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GPL Price-Fixing Lawsuit Dismissed

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the mostly-without-merit dept.

154

ansak writes "The case of Wallace vs. the Free Software Foundation has been dismissed. It wasn't entirely on the merits of the case. From PJ's analysis, 'despite the judge clearly telling him where his previous complaint was lacking, he didn't fix it.... In this case, he had five tries.' Nevertheless, the judge did make a strong statement that the GPL 'encourages, rather than discourages, free competition' and ordered Wallace to pay court costs: 'Judges do that when they'd like you to learn a good lesson. It's a signal you shouldn't have brought the case in the first place.'"

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How much do "court costs" usually run? (2, Interesting)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964103)

Just curious if anybody has any knowledge of the average court-cost payment?

-Jesse

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964142)

Depends, most expensive I've seen was about a million, though the cheapest you can get is merely a photograph of a slightly compromising position. Depends on the judge really.

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (2, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964160)

Depends on the length of the trial.
Since I pled guilty and my trial (traffic) lasted ~10 min and my court costs were $340 or so here are some assumptions:
$340 total traffic court costs (the fine was an additional $600 BTW)
-$100 filing fee
-$100 bogus crap not charged per hour
=$140/hr for court costs.
Figure if he had 5 tries as TFS said to get it right and each try was half a day of mucking about in the courtroom:
20hrs * 140 = $2800 (+ the filing fees and such).

Since I'm talking out my ass on this one I'm going to figure I'm way off.
-nB

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (2, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964852)

Don't worry about accuracy. Your breakdown was probably more accurate than a Slashdot Poll

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965224)

Out of curiosity, why did you go to traffic court and then plead guily?

Also, did you feel like you were in McCourt? You know, quick, drive-thru 'justice?' That's how I felt when I was in traffic court; the judge and the DA's rep didn't even know the details of the 'case' (for example, that the supposed violation occured at night, while it was clear they believed it was during the day..).

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (1)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965290)

because you can get the charges changed around so you don't get points on your licence (speeding changed to "unsafe operation" for example, unsafe op costs more but carries no points if you havn't had 2 of them in the last 5 years, in NJ)

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (2, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965644)

Bingo, and in my case I got the fine portion reduced by almost a grand.
I specifically said:

"Guilty with an apology, your honor". The judge looked at me with the funniest expression I have ever seen and asked me why I said that. My response was simple and honest: I did what I did, and it was wrong. I would have never done it had I any inkling that it was going to cost me so much. You bet I'm sorry. She cut the fine down from $1550 to $600 + court costs.
-nB

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (1)

jsprat (442568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965997)

=$140/hr for court costs.


But the trial only lasted 10 minutes, so that's $140 / 10 min, or $840/hr!

20hrs * 840 = $16800 (+ the filing fees and such).

Painful lesson, if the numbers are right.

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14966086)

Thank you, that was quite some oversight on my part!
Ouch indeed!
-nB

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (1)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964264)

I don't know how much the court costs run, but I imagine it's nominal compared to the sixty grand a year it'll cost the tax payers if the trial produces a guilty verdict. Think about that.

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (2, Informative)

friedo (112163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964951)

People aren't found guilty in civil cases, nor do they go to prison if they lose.

Only cost that matters.... (2, Informative)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964589)

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

Having your case dismissed while simultaneously strengthening the GPL.... priceless.

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (4, Informative)

Ibix (600618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964863)

Courtesy of a post [groklaw.net] on Groklaw, court costs [law.com] don't include attorney fees (although they can be imposed, too). Another post [groklaw.net] in the Groklaw thread suggested a figure of about $2k (for the FSF's costs...), but PJ said [groklaw.net] probably lower. I understand Wallace has similar cases pending against RedHat, Novell, and IBM. He probably has similar chances of success. It's going to add up if he pushes...

I

Re:How much do "court costs" usually run? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14965209)

If I can't quite remember - is forcing someone to pay the other guy's legal costs concidered a "bitch slap", or a "pimp slap"?

I love irony (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964133)

Honestly, pro se lawsuits tend to be disasters. If you can't find a lawyer willing to represent you, it usually means you don't have a case. Quoth TFA.

I didn't know what the term pro se in TFA meant, so I went to answers.com, which helpfully corrected my "misspelling":

Prose

Ordinary language people use in speaking or writing...


I guess that lawsuits based on ordinary language would be a disaster. By the way, "pro se" apparently refers to self-representation, the proverbial provence of lawyers with fools for customers.

