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GPL Lawsuit May Not Settle

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the maybe-a-day-in-court-after-all dept.

The Courts 285

A number of readers wrote in to inform us that contrary to earlier indications, it's no sure thing that the lawsuit alleging GPL violation by Monsoon Multimedia will get settled out of court. Linux.com now reports that the SFLC's legal director Daniel Ravicher has stressed that no agreement has been reached: "Simply coming into compliance now is not sufficient to settle the matter, because that would mean anyone can violate the license until caught, because the only punishment would be to come into compliance." (Linux.com and Slashdot are both part of Sourceforge, Inc.)

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Expenses (0)

gvc (167165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751177)

However, now that a case has actually gone to court, the SFLC is apparently less forgiving.


I believe that this statement is inaccurate, and that expenses have been demanded and paid.

Re:Expenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751205)

So what? I don't see why GPL violations should be punished with a slap on the wrist.

Re:Expenses (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751765)

Who was harmed? That's a question a judge/jury would consider. If they were infringing on a patent or commercially licensed software, it would be easier to find a monetary value (and there is plenty of precedent)

While there's a good chance they'd get punitive damages for intentionally disregarding the GPL provisions, there's also a very real chance the court would decide that specific performance (ie, releasing the code) was the only necessary remedy... which would encourage (more) GPL violations.

Re:Expenses (2, Insightful)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751979)

Who was hurt? Perhaps the authors because the thieves were making a lot of money with the stolen code? There's got to be a ton of precedent for awarding damages to the owner of a copyright when someone else is illegally profiting from the sale of that copyrighted work.

Re:Expenses (-1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752053)

There's got to be a ton of precedent for awarding damages to the owner of a copyright when someone else is illegally profiting from the sale of that copyrighted work.
There's zero precedent for awarding profits to an author who made a willing and intentional donation to the public domain, of their own free will, with the express idea that anyone can take their work and do virtually anything they want with it.

The GPL will eventually go before a judge, and one of two things will happen. It will likely be found to be perfectly fine and enforceable. Or, it might be found to be in whole or in part against the law, and hence either invalid or partially voidable. And if that happens, it's likely that the judge would also rule that any program released "under the GPL" is closer to a public domain work than an empty utterance.

Either way, if I take a program that you wrote, and put on the web with a note saying "take this and use it in your computers or in other things you make", and I forth and make a fortune, a judge won't order me to share my profits with you. Maybe I'd be compelled to follow specific parts of your note, and maybe I might have to pay your lawyer as well if I was a real dick about it.

(IANAL, yadda yadda yadda.)

Re:Expenses (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751209)

i think the microsoft advertisement linked to this article is inaccurate as well. CHECK YOUR SOURCES!!!

today is my birthday also.

Re:Expenses (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751213)

I believe that this statement is inaccurate, and that expenses have been demanded and paid.

Do you want to give us some reasons for your belief, or should we take your word on faith?

Damages? (2, Interesting)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751195)

My knowledge of copyright judgments in the US is lacking, but doesn't the plaintiff usually need to register the work with the copyright office in order to get punitive damages? The problem with most projects like this is that 1) they don't register with the copyright office and 2) they have no case for ''compensatory'' damages.

Re:Damages? (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751217)

From prior discussions on /. I believe that's the case, but I think that registration can happen after the violation. A court will just tell the plaintiff to go register and come back and file again.

Re:Damages? (2, Interesting)

yourexhalekiss (833943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751253)

From prior discussions on /. I believe that's the case
I can't wait for the day when I log on and find Slashdot citing legal precedent derived from cases instead of earlier Slashdot posts. /can't wait to finish law school.

ROFLMAO... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751429)

This is /.

If you want people citing legal precedent plus discussions of interesting, possibly viable legal theories- interspersed with at
at least a little of the same poo flinging you find around here on /., go over to Groklaw [groklaw.net].

Re:ROFLMAO... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751887)

> This is /.

I think you meant, "This is /..".

Re:Damages? (4, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751611)

It is correct information. As soon as a person in the US creates a copyrightable work, it is immediately copyright to that person. The exception being if it is a work for hire. The issue of who has the copyright is set permanently at that moment.

