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GPL Wins In French Court Case

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the here-come-the-jokes dept.

GNU is Not Unix 266

viralMeme writes "An appeals court in Paris has upheld the ruling from a lower court, which found that the French firm Edu4 had violated the GNU General Public License (GPL). The plaintiff was the French Organisation Association francaise pour la Formation Professionnelle des Adultes (AFPA), an umbrella organization for adult education." The basic charge was the removal of copyrights and such from VNC source code, and not distributing it.

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Why? (0, Troll)

Daryen (1138567) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528023)

It sucks to see the GPL being used to shut down an organization that dedicates itself to something noble like adult education. Then again, what did they have to gain by NOT publishing their changes and removing the copyright info?

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528083)

Read the article: AFPA - the education agency - sued edu4 - a company working for this agency - because edu4 did not release the source code to its modified VNC software.

The court essentially said that AFPA was correct, that the GPL should have been upheld by edu4, and that the source code should be released by edu4 to its client, the AFPA.

Essentially, this is good news: as far as France is concerned, the GPL has been challenged, and upheld in court. Modifications done by a private company to a GPL software should therefore be available for all.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528177)

"should therefore be available for all"

No, not to all, only to their clients. What their clients do with it in turn is up to them.

Re:Why? (1, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528359)

No, not to all, only to their clients.

Not according to the GPL. If you distribute GPL software to anyone, then you must extend the offer of source code to all third parties.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528413)

No, not to all, only to their clients.

Not according to the GPL. If you distribute GPL software to anyone, then you must extend the offer of source code to all third parties.

Wrong. Look people it's fucking simple, if you distribute GPL, you bring along the source. You have no obligation to distribute it to anybody else than those you distributed the software to. Meaning if A buys software from B, B must give source to A, C has no way of demanding the source from either. How is this difficult?

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528553)

You're both almost right.

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

        a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
        b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
(rest of section 3 omitted since it's irrelevant here)

Empahsis mine.

Basically, edu4 could have either distribute the source with the binaries or accompany the binaries with a written offer to distribute the source to any third parties. (I suppose they technically could have done both and still be in compliance, but that seems rather redundant)

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

dlapine (131282) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528659)

mod parent up. The original post on this thread was just plain FUD.

You must:
1) give the modified GPL source code as well as the binaries to the person who is your client.
You have the option to
2) give the modified GPL source code to your client, and everybody else if you choose to.
The second option is not mandatory.

Re:Why? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528909)

Except that most people don't distribute source code along with the binary distribution. It's not "give the modified source code as well as the binaries", it's "give the modified sourcecode along with the binaries".
Now it's arguable that "A URL to a page with a tar.bz2" is a medium customary to software interchange, but it is also arguable that a URL is simply "a written offer to provide" sourcecode (which fits b, not a).

There is no option to provide a written offer which is valid only to those who have received binaries from you, so it's "give at the same time" or "give to everyone".

Re:Why? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528859)

Ah yes, thanks, I forgot about the "one of" clause.

I really don't see how that makes my post 'FUD' as all these others are claiming, especially since a link to a website containing the source -- even if it isn't your website, it just contains your modifications -- is sufficient.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528567)

It's difficult because it depends how you "give source".

If you go for the written offer to provide source rather than just providing the source upfront then you do in fact have an obligation to provide the source to all third parties.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528511)

Presumably they are only going to distribute the binaries (and therefore the source) to their clients. There is nothing stopping the clients from then giving the source code away for free but unless one of them does then the only way to get it is to buy their product.

quit spreading FUD - try reading the GPL (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528527)

Your statement is (sadly) one of the many common FUD scarecrows foes of open source use to try to prevent companies from using GPL software.

The GPL very specifically only requires you to offer to "convey" the "Corresponding Source" to the parties to whom you have conveyed object or binaries containing your modifications AND that you convey to those same parties your distribution rights so that they may convey your object/binaries and corresponding source to anyone they choose to (as long as they do so under GPL licensing terms).

The GPL intentionally does not impose the burden for modifiers to positively disseminate their "Corresponding Source" to anyone other than those to whom they have already incurred the burden of distributing the binaries.