Re:I love irony (3, Informative)

Snorpus (566772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964150)

More or less: pro se = "for yourself".

Re:I love irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964234)

Or pro bono, which means roughly "for Bono"

Now while U2's Bono and the late Sonny Bono could each easily afford representation, it was a nice gesture of the legal community to offer it to them for free.

Re:I love irony (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964305)

It literally means "for himself" it is a latin phrase, and as latin is a dead language you cannot change the definition with the times,even if it may offend some people.

Re:I love irony (4, Informative)

Beowabbit (306889) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964444)

No, it means "for himself, herself, itself, or oneself. In Latin, the reflexive pronoun "se" does not vary for gender, so it's every bit as accurate to translate it as "for herself" as "for himself". Completely off-topic, but the language geek in me couldnt let it go. :-)

Re:I love irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14965225)

No, it means "for himself". Wallace is male. In Latin, you are allowed to infer gender from context. Completely off-topic, but the accuracy geek in me couldn't let it go. ;)

Re:I love irony (1)

Beowabbit (306889) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965283)

Yeah, but the phrasing of the grandparent suggested that "pro se" could only ever be translated as "for himself" in any context ("because" Latin was a dead language). Otherwise I don't know what the point it was making was supposed to be.

Re:I love irony (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965872)

The point I was making is I am an idiot sometimes. Actually it is just that recently i have seen alot bad translation from latin to english for the sake of PCness and this time I jumped the gun. This means do not post on ./ while busy at work.

Re:I love irony (4, Informative)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964217)

"pro se" means "for himself" - in other words, he's arguing for himself, rather than having a lawyer argue for him.

Re:I love irony (3, Interesting)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964228)

>I guess that lawsuits based on ordinary language would be a disaster

...for much the same reason that software written in natural language [aaai.org] can have difficulties.

Documents that describe how something should work out and the reasons for it, whether in the legal or the engineering realms, necessarily require technical jargon and precise structure, if they are to have predictable results. The legal "programming language suffers the grave disadvantage of having been crafted over centuries by thousands of people. Some of them were dickering in court, who were often interested in dealing with their particular case, and others were working in legislatures, who are often interested in something else entirely. The result is a language with the clarity of Assembler and the efficiency of COBOL.

All this effort, and the results may still not be substantively just, but after all engineers too can have difficulty making clear specs conform to what the customer wants. What can ya do?

P.S. your "pro se/prose" observation was delightful!

Re:I love irony (1)

ilovepolymorphism (642188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964425)

Maybe they should start writing legal documents in C....

Re:I love irony (1)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964511)

Considering the number of malloc and syntax errors I throw every time I read legal documents, I assumed they already were.

Too bad lawyers haven't learned to comment their code (and no, thousands of footnotes don't count!).

Re:I love irony (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964636)

Documents that describe how something should work out and the reasons for it, whether in the legal or the engineering realms, necessarily require technical jargon and precise structure, if they are to have predictable results.

The biggest problem that I have when reading legal contracts and the like, as a software developer, is trying to avoid glaring at the enormous holes and more subtle flaws that pepper them. You'd think that such pedantic people would use tighter language, but apparently their feeble language skills are insignificant next to The Source.

Re:I love irony (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965026)

"...is trying to avoid glaring at the enormous holes and more subtle flaws that pepper them."

Which only goes to show the fallacy of people thinking they can pick up a new language in a few hours, days, or even weeks. Without knowing the language, syntax, common assumptions, definitions, and design patterns, the standard functions, and the underlying framework that supports it, your understanding of what a given piece of code (contract) is going to do when executed is going to be, shall we say... less than perfect.

Re:I love irony (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965302)

> the fallacy of people thinking they can pick up a new language in a few hours, days, or even week

While I agree that part of the problem with trying to understand any technical document, whether engineering or legal, is the need for serious study of the relevant discipline's language, in my experience in the legal profession the prior poster is also correct that bad logic, holes, loose language and so forth is also very common in legal documents.

Part of the problem is that law is, unlike engineering, a contentious process. Compilers don't care whether the code has a trapdoor or not, but the other side in a legal negotiation does.

Another part of the problem is that there are no compilers for legal documents, to point out logical defects. Coding a contract is a process driven by human eyeballs which are highly falliable and expensive ... especially in a contentious environment.

Even developing a data structure for the law is difficult. I used to have a marginal role in a process of developing XML for the legal realm [legalxml.org] and one of the biggest problems we had was finding an economic incentive for anyone to co-operate. The courts were happy to have anything that cut costs for them but not many other people had an incentive. I cannot begin to imagine the difficulties with pursuading a legislature to adopt a formal logic approach to its work-product, even though the benefits of parsable and understandable statutes would be immense.

