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German Court Finds Fantec Responsible For GPL Violation On Third-Party Code

timothy posted 1 year,2 days | from the keep-your-friends-close dept.

GNU is Not Unix 228

ectoman writes "Are firms responsible for GPL violations on code they receive from third parties? A German court thinks so. The Regional Court of Hamburg recently ruled that Fantec, a European media player maker, failed to distribute 'complete corresponding source code' for firmware found in some of its products. Fantec claims its third-party firmware supplier provided the company with appropriate source code, which Fantext made available online. But a hackathon organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe discovered that this source code was incomplete, and programmer Harald Welte filed suit. He won. Mark Radcliffe, an IP expert and senior partner at DLA Piper who specializes in open source licensing issues, has analyzed the case—and argued that it underscores the need for companies to implement internal GPL compliance processes. 'Fantec is a reminder that companies should adopt a formal FOSS use policy which should be integrated into the software development process,' he writes. 'These standards should include an understanding of the FOSS management processes of such third-party suppliers. The development of a network of trusted third-party suppliers is critical part of any FOSS compliance strategy.'"

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Premptive STFU to GPL haters (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44424691)

So they got caught violating an oss license? (TBH they were just being lazy by relying on their supplier's word. You've got to know and own the product you sell.)

Imagine how much shit they'd be in if they'd been caught violating copyright on a piece of closed source software. Ask anyone who's dealt with the BSA to comment on how friendly and fair they are.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL white knighters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44424713)

You publish your code. It might get used. Deal with it.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL white knighters (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | 1 year,1 day | (#44424991)

They published code, it got used, they're dealing with it.
What's the problem (apart from them not dealing with it in the way you'd prefer)?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL white knighters (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425527)

You publish your code. It might get used. Deal with it.

Ah, then by that logic, we can ignore all copyright laws. Eureka!

To be perfectly clear: I would rather a world where labor to create a work is done and paid for once, and the infinite monopoly granted to any who refuse to work without assurance of pay would be applied to content creation as it is in all other labor fields. Yes, I would rather a world where no copyrights existed at all; Where to get more money you would have to do more work instead of sell more copies which are infinitely reproducible and thus valueless:
Econ101: infinite supply == zero price; // regardless of cost to create.

Not monetizing copies but the work which yields their infinite supply instead is actually how the open source model of software production operates. As a car mechanic or home builder or burger joint would: I do an estimate, agree on a price for the new work (code | feature | installation | maintenance | etc.), then do the work once and get paid once for it, then seek more projects to do more work to get paid further. Instead of the insanity of selling ice to Eskimos -- or 1's and 0's to folks with computers -- I get paid proportional to my work.

Conversely, since copyright does exist, I am not free to utilize any other available configuration of 1's and 0's already created and thus in infinite supply. In response to the ridiculous state of copyright whereby I am disadvantaged by my sane work practice and since I do not foolishly work for free then gamble my livelihood in the closed source copyright futures market -- A market where the work can go underpaid or unpaid if the market value didn't match the demand leading to job insecurity, and whereby the publisher middle men can drain the consumers of orders of magnitude more wealth than the cost to create the work (see how that works? The workers are disadvantaged, yes?); In response for being held to these ridiculous laws in order to make a living in society I choose to assert that my end users have all the rights and capabilities granted to any others who would monetize my work. Unable to rid the world of all copyrights, I expect businesses to obey them as I must. I merely expect that the business community enriched with unbounded advantages provided by GPL'd code not disadvantage me by disallowing my future work upon projects such code makes possible.

Now, perhaps you are feckless enough to assume I can simply ignore copyrights if I want. Perhaps you assume a person can have security in their future while their small business breaks copyright laws at will, and allows others to close off future job opportunities by not releasing source code as the contract under which the work was performed would require. Perhaps you would say: "Just deal with bad actors making a less of a viable future for you." Perhaps you would say the blame lies with me for publishing my code in the first place, and ignore all the other compliant businesses which my work bolsters all of at once and I thus thrive upon. Perhaps you would think we allow ever more egregious infringement of the open source copyrights to proliferate while allowing the brutal punishing of end users for minor copyright infringements against proprietary licensors. Perhaps you would say, that I "might get used. Deal with it.", and then ignore that dealing with it is exactly what is being done in TFA...

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL white knighters (4, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425819)

So you would make speculative IP creation impossible. Before you created any IP, you would have to establish contact with all possible customers and agree, and contract, a price for the IP you would create. This was the way the system used to work in the 18th century: Dr Johnson had to line up a number of sponsors before he produced his dictionary. The same applied for music: Bach needed a sponsor for his cantatas etc. The invention of copyright then produced an explosion of publishing: because people could retain the IP of their putative great works, they could publish speculatively (possibly with funding from a publisher), and if indeed it turned out they were great works, they would be repaid for their efforts,

Your proposal would, I think, destroy the literature and magazine industries. Yes, magazines have subscribers. But why should I subscribe if I can get a copy as soon as the magazine is published? How can the editor of a magazine get enough readers to contract for something that they will receive free once the first user has received it? How can the writer who /thinks/ he has a great book make a profit from it when the first review copy can be Torrented for free? Why create any new work of literature? Music is slightly different: a live performance is different from a recording, and some groups distribute recordings for free in order to get fans at their concerts. But, in the days of the Kindle etc., an e-copy of a book is approximately as good as a hard copy.

