×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Court Case To Test GNU GPL

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the doesn't-play-nice-with-others dept.

The Courts 371

ciaran_o_riordan writes "Tomorrow, a German court will hear the case of AVM, a distributor of Linux-based routers, which seeks to block Cybits from distributing software that modifies the routers' software to add content-filtering functionality. Free Software Foundation Europe explains: 'AVM justified its position using three arguments. First, they stated that their whole product software must be regarded as an entity under AVM copyright, and that this entity must not be modified. The position Mr. Welte [founder of gpl-violations.org and copyright holder of several parts of the Linux kernel] took was that the whole product software would in that case be a derivative work according to the GPL, and thus the whole product software should be licensed under the GNU GPL. AVM then switched to a second argument: that the software embedded on its DSL terminals consisted of several parts. According to Mr. Welte, AVM could then not prohibit anyone from modifying or distributing the GPL licensed software parts. The final argument by AVM was that the software on their DSL terminals is a composition of several different programs, which, due to the creative process, would be a protected compilation and thus under the copyright of AVM and not affected by the copyleft of the GPL.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

371 comments

Can it test for First Post? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504366)

Because I am guilty of it.

Ethically and intellectually challenged... (5, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504398)

I've been making my software GPLd since 1991. If someone uses it, for free, and makes a derived work, and then tries to stop others from sharing that work, they are ethically and intellectually challenged.

This is not a test case for the GPL, it's a straight-forward copyright violation case, where AVM is taking the work of tens of thousands of people, using it under a license that permits remixing, and then attempting to ignore those license conditions.

Take them to the cleaners, Harald!

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (0, Flamebait)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504414)

ethically and intellectually challenged.

No. Their ethics may conflict with yours and nothing can be said about their intelligence.

Ethically OR intellectually challenged. (3, Insightful)

kerobaros (683745) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504518)

I think he's half right. Either the company is intelligent yet ethically challenged, in that they know that they are violating the GPL yet do not care, or they are ethically sound but intellectually challenged, in that they don't know they're controverting the license. I believe one of these scenarios is the case.

Re:Ethically OR intellectually challenged. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504562)

Way to go. Now we have your two versions, GP's version and AVM's version. Unless someone comes up with something more than intelligence and ethics all possible versions are covered.

Re:Ethically OR intellectually challenged. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504918)

I might have agreed with you before the lawyers got involved. But AVM have changed their position several times in response to gpl-violations.org complaints. They can no longer claim ignorance.

A place where ignorance may have been involved was the decision to use the Linux kernel in the first place. If they had used, say, FreeBSD they wouldn't be having these conversations.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504536)

ethically and intellectually challenged.

No. Their ethics may conflict with yours and nothing can be said about their intelligence.

On the topic of ethics, they are more than just "ethically challenged" - they're hypocrites and crooks. Hypocrites, because they are saying "do as I say, not as I do" with respect to software licensing, and crooks because they are selling other people's work as if it were their own and without their permission (if you don't agree to the terms of the GPL, you cannot redistribute).

Intellectually challenged? They're wasting money on a lost cause. Not smart ... :-)

tomhudson's "ethics" here @ /. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504686)

Where you were caught trolling others as ac replies and telling others to do so with you :

"Wait until he starts on another kick, then reply to him as an AC. It's the new meme". - by tomhudson (43916) on Sunday May 09 2010, @08:29PM (#32150544) Homepage Journal

QUOTED FROM -> http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1646272&cid=32150544 [slashdot.org]

And for what?

Just because you were shown as technically weak in computing so many times here after you did things like the above to the wrong person:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2230966&cid=36418796 [slashdot.org]

That all you have is your geek angst & tricks like ac stalker trolling proven above, and also downmodding unjustly after doing so, shown by your fellow troll friends here http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2245866&cid=36491652 [slashdot.org]

* Some "ethics" tomhudson... you don't know the meaning of the word!

Re:tomhudson's "ethics" here @ /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504886)

Wow, you're still stalking people, Alexander Peter Kowalski? You make /. celebrities like twitter look mentally stable, go get help.
And delete that 200MB hosts file.

tomhudson's STILL trolling via ac replies? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505524)

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2253808&cid=36504686 [slashdot.org] not a lot of arguing with tom's own words shown there and the mechanics he uses to up and down mod himself either along with his troll pals.

You're simply reacting tomhudson, the only way you know how: ac replies so what's good for the goose, is good for the gander, & turn about's fair play etc.. Except I use facts & your own words to do it. Simple, end game.