Re:I love irony (1, Informative)

Milalwi (134223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964230)


I didn't know what the term pro se in TFA meant...


I know you're trying to be funny, but Google is your friend:

Query:

define:pro se

Definitions of pro se on the Web:

        * A person who does not hire a lawyer and appears for himself/herself in court.
            http://clerkofcourt.maricopa.gov/glossary.asp [maricopa.gov]

        * To act on one's own behalf; appearing for oneself; representing oneself; to represent oneself in a court action without an attorney.
            http://www.courts.mo.gov/osca/index.nsf/0/8b69295b 674dde2186256e15004ea27f [mo.gov]

        * Acting without the aid of an attorney; representing yourself.
            http://www.oah.wa.gov/Glossary.htm [wa.gov]

        * Representing oneself. Serving as one's own lawyer.
            http://www.uscourts.gov/journalistguide/glossary.h tml [uscourts.gov]

        * When the defendant is not represented by counsel, as he or she has waived the right to counsel in a criminal proceeding, or is otherwise not represented in a civil proceeding.
            http://mova.missouri.org/cjterms.htm [missouri.org]

        * A person who does not have an attorney to represent him or her and who appears on his or her own behalf before the Court.
            http://www.gaappeals.us/cguide/glossary.php [gaappeals.us]

        * Latin phrase ("in one's own behalf") applied to defendants who waive the right to counsel and act as their own lawyers in criminal cases.
            http://www.mad.uscourts.gov/LocPubs/crimglossary.h tm [uscourts.gov]

        * A Latin phrase that means "for himself." A person who represents himself in a legal matter alone without the help of a lawyer is said to appear pro se.
            http://www.nfa.futures.org/basicnet/glossary.aspx [futures.org]

        * A person appearing without representation by an attorney for himself; in his own behalf; in person.
            http://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/prose_man/glossary.ht ml [uscourts.gov]

        * When a person who chooses to act as his or her own attorney in a legal action.
            https://www.co-childsupport.com/elpaso/glossary/gl ossary.htm [co-childsupport.com]

        * When a party is not represented by a lawyer but is representing himself.
            http://www.courts.state.mn.us/districts/fourth/Gen eral/LegalTerms6.htm [state.mn.us]

        * Without the benefit of counsel; the act of speaking or representing oneself in a court of law.
            http://www.alqlist.com/glossary.html [alqlist.com]

        * A debtor who is not represented by an attorney in a bankruptcy case.
            http://chapter13milwaukee.com/pages/glossary.html [chapter13milwaukee.com]

        * Pro se is a Latin adjective meaning "for self", that is applied to someone who represents themselves without a lawyer in a court proceeding, whether as a defendant or a plaintiff and whether the matter is civil or criminal. Most courts allow people to appear in court and submit legal documents pro se, but will prohibit legal "persons" such as corporations from appearing without representation. ...
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_se [wikipedia.org]

Milalwi

Re:I love irony (2)

Deagol (323173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964508)

Honestly, pro se lawsuits tend to be disasters. If you can't find a lawyer willing to represent you, it usually means you don't have a case.

Funny. I always thought that pro se was a good option for people who felt that justice shouldn't have an obscene cover charge. At least for those with the skills to represent themselves well.

Gotta love our justice system: by the lawyers, for the lawyers.

Re:I love irony (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964792)

"He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client"

Ransom (0, Offtopic)

LightSail (682738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965394)

Send $1.00 US in unmarked bills or the sig gets it.

Re:I love irony (0, Flamebait)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964622)

The real irony is that immediately following her use of legal latin, PJ writes,
People think that because the law is in English, that they get it. I keep explaining that it's English up to a point, but it's really code -- words in the law don't always have exactly the same meaning as the same word in normal use.
The law is only hard to understand because lawyers and paralegals puff themselves up by using legalisms like pro se when writing for a lay audience. PJ could have just written, "Lawsuits where the plaintff represents himself." Along with the joy of knowing that her writing was accessible to lawyers and lay people alike, she wouldn't have been contributing to the problem she was complaining about.

Re:I love irony (3, Insightful)

Main Gauche (881147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964858)

"The law is only hard to understand because lawyers and paralegals puff themselves up by using legalisms like pro se when writing for a lay audience. PJ could have just written, "Lawsuits where the plaintff represents himself." "

Perhaps irony is when someone makes a post on Slashdot decrying the use of jargon. :-/

(But I do agree with you, anyway.)