The registration of a copyright is not required for a work to be copyright, it just has to be registered prior to filing suit. Doing so early on is a good idea as it makes it easier to defend in court, but it is definitely not compulsory to do so.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#hsc [copyright.gov] Has plenty of relevant information. As well as:
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#cr [copyright.gov]

Re:Damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20752089)

A court will just tell the plaintiff to go register and come back and file again.


No they won't. Unless your case is dismissed without prejudice you can't refile. If for example you win and it gets to the awards stage you absolutely cannot refile. And for a judge to tell a plaintiff before the case begins "there are problems X, Y, and Z with your filing" would result in the judge being censured. It's the plaintiff's attorney's job to make sure that all the Is are dotted and Ts crossed.

Re:Damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751235)

What makes you think it hasn't been registered? It's a high profile project and there is a long list of violators. I would think if this is a requirement they probably had been advised to do this some time ago.

Re:Damages? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751415)

My knowledge of copyright judgments in the US is lacking, but doesn't the plaintiff usually need to register the work with the copyright office in order to get punitive damages?
As far as I can tell, it's standard procedure for the owner to register a copyright (about 50 USD) at the same time you send the cease and desist letter, if the owner hasn't already registered it. The owner can still recover statutory damages for those repeated infringements (i.e. more copies sold) that occur after the registration.

Re:Damages? (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751549)

Compensatory damages for open source projects is pretty easy to show. Just look at the prices open source companies charge for "commercial licenses". The claim can be made that by using the work without following the terms of the GPL the infringer is depriving the developers of similar revenues.

Re:Damages? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752051)

A problem to this approach might be that not all project offer commercial licenses.

You could place a value on the code coming back out from changes but you might want to be careful there with all the tax the Internet talk we see every so often. It would really suck if multiple countries found that the contributions back were worth billions of dollars and taxed each contributer or copyright holder accordingly. They already do this to some extent with the Amish barter systems in america where they trade a livestock animal for a roof or something and neither party shows the gain as income. And if I remember right, there was a brief stand off over it in the 90's where someone writing a check for a chicken and two pigs in protest of the IRS claiming that bartering was income to some degree. Well, it was something along those lines. And no, it wasn't a bad check to purchase animals, the animals were in the "pay this amount" portion of the check. Of course when someone attempted to cash it, the guy failed to deposit the animals with the bank so they came after him for bounced checks and wire fraud or something like that. I think it was in Idaho sometime after the ruby ridge ordeal.

Re:Damages? (2, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752069)

And this one time, at band camp, we argued about copyright and taxes and it was so cool.

Uh Oh... there in trouble (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751219)

Looks like things are starting to get interesting. There goes my conspirecy theory about it being a publicity stund, then again it still could be and backfired.

Have Monsoon tried saying "pretty please" yet?

This is something to keep an eye on.

Re:Uh Oh... there in trouble (0, Troll)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751283)

I think they should take it to court. There's a good chance the results may not be pleasant to all the obsessive FOSS nutjobs. I _especially_ hope they try to take MS to court over the Novell thing sometime in the near future, that out to be hilariously amusing.

Re:Uh Oh... there in trouble (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751807)

Just like the battle over 2nd ammendment gun control rights. The debate has gone on for about 40 years with both sides posturing and neither seeing a definitive supreme court decision. I think they both secretly like it that way. Both sides had 40 years of screeming to their constituents for more money to fight the other side.

it's about time (1)

yourexhalekiss (833943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751229)

I really do think that it's about time for the GPL to be given an actual trial. I realize that it's probably in Monsoon's best interests to settle out of court, but I don't think that the SFLC should do that.

Some things in life are worth more than money: court victories for free software licenses are one of those things, I believe.

Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751279)

Frankly, I'm rather disgusted by this whole ordeal. It strikes me as much akin to the RIAA and MPAA shenanigans.

This really makes using GPL'ed software a liability for any business. It just becomes too risky.

Now, maybe this isn't a bad thing. If GPL'ed softwrae becomes to dangerous to use, there's always an ample supply of BSD- and MIT-licensed software. FreeBSD, for instance, might start getting more of the commercial backing that Linux has gotten.

Re:Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (4, Insightful)

AusIV (950840) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751373)

This really makes using GPL'ed software a liability for any business. It just becomes too risky.

