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German Court Convicts Skype For Breaching GPL

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the means-what-it-says dept.

The Courts 309

terber writes "A German court has once again upheld the GPLv2 and convicted Skype (based in Luxembourg) of violating the GPL by selling the Linux-based VoIP phone 'SMCWSKP 100' without proper source code access. (Original is in German, link is a Google translation.) Skype later added a flyer to the phones' packaging giving a URL where the sources could be obtained; but the court found this insufficient and in breach of GPL section 3. The plaintiff was once again Netfilter developer Harald Welte, who runs gpl-violations.org. The decision is available in German at www.ifross.de (Google translation here)."

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Damn (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973507)

What a bunch of GPL Nazis.

Re:Damn (2, Funny)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973683)

>>What a bunch of GPL Nazis.

Sorry, I laughed.

Please Convict These: +1, Patriotic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973803)


War Criminals [whitehouse.org] .

The soooner, the better.

Pax,
Kilgore Trout

Server Error? (3, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974155)

My German is a bit rusty, but I'm pretty sure that "Server Error" is not a very good translation.

Re:Damn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974537)

First you said they're commies, now you say nazis. Oh well, still better than jews.

Correct terminology (5, Informative)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973519)

Noone would be convicted of "breaching the GPL". The GPL is not an EULA. If you violate the terms of the GPL, you are (re)distributing without a license permitting you to do so (since the GPL, which you violated, is the only thing that gives you permission to do so), which is a copyright violation, not a GPL violation. I wish articles would get the specifics right.

Re:Correct terminology (3, Insightful)

ikegami (793066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973577)

You said the GPL was violated in a post trying to explain why it's Copyright and not the GPL that was violated.

Re:Correct terminology (4, Insightful)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973665)

You *can* violate the terms of the GPL, if you do you lose your rights to distribute (since it is what gives you the rights). However you would not be convicted of doing so. Instead, you would be convicted of distributing without a license in violation of copyright (since you had no license to distribute). It's a technicality I know, but I wish more people would understand the specifics.

Just out of curiosity (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974039)

Are you talking about American courts or German Courts. Because each country interprets the GPL, and copyrights, in very different fashion. Heck, in china, they ignore you until for some minor reason, you piss them off. Then you are shot. I think that is one of the VERY few countries that do that (for that reason).

Only if copying is not fair use (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974269)

There's a minority opinion in US circles that suggests that copying an executable, in order to use it, constitutes fair use. So that, if I had a GPL "thing", and sought to use it, then, I could.

Re:Only if copying is not fair use (3, Informative)

ThePiMan2003 (676665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974351)

Thats actually just fine under the GPL, but when you hand that executable to someone else, thats when the GPL is invoked. If you grab some code change it and just use it for yourself you do not need to do anything, but when you distibute it, by putting it on phones you sell, or putting the binary up for download somewhere you must also include the source.

Re:Only if copying is not fair use (4, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974415)

There's a minority opinion in US circles that suggests that copying an executable, in order to use it, constitutes fair use.

It's not fair use, because copies of software that are made for the purpose of using it are not covered by copyright in the first place. The law is explicit about this [cornell.edu] :

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner

In short: It's not fair use (that's a different set of exemptions), but it is legal.

Re:Correct terminology (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974535)

Well, I don't read German so which is true here, Where they convicted of violating copyright or held to be in violation of a contract? If they accepted the GPL and failed to fulfill it's requirement's I would assume it would be the later.

Re:Correct terminology (4, Funny)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973637)

Noone would be convicted of "breaching the GPL". The GPL is not an EULA. If you violate the terms of the GPL, you are (re)distributing without a license permitting you to do so (since the GPL, which you violated, is the only thing that gives you permission to do so), which is a copyright violation, not a GPL violation. I wish articles would get the specifics right.

You win today's "Pedant of the day award." Look for your certificate in the mail.

Re:Correct terminology (3, Funny)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973737)

you get runner up for using the word "pedant".

but you don't get a certificate. We're kindof assholes like that.

Re:Correct terminology (5, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973807)

This is far from pedantry. Using terms suggesting that someone would be convicted or held liable for a "GPL violation" suggests that a court must uphold the GPL as valid for such a lawsuit to be successful. This makes people believe (erroneously) that the GPL is a questionable document that needs to be tested in court.

On the contrary, a standard legal action against someone not in compliance with the terms of the GPL would be a simple copyright infringement case; the onus is on the defendant to show that they had a valid license (and met its terms).

Re:Correct terminology (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974205)

I think licensing is more complicated than that. If they point out that you were giving the software away, and let people copy it, then you do have to establish that you're allowed to impose conditions like this -- and a court could conceivably disagree.

Re:Correct terminology (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974445)

Using terms suggesting that someone would be convicted or held liable for a "GPL violation" suggests that a court must uphold the GPL as valid for such a lawsuit to be successful.