Re:I love irony (1)

Saanvik (155780) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965998)

The law is difficult to understand because it's a complicated subject.

I agree that using terms unfamiliar to those outside of the legal rhetorical community does make it harder to understand, but using common terminolgy doesn't make it easy.

Poor Wallace... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964149)

How will he pay for all of that cheese now?

Re:Poor Wallace... (2, Informative)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964209)

No worry mate. Grommit will simply build him another rocket so he can go to the moon for all of that free cheese. This time they'll take a cheese grater so that they can make "snow".

Time for Fox News to... (2, Funny)

Bug-Y2K (126658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964162)

Bring on the talking heads to rile about "Activist Judges Out Of Control!"

Mod parent up - funny (1)

ansak (80421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964825)

Flamebait? I don't think so. I detected a strong hint of whisky and weaponry there (rye and iron, er..., wry irony... oh never mind, my meds are starting to kick in).

cheers...ank

Re:Time for Fox News to... (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964894)

Bring on the talking heads to rile about "Activist Judges Out Of Control!"

Not Applicable. In this case, the judge certainly didn't behave as an Activist for either party. In spite of all the rumors and misinterpretations on both slashdot and groklaw, the judge said "A dismissal is appropriate only if the plaintiff can establish no set of facts", and dismissed accordingly. Facts had nothing to do with it, and the judge didn't consider any facts in his dismissal.

The judge made no actual ruling in the case, except to dismiss it. People are saying that the judge "upheld the GNU/GPL" but actually it never went on trial. The opinion that "The GPL encourages, rather than discourages, free competition and the distribution of computer operating systems, the benefits of which directly pass to consumers....." is not a ruling, it is an opinion that is no more than a side comment and not a precident. The dismissal was not based on this opinion, but rather on Mr. Wallace's inability to articulate a claim.

"For the reasons stated above, the court finds that Mr. Wallace has failed to allege an antitrust injury such that his claim under Section 1 of the Sherman Act may move forward. The court therefore GRANTS the Reasserted Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 34), filed December 29, 2005. Mr. Wallace is DENIED leave to further amend his complaint."

It would appear that the GPL didn't "win", but rather, Mr. Wallace failed. Nothing was decided except the fact that Mr. Wallace had a bad lawyer: himself. What you find in this that would smack of "Activism" by the judge, I have no idea.

Re:Time for Fox News to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14965433)

no more than a side comment

OTOH, the opinion that "corporations are people too" was also just a side comment, added after-the-fact by a law clerk at that, and it's firmly established now.

WallaceOS (1)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964167)

What was the WallaceOS that he claimed he was unable to market due to the market abuse of the Linux-conglomerate?

Re:WallaceOS (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964263)

More or less - Wallace [wikipedia.org] is the guy who filed lawsuits against the FSF, IBM, Red Hat and Novell because, according to him, the GPL is tantamount to price-fixing and deprives him of his dog-given right to part fools and their money.

In a way, I actually feel sorry for him - I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a lawsuit (with apologies to Charles Babbage). Or, phrased in a slightly different way... wtf was he thinking? It should've been clear to him from the beginning that the whole thing is entirely ridiculous and that he'll not only get thrown out of court but slapped on the wrists for filing a frivolous suit as well.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964745)

He's not necessarily wrong. It's not that there is anything wrong with the GPL, but if competitors got together and agreed that they would all GPL their stuff, it's no different than if they got together and agreed to sell their stuff for $x. Whether that would constitute a crime is a different question that has nothing to do with the validity of the GPL.

There's nothing here that serves as any vindication for the GPL.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964902)


He's not necessarily wrong. It's not that there is anything wrong with the GPL, but if competitors got together and agreed that they would all GPL their stuff, it's no different than if they got together and agreed to sell their stuff for $x. Whether that would constitute a crime is a different question that has nothing to do with the validity of the GPL.

There's nothing here that serves as any vindication for the GPL.


The GPL doesn't need to be vindicated because it has nothing to do with how much software costs, you can charge as much as you want.

Re:WallaceOS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964281)

void main(){
/* FIXME: enable A20 and enter protected mode */
printf( "hello world!\n" );
for(;;);
}

..but he couldn't get it to compile.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964451)

What language is this? why is it "void main() {" not "int main()". Quit pretending you're a programmer.

