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German Court Says GPL is Valid

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the im-namen-des-volkes dept.

GNU is Not Unix 327

Axel Metzger writes "The Munich District Court has ruled on May 19, 2004 that the main clauses of the GNU General Public License are valid under German copyright and contract law. This seems to be the first judgment worldwide proofing the validity of the most popular free software license. The ruling is a confirmation of the preliminary injunction of April 2, 2004. The new judgment gives on 20 pages the reasons for the ruling. It states explicitly that the terms of section 2, 3 and 4 of the GPL are valid under German copyright and contract law. Here is the German text of the judgment; an English translation will be available soon. The judgment comes at the right time to fight those (SCO and others) who challenge the legal validity of the GPL in Europe and elsewhere. The lawyer of the plaintiffs, Till Jaeger from Munich should be granted the Free Software Award."

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test (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781298)


And the Germans finally did something (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781311)

without going to war. Good for them.

Oh yeah, and one down, many more countries to go. Take that, SCO!

Re:And the Germans finally did something (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781609)

the mods must be drunk for rating this one funny

Re:And the Germans finally did something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781788)

Sieg heil.

Re:And the Germans finally did something (0, Offtopic)

Syzar (765581) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781815)

You're right, I'm bit drunk. Though I did not moderate grandparent, although I've got mod points.

Re:And the Germans finally did something (0, Flamebait)

Manuscript Replica (307437) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781824)

Yeah, drunk like those lousy Germans.

Before partying.. (4, Informative)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781314)

Please note that the German copyright law (Urheberrecht, as it is called) is quite different from the US copyright.

Re:Before partying.. (4, Informative)

albalbo (33890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781329)

They're a Berne Convention signatory; it's not that different.

Re:Before partying.. (5, Informative)

oxygene2k2 (615758) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781627)

berne convention only defines a minimum set of requirements.

in germany (as well as various other european countries) you can't give away all your rights on your work, in short "public domain" doesn't work, "signing over copyright" doesn't work.

so there definitely are differences.

(oh.. you _can_ put stuff into the PD, technically speaking: publish anonymously, leave no trace that it's been you.)

Re:Before partying.. (1)

albalbo (33890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781765)

There are differences, they just don't matter.

The implication that the German decision has little to do with the US is unfounded; the two systems are so sufficiently similar that the decision would have been the same in the US.

Re:Before partying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781699)

funny? someone care to explain?

Re:Before partying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781439)

Please. Crazy Mods - Dont know anything more after reading this article than I did prior nor when I was in 3rd grade...

True, however (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781450)

There is really no way for the GPL to be invalid under US copyright law, and any company to still be able to use the code. If the GPL is invalid, that means the companies lack a license to distribute the code, so it's copyright infringement, pure and simple.

That's really why it works so well. If I make a work, it is copyright to me. By default no one other than myself has any right to distribute it at all. To do so, you need a license. The GPL is that license, but has provisions. You don't have to accept it, that's fine, but then you don't have a license to distribute. In no way are your rights infringed on, or copyright cricumvented.

Same thing applies to overall vailidity. If it's not valid, as SCO would like, that's fine, but then they, and anyone else, distributing GPL code are infringing on copyright since they have no license to do so. So if it's ruled invalid, it's a loss for them, espically since I imagine many bitter OSS people would go after them for copyright infringement as retribution.

This ruling is just a formal legal statement on that fact. A court has formally analyzed the GPL and come to the quite obvious conclusion: It's a legit license that obeys both the letter and spirit of copyright law.

Supposing it does go to court, I bet the ruling is the same in the US.