Literature and music are not the same things as burgers and car repairs. The invention of copyright had a massive positive effect on human culture. Very little of the music you listen to and the books and magazines you read would exist without it. Of course, I am not saying that the existing system is perfect - very far from it. Its application to programs and code is very defective. But in throwing the whole thing out, you are losing the good as well as the bad.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL white knighters (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425867)

You publish your code. It might get used. Deal with it.

Ah, then by that logic, we can ignore all copyright laws. Eureka!

I have a question for you. Why is it that you can take literary works and sample from them without violating copyright but GPL'ed code is viral? If they are both based on copyright, why can't you take small samples of code and incorporate it into non-gpl'ed code? Isn't that hypocritical of you? Why is is that you create a derived work from a literary work and by just rewriting it, you have to pay no royalties and yet GPL advocates want the original author to be able to "steal" all of the derived works even it it almost completely refactored into a new codebase? Why is it that you can sample sounds from a song to create a derived work without paying royalties? Why is is that you can create a parody without paying royalties?

What makes GPL'ed code so special? Is it based on copyright or not? In my opinion, if you publish code on a webpage inlined with the text of an article, it cannot be GPL'ed because the reader never had the opportunity to agree before reading the code and it cannot be unseen. In that case, the author is trying to retroactively license it after effectively releasing it in the public domain.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL white knighters (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426313)

If the sample is quite small, you probably could, regardless of the licence, but there would be some legal risks. Just like any other sort of work. For example, pick a popular novel, copy the 1st chapter and write a different story from there. Let's see if you survive the court battle. OTOH, lift a single line and you may be OK. Actually, with just one line, you're much more likely to be OK with GPL software than with a popular novel.

The GPL violations that get people in trouble tend to be a lot more copying than any known interpretation of fair use would allow.

WTF makes you think anyone said no fair use? (2)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426317)

> Why is it that you can take literary works and sample from them without violating copyright but GPL'ed code is viral?
> If they are both based on copyright, why can't you take small samples of code and incorporate it into non-gpl'ed code?

You can. Who said otherwise? Just as you can quote a few sentences from a book, you can copy a few lines from a GPL work.
You can't copy-paste several pages from a typical book, under normal circumstances, and you can't copy-paste several pages from a GPL work without complying with the license.

It may be a mistake to get into a discussion involving fair use on Slashdot since quite a few people here seem to think it means you
can take whatever you want, from anyone you want, and do with it whatever you please. As it sounds like you know, fair use has a
very specific definition. Generally, it means you can use a small sample of a work in a way that does not compete with the original
work, such as quoting a book in a review. I've never heard anyone say you can't quote code in a code review.

> Why is is that you create a derived work from a literary work and by just rewriting it, you have to pay no royalties and yet GPL
> advocates want the original author to be able to "steal" all of the derived works even it it almost completely refactored into a new codebase?

I'm not sure what you're on about here either, but you can't refactor a book either. You can write a new book on the same topic.
You can't re-arrange the paragraphs by cut and paste, add a few words, and call it your own. Same with software. Maybe this
will make it clear:

It's illegal to shoot someone.
is it illegal to shoot someone and give them a Coke?
is it illegal to shoot someone and smile at them?

It's illegal to take my code and distribute it without following the license.
is it illegal to take my code and distribute it without following the license and also add your own code?
is it illegal to take my code and distribute it without following the license and also change my code a little bit?

Adding some of your own code to mine is the same as adding a Coke to the shooting. How would that make it okay?

Following the GPL is nothing more than posting your changes, or giving them to your customers. Is that SO hard?
You insist on selling my work, but can't post your own?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (2)

datajack (17285) | 1 year,2 days | (#44424787)

I was going to say pretty much the same thing. I would imagine that Fantec are now looking to sue whoever supplied those components to them.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

citizenr (871508) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425989)

Good luck suing small Chinese factories :)

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425057)

They wouldn't have been in shit because the proprietary firmware wouldn't have had such licensing issues. You've invented a scenario that would not have existed. This is purely a GPL issue despite the deflection attempt.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425441)

They wouldn't have been in shit because the proprietary firmware wouldn't have had such licensing issues.

The licensing issue was that Fantec's firmware supplier gave Fantec firmware using third-party code, but in a way that violated the license of the third-party code. Fantec redistributed the code as it received it from the supplier (as part of its devices, possibly also as firmware updates), which therefore was also in violation of the license.

Now, please tell me why you think that could never happen with proprietary firmware. You don't really think proprietary code cannot violate licenses of any third-party code it uses, do you?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426347)

Sure it would. Do you actually think there would be no complaints had the supplier copied someone else's proprietary firmware and just hexedited the identifying strings?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (0, Troll)

Desler (1608317) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425085)

But copyrights are bad and copyright infringement is okay, right? Oh wait this was over copyrights on GPL code so we have a double standard. My bad, I seem to have lost my head.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

suutar (1860506) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425213)

would it be any less of a double standard if corporations got a pass on copying code while decrying music copying?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

Desler (1608317) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425321)

Where did I say they should? Oh right, nowhere.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

suutar (1860506) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425647)

I didn't mean to imply that you said they should get a pass; you didn't. It just seemed to me that your statement carried an assumption that the alternative was not itself a double standard, which seemed odd.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425369)

GPL isn't about sharing, it's about forcing others to share.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (0)

aristotle-dude (626586) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425917)

GPL isn't about sharing, it's about forcing others to share.

Right, the GPL is like socialism where the state owns everything and forces everyone to share in the labour whereas BSD is like communism where the community can share or not share freely because there is no "state" and people share when it benefits everyone in the group to do so.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426251)

GPL isn't about sharing, it's about forcing others to share.

no it is about reciprocal sharing. i share with you as long as you agree to share not take.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425111)

Actually at the core of the issue here is not really the GPL. At the core is that they got the code from another company and relied on that company adhering to the license.