The court must "test" the GPL if the defendant claims that he accepted the terms. At that point the judge will attempt to decide whether the defendant did indeed keep up his half of the bargain, potentially restricting the power of the GPL agreement where local laws say otherwise.

This makes people believe (erroneously) that the GPL is a questionable document that needs to be tested in court.

The GPL is a fairly air-tight design, but there's nothing erroneous about its need for court testing. A judge can (and will!) strike various parts of the agreement if he finds them to be in conflict with either the law or the intent of the agreement. As a result, it's difficult to legally "prove" that a given type of agreement will hold up in court unless either that same agreement or a similar agreement is tested. The GPL has had sufficient legal testing to show that it will hold up in court.

If I'm not mistaken, your confusion stems from section 5 of the GPL, which explicitly provides for the fact that no proof of an agreement takes place. According to the GPL, you don't have to accept it to use the software. It falls back on standard copyright law in that case. Thus when an infringer is identified, he faces a double-edged sword. Does he claim that he did not accept the GPL, in which case he's on the hook for copyright infringement? Or does he claim that he did indeed accept the terms of the GPL, in which case he's on the hook for (I'll phrase this carefully just to annoy the "contract vs. license" folks out there :P) "breach of the terms and conditions of the contract"?

The GPL is an interesting experiment in using a legal loophole as the foundation for a distribution agreement. This case provides further evidence that the concept works as well in practice as it does in legal theory.

Re:Correct terminology - probably a German speaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974743)

I think it is a *little* pedantic to say something like "I wish articles would get the specifics right" in this case as the poster is quite probably not a native English speaker.

Re:Correct terminology (5, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973847)

Hey, we're having a legal discussion here -- pedantry is necessary!

Re:Correct terminology (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974161)

Hey, we're having a legal discussion here -- pedantry is necessary!


Oh, well. If you insist. My cock is bigger than your cock.

Happy now?

Re:Correct terminology (2, Insightful)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974317)

No, if you are having a legal discussion, stupidly large fees are usually necessary.

Re:Correct terminology (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974505)

You win today's "Pedant of the day award." Look for your certificate in the mail.

Surely that should be '"Pedant of the Day" award'.

Re:Correct terminology (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974579)

>which is a copyright violation

Right, we need to protect copyright at all costs! Maybe insert some DRM to protect us from evil capitalists!!

I wonder how many slashdotters would agree that the idea to limit copyright to 12 years or so means that linux will be put in the public domain for anyone to do whatever they want, and to hell with the gpl.

Not trying to troll, but its funny to see people quote copyright law line and verse when it serves them.

Slashdot Hypocrisy (-1, Troll)

jbf (30261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973571)

Now we will see the same people who oppose RIAA/MPAA copyrights cheering the copyright action that enforces open source. Don't you see that you can't have it both ways?

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973615)

Why not!

In any case you have completely misrepresented peoples positions and conflated different groups.

Don't look now but I think your strawman is on fire.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973621)

Yes we can. And do. You see, RIAA/MPAA are evil. The OSS guys are good. Haven't you seen Star Wars?

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973759)

The OSS guys are good. Haven't you seen Star Wars?

Who were the good guys? Was it the Government and troops who provided "security" and "spread their version of democracy" to the other planets? or was it the "Terrorists" who blew up the Haliburton^W Government project which was designed to eliminate terrorists.

Come to think of it, there are striking similarities between that old guy who shoots lightning out of his fingers and Dick Cheney.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973643)

What do you mean? Opposing the RIAA means supporting the user's freedom. Enforcing the GPL also means supporting the user's freedom. There is no contradiction.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1, Insightful)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973671)

Now we will see the same people who oppose RIAA/MPAA copyrights cheering the copyright action that enforces open source. Don't you see that you can't have it both ways?

That's bullshit and you know it. On several occasions, pretty much every story about file trading and copyright I see posts from slashdotters saying that they believe current copyright for songs is out of touch with reality, but still wouldn't participate in illegal file trading because of the ethical issues. You don't give people enough credit.

Plus, you're talking apples to oranges when you compare adhering to the GPL to adhering to what the RIAA wants with regards to songs. The GPL only lets you do more with the work than would otherwise be possible via copyright, the RIAA wants to restrict the rights of users even further than what current copyright does allow.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

jbf (30261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974035)

That's bullshit and you know it. On several occasions, pretty much every story about file trading and copyright I see posts from slashdotters saying that they believe current copyright for songs is out of touch with reality, but still wouldn't participate in illegal file trading because of the ethical issues. You don't give people enough credit.
Perhaps you see those people, but you also see plenty of people with the refrain "fuck the {MP,RI}AA," I'll copy your songs/movies and there's nothing you can do about it.