Re:quit spreading FUD - try reading the GPL (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528701)

The GPL intentionally does not impose the burden for modifiers to positively disseminate their "Corresponding Source" to anyone other than those to whom they have already incurred the burden of distributing the binaries.

GPLv2 section 3b. If you don't convey the source directly with the object code, you must convey a written offer valid for any third party to send them the source code upon request.

I had forgotten that this was an "or" clause, but it is in the GPL, so maybe you should read it too?

And this isn't FUD for anyone who wasn't already terrified of the GPL. Why is conveying a link to a website with the source such an onerous burden? Especially when that link can simply be to whatever CVS repository the open source project normally works from, assuming you committed your changes to it? Seriously.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

Saint Ego (464379) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528537)

Propagation of this misinformation, specifically, is the reason the GPL is so misunderstood: too many people out there that think GPL is the same thing as public domain and derive a sense of entitlement from it.

General Public License != Public Domain

Re:Why? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528763)

Nothing I said would apply to software in the public domain.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528967)

Yeah! We only equate GPL with public domain when we grab someone else's public domain code and slap the GPL on it! This isn't at all like that!

Re:Why? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529219)

Yeah! We only equate GPL with public domain when we grab someone else's public domain code and slap the GPL on it! This isn't at all like that!

We? Who's we?

Did you steal someone's source and slapped the GPL on it? I know I didn't!

...

(yes, yes, I know IHBT,IHL,HAND)

Re:Why? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529143)

People misunderstanding a document that is several pages of dense legalese and is commonly advocated by people who have never read it? I'm absolutely shocked that this could be the case!

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528605)

No it doesn't. The GPL says if you provide a binary to someone you must offer them a way to get the source code, and if they redistribute the binary to someone else you must also honor your offer of source code to that third party (ad infinitum). If someone doesn't have your binary, they don't have any claim to your code.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528163)

AFPA was the plaintiff, not the defendant.

Re:Why? (1)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528255)

...and those who can't be bothered to RTFA, while rushing madly to post first, are doomed to look like morons (or trolls, at best).

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528373)

It sucks to see the GPL being used to shut down an organization that dedicates itself to something noble like adult education. Then again, what did they have to gain by NOT publishing their changes and removing the copyright info?

You're the kind of guy who sees a good and innocent side of genocide, aren't you?

Re:Why? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528601)

Well, it seems the judge was equally ambivalent, given the derisory payment demanded from the offender of 8,000 (which for those who count in US dollars amounts to about $11,616) plus court costs. I'd say that was pretty much a slap on the wrist.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528917)

AFPA were permitted to unilaterally terminate the contract (which is what the appeal was about) and so not pay EDU4 for the work. That looks like over a million euro -- hardly just "a slap on the wrist".

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528897)

Not sure I understand you. The Adult Education organisation was the plaintiff, the winner, in this case, complaining that the IT company they hired to set something up for them, used and modified GPL code (VNC) but did not, as required by the GPL, give them the modified sources. Presumably, the IT company was wanting to keep the AE organisation beholden to them for maintenance rather than, as the GPL hopes, being able to do it themselves or find someone else to do it if the wanted to. I.e. the GPL wanted to help the organisation you support, and the courts have just backed it up.

Re:Why? (1)

SanguineV (1197225) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528907)

You're the kind of guy who sees a good and innocent side of genocide, aren't you?

Seems like a good start to solving our human overpopulation problems!

Re:Why? (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529247)

Meanwhile, most of the rest of us would have elected to start with lawyers, politicians, and telephone sanitisers before depopulating along ethnic lines.

Re:Why? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528411)

Were you just as eager when M$ sued russian schools about their pirated Windows versions?
In THAT case, the one sued was a real education institution.
In THIS case, the one sued is a for profit company.

Re:Why? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528451)

how exactly are they shutting the organizaton down? The GPL was violated, and the AFPA refused reconciliation. BTW, even Microsoft didn't let its GPL violation go to court, it instead released the violating code after some negotiation.

Re:Why? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528559)

note: some of my assertions are incorrect, based on the summary and posted before I read the article. oops.

French, eh? (4, Funny)

autocracy (192714) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528033)

They should turn off Edu4's Internet too. </tongueincheek>

Re:French, eh? (3, Interesting)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528171)

Very funny... NOT.