Re:WallaceOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964618)

Oh, man. I was just going to ignore you, or call you a humourless idiot, but I'll just explain the joke to you very slowly instead:

It is supposed to show the "Operating System" that Wallace, a non-programmer and all around idiot, has "written". Clearly, being a non-programmer, you wouldn't expect him to have written anything actually usable. Hence the many errors; one of which you so astutly noticed and have pointed out for everyones benefit.

Just in case you get any further urges, allow me to place you mind at rest by pointing out all of the errors Wallace has made in his code:

  1. His declaration of the main function is incorrect; as we all know, main returns an int!
  2. He's writing an Operating System kernel, something which is generally non-hosted, yet he's trying to use hosted library functions such as printf. The fool!
  3. Not only that, he hasn't even attempted to include stdio.h, so he doesn't have a forward declaration for the non-existent printf function he's trying to use. Ha!
  4. As his kernel is not hosted, he'll need to provide an entry point such as start. Perhaps Wallace has outsmarted us both and knows about his compilers -e switch and main is the entry point. Of course that would mean your complaint that his main function doesn't return an int invalid, because we both know that non-hosted code can do whatever it darn well pleases with it's main function, if has one at all!
  5. Wallace clearly has some work to do, and has written a handy comment to remind himself to finish the rest of his kernel.

There you go. I was planing to explain modern middle-eastern politics to a three year old later, but I'm all worn out now.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

0bject (758316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964624)

did you miss the "..but he couldn't get it to compile."

Re:WallaceOS (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964704)

It didn't compile for other reasons, syntax isn't one of them.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964638)

"void main()" is valid C/C++. It's just not considered "the right way" to do things.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964657)

You can concider it valid all you want. It isn't.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964678)

It compiles and runs without any errors. Therefore it is valid. That doesn't make it a good idea.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964732)

A standard, and the implementation thereof, are not the same thing. The sad truth is that the functionality has been left intact in many compilers in order not to break legacy software, but it is not, by any means, standard. So, again, this is not valid C/C++, but, really just a compiler bug.

void main() (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964751)

void main() is discouraged in an environment built around a standard C library, as it leaves the exit code in an unpredictable state, but in a "freestanding" environment, the system could choose not to implement exit codes, allowing void main(). Specifically, the boot sector calls the kernel loader's main() and does not expect it to return at all, let alone to return an exit code.

Re:WallaceOS (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965434)

As with many things in the C standard, void main() is syntactically valid, but has no place in a conforming program, except perhaps inside a comment or a string.

--Joe

Re:WallaceOS - version 2.0 (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964674)

void main(){
   /* FIXME: enable A20 and enter protected mode */
   printf( "goodbye cruel world!\n" );
   for(;;);
}

Re:WallaceOS (4, Informative)

schon (31600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964498)

What was the WallaceOS

It was basically FreeBSD with all of the non-BSD licensed software removed, and no source.

So no X, no gcc, etc.

No, I'm not kidding.

Re:WallaceOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964920)

Sounds like SCO.

Re:WallaceOS (2, Funny)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965359)

What was the WallaceOS that he claimed he was unable to market due to the market abuse of the Linux-conglomerate?

Full of great - if slightly whacky - ideas that look promising but it almost always needs the GromitOS to get it out of trouble.

Judges + GPL = true? (1)

jonhaug (783048) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964182)

The good thing is judges understanding GPL. I didn't think we've got that far, but it seems I am wrong. Knowing a lot of lawyers in Norway, I
have different experience.

(Yes, I know: this is not statistics.)

yes, this is the important thing (2, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964551)

Before this case, the GPL was taken to court twice, and it was upheld twice. Something about MySQL in the USA, and another case in Germany.

One of the goals of the GPLv3 consultation process [fsf.org] is to identify enforcement issues in all the legal regions of the world. Yet another win in court doesn't give us anything to fix, but it's good to know that Stallman's written a solid licence - GPLv3 should be GPLv2 but better [www.ifso.ie] .

Surprise, surprise! (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964195)

Did the guy really expect to win?

Free, as in, you can charge whatever the bloody hell you want for this software!

Re:Surprise, surprise! (1)

btarval (874919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964730)

No, he didn't expect to win. He was just getting experience so he could go work for SCO. *rimshot*

Surprise, surprise!-The OSS dump. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14966150)

He might be able to win under "product dumping" statues.

but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964220)

what will Alexander Terekhov troll usenet about now?

Re:but (1)

schon (31600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964515)

what will Alexander Terekhov troll usenet about now?

Oh, he's still trolling. He showed up on Y!SCOX this morning talking about how day5dumbass would have won on the merits.