Using GPL software without complying with the GPL is a liability for any business. As is using any proprietary software without complying with the license that comes with the software.

Now, maybe this isn't a bad thing. If GPL'ed softwrae becomes to dangerous to use, there's always an ample supply of BSD- and MIT-licensed software. FreeBSD, for instance, might start getting more of the commercial backing that Linux has gotten.
But what would compel a company to support FreeBSD when they could just take the code, use it for their own needs, and never make upstream contributions?

Re:Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (1)

njchick (611256) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751527)

But what would compel a company to support FreeBSD when they could just take the code, use it for their own needs, and never make upstream contributions?
Also: But what would compel a company to support FreeBSD when their competitors could just take the code, use it for their own needs, and never make upstream contributions?

Re:Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751631)

But what would compel a company to support FreeBSD when they could just take the code, use it for their own needs, and never make upstream contributions?


Duplication of effort. Incompatibilities resulting from said duplication, compounded by legacy.

Re:Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (2, Informative)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751693)

Using GPL software without complying with the GPL is a liability for any business.

More correctly, distributing GPL software without complying with the GPL is a liability for any business. The GPL only covers distribution, not use. Everyone is perfectly free to use GPL'ed software without any restrictions whatsoever.

Re:Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751753)

Using GPL software without complying with the GPL is a liability for any business. As is using any proprietary software without complying with the license that comes with the software.

Using any licensed intellectual property without complying with the appropriate license is a liability for any business, and they know it. The difference here is that there is a perception in business that Open Source projects are operated by dirty hippies that don't have it "together" enough to do anything about it (nor the money, even if they did have it "together").

This is why it's important for this suit to move forward with an objective of some type of damages and at least attorney fees. This will send the message to business that there are repercussions to ignoring or trying to circumvent Open Source licenses like the GPL.

The only businesses that will be scared off from using Open Source because of this are dishonest businesses that shouldn't be allowed to use Open Source anyway

Re:Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751851)

[quote] But what would compel a company to support FreeBSD when they could just take the code, use it for their own needs, and never make upstream contributions? [/quote]

Nothing. IANAL, but I can take any gpl'd program, modify it, and use it for my own needs. Only when I re-distribute the software, do I need to release the code.

Go ahead. Flame me if I'm wrong. I'm a CP/M uzer.

Re:Is this really different from the RIAA or MPAA? (5, Insightful)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751461)

If you think distributing GPL software is bad for your business, try distributing pirate copies of Microsoft Windows with your product. You'll get to see just how "dangerous" a license can be.

The fact is that infringing other people's copyrights is a bad business move. It does not matter at all what mechanism the rightsholders are using to protect their copyrights.

bsd license like voting in africa (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751587)

one man
one vote
one time

There's a reason why gpl stuff is like 100 times as popular, it is precisely because of the give back provisions carved in stone. BSD license says, "you are free to be a completely selfish jerkoff with this stuff, and we just don't care".

Fair enough, no problems! It is remarkably clear and to the point.

OK, swell, people can choose to work and contribute towards that, but I think the proof is in the pudding, just a ton more work gets contributed back under the gpl. The gpl takes into consideration "humanity" and as such is closer to the real world of humans in the "good" sense. BSD supports "inhumanity" and the closed source me-me-me of dog eat dog corporate culture, the artificial golem that stalks our societies now, it panders to the more negative side of human-ness, you are always just one single step away from ultimate avarice and greed. that's close enough for cooties to catch.

Understand I am not putting it down per se, I really am not, there's some fine work going on over that side of the code fence, but it is minscule compared to the gpl side, for the obvious reasons. I am just noting the real world results we can all see, and then projecting into the future which license or mindset as it is will result in more code to more people all over the planet. Both licenses have been around a long time now, so there's your proof. It can change, but I don't think it is going to change a whole lot, not anytime soon, and not because of what is in essence a single simple copyright abuse case. If you want to be completely commercial crass about it, to make your corporations happy, either license it is perfectly acceptable to charge money, for both the binaries and the source code. So there's really not much difference there at all, not really. GPL just acts as a code force multiplier better. That's the only real difference.

and talk about risky, how about totally closed source? suppose your company invests heavy in software prodict A, only to find out later on they "infringed patents" from software company B and "stole code" and so on? You could be ordered to cease and desist using that software with not much notice, then what ya gonna do? It got *this II close* with them stupid crack berries, dint it? And lookee down the page, look at vonage, more than one company out there went heavy with them.