Too bad it got you shot down so many times on varied technical issues though eh? The very place you seem to overestimate yourself, LOL! See above, that's there too!

On HOSTS files, tomhudson?? Your showing vs. the person you troll wasn't any better, here's proof:

---

tomhudson bullshit on HOSTS is outnumbered 30:1 vs. apk evidences to the contrary of tomhudson's b.s.:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2087330&cid=35847946 [slashdot.org]

---

tomhudson BURNED on DNS vs. HOSTS and CPU cycles/memory & more used on HIS "ideas" vs. HOSTS vs. apk's ideas:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2087330&cid=35879374 [slashdot.org]

---

tomhudson BURNED & RAN on HOSTS vs. VIRUSES vs. APK:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2088808&cid=35877448 [slashdot.org]

---

tomhudson says "hosts are so 90's" & apk's fellow RESPECTED security person wrote a noted article on them in 2009:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2088808&cid=35876806 [slashdot.org]

---

* SO, that "all said & aside"? How many more times do you want to look even more the cretin, tomhudson? Hmmm??

Re:tomhudson's "ethics" here @ /. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505002)

If it ever seems like the entire world is against you, take that for truth, and realize that you engender ill will in others. There is no collusion, you're obviously deranged, and everyone will continue to reject you. Every man is the hero of his own story, ay, but you make yourself a villain by attacking others, even as you claim to be attacked.

You're sick, man. These are not the actions of a sane adult. You need serious mental help. I can't imagine you'll listen to this -- none so deaf as he who will not hear.

tomhudson's ac "Foam @ the mouth 'ReAcTiOn'" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505618)

again, as you can all see. tomhudson's doing his "std. modus operandi" in ac replies vs. this: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2253808&cid=36504686 [slashdot.org] not looking too good for you tomhudson, which is from YOUR OWN WORDS no less... no, not looking good for you, not @ all!

You only did this to yourself & now getting reverse psychology applied to you using your own mechanics (unethical as hell no less), & you sow the wind? Here comes the whirlwind.

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander/turn about's fair play"... right? How do you like it, now that the shoe's on the other foot, hmmm??

By the way: Before you dispense psychiatric advice like you're some "/. 'SiDeWaLk-ShRiNk'" (lol)?

Get your PHD in that field, a license to practice it, and years-to-decades of professional experience in it as well as a formally administered examination of others before you dispense your "instant 'snap-prognosis/diagnosis'", ok??? You're libeling people otherwise, fact.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504798)

Exactly -- If they are denying the applicability of the GPL, then they themselves are copyright violators. unfortunately the copyright holders in this case are not party to the lawsuit.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505204)

Either:
a) They can't read the GPL License they received.
or
b) They can't follow simple directions.

.
I think that if they had not accomplished both 'a' and 'b' then it does say something about the state of their intelligence.

Having no ethics is also one more example of lack of intelligence. If one is not smart enough to understand the 'cause and effect relationships' in ignoring a software license, then staying in business can be very hard without throwing millions at the lawyers to keep afloat.

btw - Throwing money at the lawyers is not advisable and can have dire consequences. It may keep the other team fed and happy for a while, but what ever you do just don't feed them after midnight. Things can get really messy when you try to stop, if there is still money left over. The other teams lawyers can smell money a mile away, so its really hard to break the cycle, and that usually doesn't happen until after you are broke.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (-1, Troll)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505234)

What if you consider the GPL unethical?

What if you consider that might makes right?

To imply that not following a software licence is unethical per se suggests a worrying level of conformity.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505430)

What if you consider the GPL unethical?

What if you consider that might makes right?

To imply that not following a software licence is unethical per se suggests a worrying level of conformity.

I've had difficulty explaining the GPL to bosses in the past. They have no trouble with terms such as "$10000 up-front plus $5/unit". However, they consider unconscionable terms that say "give away modifications to the relevant source code".

So, in your example, it is no different than your trying to use software that might have a license that says "$100/unit, plus patent licenses". If you consider the terms unreasonable (or "unethical", as you listed), then you simply do not license the software. Using the software implies that you agree to the license terms.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505772)

I've had difficulty explaining the GPL to bosses in the past. They have no trouble with terms such as "$10000 up-front plus $5/unit". However, they consider unconscionable terms that say "give away modifications to the relevant source code, if the program is distributed".

Here, fixed that for you.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (4, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505494)

What if you consider the GPL unethical?

Then don't redistribute software that is GPL-licensed.

What if you consider that might makes right?