Basically the ruling says that when you got the code from a third party, you cannot rely on the third party acting correctly when determining whether your use of the code complies with the license. If the third party violated the license (in this case, by not providing the complete source code), it doesn't protect you from the responsibility of checking the correct licensing yourself when redistributing the code.

That it was about GPL code is only tangential to the issue (although it's almost certainly the reason why it ended up on Slashdot).

Basically the scheme is the following: A gives code to B under a given license. B then gives the code to C in a way that violates A's license. C relies on B having followed A's license and figures out that redistribution in a certain way would not violate A's license. However since B's analysis rests on the false assumption that B complied, it turns out that C's redistribution of the code also violates A's license. But with a closer inspection, C could have found out that B didn't comply. The court ruling now says that C is responsible for violating the license.

Here A is whoever owns the copyright for the code in question, B is Fantec's firmware supplier, C is Fantec, the license is the GPL, and the violation is not distributing the complete corresponding source code.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425973)

Actually at the core of the issue here is not really the GPL. At the core is that they got the code from another company and relied on that company adhering to the license.

Basically the ruling says that when you got the code from a third party, you cannot rely on the third party acting correctly when determining whether your use of the code complies with the license. If the third party violated the license (in this case, by not providing the complete source code), it doesn't protect you from the responsibility of checking the correct licensing yourself when redistributing the code.

There doesn't seem to be anything surprising here - the same applies in most liability law, in that you can usually be sued for a liability even if it was your supplier's fault. (An example I can give which shows this is the same outside of IP law is: lets say your next door neighbor gets a contractor in to do some building work; the contractor damages your house in the process. Usually you would have to sue your neighbor, not the contractor (at least, this is the case in the UK)).

Usually, if you get sued and it was your supplier's fault; you then need to sue your supplier to get your money back.

Or did people somehow think that you're not going to get hammered for copyright infringement if you publish some music/art under the belief that your supplier had given you a licence to it and it later turned out they weren't the copyright holder?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44426141)

Agreed. This really has nothing to do with the GPL. If it had been proprietary code that had been stolen, it would have been at least as bad. If your contractors don't respect copyright, you're in trouble. Better to add terms to your contract saying they will indemnify you in the event that they give you copyright-violating code.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

Solandri (704621) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426301)

Basically the scheme is the following: A gives code to B under a given license. B then gives the code to C in a way that violates A's license. C relies on B having followed A's license and figures out that redistribution in a certain way would not violate A's license. However since B's analysis rests on the false assumption that B complied, it turns out that C's redistribution of the code also violates A's license. But with a closer inspection, C could have found out that B didn't comply. The court ruling now says that C is responsible for violating the license.

That's how it's supposed to work. The next step is for C to sue B for breach of contract and/or damages suffered due to failure to comply with A's license, and (assuming B did their due diligence and put in a reasonable effort to make sure the code complied with A's license) for the court to find in C's favor and make B pay.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425135)

While I agree with what you're saying and I think the decision is correct, the problem is that when companies read articles such as this, all they see is, "If we use open source, we could get sued and screwed for something a third party did."

It makes the use of GPL licensed software appear unpredictably dangerous. And there's no getting around that.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

shentino (1139071) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425991)

It also gives GPL fanatics an incentive to sneak GPLed code into stuff they supply other developers, then tipping off the original licensor.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425341)

How did this get modded insightful?

Yes, they should follow the license for all code they use.
No, this would not have been an issue if they had used code under BSD.
Yes, if I had a company that was producing code based on OSS, I'd be making sure I was using BSD licensed (or one of the other more liberal licenses).

It's a simple matter of risk, BSD licensed code is less risky for companies to use. That's not good or bad, it just is.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426069)

Yes, they should follow the license for all code they use.
No, this would not have been an issue if they had used code under BSD.

The problem is that Fantec received code from a third party. If the third party told them correctly what license applied, and Fantec acted accordingly, they would have been fine. If the license had been BSD but the third party lied and Fantec acted accordingly, they would have been fine most likely. If the license was GPL (as it was in this case) or proprietary, the supplier lied, and Fantec acted on the false information (which they did), obviously there was trouble.

But the problem isn't GPL; the problem is not being told which license applied and acting wrongly because of that false information.

Re: Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

turbidostato (878842) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426197)

Yes with BSD you would have end up in exactly the same case: you still need to comply on third party code licensing terms. What, but trolling, makes you think otherwise?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425459)

It probably wouldn't have cost them as much as most likely it would have been settled out of court without the need for lawyers and court fees, the BSA just wants to get paid after all and will negotiate,whereas with the GPL there is NO negotiation nor compromise because like it or not that is the way RMS designed the license.

What I personally don't get when it comes to these cases is...why? Why would you bother taking the risk of using GPL code when you aren't a FOSS company and risk possible lawsuits like this? If you don't want to be a FOSS company there is BSD and there is plenty of proprietary solutions so there is really no damned point in taking the risk when your company isn't a FOSS based company. After all BSD is good enough for fricking Apple and the PS4 so its not like its not got plenty of support, so seriously they should get an extra 40% tacked on to the verdict as a "You're a dumbass" penalty for wasting all that money when there was no damned need to take the risk.

