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Munich Court Again Enforces GPL 311

Posted by timothy
from the weg-to-go dept.
BrianWCarver writes "Despite earlier concerns reported on Slashdot that the GPL might be particularly difficult to enforce in Germany, that country's courts now hold the distinction of having enforced it twice. The first enforcement came in 2004 when Harald Welte of the netfilter/iptables core team sought to enjoin Sitecom from distributing its WL-122 router, which used netfilter's GPL'd code, without also providing the source code and a copy of the GPL, as that license requires. The Munich Court granted Welte a preliminary injunction and then upheld that injunction (Court's decision in English pdf) and now Sitecom provides the source code from their website. Welte, who also now runs gpl-violations.org to track GPL violations, and who personally handed over warning letters at Cebit to companies not in compliance with the GPL, reported on his blog today that he has obtained a new preliminary injunction enforcing the GPL, this time against Fortinet for distributing their firewall products (FortiGate and FortiWiFi) that include GPL'd code while Fortinet refuses to release the source. Congratulations again to Welte and his attorneys!"
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Munich Court Again Enforces GPL

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  • So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:52PM (#12238300)
    So basically, people go around seeking license infringers and go after them legally when they don't follow it?

    How is this different from the RIAA going after its infringers? In both cases, they're intellectual property violations.

    Are we only for the idea of intellectual property when it applies to GPL authors? I mean, why should I follow the GPL anyway? I'm told in one situation that copyright is flawed and evil, and in the next I'm told to follow GPL copyright.

    Just playing devil's advocate here.
    • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Krach42 (227798) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:54PM (#12238333) Homepage Journal
      The RIAA suing filesharers == someone taking something prohibitive and making it free

      GPL developers suing people who steal their code out of compliance == someone taking something free and making it prohibitive.

      There's a fundamental difference in that those stealing GPL code are stealing from EVERYONE, not just from the author.
      • Re:So, basically (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That's not the point. In both cases, they are violations of intellectual property.

        Several upmodded posts in the past have stated that intellectual property is a flawed concept, as is copyright.

        I just wanted to point out that the GPL is based on both the idea of intellectual property and copyright. Yet the RIAA is demonized for protecting that property while GPL authors are championed for it.

        Again, devil's advocate. I think these are valid issues to raise.
        • Re:So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Krach42 (227798)
          I'm not arguing that one is illegal and the other isn't

          I'm arguing why one is good and the other is bad.

          This is a personal moral decision, not a legal statement.

          The RIAA has every right in the legal world to sue these people, that doesn't make it "right".
          • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ron_ivi (607351) <{moc.secivedxelpmocpaehc} {ta} {ontods}> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:10PM (#12238519)
            And not all of us disagree with the RIAA.

            Personally, I see commercial music as not at all different from Microsoft software. Both are focused entirely on selling the largest volume through advertising and marketing. Neither are of much interest to me.

            I wish the RIAA the greatest successes in stopping the music pirates - because this will create the opportunity for a Creative Commons licensed music industry in the exact same way Microsoft's absurd prices for commodities creates the Linux/MySQL opportunity..

            • Re:So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

              by FidelCatsro (861135)
              I do not harbour any grudge against the Artists who want to sell music , I do however despise the tactics that the RIAA use in prosecuting innocent civilians , well i call them inocent as most of the cases are settled out of court as the people can't afford to defend them-selves so we shall never know .
              Being Pro GPL /anti RIAA does not mean we have to be anti-capitalists.
          • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bradee-oh! (459922) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @07:35PM (#12239798)
            There is a key difference - not between right and wrong, but between tactics.

            The RIAA SHOULD stop copyright infringers just as FOSS groups SHOULD stop GPL violations.

            But the RIAA collects coinicidental evidence for high volumes of people and, without nearly enough proof, accuses them all of breaking the law. Yes, alot of them are violators. But everytime you hear "RIAA sues another 200 people" in the headlines at least a handful of them are let off because the accusations were so outlandish compared to reality.

            These GPL enforcements are neither broad nor hasteful. These people do their research. They take a suspected GPL violation. Research it until it is a LIKELY GPL violation. Research it until they have PROOF that it is a violation. They then contact the infringer and file for an injunction after fulfilling every RESPONSIBILITY that the ACCUSER should be required to fulfill.

            Is copying and sharing music illegal? In most cases yes!
            Should perpetrators be stopped? Yes!
            Does the same apply to GPL violators? Yes!