You wouldn't expect a little thing like reality to deter these guys, would you?

Court Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964226)

Court costs, which are merely the filing fees and transcript costs (if any) are routinely awarded to the prevailing party in US courts. The Judge did NOT impose sanctions by making him pay attorneys fees. Those are the cost awarded "when they'd like you to learn a good lesson."

Slashdot displays its ignorance of basic legal concepts yet again...

Perhaps you'd like to rephrase that (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964453)

Slashdot displays its ignorance of basic legal concepts yet again...

Wrong, daddy-o. That comment came from PJ at Groklaw, not slashdot. Lookee here [groklaw.net] ...

It's the Order that tells Wallace to pay the Free Software Foundation's costs. Judges do that when they'd like you to learn a good lesson. It's a signal you shouldn't have brought the case in the first place.

Re:Perhaps you'd like to rephrase that (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964716)

So, in this case, it was ansak (the submitter) who displayed his ignorance of basic legal concepts.

Lesson 1: I don't yet understand (1)

ansak (80421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964897)

I don't mind admitting that my knowledge of things legal is distinctly limited. Since I am a Canadian, my knowledge of things American-legal can be taken to be even more limited.

On the other hand, I don't believe I quoted PJ out of context, so if there's a misunderstanding in the story either she (a paralegal) doesn't get it (less likely) or I mis-cited her (possible, but I tried to be careful).

Still, I was already chuckling from one of the other replies to the AnonCow grandparent who said that slashdot doesn't understand things-legal: someone else who won was awarded costs that included his own legal fees. Ah yes, slashdot doesn't understand things legal...

There's irony everywhere! ...ank

Re:Court Costs (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964722)

Actually no.

Court costs can, and do, include attorney fees.

I recently sued someone here in Illinois.

I retained the service of a lawyer.

I won the case.

The judge ordered the defendant to pay court costs.

That included my legal fees.

You can argue with the payment I received from said defendent if you want. My lawyer sure isn't.

Re:Court Costs (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965468)

Yes and no. "Court costs" can include lawyer fees, but only if they are "statuatory fee", i.e. the law spells out a specific amount of compensation for a specific action. This statuatory amount is usually much less than the lawyer's time is actually worth. I.e. in my case, it was $350.

the system (1)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964241)

Do not assume they can try again and appeal. A higher court may only hear a case if there are any apparent Constitutional violations in the lower court's proceedings.

Parenthetically, double jeopardy only applies when a mistrial is declared at which point the prosecution may or may not try to try again.

Re:the system (3, Informative)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964375)

Parenthetically, double jeopardy only applies when a mistrial is declared at which point the prosecution may or may not try to try again.

No, "double jeopardy" is when one is subjected to a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal or conviction (which is generally unconstitutional). A mistrial ends the trial before an acquittal or conviction, so a retrial after a mistrial is not double jeopardy, it's just a retrial.

Re:the system (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964609)

No, "double jeopardy" is when one is subjected to a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal or conviction (which is generally unconstitutional).

Umm no. You can appeal your conviction in the US system, but the prosecution can not appeal an aquittal. So you can have a "second prosecution" after conviction.

Many countries in Europe don't consider let both sides appeal a ruling, moving to higher courts. That is why DVD-Jon was aquitted twice. Those uninformed enough to think US law applies abroad were talking about double jeopardy.

Once the court case is finally settled (as in out of appeal options) I don't know of any country that lets you be trialed again.

I guess it's a difference of opinion, in the US the idea is that "If one court can find a shred of reasonable doubt, there is", in Europe it is "The higher the court, the higher the competence and the higher the accuracy."

Let me take a simple example, say the threshold was 90% (just to pick a number). US Courts: 92+/-2, 91+/-2, 89+/-2, any one aquittal is enough. Europe: 89+/-3, 91+/-1, 91.2+/-0.2.

Personally I think the US lets you off way too cheaply if you're guilty and manage to sucker the court somehow. Pull it off once and you're home free.

