them the way I did before.



  • That probably depends on exactly what they are
    restricting. You can always say to someone that, "No, I don't want to give you this software."
    But it's a violation of the GPL if you say, "Here! Take this software from me!" and in another breath say "Oh, I forgot, you can't have the sourcecode if you're a minior."
  • Judging by the previous antics at Corel it appears that they have a major problem with inter-departmental communication and the 'over 18' clause seems like an obvious mistake.

    With the dozens of Linux distributions available to anyone at any age this will severely limit it's acceptance.

    I will be utterly amazed if this clause is intentional.

    Thankfully if you do not like a particular distribution you can always go elsewhere.

    So, if the clause is intentional (unlikely) - don't worry about it, use a different distribution!

    This also raises issues of the future quality of products Corel will be releasing (as a result I am not really that enthusiastic about them anyway).

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @10:08AM (#1503689) Homepage Journal
    Interestingly, this makes an ironclad case that Corel are not legally allowed to be distributing their product! It (the Linux GPLed stuff of it anyway) is _only_ available under a license that explicitly states that if you can't conform to the GPL you can't redistribute. Great effort was taken to make that clear: IANAL but I doubt practical issues take precedence over what the license actually SAYS, and the GPL is unusually clear and direct for a license. I think it would be hard to reach any conclusion other than:
    • If Corel must impose extra terms and restrictions onto GPLed software, then the GPL forbids them to be a channel for the distribution of said GPLed software,
    • Corel are doing this for reasons of their own, possibly even compelled to do this for reasons of corporate liability or some such compulsion,
    • therefore Corel do not have a right to ship a Linux under these conditions, because the GPL _requires_ that they not add or remove restrictions, and no other license is available for their use for much of the Linux distribution.
    This is certainly a drag for Corel, particularly if their corporate rules didn't allow them any wiggle room and they were compelled to try and add the age restriction, but unfortunately they're stuck- no corporation would want to weaken the binding force of contracts and license agreements in general. Unless Corel can stick exactly 100% to the GPL license agreements, they are _hosed_ and it says outright they can't use GPLed stuff in a distorted form. They could distort and change the _software_ all they want but they cannot change the rules without weakening all contract law- if you can disregard the GPL, then it'd be just as legal to disregard their own EULA, or Microsoft's EULAs, etc. ad infinitum.
    Perhaps Microsoft would like to donate several billion to the FSF to fight Corel with, thus keeping contract and license law solid and binding? MS or any huge corp. would _hate_ to think that its licenses and binding agreements were subject to being overruled if inconvenient. It's interesting to think that on this point, commercial software would actually defend the GPL like rabid wolverines. They may not _use_ the GPL, but to question the ability of a software license to be binding and relevant? They'd back it to the limit, because if the GPL gets weakened, their OWN licenses would end up just as weak.
  • Those who are bringing up Corel's probable reason for doing this, are bringing up the fact that no contract with a "minor" can be legally binding. This is quite irrelevent due to current common practice. The contents of a disk (i.e. software) is just like the contents of a book (i.e. a novel)-- both are "intellectual property", quite copyable but illegal to copy.

    WHEN was the last time that you had to be 18 to purchase a (non-pornographic) book?

    Even in the software world-- other than "adult" titles, when was the last time you had to be 18 to download a piece of software? An -operating system-, no less?

    I think that we should talk to Corel about this and try to get them to change their ways.

  • A minor cannot enter into a legal contract in Canada either. Not without the express written consent of the legal gaurdians, at which point they are also held liable..
  • by dmacon ( 30932 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @02:08AM (#1503706) Homepage
    Not really, I think the liability is limited to about NOK 1000,- ($200-$250 ?).

    If you behave badly enough, your parents won't be allowed to care for you anymore. And you will get forster parents; usually idealistic gitar-playing socialists with purpla scarfs, which make you eat vegetables and fish on a regular basis. (Scared straight - Norwegian style).

    For computer crimes, they'll probably force you to use Windows for several months. (Although you can probably complain to the human-rights commision in Geneve for this cruel and unusual punnishment).

  • A license agreement isn't law. You have to agree to it to be bound to it (and if you don't agree to it, then you have no right to use the product covered by the license). But in most countries, a minor can't enter into legally binding agreements. However, minors are still bound by laws.
  • by Greg Merchan ( 64308 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @02:15AM (#1503719)

    5.No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

    The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

    I suspect the language is there in the Corel EULA because minors cannot (usually?) be bound by contract. Of course, since buying just about anything is agreeing to a license (copyright, patent, conditions of sale, etc.) I have to imagine that minors cannot legally live! Darn interesting topic, I just wish I had more to say.

    Oh, yeah: IANAL.