Just remember that the recent HADOPI 'three strikes and you are out' law can -and will- be challenged in front of the French Constitutional Court, which will probably strike it down as un-constitutional and contrary to human rights.

Which is a big relief, at least for me (being French and all that).

Re:French, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528805)

Say what ? The only unconstitutional part of HADOPI was "fixed" (disconnection orders have to come from judges, not an administrative body). As far as French law is concerned, I don't see a human rights violation. That one is there to stay...

Re:French, eh? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528603)

No, this went to court. To have the internet connection disconnected, they'd need to point at the CEO, stick their tongue out, and shout "FILE SHARER!" three times.

Ok, I just tried that, and it came out as "THAATH THAAYAAAH!" so maybe the tongue idea was a bit off.

Re:French, eh? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529261)

To have the internet connection disconnected, they'd need to point at the CEO, stick their tongue out, and shout "FILE SHARER!" three times.

Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!

strike ONE (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528687)

2 more left for them

Re:strike ONE (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529133)

Nope. The law says that you get one strike for each accusation, not conviction.

Considering there were at least two other instances where they were told they were infringing (once when they were notified, the second was the original court case) then they're ready to be disconnected.

Use public domain! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528065)

Anyone releasing code to the masses should make it public domain to remove any legal controversies that may arise over it.

Information wants to be free!

Re:Use public domain! (4, Insightful)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528285)

People should be able to release code they wrote with whatever conditions they like. And hey, it's the case (for once something positive).

There is a reason why GPL is so successful and there is so little Public Domain code. The GPL isn't terribly difficult to understand, as it simply says: sure, take this code for free, improve it, but the price is that you redistribute your changes with the same conditions.

If you don't like this kind of license, then simply don't use GPL'd code. Use something like BSD licensed code, like Apple did with OS X.

This is not rocket science.

Re:Use public domain! (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528407)

I agree with your sentiment in every way, but not your example... Had BSD been GPL'd apple would have been able to release the exact same amount of source code (the whole of darwin), and still be compliant. Apple didn't chose that code because it was BSD'd, they chose it because it was a good base for their OS.

Re:Use public domain! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528437)

BSD is how a license should be. I'm not talking about granted rights but how it's written. The BSD is short, concise and everybody can understand it. The GPL is the sort of bloated legalese mumbojumbo that makes you think "Oh, screw this!".

The GPL is difficult to understand, which is documented by the massive amount of posts, threads and questions on what is and what is not allowed. All these posts always end with "I'm just guessing, get a lawyer". It's definitely not easy to understand if you need a lawyer to explain it to you and help you decide if it MIGHT be ok to do what you want to.

Re:Use public domain! (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528327)

I'm not sure THAT's a great idea. Convince me, please. Are you sure that public domain has any force or power to ensure that it is NOT abused? GPL at least has teeth to bite it's abusers.

Re:Use public domain! (-1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528365)

Isn't the very nature of something in the public domain such that it can't be "abused"?

Definition stretching of that sort always leads to the creation of laws against victimless crimes like corpse "rape". Can something really have the right to deny consent if it has no more sentience than a rock? Can source code really be abused if it has already been given away?

I like the GPL, but please don't try to justify it by using loaded terms like "abuse" and "rape".

Re:Use public domain! (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528549)

Bad analogies don't make any sort of an argument. I said nothing about rape, or corpses, and I don't see how even the worst analogy applies here.

I asked, quite simply, if public domain is actively defended? Can something be removed from public domain? Whether it can or not, if a corporation USES something that is public domain, do they have any obligations regarding that use?

With GPL, there are obligations, and there are people actively defending it. I asked to be convinced, not mocked, thank you.

Re:Use public domain! (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528421)

Can you give an example of an abuser that gets bitten by the GPL?

Re:Use public domain! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528597)

Wow, I knew slashdot doesn't RTFA, but here, you've missed both the summary AND THE TITLE!!! "GPL Wins In French Court Case." Edu4 got bitten by the GPL.

Re:Use public domain! (0)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528685)

Yes, but I'm not seeing any abuse:

Amount of code available already: all of VLC's source
Code that wasn't available: The stuff that *they wrote*... There's no abuse involved in choosing to not give away code you yourself wrote*.