Re:the system (1, Informative)

UnrefinedLayman (185512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965053)

Umm no. You can appeal your conviction in the US system, but the prosecution can not appeal an aquittal. So you can have a "second prosecution" after conviction.
You don't seem to understand what an appeal is. There has to be grounds for an appeal, and when in appellate court there is no second trial. There is no jury. There is no prosecution. Guilt has been decided and the convicted must appeal that decision by proving the trial was unfair in some manner, or by showing that it was impossible for the convicted person to have committed the crime. Often times even this isn't possible--new evidence generally cannot be introduced into an appeal as the appeal is only related to the original trial.
I guess it's a difference of opinion, in the US the idea is that "If one court can find a shred of reasonable doubt, there is", in Europe it is "The higher the court, the higher the competence and the higher the accuracy."
In the US it's not about reasonable doubt in the appeals process. It's a matter of whether the trial was conducted properly and fairly. The vast majority of appeals fail because appellate courts generally defer to the trial judge's judgement.
Let me take a simple example[...]
If by "simple example" you mean "random and meaningless numbers," go ahead and take it.
Personally I think the US lets you off way too cheaply if you're guilty and manage to sucker the court somehow. Pull it off once and you're home free.
Once again you misunderstand the US justice system. There is no suckering the court--either there was misconduct in the trial or there wasn't, and if there was you don't get a free pass. You don't get to go home. You get retried for the same crime after the verdict is set aside. Appellate courts aren't there to decide guilt or innocence, they're there to decide if a person received a fair trial and if they didn't to make sure they do.

Re:the system (2, Insightful)

hacksoncode (239847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965104)

Wow... Someone thinks that a 90% probability of guilt is sufficient to convict someone... I hope I never move to his country. Generally speaking in wild generalities, the US system sets that threshold at about 99% (based not on any law, but on a cultural opinion framed by a quote from a famous patriot that he would rather let 100 guilty men go free than falsely convict an innocent one).

Also, appeals in the US (and I would hope probably most places) only consider matters of law, not of fact. Trying the facts becomes more and more suspicious as time elapses, as memories fade and trails of custody of evidence become more and more fractured and prone to error. So the presumption is that reasonable doubt can only increase with time, not decrease.

Anyway, the point of the double jeopardy rule in the US is a reaction to a visciously unjust (European) government tactic of the time of simply trying someone over and over again if they don't like the result of the first trial. Since our particular form of justice puts supremacy on the jury rather than on appointed judges, any trial after the jury aquits would be a trial of this form. It's not a perfect system, but it's one (agan, imperfect) check and balance on the power of government to unjustly harrass an innocent that the government doesn't like for some reason.

Not that we're really living up to those ideals these days... but I have a moderate amount of confidence in the long-term stability of the system even if it has the ability to royally screw up in the short term.

Re:the system (1)

jdeluise (804732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965129)

It sounds like the European system is a recipe for corruption. The governement doesn't like the lower courts ruling so it pays for "another shot at guilty". What's that saying in the US about letting a dozen guilty go free before letting one innocent be sent to jail or something to that effect? Giving both sides the right to appeal would draw out cases even further and cost taxpayers even more hard-earned money. Court cases are long enough and expensive enough as it is! Who really wants the European way besides the governments?

Re:the system (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964712)

Do not assume they can try again and appeal. A higher court may only hear a case if there are any apparent Constitutional violations in the lower court's proceedings.

That's not correct.

I love it! A crackpot fine! (4, Funny)

dildo (250211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964244)

I wish I could fine every crackpot that's wasted my time.

"Dear Sir. Your letter claiming the invention of a (perpetual motion machine/ proof of the trisection of the angle with compass and straight edge/ stock-picking program/ time cube harvester) was a complete waste of my time due to its impossibility and utter implausibility, as demonstrated by (reputable mathematics/ laws of thermodynamics/ support of your theory by George Gilder or Wired magazine, implying that it is categorically false).

"By my estimation, it required 2 minutes of my time to read your letter and throw it in the shredder and one minute to send out this form letter invoice. At my going rate of $100 per hour, this means you owe me exactly $5 U.S., payable by check, gold bullion, or paypal. Failure to pay this sum will result in a call from my attorney. Sincerely,"

I bet I could make a plush living on commissions if I were to handle the crank mail at a place like MIT or CalTech.

Re:I love it! A crackpot fine! (4, Funny)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964270)

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0306061billy1 .html [thesmokinggun.com]

The footnote on Page 2 is the price of the ticket.

Re:I love it! A crackpot fine! (1)

Dr. GeneMachine (720233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964335)

That link, good Sir, was exceedingly funny! For the lack of mod points, I hereby bestow upon you the "poster of the day" merit badge. Please find attached an invoice covering the price for a new keyboard, as my old one died due to beer being coughed all over it as a direct consequence of your post. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain sincerely yours, Dr. GeneMachine

Re:I love it! A crackpot fine! (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965122)

You forget to charge for the shredder's electricity usage, as well as wear-and-tear. Oh, and don't forget disposal!

