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Wallace's Second Anti-GPL Suit Loses 303

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the e-for-effort dept.
Enterprise OpenSource Magazine is reporting that Daniel Wallace's second Anti-GPL lawsuit has gone down in flames. From the (short) article: "The judge wrote that 'Antitrust laws are for 'the protection of competition, not competitors.' In this case, the GPL benefits consumers by allowing for the distribution of software at no cost, other than the cost of the media on which the software is distributed. 'When the plaintiff is a poor champion of consumers, a court must be especially careful not to grant relief that may undercut the proper function of antitrust.' Because he has not identified an anticompetitive effect, Wallace has failed to allege a cognizable antitrust injury.'"
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Wallace's Second Anti-GPL Suit Loses

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:00PM (#15376320)
    Judges stand up for consumer shocker.

    Read all about it!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      So how do we get this Judge on the Supreme Court?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:05PM (#15376341)
    If you're interested then have at these instead:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Wallace_(plain tiff) [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200603202 01540127 [groklaw.net]
    • by vertinox (846076) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:31PM (#15376437)
      The Wiki article isn't too informative and I'm kind of late to the game... I mean we know he sued because he doesn't like GPL, but why doesn't he like GPL? Does he own a closed sourcesoftware buseinss that was trying to compete with Linux? Or is he a paid shill? Or did RMS insult him at a comic book convention? Maybe Linus wrote a scathing reply to his ponies request inclusion to the Linux kernel?

      The Wiki and other articles is very uninformative of who this guy is and his motivations and why he would even go out of his way to this. It is like the man spontaneously came into existence just to sue.

      Although people have sued other over less...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:57PM (#15376525)
        Wallace is a Physicist who looked at the BSD licence. Basically here is what I can piece together went on in his twisted brain.

        "Oooh, look, I can take this, change some strings in it so it says 'WallaceOS' and sell it as a green screen command line OS for shitloads of money per copy, distributing it under a licence so my suckers...er customers can't redistrubite it, and so I don't have to give out the source code."

        "WTF... nobody's buying my really cool WallaceOS? WTF there's this thing called Linux that is soooo much better under a licence called the GPL that keeps people from doing what I'm trying to do with BSD? That's anticompetative!!! "

        "I must sue the Free Software Foundation and remove this evil thing called Linux and the GPL. It doesn't seem to matter that the FSF has nothing to do with the Linux kernel... only the GNU part of the OS, but who cares.... with the GPL gone, people will buy my l33t WallaceOS for whatever money I want to charge and I'll beeeee riiiiich!!!! I just hope they never hear about FreeBSD!"

      • by mangu (126918) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:58PM (#15376527)
        All I could find about him in Google is that he is a physics teacher and a member of the FSF. This raises the question: did he lose on purpose? The whole thing was done so ineptly and without apparent motivation to win that one wonders if he's just trying to work some judicial precedent for the GPL.
        • Source for this one, please ? I'm in the Fellowship of the Free Software Foundation Europe; i can't believe the FSF set something up.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21, 2006 @02:35PM (#15376650)
            He used to be a member of the FSF but that was
            long ago.

            The last few years he has been in any board he could get into trying to prove the GPL wouldn't have a chance in a court of law and, basically, being laughed at.

            He probably couldn't take the laughs any more and he tried to prove he was right.
            • That's a painful way to find out you're wrong.
            • There are a lot of potential legal problems with the GPL, and I don't know that its all that clear how some parts of it would stand up in a contract dispute. But challenging on antitrust grounds is bizarre.
              • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Sunday May 21, 2006 @06:03PM (#15377304)
                There are a lot of potential legal problems with the GPL, and I don't know that its all that clear how some parts of it would stand up in a contract dispute.
                But the great thing about it is, if some parts are invalidated, the situation just reverts back to plain copyright law and whoever was breaking the GPL has even less permission than they did before.
        • by tfried (911873) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @04:26PM (#15377011)
          If the intention had been to create a judical precendent for the GPL, he would have had to do better. As is, the case failed at a much too basic level. Basically the court told him, he was not in a position to sue, no less and not much more. The judge did not even have to consider the GPL itself, hence no chanceof creating a real precedent IMO. If at all, what's been ruled on, is that it's not per se illegal to give something away for free. Big deal.