Re:True, however (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781608)

There is really no way for the GPL to be invalid under US copyright law

This is true. However, how copyright law defines software "derived works" has never been clarified, so there might be some edge cases (such as with dynamic libraries) where the traditional FSF interpretation doesn't hold up. If there ever is a real legal question over the (L)GPL, it would likely involve the "viral" aspects of glibc or QT,

Re:True, however (2, Interesting)

oxygene2k2 (615758) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781659)

what parties such as SCO seem to hope is that the judge responsible for that case decides that public domain is the best equivalent of the terms of the GPL, as they were envisioned by the users of the license, that is possible.

in germany that can't work out as PD doesn't really exist here

Very common misconception (4, Interesting)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781668)

IANAL, but: Pretty much every license has a "gray area". IMHO two such problems with GPL are: 1. What constitutes derived work off the source code 2. How much it is reasonable to charge for distribution of source code.

It's quite conceivable that one judge would rule "against" one of the provisions of GPL for a very specific case, without invalidating the whole license. For instance: what if NVidia gets sued for not publishing their drivers under the GPL, and the judge does not consider their kernel module to be derived off the kernel ? Does that mean the GPL is invalid/unenforceable and NVidia used the linux kernel without a license? Hardly.

Re:Very common misconception (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781753)

Vlad farted.

Re:True, however (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781679)

As copyrights are made stronger, the GPL is also made stronger. The GPL is a beautiful and skillfull judo move.

Re:True, however (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781720)

As copyrights are made stronger, the Microsoft EULA is also made stronger. The Microsoft EULA is a beautiful and skillful judo move.

Well, no. The GPL is a straightforward license. The terms are a bit unusual; most licenses merely ask for money, or perhaps some cross-licensing. But there's nothing really reflexive about the GPL. It just says "you can copy my code if you do X", where X doesn't happen to be "send me a check".

Re:True, however (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781842)

False analogy. A judo move is one that uses an opponent's strength against him. Based on the assumption that copyrights close and restrict rights to use intellectual products, an opposite goal (using copyrights to open and free rights to use intellectual products) would be considered a Judo move.

Microsoft does not use copyright to open software, so it's not a judo move. It's more like a sumo move, pushing the opponent around with force, mass, and momentum.

Re:True, however (1)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781689)

Great Post!

Almost all GPL attacks can be refuted by one of two statements:

1) No company or individual has to accept the GPL in order to use the product.

2) Whatever your criticism of the GPL, if you reword that criticism to "INSERT PROPRIETARY EULA HERE", the GPL winds up looking 10x as good as the proprietary one (most journalists fail to ask themselves if the same criticisms applies to the proprietary licenses, and they usually do in spades).

The only legitimate criticisms I've found are those between Free Software license A and Free Software license B, not between proprietary and GPL.

Re:True, however (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781745)

actually i doubt people would go after them for copyright infringemnet, they would simply use the fixed GPL license and apply that as the license.

nothing in the GPL is too outrageous, it giving the licensee additional rights (with some limits on how they rights can be excercised) which is completely legal.

reasonableness comes into play, just because the License agreement says "as owner of the program, you have to allow me to use your summer beach home"

thats not exactly reasonble even if the person agreed to it.

plus the GPL is legalese but it makes no attempt to obfusacate its terms, ensuring no one can or will read it.

its more valid than any EULA i've seen.

Uhm... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781318)

and why wouldn't it be valid? It asks so little of the user...

Holy dongs, Batman (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781327)

OH SNAP, niggas just got tha beatdown put on that ass

Let's give him Free stuff! (1)

Grayden (137336) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781330)

(as in beer!)

It's nice (4, Interesting)

2names (531755) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781341)

but that won't help us in the United States. Unfortunately, our government doesn't take heed from European countries anymore. Sad. We won't take counsel in our closest allies.

Re:It's nice (4, Funny)

surreal-maitland (711954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781402)

sure we do. we take counsel in our allies who agree with us. because those are obviously our closest allies. because they agree with us and that means they must be right.

anyway, can't folks in the judicial system can still use this as 'precedent' in a way?

No, it can't (2, Informative)

2names (531755) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781460)

be used as precedent in the legal system of the United States. Only rulings handed down from US courts can be used as precedent.


Re:No, it can't (1)

the unbeliever (201915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781755)

British law has been used as precedent in US courts since our country's inception.