So what is "risky" again? All of it is risky, but it is the shit you can't see that is riskier, bar none. Stick to pure open source and gpl and you can use it forever and ever, not much worries at all compared to the other stuff, and a hella lot more folks will be working on improving the code and looking for bad news stuff all the time that you are then free to use again and again.

You either get it, or ya don't, it really is that easy.

one man, one vote, one time, or one man, one vote, every time, which is better?

it's about time-"Sex wants to be free." (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751419)

"Some things in life are worth more than money: court victories for free software licenses are one of those things, I believe."

I don't think a hooker would agree with you.

Re:it's about time (1)

teh moges (875080) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752049)

I might of slightly missed the tone of your post, but I believe it is always best for both parties to settle out of court, assuming that an agreement can be reached. The SLFC should ask for a damages payout to settle out of court. If they don't agree, then take it to court. Court should be a last option under any circumstance, not a benchmark or requirement.

Forcing a company to settle for damages out of court can be almost as worthy as winning an intense court battle, but happens settlements are a lot quicker.

Oh yeah (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751233)

Stick it to 'em. Make them pay for copyright violations and "loss of revenue".

Re:Oh yeah (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751311)

Bingo. As they grow up, a lot of the privileged, wealthy types learn two things: 1) Daddy's and Mommy's money can get you out of trouble, and 2) nothing is more important than your money, because that's the source of your power and privilege.

So, when it's time to punish the arrogant wealthy (and I'm including here intangible entities like corporations), you give them massive fines, to take from them that which they value above all else, and some non-trivial jail time, to show them that their money cannot protect them.

Of course these days much of the extant jurisprudence says nothing must get in the way of businesses making money, but that will change. And it ain't gonna be pretty.

Re:Oh yeah (3, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751465)

Stick it to 'em. Make them pay for copyright violations and "loss of revenue".
How about fining them for the costs of developing, testing, and maintaining the software themselves?

Re:Oh yeah (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751697)

They would have done that even without Monsoon's infringement. So Monsoon hasn't incurred any additional costs for SFLC. The only punishment can be punitive, how much does the law allow for that?

Re:Oh yeah (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752067)

I'm sure the RIAA can use that argument as well. After all, it takes money to produce records.

Re:Oh yeah (3, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751509)

Stick it to 'em. Make them pay for copyright violations and "loss of revenue".

IANAL, but the way I understand it, lost revenue is often difficult to prove. In cases where it can be established that the offending party knew that it was violating copyright and willfully did so anyway, however, the court can require payment of statutory damages (which can be much higher than any revenue the plaintiff might have actually lost). The only glitch here is that I was under the impression that you needed to have registered your work with the Copyright Office in advance in order to claim statutory damages.

Re:Oh yeah (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751715)

I don't think you have to actually register it, rather it is very much more difficult to win statutory damages without having already registered it.

It may be that it is so difficult to win without registering, it has become a defacto standard. I don't know. But I or anyone for that matter could just claim that the original versions they found on the Net had a BSD license and they were shocked to discover that it was GPLed instead. They could claim their lack of compliance with the terms of the GPL was because they were investigating the licensing issues or that they didn't know what people where talking about because they never agreed to a GPL license in the first place.

They will still lose their defense, Copyright is copyright. But the intent would be completely different in legalese terms and the probability as well as the intensity of damages they have to pay might change too (statutory or not). Ironically, intent has just as much to do with it as the non compliance issues might. It won't erase most of the things you can do wrong, but it can reduce the amount of trouble you could get into.

Wrong on two counts... (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751755)

IANAL, but the way I understand it, lost revenue is often difficult to prove. In cases where it can be established that the offending party knew that it was violating copyright and willfully did so anyway, however, the court can require payment of statutory damages (which can be much higher than any revenue the plaintiff might have actually lost). The only glitch here is that I was under the impression that you needed to have registered your work with the Copyright Office in advance in order to claim statutory damages.