          We'll have to wait until somebody else dumb enough to try to disprove the GPL in court, and smart enough to actually get the formal basics right, shows up. Daniel Wallace wasn't the one.
      • I mean we know he sued because he doesn't like GPL, but why doesn't he like GPL? Does he own a closed sourcesoftware buseinss that was trying to compete with Linux? Or is he a paid shill? Or did RMS insult him at a comic book convention? Maybe Linus wrote a scathing reply to his ponies request inclusion to the Linux kernel?

        Here's another possibility. Maybe he wanted to lose so that the decision would make it onto the books, thereby strengthening the position of the GPL via existing case law. I'm not a

      • It's been a while since I read about the details of his suit, but as I recall Wallace is not actually in the business of selling software and hasn't written anything that he has tried to sell. He just says that he would like to be, and that the GPL makes it impossible for him.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Wallace_(plain tiff) [wikipedia.org]
      Frankly, I was expecting a plain TIFF image of the donkeyhole.
  • Poor Guy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:08PM (#15376350) Journal
    He has had no luck with anything since he broke up with Grommit.
  • by PingXao (153057) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:18PM (#15376386)
    "If you can't find a lawyer willing to represent you, it usually means you don't have a case."

    That may be true for this case, but more often than not it means you can't afford the lawyer's fees whether you've got a case or not. Justice and the legal process are things that are for sale in the United States these days. If you've got a small business there are any number of silly lawsuits your enemies can bring against you that will bleed you dry in legal fees alone. And that's for DEFENDING yourself against a bogus complaint, never mind prosecuting a case where you know you're in the right.
    • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:45PM (#15376487) Journal
      There's this thing called contingency fees. If you have a decent case, you can find an attorney who will take the case for a percentage of any judgement or settlement you receive.

      If your case is crap, it's unlikely that you will find such a lawyer. You might not think your case is crap, but trust me on this, if you can't find a lawyer to represent you on contingency, it's crap.

      If the stakes are not high enough to interest a lawyer, there's this other thing called Small Claims Court. In Small Claims, there is a level playing field, because the other side is not allowed to hire a lawyer to represent them in court. Similarly, you are not allowed to use a lawyer to sue in small claims.

      Anyway, what alternatives would you suggest to fix these perceived issues with the justice system? The system is not perfect, but I have yet to see a proposal that isn't worse than the problem it purports to address.
      • I am owed a few thousand dollars by an out of state client that refuses to pay. I have a case, documents and phone calls to give me an iron clad case yet I can not afford to take it to trial as the lawyers fees would be more than the settlement.

        Small claims is out due to the amount owed.
      • There's this thing called contingency fees. If you have a decent case, you can find an attorney who will take the case for a percentage of any judgement or settlement you receive.

        Not quite... If you have a decent case, and you have a reasonable prospect of recovering enough in damages from the defendant to make it worth the attorney's time, then you might be able to find an attorney who'll take the case.

        -jcr
      • You just wrote an ecellent summary of why (part of) the US legal system is broken.

        In most of Europe nearly all the examples you give would be tried in a decent and affordable manner.

        Now you can see the proposal!

      • OT: Small Claims (Score:3, Interesting)

        by abb3w (696381)
        If the stakes are not high enough to interest a lawyer, there's this other thing called Small Claims Court. In Small Claims, there is a level playing field, because the other side is not allowed to hire a lawyer to represent them in court. Similarly, you are not allowed to use a lawyer to sue in small claims.

        IAmNotALawyer, but that part is somewhere on the spectrum between inaccurate, misleading, and just plain wrong.