Plus, you're talking apples to oranges when you compare adhering to the GPL to adhering to what the RIAA wants with regards to songs. The GPL only lets you do more with the work than would otherwise be possible via copyright, the RIAA wants to restrict the rights of users even further than what current copyright does allow.
This distinction is legally dubious. The GPL is a license, without which you couldn't even run the program in most cases (temporary copies in RAM fall under copyright law, see Lessig's "Code"), so clearly some license is necessary for all useful software. With copyright on songs/movies, you still can play them for private use from the original media that you purchased, and the {RI,MP}AA will not do anything to you for it. Beyond that, ripping, placeshifting, etc. is semi-protected by Sony v. Universal City 464 US 417 (1984). Despite the more broad-reaching intent of the {MP,RI}AA (e.g. lobbying for laws like the DMCA), the cause of action in their peer-to-peer enforcement actions is copyright infringement. Now I'm not a big fan of their litigation tactics, but I think that such suits (with better and more legal investigative techniques) are the right way to deal with file sharing. It's that same cause of action that allows the enforcement of the GPL.

Note that I said "RIAA/MPAA copyrights," not tactics.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (0)

another_fanboy (987962) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973685)

Don't you see that you can't have it both ways?

The difference is that the GPL and BSD copywrites are meant to safeguard against eccessive copywriting by large companies. They are designed to protect us.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

newgalactic (840363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973761)

I agree with where your heart is. But I don't believe the law makes (or read "is supposed to make") a distinction between "us" and "them".

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

newgalactic (840363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973687)

While I do see a slight difference, his point is taken.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (0)

butlerdi (705651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973713)

Not at all. The people challenging the rights of free use have themselves been guilty of violation. Why is the film industry in California, what about Micky Mouse. These scummy folks have abused the system (payola) for years, have ripped off the artists and now scream shit ........ Fuck them. These folks are scum...... They represent themselves, not the artists whose works they live off... What about the drugs they have supplied to artists et al.... I spent 10 yers in the business and was utterly disgusted by the bullshit.

Slashdot Beatings. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973739)

I much prefer the "you can abuse copyright holders anyway you please and they'll still produce the good stuff". Let's see if something similar applies to OSS programmers.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973861)

Now we will see the same people who oppose RIAA/MPAA copyrights cheering the copyright action that enforces open source. Don't you see that you can't have it both ways?

In a perfect world, we wouldn't need the GPL, but we don't live in a perfect world. The GPL attempts to use the (imperfect) legal tools that do exist (read: copyright law) to accomplish its goal of access to source. The spirit behind it has little to do with copyright.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

jbf (30261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974435)

Irrelevant. In a perfect world you wouldn't need copyright, either. Each user would pay something between the incremental cost (close to 0) and their personal benefit, or they won't use the creative work.

We're talking about the enforcement mechanism, and in particular, the law that allows both the netfilter author and the RIAA/MPAA to state a claim. Without copyright (or some similar idea written into a contract), there is no GPL. Period. See ESR's manifesto.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974555)

Devils advocate here ...

I would be pretty pissed if I spent 7 months writing a book with an agreement that I make some money on the sales only to have someone violate my copyright and take credit for my novel and I go broke. d

Copyright needs to exist to make sure authors are recongized and yes, compensated for their work. If you do not agree to pay for it then dont buy it. There are creative commons licenses for creative works such as free books too. But copyright enforces credits on who writes what. Even if something is free it needs to be recognized by the author of that work.

Many /. ers confuse copyright protection and patents. Patents are more debatable as they are given out like lolipops by the government.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

jbf (30261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974661)

I wouldn't say patents are given out like lollipops. If you've ever been through a patent examination, you know that examiners are not the most skilled in the arts they examine, but they're not completely ignorant either. Patents are mainly a problem because judges are technically incapable of properly assessing Section 103 obviousness, and because 102(b)'s one-year clock is not short enough. KSR v. Teleflex should fix some of the obviousness problems. I don't know how to fix the 102(b) problem without abolishing tech patents, because technology moves too fast, and I think the time period is also too long for tech, for the same reason.

No. Public information access vs Corporate control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973875)

This is not inconsistent with fighting for public access to information.

We don't like RIAA suing College students, because it is a misuse of the legal system to protect an already overly protected monopoly.

We like protection of the GPL, as with an extinct public domain, open-source/creative commons is all that remains.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (2, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973879)

Umm, I think you'd find many people on /. would gladly let groups like the RIAA and MPAA hold onto copyrights if they didn't exert such a stranglehold on them and for so long.

What we're opposed to are the draconian enforcement and perpetual lengthening of copyright expiration.

So...no. I don't see where your argument has solid ground to stand on.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973927)

> What we're opposed to are the draconian enforcement and perpetual lengthening of copyright expiration.

Have you ever stop to consider when software covered under the GPL will actually become public domain and no longer be bound by the terms of the GPL?