* Unless, the license says specifically that you must, which the GPL does. The point I'm making here is that the GPL is not stopping something that's inherently abusive.

Re:Use public domain! (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528633)

Sure. RTFA. Or, are you cross posting from another dimension? Company A distributed binaries to Company B. Company B requested the source, which Company A denied. Company B sued, and was awarded the source, along with all their court costs and other expenses. Company A has been bitten, right in the pocket book.

IMHO, there should have been a punitive award of some sort, but I'm no lawyer.

Re:Use public domain! (0)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528707)

My point is that there's no abuse going on here:

Amount of code available already: all of VLC's source
Code that wasn't available: The stuff that *they wrote*... There's no abuse involved in choosing to not give away code you yourself wrote*.

* Unless, the license says specifically that you must, which the GPL does. The point I'm making here is that the GPL is not stopping something that's inherently abusive.

Re:Use public domain! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529179)

Amazing. You manage to post the same comment twice, and still can't tell the difference between VLC and VNC.

Re:Use public domain! (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529189)

damn copy paste error! In the mean time, got a response to the actual point being made?

Re:Use public domain! (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528857)

Can you give an example of an abuser that gets bitten by the GPL?

Of course we can. That French firm Edu4.

Either RTFA or go back to sleep.

Re:Use public domain! (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529095)

Instead of posting what two other people already said, why don't you read my response to them.

Re:Use public domain! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528843)

What constitutes as abusing information in the public domain? Isn't it the whole idea of public domain that anyone can do what the hell they want to with it, be it comercial or non-comercial? It simply becomes something everyone owns.

Re:Use public domain! (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528609)

In many cases its actually impossible to release something to public domain. Many nations have "natural rights" laws that prevent an author from releasing all rights to something.

Public domain also does not ensure that derivative works based on your work remain open and free.

Sacre bleu! (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528071)

Zis is good step for all of us, mon ami. Ze GPL needs testing so badly. Zus far it has only been tested in ze legal depart'ments of business, and not in ze legal courts.

Pardon my French, but fuckez yeah!

Re:Sacre bleu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528293)

Oh my gawd... Why did I read this and imagine the french axe speaking it from Unforgotten Realms...

Re:Sacre bleu! (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528449)

Ze GPL needs testing so badly. Zus far it has only been tested in ze legal depart'ments of business, and not in ze legal courts.

That first sentence is not really true, and not only because the second sentence is also untrue. The GPL may not have been tested extensively, but it has been tried in courts around the globe. But since there really isn't any reason no think that it would be ruled invalid, that testing isn't necessary. There's a reason it's been tested so few times -- all those legal departments, all those lawyers of various degrees of sleaziness, can find no basis on which to challenge it which they think would pass the judicial smell test. Even though they and their clients would have every reason to trump something up. The few that have tried to challenge the validity of the license have failed spectacularly.

That is, as the French say, "Le hint".

PDF of the decision on the FSF France website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528109)

The text of the /Arret/ (decision):

http://fsffrance.org/news/arret-ca-paris-16.09.2009.pdf

Re:PDF of the decision on the FSF France website (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528395)

(self-reply). I'm no Pamela Jones, but here's a quick summary:

After seeing the 21SEP04 emergency judgement at Bobigny high claims court

After seing the 21SEP04 appeal by the defendant

After seing the 22DEC06 decision whee the court agreed (in essence) for hearing expert opinion ..

After seeing the expert's memo from 25APR08

After seeing the last demands from the defendant
After seeing the last demands from the plaintiff

THE COURT,

considering that all the due process (from 2000 onwards) has been followed

considering that the call for tender (CCAP -- administrative part) was correctly structured

considering that the Validation of Aptitude phase of the contract was botched (3 times adjourned, presumably because of technical issues), all the way from january 2001 to 21DEC01, but was finally declared done (starting the verification in regular service(VSR) phase); that the plaintiff did start to question the legal status of the software at that time;

considering that AFPA started to question the sincerity of the 25MAY00 tender, (etc.) and that an offer to bargain and drop charges for EUR 228674 has been offered by AFPA; that finally given all that went wrong, the contract had been terminated 4JUN02