            It's not a question of legality or right vs. wrong. It's a question of ethics in the quest to stop the violations.

            Maybe thats just my $.02, someone "correct" me if they have a different opinion.
      • Re:So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hchaos (683337)

        The RIAA suing filesharers == someone taking something prohibitive and making it free

        GPL developers suing people who steal their code out of compliance == someone taking something free and making it prohibitive.

        There's a fundamental difference in that those stealing GPL code are stealing from EVERYONE, not just from the author.

        If I break the window to your car, hotwire it, and then leave it in the middle of downtown so that anyone else can drive it, too, I'm taking something prohibitive and making

        • Re:So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You're an idiot.

          One: In a free market, things are worth what people will pay for them. I could spend years painstakingly making a car out of matchsticks. My exorbitant time and effort costs would NOT mean that my idiotic matchstick car is worth more to anyone who just wants a car to drive down the shops. Similarly, artists can rant all they want about how much time and effort they put into some work.

          Two: If you break a window of my car, take it downtown so anyone else can drive it, etc. - I don't hav
        • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @06:28PM (#12239271) Homepage
          If I break the window to your car, hotwire it, and then leave it in the middle of downtown so that anyone else can drive it, too, I'm taking something prohibitive and making it free, but that doesn't make it right.

          Please, this tortured analogy comes up evry time. There are fundamental differences between real property and "intellectual" property. The two are not comparable. The former is diminished by sharing, while the latter is not. The former is covered by laws about real property while the latter is covered by (in this case) copyright law, which has no relation whatsoever to real property law. So leave your analogies about stolen cars, walking into my living room, and transferring money from my bank account to yours, because THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING.

    • Re:So, basically (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rovingeyes (575063) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:55PM (#12238341)
      How is this different from the RIAA going after its infringers? In both cases, they're intellectual property violations.

      First of all RIAA are pimps going around bullying people and collecting money. That being said the intellectual property is not that of RIAA but actual artists most of whom don't even hold rights to their own creation

      On the other hand GPL software is a creation of group of hard working individuals with profit being the last intent. In my books its completely differet.

      • to find in the near future that microsoft (lower-casing/deprecation of their name intentional/perpetual with me...) is using more than just BSD/FreeBSD code in their warez.

        Would it be offensive to mshaft and RIAA acolytes for disguntled employees to dissolve their IP/NDA duties in the face of clear theft of GPL code?

        Even more interesting would be if some disgruntled employees who leak it do it such a manner that it survives the sure-to-follow "inadmissible evidence due to illegal seizure and release of i
      • Re:So, basically (Score:2, Insightful)

        by General Wesc (59919)

        That being said the intellectual property is not that of RIAA but actual artists most of whom don't even hold rights to their own creation

        So the RIAA doesn't own it, and the artists don't have rights to it? I guess it would make sense that it's essentially in the public domain then.

        But let's analyse that claim:

        (1) The artists have no rights to the music.
        (2) Because the artists own the music, the RIAA doesn't own the music, so they have no rights to the music.
        Therefore (3), neither of them have rights t

      • Stripped of the hype, the RIAA is attempting to enforce IP rights on behalf of its members.

        In the case described by this article, a group of lawyers is attempting to enforce IP rights on behalf of its clients.

        Sure, it's a huge oversimplification, but at least it's devoid of hyperbole!

        -h-

      • I don't see this analogy as being even close to accurate. Do you think an artist walks into a studio all by him/herself and magically pops out a CD in a few days? It doesn't happen. Whether you like the RIAA or not, there are many people involved in the production and distribution of a single CD. Since all of the entities involved are are paid for their services, record companies quite obviously can't just give it away. It costs real money to produce the music that many people see fit to steal.

        Second, I ta
    • He is not trying to extract insane amounts of money from them. He just wants them to comply and post the source code. It really isn't hard. It would be like the RIAA going to court to get people to share their mp3s.... You see where I'm going with this, right?
    • In this case its the author of the code who's doing it. I'd be worried however if someone were pressing a case for a GPL violation without the author's consent, since even if someone chooses to license under the GPL they're also free to license under alternate schemes to select other groups at their whim.
    • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Insightful)

      by klingens (147173) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:00PM (#12238415)
      Welte doesn't do it against private citizens by threatening them to sue, extorting money for settlements. A typical filesharer doesn't sell the downloaded music for money either.