        Exact rules on Small Claims Court vary from state to state. It is uniformly true that a

      • Contingency fees don't help if you are defending against a nuisance lawsuit. Many plaintiff's lawyers take advantage of this by offering to settle out of court for an amount that is less than the legal fees the defendant would pay for a "victory". You can pay them $20K to go away or pay your lawyer $50K to go to trial. If an insurance company is involved, they may make the decision for you, just looking at what is cheaper for them.
      • Here is how it could be better.

        There is a trial, there is a verdict. At the end of the verdict the winner can claim "frivolous lawsuit!". At which point there is a three judge panel convened. If the all three judges agree that the suit was frivolous then the loser has to pay all the legal fees for the winner and also compensate for the winner for income lost due to pursuing the lawsuit, interest on any loans thay may have been taken, bank fees from mortgaging the house etc. In addition the lawyers for the l
      • There's this thing called contingency fees. If you have a decent case, you can find an attorney who will take the case for a percentage of any judgement or settlement you receive.

        That's not at all true. Its possible to have a rock solid, virtually unloseable case and still have very little chance that any judgement or settlement would even pay for the attorney's time in writing a demand letter, much less litigating the case, either because the likely remedy wouldn't include money damages or would only inclu

        • That's not at all true. Its possible to have a rock solid, virtually unloseable case and still have very little chance that any judgement or settlement would even pay for the attorney's time in writing a demand letter, much less litigating the case, either because the likely remedy wouldn't include money damages or would only include small money damages, or because whatever the damage award, its unlikely much could be collected from the defendant.

          I see the problem with the latter sort of case. It is rel

    • There are somepeople who believe they can handle it as well as an attorney. There are some cases that are on the cutting edge and some attorneys don't like to take chances.

      On contingency cases, attorneys take them because they are likely to win and collect. Not just win.
      • Well, win, collect, and stand to earn more than if a traditional fee arrangement had been used, and stand to earn more than other cases that have come in the door.
  • stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:19PM (#15376388) Journal
    this suit was manifestly stupid. What he was claiming was that because someone is cheeper they are damaging the market. Is this not exactly the same as all companies - they are as cheep as they can afford to be in order to gain business from other companies? did he want to stop that - because it would have. Further, if the case went through and won it would mean that nothing could be given away for free, and possibly that the internet is illegal because it takes away from the market for books on the subject.
    If this had won it would have literally killed the economy and taken it back to the dark-ages.
    • Further, if the case went through and won it would mean that nothing could be given away for free, and possibly that the internet is illegal because it takes away from the market for books on the subject.

      Yet it's the same basic strategy followed by the RIAA, MPAA and their ilk. Of course they want to limit piracy of copyrighted materials, but they also want to close down low-cost channels for the distribution of large binary files whether copyrighted or not. Their cartels are based on control over distribu

    • What he was claiming was that because someone is cheeper they are damaging the market. Is this not exactly the same as all companies - they are as cheep as they can afford to be in order to gain business from other companies? did he want to stop that - because it would have.

      Well to be fair, you can indeed get in trouble with anti trust laws and the like for undercutting your competition by too much. See the prosecution of microsoft for IE.
      • That's monopoly abuse, which is quite different. Abusing a monopoly in order to undercut the competition by a large margin [i]is[/i] unfair, but simply undercutting on a level playing field is what the free market is supposed to be used for.
  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:20PM (#15376391)
    What surprises me is not that Wallace was laughed out of court. That was almost certain for various reasons. What did surprise me is that the judge's comments showed that he really understood the GPL and its role in ensuring a competitive marketplace.
    • Well, despite the fact that the GPL is directly related to software, it doesn't really take any understanding of software, computers, etc to understand its legal implications. I'd assume that, since the guy was a judge, he understands copyright law, and that's really all you need to understand to get the GPL.
    • I think that you'll find most judges get the GPL. These are guys that have been lawyers for 20 years, and are generally able to understand insanely complex contracts and licenses that would twist our brains. The GPL must be a breath of fresh air to them, a license that not only doesn't even try to screw the people who accept it over, but that is the equivalent of a well-commented hundred line program. I expect that most judges are able to look at the GPL and think of things in minutes that you or I didn't see after knowing the GPL for years, and imagine how refreshing it must be to see those concepts in print and being used.