Considering that Defendant sued AFPA for breach of contract because of the contract termination

Considering that this Court already judged, on 22DEC06, that AFPA was entitled to getting its money back,

Considering that the expert did perform his work correctly,

Considering that AFPA's grief is not the use of Free Software, but the stealth use of a version of VNC modified in breach of the licensing terms (GPL), thus performing the act of counterfeiting, and the use of a backdoor password ("en introduisant un mot de passe connu uniquement de EDU 4 et non modifiable, permettant ainsi a EDU 4 de prendre le controle de tout poste en court-circuitant le mecanisme affiche de protection livre par EDU 4") [whoa, they really did this?? ] , and never did tell AFPA any of this

Considering that EDU4 pretends it never hid the use of GPL, (etc.)

Considering that EDU4 says the alleged defect on access control cannot justify the termination of contract, given that this defect was to be fixed within 2-3 months,

Considering that proof was given that AFPA did know on 03AUG01 VNC and GPL software was to be delivered,

Considering that on 27SEP01 EDU4 delivered licensing documentations which did not tell anything about GPL,

Considering that on 21DEC01 the VA was pronounced only subject to EDU4 clarifying the legal status of all included software,

Considering that on 04APR02, EDU4 alleged it never modified the VNC software, never breached GPL or copyright terms (except for set-up
software, clear delimitation of EDU4 and VNC parts, etc.)

Considering that the expert was unable to confirm the 04APR02 allegations on the materials delivered in Decembre 2001 (VNC was hidden, the
license is not identifiable, the properties of the vncviewer.exe and winvnc.exe files had been altered, hiding the AT&T Research Labs name except for the vnc hooks.dll file,

Considering that EDU4 failed to provide AFPA with the modified source code, which it had pledged to do on 15JAN02, thus voiding the allegation of a proper [GPL] delivery by 5APR02

Considering that it appears from all facts that EDU4 failed to live up to its contractual obligations [...] caused the copyright notices to
disappear from VNC, etc.

Considering that AFPA is entitled, according to art. 1184 from Civil Code, to terminate the contract; that nothing being validated, EDU4 is
not entitled to any payment

Considering that EDU4, failing to prove its allegations, has to pay for all expertise and procedural costs (experts + 8K EUR)

BECAUSE OF THOSE MOTIVES, THE COURT ... OVERTURNS the original judgement, and, deciding anew,

declares AFPA (plaintiff) is founded in its demands

declares EDU4 (defendant)'s claims are thrown out

sentences EDU4 to pay AFPA 8K EUR

sentences EDU4 to pay for all judicial and expertise costs, and that the appeal costs are to be paid for according to art. 699 of civil procedural code.

Re:PDF of the decision on the FSF France website (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528613)

Thanks, AC. Very informative.

Not much in the article either. (5, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528119)

...an umbrella organization for adult education."

So they teach about porn?

Re:Not much in the article either. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528187)

...an umbrella organization for adult education."

So they teach about porn?

Not only that but it's the Umbrella. So it's Zombie Survival Horror Porn.

Precedent (1)

dr1982 (1161843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528159)

This could be an important legal precendent for the GPL in France and other European countries. Although Europe is more liberal in software licenses etc (no patents!) anyway, it's good to see that the GPL upheld in court.

Re:Precedent (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528471)

It means very little to other European countries. Different laws, different judicial systems etc...

woohoo!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528245)

fuck wid da penguin and da penguin will fuck u back.

Stupid GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528283)

Yeah, I'll probably be rated flamebait for saying that, but for me as a shareware author the GPL is reason enough not to use GPL-licenced code. That's a pitty, because there are so many useful programming libraries released under GPL instead of the more useful LGPL. Let's face it: If the source code of a shareware app is released, it'll be cloned and ripped off within days. There are just too many people with no ideas on their own that love to make cheap copies just for the $$$, and most end-consumers cannot decide between quality and quantity (until it's too late, and they loose their data, for example). My 2 cents, I know the GPL people strongly/violently disagree.

Re:Stupid GPL (4, Insightful)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528401)

Yeah, I'll probably be rated flamebait for saying that, but for me as a shareware author the GPL is reason enough not to use GPL-licenced code.