Re:It's nice (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781499)

It can't be used as formal precedent, but international law and court decisions can, and often are, cited as supporting arguments in a court's decision.

Re:It's nice (3, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781511)

anyway, can't folks in the judicial system can still use this as 'precedent' in a way?

IANAL, but technically, "yes and no". It can't be an actual precedent because a precedent is a prior ruling/interpretation on the SAME law, which isn't the case since it was a ruling on a German law. However, it can still be quoted by an attorney as previous ruling, to demonstrate that upholding the GPL is not so unusual and is "universal". The GPL isn't American or German, after all. The judge can do with that info as he pleases, consider or discard it. A smart judge would probably look at it and at least say "hmm".

Re:It's nice (1)

Chad The Bull Horton (682275) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781744)

We most definitely cite international rulings but our own laws prevent us from using them as precedent.

This is a matter of sovereignty - if we started using international rulings/laws/precedents as formal declaration and settings for our own rulings, we are no longer our own sovereign nation and thusly might as well throw down our Constitution.

This is most definitely not a simple matter, but in any case, we do cite foreign law and rulings but only as examples of viewpoints throughout the world and ONLY at the supreme court level. It is actually agains the law for the supreme court or any other US court to use foreign law to set our own.

Congress is currently working to even remove the allowance of international rulings/laws from being officially cited in rulings. It is being proposed that if foreign law is to be cited, it must be done so in non-ruling briefs and other "informal" documents.

Re:It's nice (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781533)

Actually our country NEVER took heed from European countries. We were founded to be different than Europe and I hope we never do things just because Europe things we should do it. Not sure why everybody thinks that Europe always knows better and that we should always follow what they do. What makes Europe so much wiser?

Mod up (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781628)

I agree. Just because europe does it doesn't mean it's the correct way. Like wise, the methods in the US aren't the correct way for Europe.

Though, communication with our closest allies is always a good thing. Make no mistake about that ;)

Re:It's nice (1, Flamebait)

Tolleman (606762) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781636)

Dude, George Bush is your president.

Re:It's nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781731)

What does that have to do with the price of peanuts in patagonia? I could say the same about Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, or Horst Koehler. Do you really think that one is less corrupt than the other? I'm not so patriotic to be blinded by the stupidity of my government. Are you?

Slashdot is full of spineless liberals. DUH! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781814)

Get over it, this is slashdot. Love it, or hate it.

Re:It's nice (1)

protoshoggoth (588994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781789)

Yeah, um, we're working on that...

Re:It's nice (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781541)


Exactly when do you think the US ever has?

Re:It's nice (1)

minorthreatbmxxx (738716) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781632)

Even though this doesn't help us, just think of the corporations that are behind Linux and thus support the GPL. Not counting the SCO case, since that is a joke, noone has really attacked the GPL. And when they do, companies such as IBM with their impressive legal division will be able to back it up. As we all know, corporations certainly hold a lot of sway in the US.

Re:It's nice (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781709)

Would you prefer to be Germany's puppet?

That doesn't in any way mean that the GPL will be overruled in the US. Just because we don't do everything Europe does doesn't mean we never do the same thing.

My translation: (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781346)

Rough translation pasted from my Groklaw posting,
sorry for the messed up formating:

The open source project netfilter/iptables has won a huge success in the legal
battle against the router manufacturer Sitecom: With the decision of May 19,
2004 (Az. 21 O 6123/03) the Landgericht München [something like a district
court? R.] has confirmed the temporary injuction. Acording to this the
manufacturer Sitecom is prohibited to sell its WLAN routers until further
notice. Also the comparatively high amount of the dispute of Euro 100000 was
confirmed in the decision.