      • "a license that not only doesn't even try to screw the people who accept it over"

        Do licenses try to screw those who accept it over? Licenses mostly screw people who violate it over.

        If I accept the GPL, I can do anything I want except what isn't allowed by the license. If I do try that stuff, I get screwed.

        How is the GPL any different in this way?
        • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Monday May 22, 2006 @04:52AM (#15378838)
          Do licenses try to screw those who accept it over? Licenses mostly screw people who violate it over.

          Commercial software licenses typically disallow a substantial range of actions which would otherwise be permitted by law (copyright and otherwise). Some people would describe this as screwing over the acceptee -- and in several cases (such as licenses in which the licensor is given permission to arbitrarily modify the licensee's computer, to pick an extreme but increasingly common case), it's hard to argue that they're incorrect.
    • When the plaintiff is a poor champion of consumers, a court must be especially careful not to grant relief that may undercut the proper function of antitrust.

      Holy cow! Is he actually suggesting that there is more to a written law than the exact wording?

      I guess I'm going to have to read a little more on this. The impression I got from the article is something to the effect of, "Oh my gosh, Red Hat, Novell, and these other guys all agreed to sell their software for $0! That's price setting!"

    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday May 22, 2006 @03:41AM (#15378725)
      '' What surprises me is not that Wallace was laughed out of court. That was almost certain for various reasons. What did surprise me is that the judge's comments showed that he really understood the GPL and its role in ensuring a competitive marketplace.''

      It was reported on groklaw, that Wallace made the tactical mistake to attach a copy of the GPL to his claims. Why was that a mistake? At the very first stage of a court case, the judge must only decide whether a valid claim was made. He is not allowed to look at any evidence, that comes later. So normally, the judge would not have looked at the GPL or wouldn't even have been allowed to look at it, and without looking at it, it _might_ be possible that the GPL forces anti-competitive behavior. But since the GPL was attached to the claims and therefore part of the claims, the judge was not only allowed to, but required to read it and to decide whether it is anti-competitive. And I think the contents of the GPL is absolutely crystal clear to any judge. It is a purely legal paper and very easy to understand for any lawyer or judge.

      Also, Wallace has mixed up everyday language and legal language quite badly. If A has a Formula I car, and B has a bicycle, and they decide to race each other, B might say "I cannot compete, because A has a Formula I car and I only have a bicycle". In the legal language, B is wrong. He can compete. He loses badly every time they race, and he has not the slightest chance to win, but there is nothing stopping him from competing. Or if you sell a widget for $100 each, and I figure out that it costs me $110 alone to produce it, I might claim that I cannot compete. In legal language, I can compete by selling my widgets for $150. Nobody will buy them, and I will go bankrupt doing it, but nothing stops me from competing. (Better ways of competing would be to find a way to build the widget for $50, or painting it in fashionable colors so people buy it at the higher price etc.)
  • by merc (115854) <slashdot@upt.org> on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:20PM (#15376395) Homepage
    It must have chaffed MOG's hyde to print this news. I do have to give her points for writing the facts of the case for once instead of anti-IBM FUD.