Like it are not, all those extensions that benefit the (MP|RI)AA also end up benefiting the open source world as well, only the benefits to FOSS will be a little later in coming in theory.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974133)

If copyright was restored to 14-28 years duration, the GPL software would be public domain after 14 years.
Of course would you rather use 14 year old public domain software or GPL software?

For the GPL to be effective, copyright duration needs only to be as long as the software is not obsolete.
5-10 years in usual cases.

A 95 year copyright does not benefit open source and more than a 1000 year copyright would.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (3, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974141)

Like it are not, all those extensions that benefit the (MP|RI)AA also end up benefiting the open source world as well

I assume you're talking about the benefit of copyleft (i.e., enforcing the sharing) versus plain permissive (e.g. Public Domain). The thing is, plain permissive really isn't all that much worse than copyleft. In contrast, (from the RIAA's perspective) public domain is very much worse than proprietary. So, having a longer copyleft term doesn't benefit the Free Software community nearly as much as having a longer copyright term benefits the RIAA.

Besides, old music remains valuable to society. For the most part, old code doesn't.

For both of those reasons, it is unnecessary for Free Software to have long copyright, and thus most Free Software advocates oppose copyright extensions. The fact that the RIAA et al. abuse copyright only confirms that position more.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (2, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974573)

Have you ever stop to consider when software covered under the GPL will actually become public domain and no longer be bound by the terms of the GPL?

Assuming Linus lives to at least 70 (born in 1969), the Linux kernel will not be released into the public domain for another 101 years or so. And that's only the parts he wrote. I think it's safe to say that the FOSS community will not be harmed by the release of what will then probably be an ancient and rather quaint bit of software from the turn of the last century.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

jbf (30261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974569)

So do you only illegally distribute music that has been around for less than 5 years, or whatever you think the copyright term should be? My point is that the slashdot groupthink opposes all RIAA/MPAA copyrights, regardless of freshness. Even if you say that the legitimate copyright length is 5 years (which I could live with), then you should only cheer the enforcement of GPL for software less than 5 years old, and you should support RIAA/MPAA copyrights less than 5 years old. Since substantial P2P copyright violation consists of Top40 songs (see the ober dicta of MGM v. Grokster 545 U.S. 913 (2005)) which are almost exclusively less than 5 years old, my argument holds.

BTW I don't think the slashdot groupthink only opposes the "draconian enforcement and perpetual lengthening of copyright expiration." I do too, and disagree with Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003), but that has nothing to do with the copyright enforcements currently brought by the RIAA/MPAA. Furthermore, I don't agree with their litigation/investigation tactics, but that's not relevant to the copyright itself.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973891)

"Now we will see the same people who oppose RIAA/MPAA copyrights cheering the copyright action that enforces open source. Don't you see that you can't have it both ways?"

And adding further humor, Skype was developed by the guys who developed Kazaa. They knew what Kazaa would be used for; they certainly weren't naive enough to think that it would be used only for Linux distros and Creative Commons materials.

At any rate, it's perfectly justified to ask to have something both ways. For example, many people like to pirate music because it's a great way to enjoy music for free. But at the same time, we wouldn't want our term papers or graduate thesi shared with our schoolmates before we've turned them (the papers) in. It's other people's information that typically wants to be free.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973979)

Thesi, really? Stop trying to sound pretentious and buy a dictionary. The plural is theses, the origin is Greek.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

Maniac-X (825402) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973949)

There's a difference here, though. First and foremost, the GPL is about sharing; the RIAA/MPAA are most certainly not. You do not have to pay to obtain GPL code, but the RIAA/MPAA want you to pay out the nose for every song and movie you ever watch.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974083)

It is our RIGHT to have that. In almost all countries, until recent times, the right of the individual to possess copyrighted material WAS enforced. What you can not do is distribute it without a license (which the GPL gives you (in fact, enforces)). How you got modded up is beyond me. Well, actually, no. I guess that I do know.

Re:Slashdot Hypocrisy (1)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974263)

Nope. I can. Because I'd rather see copyright destroyed -- tomorrow -- but if I can't have that? I guess I can wring some use of the stinking filth we call "intellectual property" legislation. Just 'cause I support the latter doesn't mean I wouldn't prefer the former.

Meaning of plaintiff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973581)

In case like me you weren't sure: The plaintiff initiates a lawsuit, Harald Welte was the accuser.

Re:Meaning of plaintiff (1)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974557)

plaintiff initiates a lawsuit
Easy to keep straight: The person who brings a complaint to the court is the plaintiff. Then the person who responds to the complaint is the respondent

I'm confused... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973599)

Skype is good, GPL is good, copyright bad...

Who are with on this one guys?