That is absolutely fine with the people who release their code under GPL. They want it in GPL applications, not Shareware.

Feel free to release your own Shareware compatible libraries.

I know the GPL people strongly/violently disagree.

Their goals are different from yours.

Re:Stupid GPL (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528503)

I'm new to GPL; Do I misunderstand? You aren't required to release everything that links to GPL libraries, right? Just any changes you make to the libraries themselves? Couldn't you continue to keep your shareware source closed, even if you use a GPL library?

Re:Stupid GPL (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528651)

I'm new to GPL; Do I misunderstand? You aren't required to release everything that links to GPL libraries, right? Just any changes you make to the libraries themselves? Couldn't you continue to keep your shareware source closed, even if you use a GPL library?

I am not a lawyer, but I can tell you that if you want to use someone else's code, no matter what the license, in your own product, then you better read the license very carefully and don't rely on posts on Slashdot. Asking a lawyer might be a good idea

That said, if you use a library that is licensed under GPL and not dual licensed, then you cannot publish your code except under the GPL license. That's it. There are libraries published under the LGPL, which has different rules.

Re:Stupid GPL (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528775)

The criterion is that if your work is a derivative work of the GPL'd code, then your work must also be released under the GPL.

In many jurisdictions an app that links to GPL libraries would be at serious risk of infringing. There might possibly be a situation where it would not be at risk...if the app was written first and the GPL library modified later to conform to the linkage expected by the app, then likely the app would not be considered a derivative work.

For specifics, please contact a lawyer.

Re:Stupid GPL (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529237)

Not quite. There is also the question of whether you distribute the GPL'd code. If you create, for example, a device driver for Linux that is binary-only but not a derived work of the Linux kernel, then you may distribute it without having to comply with the GPL. This is basic copyright law: the GPL has absolutely no way of enforcing anything different. Because the license you choose is not GPL-compatible, however, you are then prevented from distributing the Linux kernel. To give a concrete example, nVidia can distribute their Linux drivers in a binary-only format, but Linux distributions can not redistribute them along with the Linux kernel (they typically work around this by providing a simple post-install script that grabs them from the nVidia site and installs them).

Re:Stupid GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29529041)

My understanding is:

GPL:
If you use any GPL software as part of your software, you have to GPL it, too. GPL library means GPL software. It's highly contagious. Although you can use products generated by GPL software (images, 3D models) in your apps without having to GPL them.

LGPL:
If you only dynamically link an unmodified version of a LGPL library you don't have to LPGL your own code. If you statically link or make modifications, you do.

I don't rape Justitia for a living, though (read: I am not a lawyer).

Re:Stupid GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528675)

So you don't want others to make money with your work. Why do you think GPL-authors shouldn't be allowed to want the same?

Of course, it's very annoying if you cannot use a nice library because of its license but that's how its developers want it to be. They think prohibiting commercial use is better for them than what you get back from professional users. So be it. I'll just use something with a more open license and - at the minimum - report bugs and potential fixes/improvements there.

What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528319)

Hang on just a second. Does the AFPA (the plaintiffs) own the copyright on the GPLd source? They do not. Then what standing do they have to sue anyone over it, or receive payment? This is GPL related, but the relief went to a 3rd party!

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528371)

If they added even the slightest bit to the code, and redistributed their version (following the GPL of course), then they own the copyright to that version of the code.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528391)

As I understand it, the GPL says that the source code has to be available with the binaries.

So if the binaries are for the general public, everybody has access to the source.

If the binaries are delivered to a client (in this case AFPA), the source should be available to them.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

Rou7_beh (1528491) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528405)

The GPL garanties access to the source code for the USER. AFPA is the user here.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529005)

But AFPA does not own any copyrights in the original VNC source, and in any sane jurisdiction wouldn't be able to receive relief over those rights. I can't figure out if this case is over contract law (therefore not a GPL issue), over AFPA's rights to any modified source that was created for them as a work-for-hire (therefore not a GPL issue) or is genuinely them asserting rights that they don't own (insane in the membrane).

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (4, Informative)

Narishma (822073) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528467)

Read the article. The AFPA requested the source code of the modifications the company (Edu4) did to VNC but the company refused to provide it and so they were sued.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528951)

Read the VNC source. Do you see "Copyright AFPA" in there? What kind of crackpot legal system lets Alice sue Bob over Carol's copyrights?