Then the courts will properly and forcefully correct you and bar the distribution of your products until you comply with the license you accepted or make a new version that doesn't use someone else's work.

To imply that not following a software licence is unethical per se suggests a worrying level of conformity.

It's not like someone told them "YOU MUST USE LINUX ON YOUR ROUTER OR I'LL KILL YOU." The consciously made the choice to use Linux in their router system, and are now breaking its license terms.

They could just as easily gone with a BSD, or paid money to someone to license a commercial OS, or designed their own OS. They chose to do none of the above, and are thus bound by the GPLv2.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (-1, Troll)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505590)

What if you consider the GPL unethical?

Then don't redistribute software that is GPL-licensed.

Why is it not ethical to disobey a licence you consider unethical? What if I told you now that by reading beyond this line of this post you're agreeing to send me $10,000? Voluntary; full disclosure; informed consent. Stop reading now if you disagree.

What if you consider that might makes right?

Then the courts will properly and forcefully correct you

Maybe; maybe not. What if you think that you can get the courts to favour you?

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (2)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504740)

This is not a test case for the GPL, it's a straight-forward copyright violation case

The really clever bit about the GPL is that any test case is a straight-forward copyright infringement case. People who violate the GPL find themselves in the unenviable position of having to try to use the GPL to justify their actions, because it's the only thing that gives them any shred of permission to use the code. All it takes, then, is for the court to evaluate the situation and realize that the GPL didn't actually give them permission because they didn't meet its requirements.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (2)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505108)

This is not a test case for the GPL, it's a straight-forward copyright violation case

The really clever bit about the GPL is that any test case is a straight-forward copyright infringement case. People who violate the GPL find themselves in the unenviable position of having to try to use the GPL to justify their actions, because it's the only thing that gives them any shred of permission to use the code. All it takes, then, is for the court to evaluate the situation and realize that the GPL didn't actually give them permission because they didn't meet its requirements.

That's not necessarily true. Bear in mind that, if put to a legal test, parts of the license could be found unenforceable, in which case someone could escape the terms of the GPL. Another possible loophole is the definition of a "derivative work". Generally I think we assume that if a project pulls in some code that is identifiable as having been part of a GPL product, then that project (according to the GPL) must also be licensed by the GPL. But that assertion, too, is something that would have to be tested. One could argue that the amount of GPL code is so small in comparison with the rest of the project that to claim the project is now a "derivative work" is unreasonable - in that case, the GPL code being linked in would still have to be distributed, possibly including any changes made to it - but the work as a whole would be unaffected.

You can create a license that says all sorts of things, and have lawyers look at it and try to figure out if it will pass a test in court: but really, you don't know one way or another until it actually happens.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505222)

The problem with all of those arguments is that if you don't agree to the GPL you have *zero* legal right to use the code, in whole or in part (unless it doesn't meet some copyright test like API headers with no creative value). It's a well written legal contract and a LOT of companies with large legal teams (like Cisco for example) have looked at it and ultimately caved because they couldn't find enough of a loophole to drive their case through, I doubt a company that has needed to change their legal strategy twice is going to defeat it.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (-1, Offtopic)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505006)

But... but... Slashdot told me that information wants to be freeeeee!!!!! The GPL is just a mechanism for protecting imaginary property with the threat of violence via government thugs, right?

Before you flame me or mod me down, you might wanna go ahead and think, when was the last time you actually spoke out against the anarchists who howl against the existence of intellectual property in every other case? 'Cause if the answer isn't "within the last week", you're a hypocrite.

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505054)

...what?

Re:Ethically and intellectually challenged... (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505216)

I contemplated modding down, but instead I will reply with something that may actually assist you:

Posts about which counter-culture it is "acceptable" to be a part of are worse than useless. Your post essentially says "anyone who doesn't agree with my viewpoint on this is a flawed human being". For that, you deserve all the negative mod points that others will give you.

i um er ahh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504480)

ya everytime you tell me the way it is , ill just change my argument until i find a loophole um er ya um ah ya thats it.
----------
nice try dummies and the judge will and most do look at origian remarks and as they topple down the tree to find loopholes judges look at that spirit of the law and don't think its gonna go good, i just about fell off my chair at the stealing others work and claiming copyright on it part and doing so as a commercial end....in canada that gets you a 20000$ fine per sale they did.

Lawyers (-1, Offtopic)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504496)

... I hate them.

Re:Lawyers (2)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504538)

Why? There's one on the side of the bad guys, and there's on on the side being bullied, and there's one more on the side protecting our rights.