You are all wrong (1, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974123)

  1. Copyrights are GOOD.
  2. GPL is GOOD.
  3. Skype is Good.
  4. Skype did a bad thing in trying to take something and then distribute it without meeting the LEGAL terms of it.

This is opposed to items (say a CD) which says that you may not copy them, which is a lie since it is LEGAL to copy things for personal use. What you may not do, is to distribute them for your gains.

Re:You are all wrong (2, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974235)

What you may not do, is to distribute them for your gains.

'for your gains' is not a required condition.

Re:You are all wrong (2, Informative)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974261)

The only thing Skype did wrong, which the summary doesn't mention but someone else did, is that they didn't include a copy of the GPL with the phone.

The court said including a website address to where the source could be downloaded wasn't good enough. I'd like to know why that wasn't good enough. Is it only because the text of the GPL wasn't included?

This doesn't look like a win for the GPL. This looks like a major pain in the ass. I didn't even know that distributing a copy of the GPL was a requirement. I've never read it fully, but I guess I just assumed that as long as you make the source code available, everything is fine.

Re:You are all wrong (2, Informative)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974407)

Yes, the GPL says specifically that you must include a copy of the GPL to make sure the user knows his rights.

Section 1:
"You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you .... and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program."

... and also (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974459)

If you didn't read the license (I hope to God you're not distributing under it) and you use the software.. well that's at your own risk. You need to know your own obligations.

Skype is good? (1)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974457)

Skype is a closed network with a secret protocol. And Skype is scary [blackhat.com] . Who knows how many more security holes lurk under their many layers of obfuscation? You're taking quite a risk if you let Skype onto your network.

I'm not saying this in order to troll, I'm just trying to correct widespread misperceptions about Skype, characterised by the belief that it's in some way better than yet another phone company. If you can, use a SIP-based IP phone instead. There are lots of SIP programs to choose from, they interoperate, if you want to dial out onto the PSTN there is a choice of providers, and you can get GPLv2 source code [openwengo.org] for the client. Far better than Skype's closed network and closed source monoculture.

Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (4, Funny)

goldspider (445116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973607)

Court upholding GPL - Good!
Conviction for copyright violation - Bad!

What's a loyal drone to believe anymore??

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973675)

It's about info wanting to be free, you nimrod. Had Skype released the code, they wouldn't have been sued in the first place.

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (2, Funny)

goldspider (445116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973895)

Are we talking beer, speech, or herpes?

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974013)

They did provide a link to download the code though, but it seems that doesn't matter.

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973797)

The GPL is permissive, and thus turns the usual function of copyright on it's head.

In other words, usually when people violate copyright it's through an act that increases the spread of the information, and prosecuting them for it would restict that spread. In contrast, when people violate copyright by failing to abide by the GPL, they themselves are restricting the spread of the information and prosecuting them restores it.

If one (e.g., a "loyal drone") consistently believes that spreading information is good and restricting it is bad, there is no contradiction.

Conflict and Chaos in the MrChaotic Mind! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974043)

"In other words, usually when people violate copyright it's through an act that increases the spread of the information, and prosecuting them for it would restict that spread."

But by not rewarding people, you don't have any information to spread.

"In contrast, when people violate copyright by failing to abide by the GPL, they themselves are restricting the spread of the information and prosecuting them restores it."

Well that certainly turns the BSD vs GPL argument on it's head.

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974247)

How about we spread your social security number, credit reports and medical record around then?

Infomation want to be free!

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974697)

Funny but that is a great case of newspeak.
GPL is permissive... But it prevents you from distributing something with out making the source available...
I happen to like GPL V2 but this statement is just not as slanted as the term Digital Rights Management.
You find it permissive because it gives you permission to do something you want while preventing someone else from doing what they want.
What I don't get is why is putting the source on the internet not good enough?

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974815)

GPL is permissive... But it prevents you from distributing something with out making the source available...

The GPL is permissive the same way the 13th amendment is permissive. Both prevent you from taking away the rights of others.

What I don't get is why is putting the source on the internet not good enough?

Not everyone has access to the internet. Had they included a written offer to send the source code by post for a reasonable shipping charge they'd probably have been fine.

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19973819)

Whatever suits you now, just like the other side.

Not Really (1)

EMIce (30092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973905)

The hardcore would question the validity of copyright entirely. If there were no copyright and patent laws, GPL wouldn't be so necessary as code would be leaked/distributed/re-used all the time, open source or not. Though would people make less innovative software if this happend? Or would all the code-reuse allow for innovation to flourish as it made more permutations of existing software technologies possible?

Re:Not Really (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974005)

While I agree that freer code would allow more innovation, I still believe profit-motive drives innovation.

Say what you will about the negatives of vendor lock-in (an argument with merit), cool gadgets mean big bucks. Take away profit, and where do iPhones come from?