      The first thing a filesharer sees from the RIAA is a C&D letter demanding money. Welte tells the infringing companies "We know you use GPLed code in your products you sell. Clean up your act or we will do more than just remind you about it.". At this time, there is no fine to pay if the company complies.

      The company in question, Fortinet, ignored him and did what all scumbags do then: they tried to hide the GPL violations by obfuscation.
      • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Krach42 (227798) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:05PM (#12238468) Homepage Journal
        Exactly, this is what's getting me about all these GPL violators.

        We're not asking for money, we're asking for a simple compliance. What the hell is wrong with you that you'd rather spend money paying lawyers to defend your belief that you can take GPL code and use it how you please, than not pay a lawyer, keep your money, and just comply.

        Some of these GPL violators have to be idiots, or have idiot lawyers.
        • From a company's perspective, they see themselve offering a good or service that is superior to that of their competitors. Let's ignore that they have used GPL code. They don't want their competitors to know how they did XYZ, so they are very much against releasing their stuff under the GPL. That's why they don't want to comply. But, as we all know, by using the GPL code, they need to comply with the terms of the GPL.
        • Re:So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mopslik (688435)
          What the hell is wrong with you that you'd rather spend money paying lawyers to defend your belief that you can take GPL code and use it how you please, than not pay a lawyer, keep your money, and just comply.

          Because some companies figure paying a lawyer $100K is worth it, when they can pull in $200K from their non-downloadable GPL-infringing product?

          Just a guess, though.

    • This is also different in the fact that these people making routers are explicitly selling others property for their gain. Not to split leagal hairs here, but I find it more repulsive. Not to mention its a corporation stealing and making actual gains from it. and not in he case of the RIAA, making up vaporous losses to justify huge settlements.
    • Re:So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rhizome (115711)
      In the RIAA's case, they have not provided a way to conduct the same behavior legally. You're conflating compliance with prohibition.
    • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kebes (861706) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:09PM (#12238507) Journal
      Most people who support the GPL view it as copyleft [wikipedia.org], not copyright. The GPL is a compromise for a non-ideal world. Basically it is exploiting the nature of current freedom-restricting legal structures (copyright) in order to guarantee freedoms that would otherwise be removed.

      In an ideal world, we wouldn't need the GPL, since everyone would play nice and information would be free. In the real world, the GPL (and similar licenses) are a compromise that safeguard our freedoms.

      Therein lies the difference. It is not hypocritical to be in favor of GPL but be against conventional copyright, since the root ideology is very different in the two cases. If it were merely a legal issue, then it would be hypocritical to favor one over the other. However it is not merely legal: it is a matter of ethics and wanting the world to be a certain way. Put more simply: I can be favor of law and order and civilized society in general, but still be against certain laws in particular. This is not hypocritical.
      • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TFloore (27278)
        It is not hypocritical to be in favor of GPL but be against conventional copyright

        Sure it is.

        You either support a creator's right to control how his creation is distributed, or you don't.

        If you don't support this right, then the RIAA is wrong, and so are the people that try to enforce the GPL.

        If you do support this right, then the RIAA is right, and so are the GPL enforcers.

        Oh, and if you think "information would be free" in your ideal world... then you *don't* support the right of the author/artist t
    • "How is this different from the RIAA going after its infringers? In both cases, they're intellectual property violations."

      He is not asking for money, he is simply asking them to comply with the GPL.

      So yes both a IP violations but the method of enforcement is vastly different.
    • GPL and FSF's stance is "software shall be free". This is very different to saying "you're free to use it in any way". For that you need a differnt licence, maybe BSD.

      As has been discussed many times, GPL is a "viral" licence that "infects" anything it is joined to. Bolt GPL onto other code and it must be, or become, GPL too.

      What is interesting/confusing is that there are exceptions specified in the GPL FAQ (not that you have to consider this binding since it is not part of the GPL). For instance, it is OK

      • Actually there are no restrictions on *use*, only on *distribution*. You can link all you want to and keep your stuff as secret as you want. You just can't distribute it linked.
    • At least for my part, I believe that all IP should be default BSD license style. In other words, I believe the government should leave people alone with respect to IP. So, if you can keep your IP secret, then you can exclusively use that IP. Otherwise, it's simply free. Somebody who believes as I do might try to make a license (acknowledged by the Government) that provides that the code will never be subject to petty restrictions. This way, more of the world's IP can be free as we believe it ought to b
    • Re:So, basically (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DickBreath (207180) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:18PM (#12238597) Homepage
      Every time there is an article related to either the GPL or the RIAA someone raises the same argument. And it should get the same answer...