Does this make GPL bad? Nope, but one would have to be blind not to see you really need to base a company around FOSS if you are gonna be using it as it doesn't play nice with proprietary, again by design, but as long as your business makes its money by using one of what I call the "blessed three" models by which pretty much all GPL businesses are based, selling support/services, selling hardware (like this company) or holding out the tin cup? Then there is no problem with you handing out the source and thus no issues with GPL. Its when these companies try to mix GPL and proprietary that it bites them in the ass.

So the moral of the story is thus...if you are gonna use GPL make sure its no problem for your company to abide by the terms, otherwise choose something else. These cases show that stealing GPL code will end up costing you no different than if you stole proprietary code because as far as the courts are concerned its one and the same. Just because its "free as in beer" doesn't mean its "free as in do what you will", that is what the BSD license is for.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

citizenr (871508) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426031)

What I personally don't get when it comes to these cases is...why? Why would you bother taking the risk of using GPL code when you aren't a FOSS company and risk possible lawsuits like this? If you don't want to be a FOSS company there is BSD and there is plenty of proprietary solutions so there is really no damned point in taking the risk when your company isn't a FOSS based company.

They are not in electronics manufacturing business, they are in relabeling Chinese crap business. They dont care about licenses shmihences until you poke them with a very sharp stick. Chinese also dont care about licenses and WOULD provide all the source code (they already do to their own Chinese partners) if that was the requirement.

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

Microlith (54737) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426227)

It probably wouldn't have cost them as much as most likely it would have been settled out of court without the need for lawyers and court fees, the BSA just wants to get paid after all and will negotiate,whereas with the GPL there is NO negotiation nor compromise because like it or not that is the way RMS designed the license.

Nonsense. With the BSA it would have cost thousands in licensing fees as they dug into the entire company. The vast majority of GPL-related incidents are resolved out of court.

What I personally don't get when it comes to these cases is...why?

Why? Why do people enforce the license their software was released under? Gee, I have no idea. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that people like to have the terms under which their software was made available respected, like any other license?

Why would you bother taking the risk of using GPL code when you aren't a FOSS company and risk possible lawsuits like this?

Because the software is useful and the likelihood of suits like this is low?

If you don't want to be a FOSS company there is BSD

There might be BSD for whatever solution you're looking at.

there is plenty of proprietary solutions

There might be a proprietary solution, at significantly increased costs.

BSD is good enough for fricking Apple and the PS4 so its not like its not got plenty of support

BSD is almost exclusively the user-space command line tools and some minor aspects of the platform's behavior. They also have resources to throw around. And while it has support, it doesn't have nearly the support that Linux has.

one would have to be blind not to see you really need to base a company around FOSS if you are gonna be using it as it doesn't play nice with proprietary, again by design

Oh hairyfeet, lying again. Are you going to delve into the mad conspiracy theory that Torvalds et. al. are secretly integrating code into the kernel to cause proprietary userspace apps to misbehave?

Its when these companies try to mix GPL and proprietary that it bites them in the ass.

No, it's when companies don't pay attention to the licenses the software they get from ODMs and violate the terms that they get bit in the ass. But please, deliberately misrepresent the situation more.

if you are gonna use GPL make sure its no problem for your company to abide by the terms, otherwise choose something else

And it is very, very easy to comply with the GPL.

These cases show that stealing GPL code will end up costing you no different than if you stole proprietary code

Precisely!

So the irony here is that your takeaway is "don't use GPL code" when the real lesson here is "pay attention to the license and abide by the terms." Now shall we see you lie through your teeth some more?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425477)

TBH they were just being lazy by relying on their supplier's word.

what's the point of using a supplier if you essentially have to
redo all their work?

Re:Premptive STFU to GPL haters (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425525)

In some businesses being forced to open your code could be much more damaging that even the largest copyright settlements.

Bigger Issue (1)

mdielmann (514750) | 1 year,2 days | (#44424717)

This isn't going to make it easier to convince companies to adopt the GPL. It's not necessarily accurate, since Fantec clearly didn't exercise due diligence with their third-party software, but that's what a lot of upper management is going to hear.

Re:Bigger Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44424895)

so what? The point is that the GPL is being enforced _in court_, that's a boon to FOSS developers everywhere, all we need is a few more test-cases like this.

Re:Bigger Issue (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425419)

That's right, suing people and increasing management costs is what the GPL is all about.... "I'm using free software, ohh wait, I need to pay some lawyers and programmers to follow the audit trail and validate it really is free". Great, now they have to pay extra money to validate GPL compliance. GPL is only theoretically free, but in practice, it is not.

Re:Bigger Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425593)

Are you conflating two distinct meanings of the word "free" intentionally, or accidentally?

Re:Bigger Issue (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,1 day | (#44424963)

This isn't going to make it easier to convince companies to adopt the GPL. It's not necessarily accurate, since Fantec clearly didn't exercise due diligence with their third-party software, but that's what a lot of upper management is going to hear.

I don't doubt the theoretical potential for this to be FUDed; but it isn't as though Fantec would have been any better off if their shoddy firmware contractor had been out of compliance with code under any other licence... Somehow, the fact that you can get your ass handed to you for violating software licenses seems to be Super Scary when it's OSS; but just part of doing business when it's proprietary; but it's the same principle at work either way.

Re:Bigger Issue (1)

mdielmann (514750) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425603)

This isn't going to make it easier to convince companies to adopt the GPL. It's not necessarily accurate, since Fantec clearly didn't exercise due diligence with their third-party software, but that's what a lot of upper management is going to hear.