In the written opinion which was published on friday, it is clearly stated that
the judge considers the GPL valid for principal reasons. It says: "The
chamber shares the opionion that the conditions of the GPL can under no
circumstances be seen as an abandonment of copyrights and legal positions linked
to copyright." The sueing developer was legitimized to demand the rights
linked to the sourcecode

This makes it finally clear that the GPL model also works according to
German law", rejoiced Lawyer Till Jaeger, who represents the
netfilter/iptables project, in an interview with heise online. After this
"probably worldwide first decision on the validity and enforcability"
it was assured that the open source community defends itself. On the other hand
the Court has made it clear, that nobody has anything to fear if he plays by the
rules of the GPL

It is unknown if the router manufacturer plans furter legal steps. Jaeger's
client in the mean time found out that Sitecom offers one additional router
model (WL-111) with a firmware that infringes the GPL. A fine of 10000 Euro
because of infringement against the temporary injunction has already been
demanded, declared Jaeger /ralph -- that is all of the heise article!
Truly a reason to rejoice, for Jaeger and for us!

Re:My translation: (1)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781564)

My, that sounded nicer translated from the German than if it were to have been written in English.

Re:My translation: (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781767)

I'm guessing that's because the translator wasn't a native English speaker, so the German was translated into plain English. Notice there's really no "legalese" in there, nor are there overabundant acronyms, nor is there any business "manager speak" such as "productize" or "leverage". I didn't notice any place where citizens are referred to as "consumers", nor did I notice any other indication that a marketing department had a hand in the translation. All of these things I consider to be a pox upon the language, so much that when we read something in plain English it seems like poetry.

Re:My translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781811)

I forgot to mention that I did not translate the actual court decision, but the Heise article on it:

An yes, I am no native speaker of English ; )


Re:My translation: (0, Troll)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781623)

I encountered yet another example just this week: D-Link refuses to publish the source code for the firmware inside its DFL-80 firewall router -- even though it clearly has GPLed code inside. (The log messages betray this.) Why do many companies do this? Because they recognize that the GPL's enforceability is questionable. And they are, quite likely, right.

Umm. You were saying Brett?

Re:My translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781690)

ohoh ... I forget to state

This is a translation of
on heise online. Sorry, thought the link was
in the article. /ralph

American Courts (5, Funny)

wormeyman (797562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781357)

Considering that the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas sodomy law was invalid based on European court's rulings perhaps IBM can use this and that case as part of their defense.

Re:American Courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781746)

You forgot to include a joke about SCO's attemtped "forced sodomy" of Linux....

Mr. McBride takes the stand... (5, Funny)

ScottGant (642590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781359)

Prosecutor: Mr. McBride, isn't it true that you have a tattoo on your chest that says "DIE, GPL DIE"?

Darl McBride: No no! That's German for "The GPL, the".

Jury mumblings: Well, no one that speaks German can be evil! NOT GUILTY!

SCO in another lawsuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781759)

Related: BayStar -- the major investor in SCO -- will take SCO to court [] !

Lawsuits for EVERYONE!

Proofing (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781364)

"This seems to be the first judgment worldwide proofing the validity of the most popular free software license"

How about 'proofing' your article summary :P

Awesome (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781366)

While I personally prefer the BSD license, GPL has it's uses, and I think it's great that it's gotten some official recognition.

This is good news (2, Interesting)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781367)

But it is not a surprise to anyone with even basic knowledge of copyright law.

The GPL is probably one of the least controversial copyright licences out there, and I would say it is totally watertight.

The only places where there might be problems are in countries like Iran which don't recognise copyrights from countries like the US. - if there is no copyright, there is no need to agree to the terms of the GPL to be allowed to use the software.

Re:This is good news (1)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781666)

if there is no copyright, there is no need to agree to the terms of the GPL to be allowed to use the software.

That is true anyway. The GPL does not require agreement to use the software. It only governs distribution.

brings up a question (3, Insightful)

Da_Slayer (37022) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781373)

In terms of the SCO lawsuits this is great. It will allow IBM and others to just point to this ruling as proof of support for the GPL.

This is also a victory for good old RMS who has stated for years that the GPL is legally valid and binding.

This brings up an interesting question in my mind. Lets hypothesize for a moment that SCO loses all it's lawsuits and the GPL is proven in a US court to be valid and legally binding. How will future lawsuits dealing with violations of the GPL handled?