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29529155)

In this case, I'd call it "a fair one".

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529227)

Any sane legal system should let ANYBODY sue over ANY illegal thing. Unfortunately, it is not like this in France.

IANAL but I believe in France the only thing you need to be allowed to sue is to have something to gain. Here AFAP have access to the source code to gain, therefore is allowed to sue.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529241)

All of them when Carol has guaranteed Alice the right to have access to her work covered under the copyright in question. Carol has standing as the original copyright holder and can sue for any number of reasons. Alice can only sue to obtain access to the copyrighted works (the sourcecode) because the GPL explicitly states that Bob has to give them to her if he distributes the binaries. In most cases the relief will be access to the code, legal fees, and possibly some punitive damage amount to remind Bob to play nice in the future.

Contrast that with Carol's reward in the same case - in the US that would be an injunction on distributing their code until they released the code openly and statutory damages of obscene amounts, and legal fees.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29529271)

The California legal system, the most crackpot in the world!

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528495)

I don't read french so I'm just guessing: The deal AFPA made with Edu4 stated that VLC is used as the base. So AFPA expected to get the source code changes with the binary and sued when that didn't happen... Sounds plausible to me and explains why they were allowed to sue.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528639)

Worse. EDU4 never stated in its tender that it was to use VNC.

It did afterwards, but then in what was supposed to be the final delivery (start of the Validation of Aptitude phase, which is where, in typical French IT purchase contracts, is where you deliver the final software and Client verifies it satisfies all contractual demands, but in practice some leeway for patches is introduced) modified GPL was delivered without ever showing that it was GPL software (and nary a source file in sight).

EDU4 first sued to get paid as AFPA considered the delivery terminally incorrect and voided the contract (which is an explicit possible outcome in public IT contracts). AFPA showed in the first trial that GPL was being breached; the first judge didn't understand the deal. The Court of Appeals took the GPL at face value (which is hugely significant) and found that perfectly valid grounds for AFPA's behaviour all along.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528509)

Sorry... I forgot where I was for a second. I meant to say: this is like the RIAA stealing your car, crashing into a bus of drunken cheerleaders, then Microsoft embezzling the insurance money.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29529063)

Wait a second !

Are the cheerleaders GPL ? Not.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529235)

I would like so much the cheerleaders to be free...

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (5, Informative)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528561)

It's an idiosyncracy of French law. The plaintiff here was a customer who did, yes, successfully sue for the source code. It probably couldn't happen in the US or UK.

FSF France's take on this finds this noteworthy: [fsffrance.org]

"But what makes this ruling unique is the fact that the suit was filed by a user of the software, instead of a copyright holder. It's a commonly held belief that only the copyright holder of a work can enforce the license's terms - but that's not true in France. People who received software under the GNU GPL can also request compliance, since the license grants them rights from the authors."

Just when you thought the German courts were GPL-friendly, this shows up. Vive la France!

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (2, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528921)

Just when you thought the German courts were GPL-friendly, this shows up. Vive la France!

Okay, we are returning "Freedom Fries" back to their original name "French Fries". Happy now?

We still apologize for French's Mustard, which is not french and can barely be called mustard.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529077)

Thanks, that's interesting reading. I'm still puzzled as to what kind of wacky statue gives AFPA standing to receive relief for breach of someone else's rights. That's like... well, there is no appropriate analogy. It's exactly like receiving relief for breach of someone else's rights. The mind boggles as to the size of the can of legal worms that opens up in France.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528591)

Hang on just a second. Does the AFPA (the plaintiffs) own the copyright on the GPLd source? They do not. Then what standing do they have to sue anyone over it, or receive payment? This is GPL related, but the relief went to a 3rd party!

Well, first of all, this was French law, not US or English, so their idea of standing might be different.

Second, the AFPA were third party beneficiaries of the GPL -- as receivers of the binary, they were entitled (by the GPL) to receive the source. This might have granted them standing even in the US.