I don't doubt the theoretical potential for this to be FUDed; but it isn't as though Fantec would have been any better off if their shoddy firmware contractor had been out of compliance with code under any other licence... Somehow, the fact that you can get your ass handed to you for violating software licenses seems to be Super Scary when it's OSS; but just part of doing business when it's proprietary; but it's the same principle at work either way.

If the Fantec product had been proprietary, they wouldn't have been under violation, and they couldn't have verified if there was a licensing issue with any firmware provided by their supplier, which would have been noted in any good contract. The supplier, if anyone would have been on the hook for license violations (assuming the firmware had any code they didn't own), and Fantec may have gotten an injunction against sales of their product (at least until new, complaint firmware was in place)

Face it, there are a lot of new and different things you have to be aware of when going down the OSS road. These things are no worse than the traditional methods, just different And that different can land you in court and cost you piles of cash of varying sizes. The two options are like riding a horse versus driving a horse-drawn wagon. Superficially, they are a lot alike, even use the same engine, but there are key features that are different, and need to be taken into account.

Re:Bigger Issue (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426083)

If the firmware had been proprietary and in-house (either their house or the contractor's) they wouldn't have been in violation; but 3rd-party proprietary components would have played out in almost exactly the same way.

Re:Bigger Issue (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426175)

If the Fantec product had been proprietary, they wouldn't have been under violation, and they couldn't have verified if there was a licensing issue with any firmware provided by their supplier, which would have been noted in any good contract.

No more so than they could with GPLed software.

Their supplier provided them with a product which incorporated third party code. The supplier assured them that the third party licence was being adhered to. This turned out to be incorrect, and Fantec got hauled up for breaking the licence. In this case the third party code was GPLed, but lets suppose that it came from Microsoft under one of their licences - if the licence hadn't been adhered to they still could've been hauled up to court.

The licence is pretty irrelevant here; all that is relevant is that the supplier used third party code and didn't comply with the licence, which in turn caused Fantec to fail to comply with the licence. Fantec's next step is going to be to sue their supplier and recover their costs.

Of course, whatever licence you use, the idea that your licensing responsibilities evaporate as soon as your supplier screws up would be insane - that kind of system would simply lead to shell limited companies being set up as the "suppliers" which could be dissolved as soon as there is a claim against them, absolving the real company of any responsibility. So really, nothing to see here, the law operates as expected.

Face it, there are a lot of new and different things you have to be aware of when going down the OSS road. These things are no worse than the traditional methods, just different And that different can land you in court and cost you piles of cash of varying sizes. The two options are like riding a horse versus driving a horse-drawn wagon.

None of this is "new and different" - any third party code is a risk, whatever the licence. The only safe way is to write all your own code - most people consider that to be unrealistically expensive and therefore decide to take the risk with third party code. Third party code means due-dilligence in order to mitigate the risk of infringing a licence.

Re:Bigger Issue (4, Informative)

gmack (197796) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425033)

They didn't adopt the GPL they borrowed code that was GPL so they had to do less work rather than spend tends of thousands of dollars doing the work themselves. It's not the first time I've heard of a company thinking their added code totaling a fraction of a percent of the project is somehow worth more than the rest. It's also not the firs time I've seen willful ignorance on behalf of a device maker.

I few years back I was sourcing some kit for an ISP and discovered the ADSL modems were based on Linux + BusyBox. I asked the manufacturer if I could have the source so we could try some local modifications only to be told "the chipset maker doesn't supply that" and I would have to talk to them (in China) about it. I argued the point but they refused to accept that they had a legal obligation. Fortunately about a year later they entered into a settlement with the gpl-violations.org but by then I was no longer working for that ISP.

Not just due diligence, lying and covering up (4, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425059)

Not only did they not exercise due diligence to start with, it appears that when asked to comply with the license by posting the code they actually used, the company lied and said they weren't using iptables. Had they simply said "oops, sorry about that, here's the code we compiled" it would have been resolved with just a few minutes of time.

That second scenario is what Plesk did. I pointed out they weren't in compliance and as an Apache copyright holder I insisted that they comply.
They immediately posted the Apache code they were using, ending the matter. The only effect on them is that now a couple of Slashdot readers know that they did the right thing.

I think that's the big takeaway - when you mess up, don't lie and initiate a cover-up, just fix it and move on.
 

Re:Not just due diligence, lying and covering up (1)

mdielmann (514750) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425741)

Not only did they not exercise due diligence to start with, it appears that when asked to comply with the license by posting the code they actually used, the company lied and said they weren't using iptables...I think that's the big takeaway - when you mess up, don't lie and initiate a cover-up, just fix it and move on.

I missed that part, and yes, trying to cover it up only hurts. I still expect a fair number of management employees to walk away with the soundbite that GPL equals lawsuits.

Re: Not just due diligence, lying and covering up (1)

turbidostato (878842) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426331)

Then other companies with more clever management will take advantage of it and will outperform them. Isn't that free market in action?

Re:Bigger Issue (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425137)

This isn't going to make it easier to convince companies to adopt the GPL.

That's their problem, to be honest. And it's good for me if they wish to make themselves less competetive by giving into FUD.

The thing is the same issue applies equally to GPL code and proprietary code. If a third party had used someone else's proprietary code, they'd be in an even bigger heap of shit, but no one would be saying that it is going to hinder the uptake of proprietary code.

Basically the rule is you need to do due dilligince to make sure your suppliers aren't supplying you with dodgy crap.

Re:Bigger Issue (1)

shentino (1139071) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426037)

What if your supplier is a GPL fanatic who planted the violation on purpose for the express reason of forcing you to cough up your own code?