Are violators of the GPL going to have to pay fines or be forced to open source the code they designed in conjunction with GPL'd code. Add to this the possible stances the FSF could take on this issue.

This definitly makes things more interesting in my opinion.

Re:brings up a question (2, Informative)

eddy (18759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781465)

Are violators of the GPL going to have to pay fines or be forced to open source the code they designed in conjunction with GPL'd code

They are going to have to stop infringing, just like today. This means removing the infringing code from, or GPLing, the product. There's a choice.

Of course, repeated willful infringment can and should definitely lead to fines.


Re:brings up a question (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781560)

This brings up an interesting question in my mind. Lets hypothesize for a moment that SCO loses all it's lawsuits and the GPL is proven in a US court to be valid and legally binding. How will future lawsuits dealing with violations of the GPL handled?

The beauty of precedent (we dont have a precedent here yet) is that you usually don't HAVE to deal with lawsuits. Once the GPL is found to be fully legal and binding, if XYZ Inc. is infringing, FSF sends a letter to them saying to release the source, then XYZ's lawyers tells XYZ's CEO "look, you will lose in court, you should release the code". Its the same reason people don't go around shooting others they are mad at: precedent has upheld the law that makes shooting people illegal, so you know you will do the time if you commit the offense.

Re:brings up a question (4, Insightful)

spitzak (4019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781625)

"violators of the GPL" are actually copyright infringers and are subject to the same punishments as copyright infringers. In all copyright cases in history, the maximum punishment has been cease & desist making the illegal copies, and monetary damages.

I have never heard of a copyright infringer being forced to lose rights to other IP of their own. I very much doubt anybody will ever be forced to open source code. This would be like saying the New York Times has to give away all copies of their paper from now on because one of their columns was plagarized. Such ideas are total nonsense, but are always brought up by the enemies of the GPL.

One part of confusion is that the infringer may choose to obey the GPL in exchange for getting the lawsuit threat dropped and to be able to continue distributing their product. But they were not "forced" by the GPL to do this. In fact, legally, it does not in any way get them out of their liability for the previous copyright violations (otherwise you could violate the GPL for years and then release the source code at the end as a "get out of jail free" card).

Re:brings up a question (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781647)

Are violators of the GPL going to have to pay fines or be forced to open source the code they designed in conjunction with GPL'd code.

You've got to stop framing it around the GPL to understand. If somebody is "violating the GPL", it means that they are guilty of copyright infringement, pure and simple. They may make their code open-source as part of a settlement, but it would be extremely unlikely for a judge to rule that they must freely license their code or give up their copyrights.

GNU GPL Conditions (1, Informative)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781377)

Because some people might not know them by heart... from the website:

1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's
source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you
conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate
copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the
notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty;
and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License
along with the Program.

You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and
you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee.

2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion
of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and
distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1
above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.

b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
parties under the terms of this License.

c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively
when run, you must cause it, when started running for such
interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an
announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a
notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide
a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under
these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this
License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but
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These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If
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If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under
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It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any
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This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to
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8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in
certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the
original copyright holder who places the Program under this License
may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding
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Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program
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Re:GNU GPL Conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781554)

A simple link would have prevented much scrolling.

*cough* karmawhore *cough* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781784)


It proves again that ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781388)

... Germany is just ambitious and misunderstood ...

Now we must hope that, as usual, everyone wants to be like Germany!

Are you a sheep? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781587)

...or are you a shark? Sharks have no necks! ;-)

GNAA FAQ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781389)

As you may have heard, ECFA (Euthanasia for Canus Familirous Association) has purchased the GNAA (G** N***** Association of America) for an unspecified amount. Many people have had questions about the "connection" of the two associations. Thus, here's a FAQ:

Q. Why is the GNAA connecting into one ECFA?
A. Because both the GNAA and ECFA share one common goal, A HAPPIER MANKIND.

Q. Will the illicit images and homosexuality continue?
A. Unfortunately, these will not be a part of the combined ECFA, as we are moving to a broader demographic.