  • No let's over-react and flame everyone in the republic. Oops, okay. This strikes me as a bit of legal-ese that covers Corel's corporate-hidebound ass. Forget about it. Next!
  • Difficult to say. You can download an ISO of the distribution. Is this ISO a derivative work of the applications contained in the ISO?

    I think section 0 of the GPL applies:

    0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the terms of this General Public License. The "Program", below, refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on the Program" means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications [....]

    An ISO contains programs.
    Those programs include the GPL.
    An ISO is a work.
    Therefore, the ISO is a work containing the GPL.
    Therefore, the ISO has to comply to the GPL.

    I'm not a lawyer, but that's my interpretation.
  • I don't know about a direct violation of the GPL, but it's certainly a violation of Debian's Social Contract [debian.org] (and the open source definition [opensource.org], which is based on it anyway), which states:
    5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

    The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

    The GPL conforms to this, but I don't know if it specifically prohibits discrimination, however since Corel Linux is based on Debian, it probably should comply with the Social Contract.
  • Um, you seem to have compiled without enabling a sense of humour. Try switching on CONFIG_HUMOR_RECOGNITION and try again.

    Incidentally, the business about contractual obligation is a complete red herring. Think about it - if you can't sue for breach of contract, how do you plan to sue for breaking the terms of the download by being under 18?

    And insulting people you're trying to persuade of things is rarely effective and doesn't make Slashdot a fun place to be. Please don't.
  • ...when was the last time you had to be 18 to download a piece of software? An -operating system-, no less?

    Well, downloading or buying. Has anybody actually read the MS EULA's? I bet they do the same, but nobody gives a shit. Heck, I bought VC++ 1.5 when I was 15. :-) But I guess the language in the MFC source is 'more appropriate' than the Linux kernel source. (But what does MFC really mean? Mo Fo Coderz? ;-)

  • So in other words, you don't see that the possibility that copyleft
    could be unenforceable is an issue? That it is reasonable for any 16
    year old can download it, and then sell their modifications to a
    commercial company who release it under a proprietary license.

    This is potentially a substantial problem in GPL, and we should
    be getting the legal opinions out in the public for discussion, not
    launching the machinery of a lawsuit.

  • The DFSG simply says this so that all licenses that does not conform with it will cause programs licensed with that license to be excluded from the Debian main distribution. There is nothing that prevents Corel from making up their own restrictions on who can aquire the software from them. But when someone has gotten the software from them, they must be able to release sourcecode to any GPL och LGPLed software they have sold.

    Also, nothing prevents one person from getting their distribution and then giving it away to minors in part or as a whole (provided their distribution doesn't contain any proprietary software, or software with an obnoxious license).
  • Not invalid: voidable. Ie. minors *can* choose to be bound by the
    agreement in order to enforce the contract against others, but may at
    any time void the contract to avoid having the terms enforced against
  • >I copylefted some source files by slapping on a
    >"Copyright (C) 199 Neil Halelamien".
    a) These don't match; this makes no sense.
    b) your copyright protection ended about 1700 years ago :)
  • by DaveHowe ( 51510 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @02:44AM (#1503794)
    If the contract is not binding... then the 18, years clause would not be binding either. So what's the point?
    As far as I can tell, there isn't one - but from a practical standpoint, there is a lot of difference between agreeing to a contract that is non-enforcable, and making a false declaration of age to obtain goods or services.
  • by Paul Crowley ( 837 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @02:47AM (#1503800) Homepage Journal
    Well, no shit! "What bedtime story would you like today, little Amy? Another chapter of The Phantom Tollbooth, or net/ipv4/tcp_ipv4.c?"


    "So the packet went back to the firewall, knocked on the door, and said 'Mr. firewall, I have a SYN bit now, may I come in?'

    'What port do you want?' said the firewall.

    'Port 23' said the packet.

    'Get lost!' said the firewall again, and once again booted him all the way back to the source host with an ICMP reject in his ear.

    Well! The poor little packet was very upset...

  • Well in theory, the GPL is a license, a contract of sorts. So in theory, minors can't legally agree to it in the first place. This isn't the fault of the GPL being restrictive, just that even it's very free terms can't be agreed to by someone who can't legally agree.

  • Does this mean that if a kid buys MS Windows, or any other proprietary program, he/she is not bound by it's EULA?

    That would seem strange...
  • I'm surprised at this. I studied business law (for a rpofessional qualifiocation, not as a lawyer) in the UK, and the law for minors was certainly as I described. The law between UK and the US tends to be the roughly the same on matters of contract law, (though of course some states have bizarre things on their statute books).

    Was the Dean's actions ever challenged on legal grounds? I'd be surprised if the Dean's actions as described were not illegal.

  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @03:05AM (#1503829) Homepage

    OK, remember that using software is NOT the same as buying other forms of intellectual property (such as a book). This is stupid, but it's currently the way things work.