    As for Wallace, he is a fucking crackpot and now everyone in the IT industry knows it.
  • by beefstu01 (520880) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:24PM (#15376412)
    I'm just curious-- who is this Daniel Wallace character, and what does he have to do with the GPL? What prompted the suit? I read the Wikipedia page and there wasn't much on him other than his two suits were thrown out.
    • Perhaps he can't compete against the GPL. Maybe he is trying to run a business and trying to sell something that has already been done that is open source. This doesn't seem to justify huge court expenses though. Where is he getting he money from? Maybe he is working for somebody like Microsoft or SCO. It is interesting that Microsoft sells software and hence is against GPL and IBM sells services and is for GPL. It is all in the business model. Will Microsoft change to a services company?
    • Who Cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by twitter (104583) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @02:33PM (#15376641) Homepage Journal
      The wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] had everything I wanted. If you follow the references you find out that Wallace is someone a layman who challenged the GPL himself because he could not find a lawyer to represent him. [groklaw.net] Do you really care who he is, other than someone who decided to test the GPL and failed utterly?

      What's important here is that the GPL was recognized as legal and beneficial. The judge ruled the GPL:

      encourages, rather than discourages, free competition and the distribution of computer operating systems, the benefits of which directly pass to consumers. These benefits include lower prices, better access and more innovation.

      • Do you really care who he is, other than someone who decided to test the GPL and failed utterly?

        You already know the answer is going to be "yes". What's the point of asking?

  • SysCon sucks... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Error27 (100234) <error27@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:31PM (#15376435) Homepage Journal
    SysCon really sucks.

    They said they wouldn't print any more Maurene O'Gara articles after she went crazy stalking Pamela Jones and making fun of her religion. So now they're printing MoG's articles but without any attribution.

    As always with MoG, the article is misleading. The judge didn't accept the facts as true. To dismiss a lawsuit the judge has to say: "If these were all true, should the case go forward?" In this case the answer is no. The "if" is important.

    Anyway here is the original article [slashdot.org] where the Daniel Wallace stupidness started. The actual syscon link is offline because syscon took all MoG's stuff offline.

    Daniel Wallace is a net kook. I wouldn't be surprised if he created a slashdot login to respond anonymously to this article. He always posts about how the GPL is a contract not a license. He is not a legal genius but he is funny.

    Maurene O'Gara is evil. She lies constantly. I've never seen anyone who is as sick and twisted as she is. I despise her.
    • Re:SysCon sucks... (Score:4, Informative)

      by An Elephant (209405) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @02:33PM (#15376640)
      For those who scratch their heads in wonder, like I first did: Sys-con attributes the story to "Enterprise Open Source News Desk", but in the little letters in the end they give credit: "first appeared in Client Server News". That is www.clientservernews.com, which identifies itself as belonging to "G2 Computer Intelligence", with MoG as publisher.
    • Maurene O'Gara is evil. She lies constantly. I've never seen anyone who is as sick and twisted as she is. I despise her.

      I have nothing to add. I just laughed at this paragraph so much, I wanted to see it on the screen twice. Hatred this pure should be rewarded with repetition. :)

      Tom Caudron
      http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]
    • She lies constantly. I've never seen anyone who is as sick and twisted as she is. I despise her.

      Hmm... Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reily, Ann Coulter, Michael Moore...

      Some people are paid various people with an agenda to say things that aren't true. You're right about it being sick and twisted, even if you're a little naive to think that she's somehow unique. :)

      • > Some people are paid various people with an agenda to say things that aren't true. You're right about it being sick
        > and twisted, even if you're a little naive to think that she's somehow unique. :)

        No, MOG is in a different camp from the notables you listed. Michael Moore might be mad as a hatter but he isn't just a gun for hire. Regardless of whether you share his views, it is generally agreed by both friend and foe that he believes in the rightness of his cause and the truth of his arguments. Sa
  • by Half_Ninja_Half_Pira (974894) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:39PM (#15376460)
    News at 11.
  • Antitrust laws are for the protection of competition, not competitors. ... When the plaintiff is a poor champion of consumers, a court must be especially careful not to grant relief that may undercut the proper function of antitrust.

    Man, this judge is my hero! Winners do, whiners sue!
  • by WillRobinson (159226) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @02:33PM (#15376644) Journal
    You can visit the yahoo message boards and read up on most of it, plus some interesting comments on SCOX at http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mb?s=SCOX [yahoo.com]

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