      The purpose of the GPL is to ensure freedom. If it wern't for the possibility that someone monopolist would take free code and use it to make obscene profits, while at the same time making that code incompatible with the free versions, most of the "open source" or "free software" work would probably have been Public Domain instead.

      The reason RMS devised the GPL was as a great way to subvert the system to force freedom.

      The RIAA on the other hand is an immoral, corrupt organization that keeps artists poor, charges obscene prices for music, while using those profits to lobby congress to get themselves infinite copyright against the intent in the US constitution, and stamp out any competing form of music distribution. I don't see any moral comparison at all.

      Here is an excellent article that might inform you on the subject.
      New Arguments Against P2P: The Phony Moral Debate [typepad.com]


      Are we only for the idea of intellectual property when it applies to GPL authors? I'm told in one situation that copyright is flawed and evil, and in the next I'm told to follow GPL copyright.

      I am for the original intent of copyright and patents in the constitution. Not what they have been corrupted into by mega corporations. Again, the GPL wouldn't need to exist if it wern't for the misbehavior of corporations. Copyright in its present corrupted form is flawed and evil. You should follow the GPL because its purpose is to ensure freedom. Your freedom even. The GPL is to ensure YOUR freedom to use and study the code.
    • No, although we may disagree with their methods, the RIAA does have a right to go after people distributing copyrighted material without authorization, just like GPL developers have a right to go after people distributing GPL software without following the terms of the license. However, the RIAA does not have the right to go after people for downloading copyrighted material (unless they later redistribute it) just like GPL developers have no right to go after people who bought network equipment from compani
    • The difrence is simple .
      I create a piece of music and release it .

      Case 1: Joe Schmoo Downloads , sends it to a couple of freinds,This while not totaly upstanding is no big deal really and may make me some more sales as his freind hear it and go "hey this rocks , im off to buy the CD"

      Case 2: Joe schmoo Downloads it , releases it as Joe Schmoo sings "piece of music"
      and makes money off it whilst not giving me credit.

      Basicaly The people downloading the music are not making money off of my work and giving not
    • Right or wrong, I love seeing the current IP laws being used against corporate infringers of the GPL. Yep, payback is sweet.

      Max
    • There are a couple of ways that this is different, and more acceptable, than the RIAA's enforcement tactics.

      First, this type of action follows the time-honored tradition of only enforcing copyright violations where people are profiting from their infringement...the RIAA's suits against incomeless teenagers sharing music for free, while legally permissable, are looked at as extremely sleazy by the general public, because, well, they're extremely sleazy. They are also pretty much unprecedented in U.S. copyri
    • This is one of those instances where the collective opinion of a group ("RIAA bad, GPL good") is stupid, biased, and inconsisent, but if you look closer, you see several subgroups with somewhat more consistent logical opinions, and closer still, individuals with different, but each downright intelligent, opinions. In this case, the people who think the RIAA are in the wrong in enforcing their copyrights because copyrights are flawed and evil are probably not the same people who think enforcing the GPL is g
    • How is this different from the RIAA going after its infringers? In both cases, they're intellectual property violations.

      Who is saying it's different? I don't have anything against the RIAA suing copyright violators. That's HOW you protect copyright. Same with the GPL, FSF and other attorneys need to sue violators who steal GPL code. There is no difference.

      OTOH, Digital Restrictions Management is NOT how you enforce copyright. The principal of first sale is at work here and DRM TAKES AWAY consumer

    • Re:So, basically (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alexo (9335)

      > How is this different from the RIAA going after its infringers?
      > In both cases, they're intellectual property violations.


      Not even close, although it will take a bit to explain.