Re:Bigger Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425703)

This isn't going to make it easier to convince companies to adopt the GPL.

That ship has long since sailed. Linux is being used on a gazillion different devices and nobody cares about Fartec or whoever.

Err - what? (4, Insightful)

queazocotal (915608) | 1 year,2 days | (#44424731)

'A german court thinks so'?
Under very few legal codes is it OK to distribute something that you do not have the appropriate copyright/licence.
Even if you don't investigate properly to find out if you do or don't, that doesn't get you off the hook.
It may alter the penalties, but the fundamental legality isn't really in question, pretty much anywhere.

Raising 'GPL' is a red-herring here - 'Oh - I diddn't realise that machine had an unlicenced copy of windows on it' - is exactly the same case.

Re:Err - what? (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425013)

I seem to recall a German court doing the same thing with MP3 licencing and Microsoft about 10 years ago. They licenced it from someone who did not have the rights, and MS got fined, not the supplier. At least they're consistent.

Re:Err - what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44426051)

There was one case in Germany where a GPL-violating company tried to defend itself by saying "The GPL has no legal consequences." The answer of the judge was simply "Are you sure? If you take up the position that the GPL is not in effect, then you're practically admitting a willful violation of copyright."
The company's advocate reconsidered his strategy.

FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (4, Insightful)

drdread66 (1063396) | 1 year,2 days | (#44424761)

A previous employer of mine really really really wanted to offer FOSS support & products as part of their lineup. In the end, the lawyers won, as they couldn't craft a policy that would allow anyone other than a lawyer to make the decisions. This was mostly for GPLv2 and v3, but they got the dev managers completely wound up about all the license types. Mostly this resulted in the company punting on the FOSS idea.

It's not terribly surprising that some small outfit decided to outsource the responsibility, assuming they were in a similar "analysis paralysis" situation. Too bad they did not understand the intent of the licenses and just "do the right thing."

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44424959)

Sounds like they had a bad lawyer.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (4, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425049)

Compliance is easy. Never even look at GPL code. If it's not under BSD, don't touch it.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425161)

Compliance is easy. Never even look at GPL code. If it's not under BSD, don't touch it.

I'll stick with my Linux instances, running GCC compiled code thanks very much. If you want to make your job harder and more expensive, feel free and I'll try to poach your customers.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425331)

Good luck with that.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425621)

Linux doesn't even have a stable implementation of a COW FS that supports proper volumes and snap-shots. Good luck "saving" money and offering a sub-par service.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425427)

Compliance is easy. Never even look at GPL code. If it's not under BSD, don't touch it.

That is completely idiotic in this context. The problem wasn't that the company used GPL code and didn't comply with the license. The problem is that they bought code from another company, they believed that they had all the copyrights, and the company that sold the code cheated on them.

That can happen with proprietary code as well, as Microsoft found out when a company sold them lots of video code that they had originally written for Apple, and to which Apple had the copyrights.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425505)

No. They bought code from another company, knowing it was GPL. The source the other company supplied was incomplete.

Had they bought code, knowing it was BSD this would never have been an issue.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425745)

Had they bought code, knowing it was BSD this would never have been an issue.

But how do you know what is in the code if you don't examine it? It could still contain GPL-ed code, or code copied from a competitor by an industrial spy.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426067)

It's not that easy. You have to make sure that the BSD code is not taken from a GPL project, which is essentially what happened in this case (although it was proprietary code taken from a GPL project). You have to audit the code to make sure the person who gave it to you is telling the truth (even if they are honest, they might not realize where code was given to them).

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426189)

In the real world it works the opposite.

The BSD code is quite legally incorporated into a GPL project.

Later a GPL zealot finds the code in a commercial project and runs around like a chicken with it's head cut-off. Later still it's explained to them what happened and they disappear, never to apologize. Rinse, repeat.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

Microlith (54737) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426429)

Later a GPL zealot finds the code in a commercial project and runs around like a chicken with it's head cut-off. Later still it's explained to them what happened and they disappear, never to apologize. Rinse, repeat.

If this happens so often you'd have an actual, concrete example of this happening, right?

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (4, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425051)

But they magically understand proprietary licenses? And somehow fact that every proprietary license is different and may contain different pitfalls is not a problem?

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

suutar (1860506) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425265)

no, but proprietary licenses are already in a "lawyer must make decision" state and everyone's used to it.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425781)

It is not a common practice to have lawyers involved in software tool decisions. Having worked as a software engineer and consultant for companies ranging from 3 employees to Fortune 500s. None of them ever had lawyers review software licenses.

At my most recent job at a Fortune 500, I reported 2 cases where we were completely ignoring licenses: one was a click-through that said I agree to allow the company logo to be used in their marketing. Naturally, I have no such authority and putting that in a click-through makes no sense. The other simply said "All Rights Reserved" which was nonsense because it was an SDK, with a royalty-free redistributable. Clearly someone threw that text into the install without thinking.

When I suggested that the legal department make some guidelines, everyone ran and hid because no one wants lawyers involved in their lives any more than is necessary.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (2)

Krishnoid (984597) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425639)

I remember reading that that the GNU GPL is a license, not a contract [lwn.net] , and that most proprietary software is accompanied by both. My vague understanding is that lawyers aren't familiar enough working with the GNU GPL's 'bare license' situation.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426157)

I remember reading that that the GNU GPL is a license, not a contract, and that most proprietary software is accompanied by both. My vague understanding is that lawyers aren't familiar enough working with the GNU GPL's 'bare license' situation.