Seems like 2 out of 3 of the lawyers (or teams of them) are fighting for the cause of the good guys, or fighting against the bad guys at least.

Re:Lawyers (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504954)

They're on the side of whoever has the money to pay them (most of the time), and I'm willing to bet those are not the good guys.

Re:Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505150)

Yeah, same with those dentists. I just hate them! Always on the side of people with bad teeth ... and money ...

Re:Lawyers (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505094)

Most of the ones on the good side would be equally happy being paid to work for the other side.

Not exactly immoral, but more often than not amoral.
(which is generally their job: to ensure that things are legally correct by some technical definition of legal irrespective of wishy-washy complications like morality)

Re:Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505208)

This. Next thing you know, people are going to say there's nothing wrong with contract killers. "After all, you can hire them to take out crooks." ...

Grey Knights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504522)

I'm sure either one of lulzsec or Anonymous would be happy to destroy AVM should the judge be clueless.

I don't think so (4, Informative)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504526)

1. This violates the GPL over the GPL-licensed parts of the whole, and therefore the GPL-licensed parts have to be excluded when the whole is distributed. The same reasoning applies if the restriction is due to a compilation copyright over the whole or a license regarding use that prohibits modification.

2. Irrelevant: the GPL parts continue to be licensed under the GPL or they can not be redistributed. The GPL permission for compilations does not weaken the GPL license for GPL components so compiled.

3. All a compilation copyright means is that no one else can redistribute the compilation. However, it can not restrict redistribution of the GPL licensed parts.

About the only case that can be made is that modified routers can't be sold, but routers could be sold along with the means to modify them. Or a router could be sold, and someone hired to modify it.

Of course, I am not a lawyer, and would welcome one correcting any error I made above.

In addition, the compilation is under the GPL (1)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504672)

In addition, a compilation is a derived work and the author needs to secure the copyrights to the parts. Of course, often a compilation is made from parts that have lost their copyright status, or are to small to be considered a work, but that does not mean that creating a compilation magically waives the rights of the creators of the parts.

IANAL, and also not yours.

Re:In addition, the compilation is under the GPL (4, Informative)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505092)

In addition, a compilation is a derived work

Not legally, no. To create a compilation, you do need rights to publish each part, but you do not need permission to modify or prepare derivative works. And even if that weren't the case, the GPL explicitly has an exception.

From v3: "Inclusion of a covered work in an aggregate does not cause this License to apply to the other parts of the aggregate."

From v2: "In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License."

Re:In addition, the compilation is under the GPL (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505170)

I think that is the clearest explaination of what's going on here; making a compilation of copyrighted materials does not terminate the copyrights of those materials.
Also, as far as I know the whole "copyrighted compilation" thing only goes when significant and non-trivial effort has gone into compilation, neither of which is the case here.

Re:I don't think so (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504684)

Now, the argument could be made that AVM needs to control quality over its products, and unauthorized modification may compromise that quality -- you don't want to be on the hook for someone else's changes to your router.

Therefore a license restriction to ensure continued support starts to make sense.

However, what that is is a warranty issue: "Warranty void if operating firmware modified". There, how hard is that?

Re:I don't think so (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504830)

What's at issue is a third party adding functionality to AVM's product that likely competes with another AVM product sold at a higher price.

Re:I don't think so (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504964)

About the only case that can be made is that modified routers can't be sold, but routers could be sold along with the means to modify them.

Not really, because if they're placing additional restrictions on the redistribution of someone else's GPLed code, they lose the right to distribute that code under the terms of the GPL.

Re:I don't think so (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505098)

No, you can still redistribute the modified GPL code, but not the non-GPL bits that make up the compilation. At least, not unless the doctrine of first sale applies, and that strikes me as (a) weak, and possibly whisked away by, say, a reseller-contract, and (b) likely not applicable in Germany, anyway.

I can't take a Red Hat Linux CD, add stuff to it (assuming no difference between making a modified copy and modifying the physical original, which can't be done easily with CDs), and redistribute it unless (a) I remove all the non-GPL bits copyright Red Hat and others, or (b) secure Red Hat's permission. Red Hat, IIRC, grants that permission so long as I don't use their trademarks to promote it.

But, what this boils down to is restricting convenience: what is the logical difference of my buying something and modifying it, vs. my buying something and having someone else modify it for me, vs. someone else buying something, modifying it, and reselling it to me?

Nothing, yet, some of those might be restricted under the license covering the non-GPL bits of the compilation.