From
http://ejustice.org/federal_practice_manual_2006/chapter_5/chap5sec3.html [ejustice.org]

Section 302 defines all beneficiaries of a contract as being intended or incidental. Only an intended beneficiary has standing to enforce a contract between two other parties. Whether a person is an intended beneficiary with the resulting right to sue depends upon the intention of the parties to the contract. That intent may be articulated in the contract itself, or discerned or imputed from the statutory context that prompted the contract to be executed.

The GPL (IMO, IANAL) makes it crystal clear that the person receiving the binary is an intended beneficiary.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529137)

If I understand the sets of circumstances here, the Edu4 stripped the GPL and copyright notices from the product and pretended it was their own. They even pretended that they didn't distribute the product even though they left it on the computers they installed.

If these claims are true, it would be near impossible for an end user in the US to claim to be the intended beneficiary. This would be because they had no idea of the specific contract obligations until after the fact which would push them more to the incidental beneficiary then the intended. Further more, the VPN software was installed as a support and deployment resource and it's arguable that under English law, if any transfer actually took place or not. I have installed software under these circumstances and haven't transferred it before.

In the french court, all that didn't matter and they were found guilty. Now, in an english court, if the GPL was presented to the end user or the software was marketed/promoted as GPLed software, then it would likely have standing under contract law. I have been arguing for years that the GPL is a contract concerning copyright while entities like the FSF and their fan base attempt to claim it's just copyright. The truth of the matter is that the GPL is a contract affording certain rights to copyright under certain conditions so it's rightfully both. (ie, you cannot do the things copyright law reserves to the copyright owner unless you agree to a contract and fulfill obligations specified in it as they pertain to your use)

This concept of the end user being able to enforce the GPL shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention. In this particular case, the concepts were a little blurry and probably wouldn't survive in a US or UK court. It's sad that the FSF and people like Bruce Perens and Stallman have fought so hard to bury that concept in order to keep in line with their mantra or ideology. IF they hadn't, then the real power of the GPL should have been seen a long time ago.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29529257)

If these claims are true, it would be near impossible for an end user in the US to claim to be the intended beneficiary. This would be because they had no idea of the specific contract obligations until after the fact which would push them more to the incidental beneficiary then the intended.

Nothing in the information I posted or linked to says anything about concealing the terms of a contract from an intended beneficiary makes the intended beneficiary incidental. If you have other information please post it.

Auto analogy:
Ford sells off-lease cars to independent dealer "Car Emporium", with the contract of sale stating that "Car Emporium" will provide complimentary maintenance for these cars to whoever they resell it to for one year after that sale. "Car Emporium" doesn't do so and conceals the existence of that contract from the buyers. The buyers somehow find out. They _DO_ have standing to sue "Car Emporium", as they were an intended beneficiary of the contract.

I have been arguing for years that the GPL is a contract concerning copyright while entities like the FSF and their fan base attempt to claim it's just copyright.

The FSF doesn't claim it's "just copyright". They claim it's a license. They also claim if that IF you don't accept the license, THEN what you have is "just copyright". The defendants in this case could have claimed they never accepted the GPL, but that would have put them in hotter water. There likely STILL would have been a cause of action by the plaintiffs (because the defendant had provided them, unknowingly, with illegal copies of software), and there would have been a cause of action by the copyright owner for copyright violation.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528705)

FTFA:

Now, the higher court has confirmed the ruling that Edu4 should pay â8,000 (£7,195) to the AFPA and cover both the cost of court proceedings and two expert opinions.

Re:What the hell? Crazy French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29528733)

Crazy American ! How can you to protect yourself against copyright law infringement by which you are affected when you aren't the owner if you cannot sue ?

Backdoor (5, Interesting)

phme (1501991) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528719)

From the text of the decision, it appears that the provider (Edu4) had not only removed GPL copyrights from VNC, thus making the product likely to be considered counterfeit, but also introduced a backdoor

Considering that Edu4 [...]
- modified VNC protection mechanism by introducing a non-modifiable password known only from Edu4, thus allowing Edu4 to take control of any workstation, bypassing the protection mechanism Edu4 delivered;
- did not mention any of this to AFPA;
- [...]

2 words and a question (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 5 years ago | (#29528927)

Gemalto. OpenSC. "Where is the source of libgemsafe0?"
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