Q. What will the ECFA stand for?
A. Euthanasia for Canus Familirous Association.

Q. Why is the ECFA right for me?
A. Have you stepped in dog doo-doo? Do you hate dogs? Want to kill dogs? The ECFA is for you!

Q. Will the GNAA "early posts" continue?
A. Yes, these will continue, but their messages will be changed.

Q. What will the new ECFA do?
A. The ECFA would like you to do one thing - KILL A DOG. By KILLING A DOG, you will ELIMINATE one USELESSLY RESPIRATING animal from this planet. Take a stand! Help rid this INFESTATION. KILL A DOG TODAY!!!!

Q. Why do you kill dogs?
A. Are you TIRED of having your TAXES increased? Humane Societies cost our country over $100 million annually. By eliminating DOGS, this money can EDUCATE OUR KIDS. OVERPOPULATION of DOGS is RAPANT in this country. One dog can easily use the entire oxygen output of ten full size trees. One dog can output over 20 lbs of droppings daily. One dog can aggrivate the allergies of untold numbers of people with its fast growing hair and all to common dandruff. Do you own a dog? Are you tired of its mess? Don't feel like planting ten trees and waiting 10 years for them to reach maturity? Then get it euthanized. Euthanasia is a painless way for a dog to... terminate. However, it can be too expensive to buy these drugs for the LARGE NUMBER of DOGS in the HUMANE SOCIETIES. It is thus proposed that these dogs be turned into food for the homeless. One dog can feed up to five homeless children for one day.

Q. Will my favorite content still be available?
A. Yes! ECFA will be a combonation of both GNAA and ECFA. Here's the listing of content that will be used from both associations:
GNAA: troll pattern, basic format, troll network
ECFA: motto (To protect our oxygen, to clean our streets, and to curb noise pollution), message, and all your favorite existing ECFA troll messages

Q. Will I be required to change my skin color or sexual lifestyle to be a member?
A. no. People of all skin colors and sexual lifestyles are welcome. The GNAA/ECFA do not support any sexual lifestyle, skin color, or race.

Q. Where's all the content?
A. We're pulling all existing GNAA content offline on "ECF day", when we will officially connect. All your favorite ECFA content will still be available.

Q. How do I join the ECFA?
A. By simply participating in our propaganda campaign to exterminate dogs. You can become a member of our slashdot trolling team, our usenet trolling team, or you can be a member of our local campaigning - by simply handing out brocures or posting signs outside humaine socities.

Q. What is ECFA/GNAA's stance on cats?
A. We're indifferent about cats.

Q. How do I kill a dog?
A. Euthanasia is by far the most clean method, but it taints the meat and is cost prohibitive. Thus, the most economical method is our K9Zap product ($29.95), which deals a fatal shock to a dog up to 60lbs. Alternatively, the slightly messier bakers chocolate approach costs only about $0.30 per pound of dog. For more information, reply to this message or contact Gadgets for the Elimination of Dogs (GED).

Re:GNAA FAQ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781638)

Fuck the Goddamned GNAA and Fuck you too, you goddamned dog-hating heartless mother fuckers!

Germany says yes... (2, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781393)

Which means the US courts are almost certainly going to have to say "no". Could lead to an interesting case where in Europe Microsoft is a monopoly that has to change its trading rules, Linux is perfectly okay and SCO is a joke. Meanwhile in the US its Microsoft the good corporate citizen, Linux is illegal and SCO is Unix.

Start an orderly queue at the borders please gentlemen and start boarding those boats.

Re:Germany says yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781473)

An eye for an eye doesn't make the whole world blind... just people who get caught poking eyes out.

How important? (3, Interesting)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781399)

I'm not sure about german law, but I think it's not a common lnaw system like the british/american system. That is, the decisions of judges don't have much impact on future judicial decisions. There is no 'quoting the xxx vs xxx trial of 19xx' in most legal systems. Since brazilian law students read a lot of german philosophy of law, I would guess they're in the same tradition we are.