      First, "Intellectual Property" is an oxymoron, a term used by those that wish to to make copyright, patent and trademark laws even more restrictive, for the purpose of drawing analogues between ideas and physical property and advocate ownership of ideas that would somehow make thought and expression restrictions palatable.
    • Re:So, basically (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:50PM (#12240250)
      There may indeed be some hypocrisy among Slashdot members with regard to the issue of copyright, intellectual property rights, and licensing. However, for my part, I am not against the RIAA or the MPAA licensing their copyrighted works in any manner that they wish as long as the terms of the agreements are consistent with the applicable laws. The grievances that I and many others have against organizations (MPAA, RIAA, et al) stem from several sources. First, these organizations are engaged in aggressive attempt to undermine the balance of copyright by rewriting the copyright laws in their favor. They forget that the purpose of copyright is, as determined by our founding fathers in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution:

      "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

      It is not, as the RIAA and MPAA would have us believe, to protect artists against those who would steal the fruits of their labor. Copyright is a contract which defines a balance of power between creators and the public to promote the common good. It does not exist to protect profits and revenues that are derived form coincidental past inefficiencies in production and distribution which brings me to my second point. These organizations also seek legislative protection against new technologies which threaten their entrenched business models when it is clear that no compelling reason exists for the Congress to override the overwhelming public interest in the beneficial economic process of creative destruction to artificially shelter, through legislative Fiat, the existing firms from the discipline of the marketplace. I am not against copyright, nor am I anti-business, but I feel that organizations like the RIAA and MPAA are acting in bad faith to the detriment of us all when they seek to beat the marketplace into submission with the cudgel of draconian, un-American, and unconstitutional legislation.
  • mirror of pdf (Score:4, Informative)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:52PM (#12238302) Homepage Journal
    is here [networkmirror.com]

    The rest, you can find on your own. :)
  • by selectspec (74651) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:54PM (#12238329)
    Congratulations again to Welte and his attorneys!.

    I'm all for GPL enforcement, but I'd just assume eat a copy of Windows XP before I'll congratulate an attorney.

    • Re:Wait a second... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Trogre (513942) * on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:00PM (#12238412) Homepage
      ...but I'd just assume eat a copy of Windows XP...

      I think you mean you'd just as soon eat a copy of Windows XP
    • by Morgaine (4316) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:19PM (#12238611)
      Please note, amoral (without morals), not immoral (with bad morals).

      In other words, they'll defend the worst torturing serial killer with the same aplomb and indifference as they'll defend the most innocent child. It's in the nature of the profession, to do their utmost for their clients with total clarity and detachment.

      It sounds good, but unfortunately, this is also why they prosecute 11-year olds and grannies on behalf of the RIAA.

      If you're looking for morals and socially beneficial conduct, attorneys and their related legal brethren would not be the best place to start looking. An attorney with a personal agenda to do good (or bad) would be a corrupt attorney, unable to perform his legal duties fairly.
      • Open source software can aid Brazil in developing its IT infrastructure and training its citizens. Or it can be used by the Chinese government to spy on *its* citizens. Open source is developed according to aesthetic, not moral, judgements. Lawyers work the same way - a beautifully prepared case is still beautiful if it defends Adolf Hitler.
    • I do know a few good attorneys.

      A while back I had to bonk heads with my local school district because they were not living up to their obligations under my IEP (I have Asperger's Syndrome). We got an attorney who specalized in IEP law. While there essentially enough time left in my schooling at High School (I was a Senior) for the full knock-down-drag out fight to get them to live up to the agreement (and we did not necessarily have enough proof to convince the judge - the official minutes and reports of th

  • Cute "Dept" Tag (Score:2, Informative)

    by adavies42 (746183)
    I'm assuming "weg" is pronounced "vay" in German?
  • But, but, I thought Lawyers were BAD.

    Here they did something GOOD.

    *head explodes*
    • Lawyers are a necessary evil. "They" have lawyers, therefore "we" must have lawyers too, to defend ourselves. Of course, politics is dominated by lawyers, the rules are all slanted to make it impossible to accomplish anything without a lawyer get a percentage. (Tryed making out a Living Will without paying a lawyer?)
    • Lawyers are a little like Knives .
      You can spread your bread with one or You can stab someone .
      In other words lawyers are total Tools
      Unfortunatly ,unlike other Tools these Tools are in it for the money and where-as the knife more often that not is spreading the bread , the lawyer is more likely to be stabing someone for some cash ,Metaphoricaly speaking..I think
    • But, but, I thought Lawyers were BAD.

      Here they did something GOOD.

      From the C|Net article [com.com]:

      And Welte said he wasn't happy with the response to the letters he delivered to company representatives at CeBit.

      "Most of them failed to create any form of reaction on behalf of the companies. It's very sad to see that in most cases nobody would even start to listen to you unless you sent it via a lawyer," Welte said.