    When I get a piece of software, I enter into a contract (the terms of which are in the License) between the entity distributing the software and myself. The contract specifies what I can and cannot do with the software I receive.

    Unfortunately, in this country, minors are screwed, as they are unable to enter into legally binding contracts (enless you are an emancipated minor, which means you're effectively an adult).

    When Corel restricts their downloads to adults, that's actually GOOD. It means that the adult downloading the software is legally responsible for seeing that the contract (eg License) is followed. The adult is of course allowed to share the software with minors, but it is the ADULT that is responsible for making sure the License is upheld.

    This is something the Free Software may have overlooked. Think about this scenario:

    Typical 16-year old kid downloads gcc from prep.ai.mit.edu (oops, I mean ftp.gnu.org). Kid reads license, then realizes that he's not bound by it, since he's not of age. FSF didn't bother to check if he was allowed to get the software, so BANG! the license is void, and the 16 year old can do WHATEVER HE WANTS with the code. That includes making it into a proprietary product, or selling it to a company that then incorporates it into their company. And that's all legal, because the distributor (FSF) didn't bother to check to see if the receiver was allowed to enter into a contract.

    You don't see this problem in ordinary stuff, because when I buy virtually anything BUT software, I'm actually buying the item, and not entering into some weird use-contract. The laws are completely different for actual transfer of ownership.

    Unfortunately, but it may actually be the BEST thing that comes from Corel Linux is that they're being really paranoid about covering all their bases (well, actually, just covering their ass) with this thing.

    I'm sorry the world has to be like this, but if we want to play in the big leagues, well, we have to live by all the rules.


  • by Anders Andersson ( 863 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @03:13AM (#1503833) Homepage
    To copy anything under GPL involves acceptance of the license, so my guess is that minors already need parental permission to copy GPL licensed (or any free) software.
    It would seem so, presuming that any "license" (whether commercial or the GPL) is considered to imply that a mutual agreement has been made.

    But minors don't need parental permission (legally speaking) to read a book that is covered by copyright. Merely reading the book doesn't mean that the reader enters a contractual relationship with the author or the publisher. The reader, whether a minor or an adult, is still subject to the copyright laws, which are unilateral (i.e. you don't get to argue the terms of the law with the lawmaker each time it applies to you). There is no need to bring in contractual law and discuss whether the minor has obtained a valid license to read the published book. Why should published source code be any different?

    The whole idea of the need for end-user software licenses seems to be based on the notion that the software isn't published, but rather developed for a very limited number of users, as was common practice in the early days of commercial software development. But when you ship millions of copies of the same computer program to be sold over the counter, can you still claim that those binary files aren't in fact published (i.e. made available to the general public), and that anyone buying a copy thus has to enter a contractual relationship not only with the supplier by paying for the copy, but also with the publisher over access to the information stored on it? If so, why doesn't every printed book or aired broadcast come with an end-user license agreement?

    In order for kids to be able to live in the society of the future, will they have to obtain blanket permissions en masse from their parents, so that they can enter those 500+ license agreements per day required to surf the Web, play computer games, or watch television? When "license agreements" become as omnipresent as air, will we still respect the legal ramifications of violating one or two of them?

    The GPL maintainers could begin making things a little more sensible by not requiring end-users to enter a license agreement merely to download and run published software. The "licensing" verbiage should be limited to those wishing to distribute the code or modifications of it to others. This would still require under-age hackers to obtain parental permission in order to take part in software development or distribution, but this is the case for pretty much any media work that kids get involved in today.

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I guess Corel wants to distribute its Linux version outside of the US as well. If so, what is a minor, what an adult? Do you have to be 16, 18, 21? There is no international definition... Besides, there are different stages of becoming an adult, the point when you may drive a car, when you can choose your religion, when you can vote, when you are fully responsible for your wrong-doings. I guess the stages differ as well among countries. Where's the point in life when your mature enough to get your copy of Corel Linux? ;-)

    I understand that different countries have diverse opinions on nudity, violence etc., so there probably won't ever be a global agreement, but where is the point in restricting the download of a Linux distribution?! The comments couldn't really come up with an explanation so far...
  • As has been pointed out, the GPL is a license, and
    as a minor you can't agree to a license because that's entering into a contract. Minors can't do that in most countries. Corel isn't saying minors can't use Linux, they're saying they can't download it. If you invalidate this, you invalidate the GPL as a contract. Either the law needs to change on contracts, EULA's need to be struck down as invalid (whoops, there goes the GPL!), or you need to have mommy or daddy download the software for you.

    As has also been pointed out, you can just go ahead and download the software yourself if you're a minor. You'll have an "illegal" copy and the GPL will still be enforcable and apply to your copy. Seems to me that this is the best solution given the current set of laws.