His Name is Daniel, not William (1)

jack_csk (644290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964279)

Someone thinks he is William Wallace of the software industry?

Re:His Name is Daniel, not William (1)

The Hobo (783784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964327)

....Freeeeedooooom!

(I had to do it)

Re:His Name is Daniel, not William (1)

flood6 (852877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965749)

He's probably feeling like Marsellus Wallace [110-220.net] right about now.

Ruling Is On The Money (4, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964339)

Excerpt:

"First, while Mr. Wallace contends that the GPL is "foreclosing competition in the market for computer operating systems" (id.), his problem appears to be that GPL generates too much competition, free of charge. The court's understanding from the GPL itself2 is that it is a software licensing agreement through which the GNU/Linux operating system may be licensed and distributed to individual users so long as those users "cause any work that [they] 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." (GPL 3.) The GPL purportedly functions to "guarantee [users'] freedom to share and change free software." (GPL Preamble.) As alleged, the GPL in no way forecloses other operating systems from entering the market. Instead, it merely acts as a means by which certain software may be copied, modified and redistributed without violating the software's copyright protection. As such, the GPL encourages, rather than discourages, free competition and the distribution of computer operating systems, the benefits of which directly pass to consumers. These benefits include lower prices, better access and more innovation."

This Judge Tinder is an amazingly astute jurist. He just summed up what people have been trying to explain to the anti-GPL crowd for ages now.

Heh! (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964771)

Although I seriously doubt Microsoft is going to alter their campaign to fit, there is now a legal ruling to quote from. IANAL, but I believe that past rulings ("case law") shape all future rulings, which would suggest that future attacks on the GPL based on competitiveness have a higher chance of failing. This is a Good Thing.


My only concern is that it might inflame the Linux vs. Gnu/Linux wars, given that the judge implied that Gnu/Linux was indeed the correct form. It would not look good if a breakaway Linux group appealed the ruling on the grounds that Gnu/Linux sounds stupid.

Re:Heh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14965816)

At least nobody's pushing "GNU\Linux". That looks *really* stupid.

Re:Ruling Is On The Money (1)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964840)

Yes, that is what the GPL does. But that doesn't mean that the GPL can't be used as an anticompetitive tool. If Microsoft and IBM had gotten together and agreed to give away OS/2 and Windows, Apple would have sued them. I think that is essentially what Wallace thinks is happening. His deficiency is not that the software in question was sold under the GPL, but that the alleged agreement is the GPL itself. If IBM and Red Hat had collusively agreed to release their software under the GPL, he might actually have a case. But he has to prove (at this point, alledge) that there was an actual agreement, and not simple seperate conincidental business decisions. If Judge Tinder were really that astute, he would have made this more clear in his order, and left out the dicta about the GPL.

Re:Ruling Is On The Money (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964991)


If Judge Tinder were really that astute, he would have made this more clear in his order, and left out the dicta about the GPL.


No the Judge was correct, The GPL has nothing to do with price fixing because it does not prevent you from charging someone for software that you create.

Reading comprehension, man. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14965836)

No, you're completely missing the point.

Let's say the two largest OS makers in the market are Microsoft and IBM. If Microsoft and IBM collude to fix the price of their operating systems in order to freeze out competition, that is price-fixing and it is illegal. Now, if Microsoft and IBM use the GPL as a cover for that end, it's still illegal. That the GPL could be a vehicle for price-fixing or other anticompetitive practices is incidental. It really says nothing about the GPL itself. It has to do with who is in cahoots with whom and why.

Re:Reading comprehension, man. (2, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14966036)

No point is being missed. The ruling correctly states the GPL fosters, not hinders, competition and innovation contrary to the claim of the plaintiff. Microsoft and IBM can not possibly use it to freeze out other operating systems because nothing in the GPL prohibits other operating systems from being created.

Wrong target (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964785)

He should have gone after Microsoft, a company that has already been convicted under Sherman Anit-Trust. Even then he should have gone after them AFTER trying to market a viable product.

Daniel Wallace lost this argument TWO years ago (1)

NZheretic (23872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14964937)

Daniel Wallace's crackpot Anti-GPL arguments were repeatedly [sys-con.com] and utterly refuted [sys-con.com] back in Febuary 2004.

what's next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14964961)

Suing Special Olympics for price fixing because they provide all-donation, all-volunteer, 100% free services? I mean, how can a business compete with that?

Heh... (0, Redundant)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14965098)

I'm glad the judge ordered Wallace to pay the court costs. But I wonder just what Grommit has to say about that.
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