You're right about the main thrust, however two details. First, there are statutory damages for both knowing and unknowing infringment. However the knowing infringment damages are much (3x?) higher. These high statutory damages are the reason that the RIAA lawsuits have such teeth. Second, the requirement to register your work was removed almost thirty years ago. Registering is an easy way to have the governemnt verify when you claimed ownership however, and thus can be worth it.

Oh, and IANAL either.

Re:Wrong on two counts... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751985)

However the knowing infringment damages are much (3x?) higher.
Dude, you're thinking patent infringement.. completely different set of laws.

Re:Wrong on two counts... (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752041)

Dude, you're thinking patent infringement.. completely different set of laws.

Patent infringment also has two different levels of infringment. But so do copyrights. Copyright and patent laws tend to have quite a few similiarities. The (3x?) may have been based on patent and not copyright law.

Re:Wrong on two counts... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752063)

Meh, in copyright cases they just decide on the day. That goes for the legalities as much as the damages. Try to get a straight answer out of a lawyer on a copyright issue. "It depends" is the only advice they'll give you, other than "comply".

Re:Oh yeah (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751993)

IANAL, too, but I was forced spend some quality time with the Ohio statutes governing contracts (alternatively, I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night).

If I recall (it's been a couple of years), it was all within the realm of the Uniform Commercial Code, which would mean such statutes exist in most (if not all) states in largely-unmodified form.

In this reading, I learned that all valid contracts have to abide by certain rules (otherwise, they are invalid and null). Chief among these requirements is the concept of reasonable consideration.

A common example of consideration might be residential trash hauling, ie, Waste Management agrees to haul away your detritus on a weekly basis, and in consideration of that act, you agree to pay them when the bill shows up. If you stop paying, the contract ceases to be valid (becomes breached), and soon thereafter they stop hauling your trash.

This would give them the ability to attempt to recover any consideration ("revenue") that you owe, as due for services rendered between the time you received the bill and the time that it became past-due.

It is a very simple, obvious, and boring concept, but it's an important one.

With the GNU GPL, it would seem to apply as such: You give someone software which is licensed under the GPL. The consideration for this generous act is as such: If they'd like to re-distribute the software, they have to do so terms of the GPL. So, they'd required to make the source available, and to include the text of the GPL, and a few other reasonable things that we're all familiar with.

The trouble in this particular case with Monsoon is that there's not any monetary consideration involved in the contract. So what if they decide to close up the GPL'd software and sell it as their own? I mean, sure, the contract is nullified, and they're therefore guilty of copyright violation. But nobody has lost any money, and therefore none can be recovered.

I mean, how would anyone sue for lost revenue/consideration, when the dollar amount lost is zero? Again, IANAL, but it seems to me that the most one might expect a court to do short of issuing statutory damages is to compel the offending party to honor all past and present GPL requests (due consideration). Which they're apparently already doing voluntarily.

So what good is this particular lawsuit but only to set a proper court-tested precedent for the validity of the GNU GPL?

And additionally, if the contract (the GPL license) between the parties becomes null and void due to this admitted lack of consideration, what right does Monsoon Multimedia have to distribute this code ever again? As far as I can tell, in the absence of any subsequent agreement, they've got no right to do so. In fact, they continue to be in violation of copyright law, because the contract with which they are now attempting to comply no longer exists.

(I welcome clarifications, corrections, and arguments to the contrary.)

Translation: SFLC lawyers want legal fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751933)

Just because the SFLC lawyers are on our side in this matter, doesn't stop them being rapatious lawyers.

All this talk about "loss of revenue" and "compensatory damages" (which we all know is bollocks in the case of Busybox) is simply to allow them to charge litigation fees, nothing else. If they accepted the defendent's acquiescence to the license and dropped the suit, there would be no fees coming.

Long run (0, Flamebait)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751247)

On principle I agree we should deter people from violating licenses, but which is more detrimental in the long run?

Will this scare pointy-haired-bosses away from OSS if they think touching the GPL may involve a law-suit? For many people, they don't understand the intricacies of software licenses. If Monsoon showed malice, and very much knowingly were trying to screw people, then yes, punish them. However, many people have been slow to release their changes to source code, and instead of scaring everyone off the GPL, I'm generally content to see people continue to use OSS and comply with the license.