Re:Not Really (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974221)

I don't believe that copyright drives innovation -- innovation usually means providing a new direction or addition to a previous product that someone else likely designed, which was "innovated" from a previous product that another designed. New ideas based on old ideas, etc.

What drives innovation is a desire to capture a particular market share for a demand, in effect providing a new supply stream for an existing demand, or hoping to create demand due to a new supply stream for a new product or feature.

In my opinion, it is the combination of features, at a given price, backed by a given support structure, with promises to function at a given level of operation, that matter most. In this case, it isn't copyright that provides for a "winner" in that market of supply and demand, it is the person who releases the best combination of features+price+support+quality to a market that desires it, that wins, if that person markets the product properly.

Copyright merely restricts competition from doing better than the originator of that particular product or service, and does the market a disservice by reducing the opportunity for other producers to do something one step better.

Re:Not Really (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974451)

Copyright merely restricts competition from doing better than the originator of that particular product or service, and does the market a disservice by reducing the opportunity for other producers to do something one step better.



It doesn't restrict the others from doing better as long as they write their own stuff. It allows the originator to restrict them from taking his work and passing it off as their own long enough for the originator to make a profit. This worked well way back when the monopoly granted by copyright was of a sensible term.

Re:Conflict and Chaos in the Hive Mind! (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974373)

Here's what you have to believe to match ~70% of /.ers:

1. Copyright in general is a good thing, but has too long of a term and his horribly misused today.
2. Anyone who does anything whatsoever that would be necessary to catch and convict someone violating copyright over P2P is a horrible totalitarian Nazi.
3. Copyright really only benefits the record companies, who are parasites.
4. It's possible to make money as a musician without copyright or the evil record companies, and is therefore possible today. Ignore how, when given the choice, artists prefer to work with a record company.
5. If record companies were just nicer, people would buy more stuff from them even though they can get it for free on P2P.
6. From the fact that geeks know how to get music for free, it follows that everyone knows how to so we are seeing concrete evidence of copyright not being necessary.

I think that about covers it.

Misleading or incomplete summary. (5, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973747)

The actual problem is that they did not include the text of the GPL with the phone. The summary here in Slashdot didn't mention that, and had me wondering what the problem with the provided URL was.

Re:Misleading or incomplete summary. (1)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973825)

I had a bit of trouble figuring that out myself, from the text provided...

  Skype because of GPL injury condemns
Regional court Munich I: GPL must be kept accurately

Once more confirmed a German court the validity of the GPLv2. The regional court Munich condemned Skype because of the injury of the GPL, which above all is interesting, because it concerns thereby a foreign enterprise.
However the VoIP software of Skype was not the center of attention, on the contrary it concerned the VoIP telephone SMCWSKP 100 from SMC, which is sold Skype over its Website and which is delivered without the appropriate Linux source texts, was based it nevertheless on the free operating system. On the other hand Netfilter developer Harald Welte had complained, which holds at parts of the Linux Kernel copyright and with its project gpl-violations.org for years against GPL injury proceeds.

Apart from the fact that the regional court Munich I (Az. The judgement condemned, does not turn off 7 O 5245/07, yet validly) with Skype a Luxemburger company also very clearly to an exact adherence to the GPL. A supplement was attached to the equipment later, which referred to the used GPL software and contained URL, where the source texts are callable - nevertheless this are sufficient the court in the available case, not. This possibility plans the GPL only for software, which is supplied over Internet. Besides the text of the GPL also on the supplement, which likewise offends against the license obligations, was missing.

Beside the procedure against Skype at present also one legal proceedings are pending against the Vertreiber of the telephone, SMC network. Dr. Julia Küng on the sides Institut for legal questions of the free ones and open SOURCE software (ifrOSS) published, also to the attorney Dr. Till hunter belonged to details for the background of the procedure, that represented the plaintiff Harald Welte in the law case against Skype. (ji)

Stop this rubbish (1)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974153)

Please refrain from posting meaningless google-translated rubbish. If you want to contribute and know German, write a decent translation or summary. Otherwise, shut up and let someone else do it. We don't need your help and can go to the stupid robot on our own, if we feel like it.

Re:Misleading or incomplete summary. (1)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974129)

Basically the judge also found that it is not sufficient to only refer to a URL to access the source code and license text . This would be fine if the software product itself was also distribited over the internet, but in any other case that is not sufficient. I am not sure if the court specified what would be a sufficient means to enable access to the source code. It really baffles me that a company is knowledeable enough to take a advantage of GPL software to develop their own product but tries to weasel out of provinding something as simple as the source code changes and give credit to the other developers. It is not like it's asking for much.

translation (1)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19973901)

"nevertheless this are sufficient the court in the available case, not."

sorry, i could not stop giggling when i read this...reminded me of Borat... "this is suit is black not"

but on a serious note, this more aptly translates to "however, this was not sufficient to the court for the case in question"

Re:translation (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974151)

There's an old joke, probably from WWII (or maybe the Cold War era), about a German translator. A guy I used to work with who spoke fluent German told it to me. It goes like this:

A translator is listening to a German radio broadcast and busily writing down what he hears. He says nothing for a long time, but keeps writing. A nearby woman is growing impatient for the translation.
Woman: What are they saying? What are they saying?
Translator: Just a minute, ma'am. I'm still waiting for the verb.