      Huh.

  • I'm not sure about the particular GPL'ed projects in question, but I know that a number of GPL'ed projects offer a GPL license and a Commercial license.

    If you don't mind releasing source and contributing changes/improvements back to the community, you can use the code for free. But, if you want to create a closed-source/proprietary project, you can buy a license that allows it. MySQL does this [mysql.com].

    The GPL does not create an anti-business environment in and of itself. It merely a licensing option that can be part of a portfolio of licensing options developers make available to those who want to use their code.

    - Greg

    • Yah, some software I'm looking at (http://www.open-dent.com/) does this too. Personally I don't like it very much, and I think it discourages a community developing around the software. But, their code, their call and all that.
    • MySQL does this.

      As well as Trolltech (the outfit behind Qt).

      This is perfectly legitimate. If you want to develop a closed source project, you can either negotiate with the copyright owner to get a separate commercial licence... or avoid GPLed code altogether (and use [, support, and create more] BSD-licensed code).

      The rules are known in advance. If I started developing software using GPL code, I should know what I'm doing. It's as simple as that.

      Companies who think they could get away with using G

    • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Friday April 15, 2005 @12:12AM (#12241394) Homepage

      I know that a number of GPL'ed projects offer a GPL license and a Commercial license.

      You know of a number of GPL'ed projects which distribute under the GPL or a proprietary [gnu.org] license. The GNU General Public License (GPL) is a commercial license because business is done under this license. GPL-covered works are distributed for a fee. The GPL is in no way anti-business. Ironically, I've pointed out some significant ways in which the open source movement fails to speak to business interests as well as free software speaks to all computer users (the open source definition ignores any requirement for private derivatives, for instance).

      But, if you want to create a closed-source/proprietary project [...]

      The free software movement does not want to be confused with the open source movement and the open source movement works hard to distance themselves from freedom talk. Please reconsider trying to conflate the real and important differences between the two movements [gnu.org]. The open source movement deserves far less credit than it receives with regard to the GNU GPL, considering they had nothing to do with writing it, building a community around it, and that the open source movement doesn't frame anything in terms of software freedom. Their work in bringing people to freedom is to be commended, but I think when associating a movement with the license (particularly in an article focusing on the license itself), it's important that we give credit to the FSF and associate it with the free software movement.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If someone steals your GPL code, you sue them for *copyright infringement*. The only defense against that is if they can show they had a license to use your code. They are forced to show the GPL to save their ass, and then you nail them on the fact that they're not following the terms of the license they're pretending to use for their defense. What can go wrong?
    • IANAL, but this is basically the way to go. The GPL (or another license) is the ONLY hole through the copyright-wall, so to speak. Without license, you are infringing copyright.

      BUT if you don't follow the license terms on the letter, does that automatically mean that you are infringing copyright? You may be violationg some kind of contract (user agreement, license agreement), which is something completely different.

      Violating terms of an agreement or a license doesn't automatically voide that contract, u

  • Interpretation (Score:5, Informative)

    by tobiasly (524456) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:11PM (#12238537) Homepage

    Funny how the FUDmeisters at C|Net translate the exact same story:

    Shadow over open source
    German court ruling halts shipments of one company's Linux wares; license spat could soon hit U.S
    http://news.com.com/Linux+programmer+wins+legal+vi ctory/2100-7344_3-5671209.html?tag=nefd.lede [com.com]

    • You can see a reference to the "Shadow over open source" in the comments section, but the story doesn't say it. No copy in google cache or the wayback machine.
    • by Shankland (876228) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:19PM (#12241128)
      As the CNET News.com FUDmeister who wrote the story in question, I recommend you also look at the story headline, Linux programmer wins legal victory [com.com], which I don't think raises too much FUD around open-source programmers. Nor does the text of the story itself, in my opinion. You had a legitimate gripe with the initial "shadow" wording you quote (which is a sort of uberheadline, not the story headline proper). I didn't write it and didn't agree with it; as soon as I noticed it we changed it. Any time you have a problem with or suggested changes for a story I write, I welcome direct feedback by e-mailing me directly; my byline on the story is a mailto hyperlink. --Stephen Shankland
  • Soft on violators? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:42PM (#12238846) Journal
    I'm surprised that the violating companies have got off so lightly - publish the source and keep going as you were.