Re:I don't think so (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505198)

Of course, this does not appear to apply to the instant case, because apparently Cybits is not modifying routers purchased for resale, but rather distributing software to modify them by their owners.

At this point, the argument becomes one of "Well, if a reseller can't sell modified routers because it violates their license regarding the copyright non-GPL bits", and Cybits facilitates such modification, Cybits is an "enabler" of copyright infringement.

As much as I try to play Devil's Advocate for the plaintiff here, I find plausible arguments in their favor getting weaker and weaker. And, that's a good thing.[*]

[*] I wrote "that's a good thing", not "it's a good thing"®. So back off, Ms. Stewart!

Re:I don't think so (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505288)

IANAL either, but I think you basically got it right. The one detail you might have overlooked, which may be relevant, is that the GPL explicitly forbids sublicensing! So they can't apply a separate license (even the null license) to the compilation; only to its individual parts. This is why there is no overall license for, e.g., Red Hat or Debian. Red Hat has a license for its trademarks, but if you strip those (as with CentOS), everything else is freely distributable and modifiable.

Re:I don't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505562)

For you and everyone else saying "I am not a lawyer":

Given the track record of these fucking vultures and the unethical behavior of their clients, who gives a shit what lawyers think. Common sense should prevail, not people who make right the opinions of whoever holds the most money.

The system is broken, and if the wrong side wins, we are not bound by its flawed decisions. We continue doing what is right and damn those who have not the common sense to recognize the truth.

Simply put.... (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504554)

*ANY* copyrighted work derivative must comply with the expectations and terms of the original copyright holder. How, exactly, is using the GPL any different from this?

Re:Simply put.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504644)

It's obviously because upstream distributed the source. Therefore people can use it however the please.

Seriously, I've heard people make that argument...if people didn't want others using their code willy-nilly, they shouldn't have opened the source. It staggers the mind that people can be that dull.

Re:Simply put.... (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504674)

So really, if authors don't want their stuff to be copied by others, then they shouldn't publish? Clearly, because they are publishing, they are allowing other people to read their work and possibly copy it without any permission whatsoever.

Re:Simply put.... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504784)

Wow... J.K. Rowling and Disney, most writers, painters, poets, and songwriters might have a bit of a problem with that as would hundreds of years of law controlling the Right to Copy work published by someone else.

Copyright is a special right created by society to encourage people to create stories, songs, write plays, paint paintings, write plays, and yes... programs with the expectation that these works will eventually enter the public domain.

Copyright has been abused all to hell and should probably be reverted back to a period less than 30 years. (and require ongoing significant and increasing payments to keep it out of the public domain).

But the outcome of your version is - a greatly diminished number of works. If you can't make money on your books, songs, programs then only enthusiasts could create them in their spare time while they otherwise worked at "real" jobs that paid money. Often the money is the difference between a finished, polished product and an amateurish "90% done" work because it takes almost as much time and money to get that last 10% done as it did to get the first 90% done.

Re:Simply put.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504850)

Perhaps you failed to noticed that I was being sarcastic in my above post.

My point is that a copyright holder has, by definition (copyright = "right to copy"), the right to impose limitations on who makes copies of their works. The GPL does nothing more than expressly grant such permission to anyone who agrees to abide by its terms. For anyone else, it's exactly the same as any other copyrighted work... you have the right to use it as you see fit, but not copy it under whatever terms you might want unless those terms happen to be compatible with the terms of the GPL.

Full stop.

Re:Simply put.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505058)

Solution: let govt guarantee a basic income, so if you want to create something you have the option to devote your time to it, without the distractions of having to work for Ignorant Motherfucker little Napoleon bosses who are so insecure they will do whatever is in their power to keep you thinking about them and worrying about the social games in the workplace 24/7. BECAUSE THEY CAN!

AVM itself is in violation of the license (4, Interesting)

doperative (1958782) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504556)

"Ironically, by preventing others from enacting the rights granted by the GNU GPL, AVM itself is in violation of the license terms. Therefore they have no right to distribute the software" says Till Jaeger.

Re:AVM itself is in violation of the license (2)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504900)

Get one of those injunction things that blocks them from selling those units until the case is straitened out.

Re:AVM itself is in violation of the license (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505816)

But then Cybis is also loosing. They need these routers to be sold to sell their software.

Why does AVM have a problem in the first place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504604)

It looks like Cybits wants to add some additional functionality to the router, which makes it a win-win situation for both the companies. Set aside the pro-GPL arguments, why does AVM have a problem with another company adding features?

Re:Why does AVM have a problem in the first place? (2)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504704)

Because the "features" may, in fact, introduce bugs, for which the customer may try to hold AVM responsible.