Re:How important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781545)

No kiddo, all law students are forced to read this since ethics and logic etc apply to most human endavors regardless of the political or judicial systems involed.

In other words, all over the World poor law students are forced to read Calvin and Hobbes when they would much rather be reading Calvin & Hobbes.

You also forgot the obligatory mention of Kirkegard's drinking habits

Re:How important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781639)

I'm not sure about german law, but I think it's not a common lnaw system like the british/american system.

Ich think You mean der British/American Law System is not a common System like der German System.

you're right (2, Informative)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781644)

Pretty much all of mainland Europe follows the civil law tradition. Generally, only those countries having roots in the British Empire follow the common law tradition. The state of Louisiana still carries some remaining vestiges of the civil law tradition, which it inherits via its history as a French territory.

Re:How important? (1)

mcsmurf (757095) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781736)

Yes, you're right, also if there is a similar cast, most courts decide the same then. Only if the Federal Supreme Court decides something, every court under it (which are almost all except Federal Constitutional Court and such) must follow it, but iirc every decision the Federal Constitutional Court makes, must get a law anyway.

Took long enough! (2, Interesting)

eadz (412417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781507)

The GPL v2 has been around for 13 years and this is the first time it's been proven valid, even though it's in such widespead use.

I guess it's a testament to the plain english and common sense language of the licence.

Re:Took long enough! (1)

Sunspire (784352) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781634)

Very few software distribution licenses are ever proven valid, because you've always got the right to refuse the license and go somewhere else. The reason the GPL hasn't been contested in court before is that it's a lose-lose situation for the one trying to get it invalidated because the outcome is either:

1. The GPL is valid. Comply with the terms of the license or cease all distribution.
2. The GPL is not valid. You have no right to distibute anything released the GPL you didn't write yourself because of basic copyright law.

Why *wouldn't* it be valid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781530)

Why *wouldn't* it be valid?

Me too (1)

DamienMcKenna (181101) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781538)

Congrats to everyone involved, and RMS for writing it.


All I have to say is (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781540)


Excellent, now to celebrate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781592)

With a a bag of marzipan Joy Joys(mit Iodine)

Either Way... (1)

OniOid (579440) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781594)

Knowing what I like to think I know about the GNU GPL, I suspect that if the GPL was considered invalid, then, so would any other software license- including, for example, any from MS.
Therefore, it might appear to be in many more peoples' and entities' interests that the GPL is ruled valid.

Some perspective... (4, Informative)

gillbates (106458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781618)

Microsoft speaks against the GPL for this very reason - now the developers must reveal their source code, because it was based on GPL'ed code. But what they conveniently neglect to mention is that according to the EULA, a Windows developer cannot distribute, or even build, a derivative of Windows, under any terms . The license for GPL code covers only distribution of derivative products, whereas the MS EULA covers merely using the product. In fact, to even view the source code for an MS product requires that a developer agree to never develop a competing product!

Merely posting the source will allow these guys to continue to ship their product, but if they'd chosen the Microsoft development model, they'd owe royalties for every single product shipped!

Even though these guys might not like divulging their source code, they are still in a much better position than had they used Microsoft's code as a basis for their product.

Re:Some perspective... (1)

sweeze (530463) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781751)

they don't need to distribute their source code. They only need to distribute their source code to comply with the terms of the license. They can always choose the alternative, which is to be held liable for copyright infringement.

remember: the GPL is a license, not a contract!

somewhat related question (3, Interesting)

bokmann (323771) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781621)

On a somewhat related question, how does SuSE, a German company, justify their '30 day evaluation' download under the terms of the GPL?

I downloaded it, right? Even if it is just a '30 day eval'. Shouldn't they give me the source code?

isn't this '30 day eval' against the premise of the PGL anyway, that I should be able to redistribute the software I use?