    If it were my GPLed code, I think I'd tell during negotiations (well, demands) prior to legal action that if they publish the source now, they can continue, but if I have to take them to court, they'll be forever forbidden from using the code. (The GPL explicitly allows this strategy.)
    • (The GPL explicitly allows this strategy.)

      Where? I don't see any ban on use at all. In fact the GPL states that use of the code is not covered.

      I don't see a perpetual ban on distribution either. Only that you may distribute it if you accept the terms of the license.
      I think that means when you accept the license terms you may distribute it. I don't see how past behaviour is a factor.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @06:14PM (#12239113) Homepage
    I guess I've not been paying attention to all the posts in other threads that are so anti-GPL, but I had no idea there were so many asses out there who believe GPL is anti business.

    Let me be clear... the GPL is anti-bad business. GPL is pro-good business and pro consumer. And remember businesses are consumers too, the bad businesses are primarily the huge bureaucratic companies which turn out buggy lame software that doesn't always do what you expect it to do.

    Now let me define what is bad business. Bad business consists of companies who do their best to create software libraries and intellectual property manifests with the sole purpose of maybe, possibly, making money. That information is sealed and protected so that in order to get at it, you have to pay someone for it.

    This is based on the idea that companies have make something tangible to make money. Proprietary software is tangible enough to make money from the masses because they often buy it as tangible.

    Big businesses build up this repetoire of "intellectual property" and sit on it for years. It's okay to benefit from a good idea, but copywrite laws these days take it too far. Copywritable material now has an age of 90 years, it used to be 20! Current copywrite laws therefore allow companies like disney to sit on their repetoire and continue to make money off it and don't encourage them to make new material. These businesses are not sensitive to consumer wants and needs, and stifle competition because having huge amounts of Intellectual property that no one else can ever touch is an unfair competitive advantage.

    Customers who use GPL are forced to be more creative, because everyone has access to the same software! Consumers win because companies have to be more competitive. Microsoft can sit on their ass right now and say "You want an office package? Great, here's our package for $600 a person. What, you don't want to pay that price? Lick my ass n00b, you can't do shit without my software, we 0wnz j00r ass!"

    Here's another way to look at it. Before the internet, most networks were proprietary. Closed off and not communicating with each other. Companies had their own networks, colleges has theirs, and some of them even tried to create VANs (value added networks) to perform EDI (electronic data interchange). Most of those attempts were novel but they sucked. When the internet came out, everyone was suddenly connected. Now EDI is easy, because as long as your computer is on the internet, I can build something that communicates with you seamlessly.

    I believe I once read in an article that innovation is increased when you unbundle functions of a system. For example, if IBM owned the internet, and you had to pay a fee to use it, this would stifle innovation because not everyone would be able to or want to pay the fee. Think about the internet vs phone networks. Phone networks have features like call waiting and call blocking and voice mail and caller ID. However, phone networks can only be used for phone calls (without DSL of course). The internet is simply build on a protocol of information transfer from point a to point b, but it has unlimited uses. You can take phone calls over the internet now, and not use the phone network at all. what's even greater is that if you have 5 ISPs to chose from, you can take your VoIP to any of those ISPs and use it seamlessly, because each ISP implements a standard internet connection. They compete on service!

    I'm getting off topic but it all has to do with competition. Competition has been lacking in the last several decades, because people think it's okay for big companies to hold big power. The GPL is simply taking current overly controlling law and turning it against itself by guarenteeing that information released under it is free.
  • by LibrePensador (668335) on Friday April 15, 2005 @12:10AM (#12241385) Journal
    Without his tenacity and know-how, companies will walk all over us. If you think he isn't deserving of these words, consider that he had to spend 40 hours to discover that Fortinet has indeed violating the GPL. Those assholes were using encryption to obfuscate their use of GPL code.

    "Without access to the underlying source code, Welte often has to work hard to find out if GPL software is used in a product. In Fortinet's case, the use of GPL software was unusually difficult to verify, because the company had encrypted it, Welte said. It took 40 hours of work to ferret out the information, he said."

    And finally, the just reward.

    "The court said Fortinet would have to pay a fine of five to 250,000 euros and that employees would face up to 6 months imprisonment for violation of the injunction. In addition, the company is responsible for Welte's legal fees. "

    I can't wait to see more of these cases here in the US so that we can slowly build a nice stack of precedents that will serve to solidify even further the legal standing of the GPL.

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