German really seems to be like this. For what it's worth, Russian, also an inflected language, would not simply stick a negative at the end of a sentence to negative the information that preceded it. The negative would be right in front of the verb, just like in English.

Re:translation (1)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974257)

when i started learning english (german is my native tongue) i was amazed by the same thing, just the other way around. I wondered how english sentences could possibly make sense with all the 'meaty' information in total dis-array.
however, speaking both languages (mostly) fluently, i came to realize that it doesn't really matter that much.

Beginning of the end for open source? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974025)

If this catches on, support for open source will pretty much vanish. No one is going to risk having to give out the the proprietary code that makes their business profitable. The open source license will be far more of a financial liability than the cost of buying a license for a commercial product.

Re:Beginning of the end for open source? (4, Insightful)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974203)

You are mistaken. The only way that Open Source will die is if this type of thing doesn't happen. People like Harald are doing their best to uphold Open Source, as well as Free Software. If you want to allow corporations to fuck everyone else over and take without giving back, then you should really be looking at one of the BSD licenses.

"Holy shit, someone's actually enforcing GPL v2! Open Source is going to die!" is, excuse my language, but fucking retarded. Find something else to blow up about. I hear the sky is falling.

Re:Beginning of the end for open source? (1, Flamebait)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974421)

It already is.

I have read here on /. that many employers ban GPL outright even when not bundling it with code. One had to ban ssh even though it wasn't gpl just because it made the banks lawyers nervous.

This is why I support the BSD and MIT licenses. This creates fud for other more free licenses.

But if I were developing software I would be very carefully on what I include or link to in my program. Its not worth losing your job to it.

Yes, RMS some software is always going to be closed because teh MBAs and accountants do not care about freedom but rather profit and they make the decisions to open source something.

Re:Beginning of the end for open source? (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974737)

This is nonsense. If you're business model is to develop, shrink wrap and sell software of course you are not going to choose to use GPL code. If however you are in the business of performing a service or producing real products and happen to need specialized software and develop your software in house, GPL is wonderful. The cost can't be beat.

Re:Beginning of the end for open source? (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974591)

Skype's business doesn't require secret proprietry code It's a service, and they givwe the client software away. They could rewrite from scratch at greater expense, and there may be a valid business reason to do so, but it's not goin to resuolt ina major impact for open source.

Countless businesses use GPL software for all sorts of reasons - whether internally or for bespoke systems. Skype deciding not to isn't going to harm the cause. On the other hand, Skype getting away with not following the terms honourably will harm the free software movement - or at least the FSF's free software movement.

au contraire .... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974763)

Given the amount of spyware that comes along with Skype, I'm guessing they require secret proprietary code for their business (which is also a service).

I'm a millionaire (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19974037)

This morning I wrote on my garbage "If you collect this garbage, you must pay me $1 million dollars." and my garbage was collected!! They agreed to my license! I'm a millionaire!

This is how the GPL works.

English translation of the decision (1)

g_adams27 (581237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974049)

The story's link to the translated version of the decision doesn't work - probably because Google is only translating the <frameset> document, not the inner frames.

This link should work [google.com] , though

Source Code (4, Informative)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974065)

If anyone is looking for the source code it's here [smc.com]

Can also check out this link for more info here [wifiphone24.com]

Holy Larva Batman! (2, Funny)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974163)

the case that also the program at the same place is offered for the Download: "If distribution OF executable or object code is larva by off ring ACCESS ton of CoPy from A designated place, then off ring equivalent ACCESS ton of CoPy the SOURCE code from the same place COUNTs as distribution OF the SOURCE code, even though third parties of acres emergency compelled tons of CoPy the SOURCE along with the object code." In all other cases of the software selling it is not sufficient to make the SOURCE code available only on-line one.


It's a wonder why Microsoft hates the GPL, Balmer is afraid of GRUB(s)

Fine is cheaper than this cost of advertising (1)

coryupter (588738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974179)

I imagine the legal penalties are small compared to the cost the advertising they would have had to pay in order to get this type of publicity for the Skype phone. To the Skype marketing team: Great work! LOL...

The interesting part (4, Interesting)

jeti (105266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974259)

After a previous conviction, a sheet was included
with the phone that contained URLs to the GPL-
license and to the source code . The articles do
not make any statement on whether the source code
contained all modifications, but they do not claim
otherwise.

The court decided that providing only an URL to the
license was not enough and that the whole license
should have been included in printed form.