That's very unlikely. Legally, it is quite trivial: GPL allows you to do certain things. So you check: Is your use allowed either by copyright law, or by the GPL. If yes, then you're fine. If not, don't use it.

The GPL says roughly "you may do X if you do Y". Because it's no contract, it means if you do X without doing Y then you have copyright infringement. Without the GPL license, doing X would be copyright infringement, whether you do Y or not. If it was a contract, the copyright holder could force you to do Y if you do X, or could sue you for copyright infringement. Since it is no contract, they can't force you to do Y; they can only sue for copyright infringement.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425645)

Ssshhhh!! The lawyers concluded that more lawyers would be required. Looks like it backfired on them.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (2)

MtHuurne (602934) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425211)

The outsourcing is what got them into trouble in the first place. They got both a binary and sources from their supplier and assumed that those two matched, without verifying that by doing the build themselves.

Re:FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425395)

A previous employer of mine really really really wanted to offer FOSS support & products as part of their lineup.

So instead they went into solaris support and are getting sued by Oracle [slashdot.org] for not following their license?

Doesn't matter what the license is if you are incapable of following instructions.

This is why they hate us (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44424769)

Shit like this. No wonder everything's going BSD.

Did anyone try to work things out with the company?

All stuff like this does is make people afraid of open source.

And why does it seem that all these troublemakers are from Germany?

Yes, when asked to comply the company lied. German (4, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,1 day | (#44424981)

It appears that when asked to comply with the license by posting the code they actually used, the company lied and said they weren't using iptables.
Contrast that to when I pointed out to Plesk that they were violating the Apache license. They very quickly apologized and posted the code, putting an end to the issue. All they needed to do is post the code that they compiled in order to come into compliance.

The court opinion is six pages, Im guessing three of those are boilerplate. Are there any fluent speakers of German who can read through it and tell us the facts as expressed by the court?

Re:Yes, when asked to comply the company lied. Ger (1)

Kjella (173770) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426135)

The court opinion is six pages, Im guessing three of those are boilerplate. Are there any fluent speakers of German who can read through it and tell us the facts as expressed by the court?

The court didn't really go into much of anything, in short it concluded that the source was incomplete which means no rights were granted by the GPLv2 which means their distribution was a copyright violation. That they didn't know about it seems entirely irrelevant to the ruling. In fact it's so totally absent that going by this ruling you might think that if your copyright is violated, you can sue every mirror and every one of them would be guilty, no matter how much good faith belief they might have it's legally distributed.

Re:This is why they hate us (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425037)

> Shit like this. No wonder everything's going BSD.

You wish.

While it sound like a silly juvenile retort, it really is the case.

Why would anyone with a pathological need to "win in the market" or "be associated with the cool brand" bother with BSD to begin with?

> Did anyone try to work things out with the company?

No. People just like to litigate for fun. They like to waste the money.

Don't be such an idiot. If anything gets in front of a judge it's because one or both sides refused to compromise. The FSF has a long history of quickly dispensing these things by allowing the offending party to come into compliance.

Re:This is why they hate us (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425185)

Ooooo, someone's a little butthurt, yeah? BSD offers more freedom and is a license that wasn't cooked up by a bearded, fat-ass Jew who likes to eat his own toejam.

Re:This is why they hate us (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425439)

BSD gives more freedom to a developer or a company, but not to users you idiot.

Re:This is why they hate us (2)

FireFury03 (653718) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426531)

Ooooo, someone's a little butthurt, yeah? BSD offers more freedom and is a license that wasn't cooked up by a bearded, fat-ass Jew who likes to eat his own toejam.

Why do you actually care? If you don't want to comply with the GPL then don't use GPLed code - your choice.

As a developer I actually *don't care* if you use my code - my code is written to do a job I need it to do, and rather than keeping it all to myself I release it in case its useful to other people. I usually use GPL under the premise that any improvements someone makes to the code will be made available to other people - they're benefitting from my code, why shouldn't other people benefit from their improvements too? If you don't like the terms under which I release my code, you're free to not use it - go find some code that does the same job under a licence that suits you better; or write your own; or even negotiate a different licence with me. But instead, what Fantec did was get some code they found useful and ignored the licensing terms - that's not cool and companies who ignore the licence and refuse to come into compliance after they've been asked to really do deserve to be sued. No one forced them into breaking the licence, there was nothing stopping them saying "we don't like that licence, lets write our own code instead of using someone else's work".

Re:This is why they hate us (2)

Inzkeeper (767071) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425297)

Yes, Fantec was approached in an effort to work it out.
Their initial reaction was to deny everything.
When confronted with undeniable proof, they simply blamed a contractor and said that they were not responsible.
...at least, that's what the articles I read reported.
At that point, what options are left?

Re:This is why they hate us (1)

citizenr (871508) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426057)

Shit like this. No wonder everything's going BSD.

so insightful, all those millions and millions of BSD based smartphones.

Re:This is why they hate us (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426321)

Yep, I have one. So do the millions of other iPhone users.

LOOK !! PIGS ON THE WING !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44424773)

You know that I care !!
What happens to you !!
And I know that you care !!
For me too !!

Need shelter from GPL !!
Don't do it !!
It's a trap !!

Is this what they really want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44424797)

So, because some people decide that they want this code for some silly reason, more companies will just dump gpl outright to limit their exposure to stuff like this?

Re:Is this what they really want? (4, Insightful)

queazocotal (915608) | 1 year,1 day | (#44424909)

This isn't a GPL thing.
This is a general IP thing.