    Corel and their legal department aren't at fault here. Instead of a sensationalist post about Corel, this should really have been about the state of the judiciary. Corel's lawyers have done the best they could given the parameters they have to operate in.

    A more troubling question is if the minors who've contributed code can even license it at all without their parent's consent.

  • the reason they are doing this is because minors are legaly incompitant. that is why they can't sign a contract. minors aren't affected by EULA's, because any contract that they agree to without their parent's consent(and that is a difficult thing for anyone to prove that they have), is invaild.

    oh, yea, IANAL.

  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @04:20AM (#1503865) Homepage

    Indeed, you do have a point that I forgot: the copyright on the code remainds, so a minor who gets the code from the FSF can't sell it to someone else for inclusion in their code.

    However, provisions in the License are still invalid, since the "sale" was directly to a minor.

    You are correct that passing something through a intermediary cannot remove rights such as copyright. However, contract law is NOT copyright, and CAN be removed by selling/transferring the product to a party unable to agree to the contract.

    Actually, I just thought of something that is interesting: look at the "Not for public performance" and "Not for rental" agreements on most Video/DVD/audio products. Now, normally, if I buy a DVD, I'm licensed to only use the product in my home. However, if the store sells it to my 13-year-old, legally, the kid should be able to set up a movie theater, and charge admission. He's not violating the copyright of the DVD, he's just not bound to the License restriction. And if he sells the DVD to an adult, well, the adult hasn't agreed to any contract, either, so...

    I'd be interested to hear from an IP lawyer about this. Unforatunely (or fortunately), IANAL.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    No matter what you or Debian might say about licenses not "discriminating against any group", ALL licenses in the US do, by their very nature, discriminate against minors by virtue of the fact that minors can't enter into a contract.

    This isn't something that a contract writer can override. Looks like the Corel license is making an explicit statement. Good. The restriction's implicit in any license anyway, why not make it explicit?

    Those making noise about copyright law and the fact that 18 year olds can legally read books are missing the point that the "L" in "GPL" stands for "license". GPL'd software's distributed under a license, therefore the law regarding who is and who is not competent to enter into a contract applies.

    GPL'd software's distributed under license in order to restrict usage, i.e. the requirement to release sources for derived products using the code, that kind of thing. If you don't want to operate under the laws regarding licenses and contracts, well...don't use a license.

  • Considering that an install of Corel Linux
    is very likely to blow your partition table
    unless you have nothing else on the drive,
    this could protect the kid's safety.
    How do you think a pissed off father will react
    after the kid destroys all his data and has no
    idea how to recover those data?

    Actually they should restrict the download to
    people who use winblows only.

    I installed Corel Linux on a 14G hard disk. It
    refused to install on a freshly formated partition
    and I, in a stupid move let it remove that
    partition and recreate it. It messed up by a few
    cylinders and ended up making my hard disk
    impossible to be seen by Partition magic or fdisk
    from winblows. OS/2 could see the other partition
    but couldn't do anything with the hard disk
    because the partition had been blown. If I had
    installed on a logical partition it is very likely
    that I would have had to reinstall SuSE without
    the benefit of saving my data first.

    I ended having to reinstall everything. Luckily
    I was still able to boot SuSE with a diskette
    and could see all the data from there. SuSE
    fdisk would tell me that someone messed the
    partition table and was unable to do much with
    it. I backed up everything and recreated a clean
    partition table. A complete repartitioning and
    reinstall was done on the 14G hard disk.

  • OK, sorry, replace US with Canada then. Question remains the same. BTW, I'm not American!
  • Disclaimer: IANAL so I could be wrong about anything I say here.

    First, I'll be redundant and point out that Corel is a Canadian company and is therefore bound by Canadian laws. Being Canadian myself, I am well aware how anal some laws in Canada are. In fact, in Canada a minor cannot enter into ANY contract (with a small number of exceptions which do not apply here). It is not a stretch for Canadian courts to decide that an EULA is a contract. I suspect that Corel's legal department is trying to guard against possible legal repercussions that might prevent them from distributing Corel Linux at all. (Note that the age of majority in Canada is defined by the individual provinces.) This doesn't take into account possible repercussions of distribution in international markets (including the US).

    It is my understanding also that an EULA cannot override any laws in the jurisdiction of the user. Therefore if any clause in the EULA is illegal, depending on the license or local laws the rest may or may not be binding. This same caveat applies to the GPL.

    As I understand it, if a country has a law that forbids restrictions on software distribution or use and requires everything to be public domain if source code is release (hypothetical; I'm not aware of any such country), then the GPL could not be applied, but neither could the software be denied to that country once it was present in that country. Again, IANAL so this could be completely wrong.

    I will close with a note that, in Canada at least, there is no law that I am aware of that prevents a minor from using software that was legally obtained by the parent unless said software violates some specific law.

    Again, IANAL (in case you didn't notice before).

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.