But, that is a warranty issue, and easily addressed.

Re:Why does AVM have a problem in the first place? (2)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505410)

More likely, the features means the router competes with more expensive products.

AVM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504646)

Adult Video Magazine?

I think I'm going to side with them.

Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (0, Troll)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504688)

Since when has anyone on Slashdot wanted to enforce artificial restrictions on information, which, by definition, should be "free"?

The cognitive dissonance between this story and the countless (pro-)piracy stories is astounding.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504782)

fuck you commie bastard

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (1)

lordbeejee (732882) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504846)

How is this restrictions on information? Cybits wants to distribute altered parts of the dsl software and AVM wants to restrict this and is named as a gpl violater here so that is the party that wants to restrict.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505696)

What he is getting at is Copy Left is an illusion, it doesn't actually exist. It is wholly depended on the existence of Copy Right.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504872)

The down-modding on the parent comment is incorrect. It's a valid comment. I hate mismodding like this on Slashdot which silences legitimate dissent.

However, people on slashdot are not universally pro-pirate.
* Many are for more reasonable copyright laws (14/28 years).
* Many don't view it as a lost sale if the person couldn't afford to purchase the product in the first place. (Yes it is piracy- but with no real damage to the creator. Less damage than libraries (which are legal) in fact.
* Many (I) am opposed to the corporate abuse of copyright law ( Seriously-- Happy Birthday, To You-- STILL UNDER COPYRIGHT???)

With regard to this article, they are generally against hypocrites who infringe the work of others who donated free materials to the community and then try to claim copyright protection on the infringed copyrighted works.

If a commercial business wants- it can right its own router code. Oh wait- that's REAL expensive. So comply with the GPL terms- sell your hardware and be happy.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504946)

the *really* stupid thing is there's almost always BSD-licensed code available anyway. Why not just use that, if you don't want to release the source?

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504896)

You realize that Slashdot is composed of different "people", right? And that "people" can hold wildly different "opinions" on "subjects"?

Perhaps you should work on that.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (0)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505674)

The subject is copyright infringement. This thread is full of people who are in favor of strong copyright law when it comes to protecting GPL'd (and thus copyrighted) software from being used in a manner that violates the terms of the copyright. What I don't understand is where these people are when a story gets posted about copyrighted music being used in a manner that violates the musicians' copyrights. You can't have it both ways - if you support no copyright for musicians, you get no copyright for software. The same people on this thread should be over in the music piracy threads railing against people who torrent music and movies, because it's the same issue. But they never are, it's just me burning through all of my karma pointing out facts like this.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505028)

The cognitive dissonance between this story and the countless (pro-)piracy stories is astounding.

Only if you fail at logic. The pro-Free-Software stance is "it's good to share, and to those ends, we're going to share our stuff with you (as long as you share it with others in turn)." Given that "sharing is good" is a bedrock principle of that opinion, it's unsurprising that a somewhat overlapping set of people also believes that it's OK to share other things.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (2)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505280)

No. I've come across your argument or a variant of it every time I point out the above.

The problem is that even if an organization is pro-sharing, the way the GPL accomplishes that is by putting *restrictions* on what you can do with the information/software/etc. that they produce and release. If the pro-sharing groups believe it's okay for their group to restrict how someone uses their information by requiring distribution of source for derivative works (i.e. copyleft/GPL), they *have* to be okay with a different group restricting how someone uses their information by prohibiting redistribution or derivative works entirely without licensing/royalties (i.e. traditional copyright). They are all restrictions.

Now you might argue that one set of restrictions (copyleft/GPL) is better than another (copyright), or that copyleft/GPL would be unnecessary if there were no such thing as copyright in the first place.

To the first point, I will ask

To the second point I will argue that without copyright, everything looks like a BSD license or public - that is, a "here's the code, do whatever you want with it" license - so why don't people just use the BSD license? It's precisely because the authors of GPL software want to put restrictions on how people use their stuff.

Addressing the first point is another gigantic discussion, but the quick version goes something like this: if you don't pay people to do stuff, it won't get done once people have to start doing other things to pay the bills.

Re:Copyright enforcement on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505182)

The GPL, as it it written today, exists within our legal framework because it must. If copyright didn't exist, if software by law were free to share, copy, modify and run, the GPL would look very, very different. (if indeed it would even be needed)

It seems strange that they would care (0)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504730)

Why does AVM want to prevent this behaviour? It seems, if anything, Cybits is simply adding value to the router. AVM presumably makes money selling the routers. If people want to modify them or use them as door stops for that matter, what difference does it make to the company?