So far, so good. Now the interesting part is that
according to the judge, providing a link to the
source code is only acceptable for software that
is provided on the internet. For software that comes
preinstalled, the source must also be delivered with
the device.

This decision seems extremely strange to me. It is
not what I read in the GPL v2. Here is the relevant
part:

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

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

Re:The interesting part (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974747)

I think the judge looked at the paragraph a bit further on in that section where it talks about providing access to the source as a download from a server, and noted that that case is explicitly allowed only when the software itself is also distributed as a download. That led him to the conclusion that clause B that you quote, when it talks of "medium customarily used for software interchange", means exactly what it says: an actual copy on some storage medium, logic being that if it allowed downloads from servers then it wouldn't have been neccesary later to explicitly allow downloads from servers. Combine that with failing to include the license text when the license says plainly in section 1 that you must include a copy of it's text and the judge's decision doesn't seem unreasonable.

And I know the issue of downloads of source has been discussed, and IIRC the FSF's position is that it's not acceptable on it's own. Network servers can be taken down, files on them can be removed, some recipients may not have Internet access but none of those cases lifts the obligation to provide source code. The only way a distributor can guarantee he'll always be able to meet that obligation is to be prepared to provide source on a physical medium. The case of providing downloadable source for downloadable software was actually viewed as falling under 3a, not 3b, that is source code being provided along with the software itself, which makes a world of difference in the distributor's obligations.

Umm I think they misread one part (2, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974341)

Zwar wurde dem Gerät später ein Beiblatt beigelegt, das auf die verwendete GPL-Software verwies und eine URL enthielt, wo die Quelltexte abrufbar sind - doch dies genügte dem Gericht im vorliegenden Fall nicht. Diese Möglichkeit sehe die GPL nur für Software vor, die über das Internet geliefert wird.

Rough translation (but better than google):
"Later a note was included with the device, which said it used GPL software and a URL where the source code is available - but this was not enough for the court. The GPL only permits this for software that is delivered over the Internet."

Doesn't that get covered by 6 b) 2):
"6. Conveying Non-Source Forms.

You may convey a covered work in object code form under the terms of sections 4 and 5, provided that you also convey the machine-readable Corresponding Source under the terms of this License, in one of these ways:
(...)
b) Convey the object code in, or embodied in, a physical product (including a physical distribution medium), accompanied by a written offer, valid for at least three years and valid for as long as you offer spare parts or customer support for that product model, to give anyone who possesses the object code either (...) or (2) access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge."

Or maybe it didn't come as a permanent offer, in which case they might be talking about 6 d):
"d) Convey the object code by offering access from a designated place (gratis or for a charge), and offer equivalent access to the Corresponding Source in the same way through the same place at no further charge. (...)"

I wonder... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974559)

If Microsoft will applaud the GPL developers for exercising their intellectual property rights...

When you think about it, if Skype had misappropriated WinCE, they'd be looking at a lot more damage than just releasing their source code...

No conviction (2, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974615)

Okay, it is Germany, and I'm going to use the definitions based under American law, but I'm 99% sure the same holds true in Germany.

A conviction is for criminal court. Copywrite law falls under civil law. No one from Skype is going to jail and no one is going to pay a huge fine to the government. However, the organization that won this case could potentially get a tidy sum.

Let's just pile onto the inaccuracies of the summary for this article. Let's hear it for inflamatory, add-pumping summaries!

Hooray for Harald! (2, Interesting)

PingXao (153057) | more than 7 years ago | (#19974695)

This guy is waging a one-man show against GPL violators. Oh, the EFF is involved to some extent, but their effort is not Harald's. Harald, by the way, is the lead on the ipfilters project, something many /.'ers have probably heard of.

He is swamped with submissions from folks claiming this company or that is in violation of the GPL. I submitted one myself about a year and a half ago. Nothing ever came of it. Not because the company is innocent, but because Harald has very few resources to go after the perpetrators of GPL license abuse. When a company gets reported he has to physically buy the item - most violators seem to be in the embedded Linux area - and verify the GPL violations before putting the lawyer(s) on them. He has scored some notable successes.

But he is basically pissing into the wind. For every successful case he pursues there are 10 more that go unpunished. The real people who should be up in arms against commercial violators of the GPL are the authors who hold the copyright on the code being misused.

Sadly, most of them can't be bothered and the violations go on. This will be the end of the GPL: developers who do not care to enforce their rights. Not v3 or v4, or Linus or Stallman or tiny paragraphs in section 1. At some point there will be a case where an evildoer will use the defense that since the copyright holder didn't pursue company X 5 years ago they should be prevented from trying to do it now. And poof! The copyright will vanish or be declared null and void and with it the GPL distribution license that goes along with it.

Hooray for Harald! Watch out for the backspray, Harald.
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