If you are not - as a buisness selling software (even if in embedded hardware) requiring your suppliers to state that all software used is compliant with relevant licences, with appropriate penalty clauses or indemnification if they are not - then your lawyers don't deserve to be employed.

Exactly the same happens if you ship unlicenced windows on your systems.

Re:Is this what they really want? (1)

qbast (1265706) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425119)

Hopefully yes. Having dozen more companies simply grabbing bits of GPL stuff and closing it because nobody dares to do anything is a loss. If you are still in 'OMG an actualy company looked at my code and wants to sell it! I am so honored!' phase, then by all means choose BSD for all your stuff.

More of a "better chance you get caught" (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | 1 year,1 day | (#44424859)

A third-party firmware supplier could also supply you something that included copyrighted code under some other license (doesn't have to be a free software/open source one) without meeting the requirements of the license. And you would distribute that infringing on the copyright.

Of course if the source code isn't supplied it's harder for the copyright holder to find out.

A Case for mediation (1)

Martin S. (98249) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425035)

It looks like there is an attempt to make an example of this company when perhaps mediation would have been a more suitable approach give they attempted to comply but failed procedurally rather than pursued a policy of wilfully evasion.

Re:A Case for mediation (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425951)

Probably. This isn't the first time this has happened. They aren't the first company to fail to audit code their suppliers provided. At some point you have to stop and say "OK, by this point everybody ought to know what they need to do. It's been in the news enough that nobody can claim it's not well-known. So from here on out, no more excuses. No more passing the buck. You know what you need to do, do it or accept the consequences.". If you don't, the failures won't be addressed.

FOSS Policy is pretty simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425113)

Many companies simply have a list of open source licenses that are permissible. Apache, MIT, BSD, etc... and GPL in any form is often barred from us

GPL go away (1, Troll)

optikradio (2980717) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425257)

One day, we will be free from tyranny of GPL. One day.

Re:GPL go away (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425759)

One day, we will be free from tyranny of GPL. One day.

It's the day when copyright gets abolished.

Any third-party code? (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425671)

Shouldn't any company including any third-party code in their products already have a process in place to make sure that code's all properly licensed and they're in compliance? This isn't about GPL or FOSS code. If one of your suppliers includes proprietary code in the firmware they supply to you that isn't properly licensed or you aren't following the license terms don't you have the same problem?

Just no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425875)

When a whore makes her cunt publically available on the town square, it has already been violated by herself. She does not prove anything if someone equally sick sticks it in her. They are all just a sick bunch of fucks that should be dealt with in the loony bin.

just write your own damn code (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,1 day | (#44425947)

3rd party code is a fucking disaster no matter where you get it, who wrote it, or who sold it to you. When my company needed a supplemental CRM utility, I wrote it. It works perfectly and is still on version 1.0.0. Our current CRM software is so poorly laid out and coded that they people responsible would get a D if they're lucky in my 2-year technical college advanced programming course. I got the only perfect 105% score in that class in the college's history. What's the difference? In labor hours, it cost my company about $200 for me to write it. The main CRM cost about $45,000.

Re:just write your own damn code (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44425971)

still your earn jack shit, hehehe
captcha: submit

Or... (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426195)

'Fantec is a reminder that companies should adopt a formal FOSS use policy which should be integrated into the software development process,' he writes. 'These standards should include an understanding of the FOSS management processes of such third-party suppliers. The development of a network of trusted third-party suppliers is critical part of any FOSS compliance strategy.'

Or, they could just say "that's too much hassle, let's stop being involved in FOSS development".

I don't understand the confusion (1)

mark-t (151149) | 1 year,1 day | (#44426357)

If they were given the code that was under the GPL under conditions that diverged from the GPL, then they are only in violation of the GPL if they further distribute it under different conditions from the GPL.

One analogy that I'm particularly fond of in this matter is that if you receive a counterfeit bill and you somehow become aware that it is counterfeit, if you still try to spend it knowing that it is counterfeit, you are actually breaking the law. If you don't know that it's counterfeit, you aren't breaking the law, but you still don't have any legitimate right to try to use it as if it were genuine.

Since this company evidently now knows (or should know) it is in violation of the GPL, they now have a choice... either comply with the terms of the GPL when they distribute the works, or simply cease distributing it completely. Anyone who already received illegitimate copies of the work before they were aware that it was supposed to be GPL'd have no more real recourse than people who might have come into possession of counterfeit currency when there was no knowledge of its counterfeit nature at the time of transfer.

Not GPL but contact law (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44426401)

The GPL is irrelevant. The company used used the software in its media platers had contractual obligations that it failed to full-fill. That these contractual obligations arose from a GPL license is neither here nor there. Despite what idiots think, GPL is NOT a special case in law, or a law of its own. GPL falls within standard legal frameworks.

Of course Fantec lost with their "Not our problem, mate, someone else did the software- go hassle them". How the hell is that a legal argument. Fantec were the ones using and 'selling' software, so it was Fantec that had to meet their 'contractual' obligations with those responsible for creating the software- in this case following the rules of the GPL license.

No court has ruled any GPL license to be invalid in the simple sense. It is the meta restrictions many open-source morons THINK open source licenses place on users that would almost certainly fail in court. Courts are not about upholding some nebulous philosophy. They will, however, respect that which falls under straightforward contract law.

PS the conclusion of this article is garbage. All companies should be expected to honour any contractual terms they previously commit themselves to, without 'special' policies (or people, or departments) that exist merely to serve one very special form of one very small subset of possible contracts/licenses a company may involve itself with. Open source licenses should be straightforward so compliance is also straightforward.

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