All very odd.

Re:It seems strange that they would care (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505450)

1. They want to provide a device which does this, and the software competes. There are several FritzBoxes which fill different niches, and AVM occasionally bring out new ones with specific features. They are actually quite cool little Linux boxes, lots of hacks for them.
2. Support costs.

No distribution == no copywrite violation (1)

erice (13380) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504744)

This doesn't even make sense without the GPL. Even if AVM owned the copyright to all code, it doesn't by itself prevent users from adding new code in place. It's as if the author of a book sued to prevent purchasers from the writing in the margins of their own copy.

Unless German copyright law is very different from US law, there must be a clause in the license that TFA fails to mention. This clause presumably disallows consumers from making modifications to the software. Since the GPL is involved, this license could only apply to the code owned entirely by AVM that is not part of a larger GPL unit.

Re:No distribution == no copywrite violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505372)

Where this becomes a real test of the GPL is due to the fact that a vast majority of the product, including the part being modifed by third parties for profit, was released under the GPL. AVM is trying to prohibit 3rd party folks from re-writing the GPL'd software for their own purposes and using that modified software on devices that an end-consumer owns outright.

If there was a proprietary software module developed from scratch by AVM that was an issue here, perhaps it would be a more straight-forward copyright claim with proprietary software at stake. The issue at hand, however, is the modification of stuff that had been previously GPL'd and the hope that AVM has is that the court will in effect rule that the GPL no longer applies to the software because it was free in the first place and therefore a "public good" that copyright no longer applies to.

Perhaps that is the case, and an interesting legal theory that would blow the GPL out of the water. It wouldn't stop people from contributing to projects like Linux, but it could open the door for GPL'd software to be essentially treated as if it was completely in the public domain. The problem is that GPL'd software is not in the public domain.

Companies don't like paying (2)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504752)

It amazes me that companies feel justified in not paying for their software. The GPL's payment is in openness and code changes. So many companies try this (and get away with it). It would be similar to companies using cracked warze and then trying to justify it in court as their own works.

The "Compilation Argument" (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504756)

Of all these, I think the compilation argument is an interesting one and merits watching. It could have interesting results on other things based on open licenses such as Linux distributions and other devices based on Linux.

I don't think I will roll out a complete comment on this just now. I will instead ponder the notion of thinking of all these computer programs as components and calling this a compilation which is "protected."

There are many things that cause this to fall apart such as the individual licenses of the components themselves and the distribution rights associated with them. But, it's the end of my day and I want to go home...

Right to sue? (2)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504808)

I think the case hinges on the right to sue of the parties.

A contributor to the GPL'ed software would have the right to sue.

The defendant, Mr. Welte, might not have the right to sue AVM to put their code under the GPL, but luckily he is the defendant.

AVM is the plaintiff. They have admitted that their released work is a mix of their original work and GPL'ed work. In my opinion they still may assert their copyright for their contributions, but do not actually have the right to distribute their work.

That is why I think the defendants primary cause, although I'm sympathetic to the defendant, is lost.

However as a countermove, (I'm assuming the defendant owns an AVM router), I suggest he countersues AVM for damages, since they set him up with a router that cannot be operated legally since they don't own the rights to the software, and for wasting his time he spent coding in good faith that AVM actually intends to secure the rights to the software, which is hard to do without GPL'ing the software.

IANAL, and not yours.

Re:Right to sue? (1)

moronoxyd (1000371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504936)

A contributor to the GPL'ed software would have the right to sue.

Which Mr. Welte is. He wrote part of iptables, if I'm not mistaken.

The defendant, Mr. Welte, might not have the right to sue AVM to put their code under the GPL, but luckily he is the defendant.

He is not. He is not working or representing Cybits, the company sued by AVM.
But he entered the dispute as someone who owns (part) of the copyright of the product in question.

Thanks, but still he cannot force them do GPL it (1)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505580)

Thanks, I didn't figure that out from the summary.

I still think he cannot force them to release their code under the GPL. They can just say "no", and then he has the right to sue them and will win, making them pay damages and making them stop distributing their product.

Of course, the threat of this might convince them, as it usually does in GPL cases.

IANAL, and not yours.

test the GPL? (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504902)

Could we stop saying "test the GPL"? If the GPL does not hold, then copyrights and contracts don't hold. You can't kill the GPL without killing more onerous EULAs, and as we all know, that will never happen.