Re:somewhat related question (3, Informative)

spitzak (4019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781711)

Yes, you are entitled to the source code, and it is available from their site.

You can also redistribute it. Make sure you remove all the copyrighted material such as the SuSE logos and the installation program and help files, however. And make sure you remove any and all non-GPL stuff that you don't have a right to redistribute, such as Acrobat or any other such included programs. And you better recompile everything from scratch so you are sure their is nothing in the binaries that you don't have rights to redistribute. There are probably a lot of other rules, too.

Re:somewhat related question (0, Troll)

bokmann (323771) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781795)

But the GPL is 'viral'... Anything distributed with it on the same CD must be accompanied under the same license. How can their logos, etc avoid this clause of the GPL?

Re:somewhat related question (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781832)

Nonsense. The inverse of your statement is even explicitly spelt out in the FAQ [] .

Re:somewhat related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781725)

I believe the source just has to be made publicly available and it is on their site. []

Re:Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781802)

I believe the source just has to be made publicly available and it is on: their site. []

Re:somewhat related question (0, Redundant)

oxygene2k2 (615758) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781752) - is that enough source for you?

also yast2 was proprietary until recently, and there might be more parts in a suse system that are not under a free license, so the 30 days evaluation might just apply to them

Re:somewhat related question (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781851)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but can't you donwnload either teh eval or the whole damn thing? I mean, I know I see a "whole damn thing" download link on their website. ux /index.html

They can offer only 30 days of customer supposrt if they want, of course, but who needs that when you've got the Internet?

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781637)

In other news, the sky has been verified to be blue, and independant study shows SCO sux. ...Duh.

It's also valid in Brazil (1)

FZer0 (585622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781642)

At least the CC-GNU GPL [] is, as all other Creative Commons licenses [] .

why was there ever a doubt? (1)

xutopia (469129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781741)

When did people start doubting the GPL? Who started saying such things? I don't understand why it would be deemed invalid by anyone! IANAL but it seems to me that the licence is quite clear and there is no reason most civilized countries shouldn't find it valid with their laws.

EU Wide? (1)

Larmal (691516) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781775)

Germany is part of the EU, correct? If so, does this decision essentially span across all member countries of the EU (much like environmental laws, etc.)?

what's with the time-delay? (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781785)

seriously, the ruling was 2+ months ago...

Take THAT, SCO! (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781820)

And we can trust the Germans.
Surely no one from Germany could be evil. Right?

GPL Valid? (2, Interesting)

tonywestonuk (261622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781825)

I'm not sure if this is a GPL is legally valid president, more like a copyright infringement case, where the defendants are claiming the GPL allows them to carry on infringing, where in reality, it does not.

Its a bit like a Credit Card company providing a licence to someone that grants them the permission take anything they like they find in a shop without paying, on the condition that they deposit monies equaling that value into an account at some point later. Now, when some thief ends up in court for common theft, after nicking a load of stock, The thief claiming the Credit card companies licencing agreements with him are invalid, and can't be held up in court!.....

The GPL will be proven in a case of law when:

Person A , receives some software under the GPL, makes amendments to suit their needs, releases these changes to the world, as required by the GPL.

Person B, who makes software that competes with Person A (but this software also happens to be GPL'ed), Finds that there's this really neat piece of code done by person A, That will do wonders for his 'competing' GPL'd software, and so copies this code, line by line, into his product.... This product then becomes the market leader, no one wants to know A's product anymore!

Person A, isn't to happy with person B, and so sues A for copyright infringement. person B, then will have to rely on the GPL, to get themselves off the hook. At this point, if A can claim the GPL is invalid, then A has a case, however, by winning that particular case, they then leave themselves open to as similar copyright case by person C, who's software they original ripped off in the first place.

How about we just grant him a cooler name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781831)

Seriously. How tough does "Till" really sound in court. It's almost worse than "Anonymous Coward" like me!

Re:How about we just grant him a cooler name... (1)

oxygene2k2 (615758) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781866)

I doubt they call people by their given name in court ;)
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