Re:test the GPL? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505114)

You seem to hold the antiquated ideal of rule of law. Laws aren't made as inflexible as you seem to portray any more. There are many rules that can be flexed and others that can be out right broken without consequence. You just have to know the right people and have the right friends in government.

Re:test the GPL? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505358)

Perhaps it may have escaped your attention that the only thing that is granting any privileges to copy GPL'd works at all is the text of the GPL itself. Even if the GPL is invalid, standard copyright law is still applicable, and people still need explicit permission of the copyright holder (which is what the GPL is supposed to do).

Re:test the GPL? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505392)

you seem to speak with things like "any privileges" or "explicit permission" where, if it was for the good of the people these things could be flexed a bit.

Re:test the GPL? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505478)

This implies that you advocate the abolition of the current concept of copyright law (literally, the "right to copy")... which, if not exclusive, is no longer valuable.

Of course, copyright itself is no longer that valuable anyways, considering the epidemic numbers of people that disregard it simply because they can.

Re:test the GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505390)

I is an old, old concept:
Britania rules the waves.
vs
Britania waves the rules.

Not a test of the GPL (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504952)

This is not a test of the GPL! It's simply a test of copyright law, and, in particular, the boundaries of the definition of "derivative work".

If I were an author, and gave a publisher permission to publish a story I wrote, unmodified, they would be free to publish it in a collection with other stories by other authors, but not free to modify huge chunks of it. But, what if they got another author to write stuff that was inserted between key paragraphs of my story? My story is unmodified, in the sense that every word appears unchanged and in the correct order, but the result is still clearly not my story. So, the issue is: where is the boundary between compilation and derivative? The question here is not "are they violating the GPL?", but "are they violating copyright law?"

This case does not make a lot of sense (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#36504960)

A more clear summary than the long-winded summary up top is this:

Company A makes a widget based on GPL code.
Company B makes code that you can buy and run on the widget, changing it's function
Company A is suing company B to stop them claiming copyright violation

There are multiple weird things about this case that I am very unclear on.

- Does company B's distributed code even contain any code from Company A? If it doesn't, and it is literally just code that gets injected into the router, then it is not a copyright violation in the first place. Not a GPL issue *at all*.

- If it *does* contain code from company A, based on their GPL code, then it's a GPL issue. However, none of Company A's arguments make any sense in that case.

- Finally, why does company A care about this in the least?

Re:This case does not make a lot of sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36505128)

A guess:

Company B sells the added feature for $x (and x might be zero)
Company A has another product for >x more than this prodct that has this feature.

In other words, they A feels B is using their own product to enter the market. No clue if it's the case, but I imagine it could be.

FSF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504968)

The FSF refused to review my code and issue me a "certificate of no GPL code." If you are throwing-out FUD, you have an obligation to issue certificates on request.

Microsoft should issue certificates of no viruses.

Re:FSF (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505162)

The FSF refused to review my code and issue me a "certificate of no GPL code."

The FSF is not the only group that writes GPL code.

Compilations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36504996)

This would mean the contents of my mp3 player are a compilation, and not subject to copyright, right? ...Right?

all true, and utterly irrelevant... (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505044)

Yes, they have copyrights on the compilation. But they have to respect the rights of the Linux copyright holders, and those rights say "you can only distribute the software under these conditions".

So, if they want to distribute, they have to allow modification. If they don't allow modification, they can enjoy their own copyright in the privacy of their own home, but they can't distribute the compilation without violating someone else's copyright.

How can they possibly expect to get away with this (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505064)

The final argument by AVM was that the software on their DSL terminals is a composition of several different programs, which, due to the creative process, would be a protected compilation and thus under the copyright of AVM and not affected by the copyleft of the GPL.

Which means they're back to a derivative work ;-)

Licenses (1)

return 42 (459012) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505086)

They seem to be confusing the GPL with the BSD license or the public domain. If they ignore the GPL, nothing else lets them use the GPL-licensed code, so they have to take it out. Schnell!

It's pretty simple... (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36505780)

... if you want the damn code proprietary, then write the damn thing yourself. Why is this so hard to understand? People that whine about "Well, I wrote part X as a modification of GPL project Y, so why am I forced to use GPL on X!" The answer is simple, because you based your work on GPL! If you don't want to use GPL, then avoid GPL!

Yes, the issue can be made much more complex. But at the end of the day, this "problem" hasn't changed, and it's not that complicated. Microsoft figured it out and they also release some GPL code, yet nobody is going after the Windows codebase, now are they? NOT... THAT... HARD...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...