Excuse me, but this is bunk... (4, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751295)

It is NO damned different if you use a Proprietary Licensed product within your embedded device-
if you fail to abide by the terms of the license grant for the protected Work(s) you are using, you
can expect to get your ass sued at some point if it is found out that you're doing it.

It doesn't matter if it's GPLed.
It doesn't matter if it's MIT/X11 licensed.
It doesn't matter if from Microsoft under an EULA or one of the Shared Source licenses.

If you breach the terms of the licensing, you're guilty of breaking at least a civil contract if not
outright Patent or Copyright infringement- PERIOD.

There's no 'intricacies' involved with OSS in the first place- they're simpler licenses to follow.

I'd be leery of dealing with anyone selling proprietary anything these days because of those 'intricacies'
that are ALWAYS present with most proprietary products.

Name of the game: Don't Cheat. Don't Get Greedy. Abide by the license terms, whatever they might be.

Copyright notice and Creative Commons licenses? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751449)

There's no 'intricacies' involved with OSS in the first place- they're simpler licenses to follow.
What's so simple about the Creative Commons licenses, which allow an author to forbid, after the fact, downstream distributors from including a proper copyright notice on a work? See section 4(a) of the Creative Commons Attribution License [creativecommons.org] about removal of credit. Such a requirement appears impractical and makes the Creative Commons licenses incompatible with a lot of other licenses.

Creative Commons isn't an OSS license. (2, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751689)

None of the various Creative Commons licenses are listed on OpenSource Initiative's (OSI's) approved license page, so raising it in the context of OSS licenses is a bit of a stretch.

The very points you raise may be why it has not met with OSI approval, but there I'm speculating.

Re:Long run (2, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751313)

I don't doubt that you're right: PHBs may indeed get scared by "if you use GPL code you could end up in court" worries (or FUD, as the case may be).

But I find that rather amusing. I mean, it's not like the liability or damages would be less if you somehow ('accidentally' ?) shipped proprietary software (binary or source) with your product. In fact, I imagine a proprietary software vendor would be even less forgiving than the FOSS community. It's not like FOSS is demanding greater vigilance than proprietary equivalents: just read the license before you distribute it!

I guess it's hard for some people to understand the concept of free software licensing. They think that if they can see the code (and download it gratis from a web server), then they can do whatever they want with it. Really, it shows that many people who are in the business of making money off of copyright law (and copyright law applied to software in particular) don't pay much attention to how it works.

Re:Long run (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751389)

In reality, it's due to a disconnect from the business people and the people doing the work.

All it takes is one unscrupulous developer- or a batch of abjectly clueless business people to cause one of these messes.
To them it's all by magic and they "own" everything they do. I see it all the time.

If you want, blame the business schools and all for graduating people that haven't been taught a lot of these things
and are taught silly, useless "business optimization" things like Six Sigma that're only really useful for the
largest companies- and that probably only really work because doing some process is better than none at all and
obtains SOME useful results.

I say: scar'em (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751351)

Will this scare pointy-haired-bosses away from OSS if they think touching the GPL may involve a law-suit?

That's exactly what they should be thinking: "I will get sued if I violate the GPL. So, I better dot my i's and cross my t's."

They should be as scared of that as getting sued about violating any commercial license.

Kind of a stupid strategy... (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751267)

You really -don't- want to take a case to court, becuase, once in court, anything can happen. A judge can do whatever he or she wants, and those who want judges to really decide issues like this, would do well to imagine the consequences.

Let's assume that the GPL people win an initial round and the defendants takes it all the way up to the US Supreme Court on various appeals, countersuits, etc.

The question has to be asked : Does an admittedly left leaning GPL really want to ultimately be decided by the likes of Clarence Thomas? It seems to me that the GPL runs the risk of being arbitrarily declared so much commie crap by the SCOTUS, undermining the entire movement. A judge could make up anything, a Supreme Court, even more so, and they could declare the GPL to be in violation of anti-trust, unconstitutional because it is non-commercial, and any number of things. Once the Supreme Court rules, only Congress can effect the law at that point, by instructing the court, and the odds of anybody in the OSS movement having the clout to lobby congress, regardless of political party, seem to be about zero.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751303)

unconstitutional because it is non-commercial

In what way could the GPL possibly be considered non-commercial?

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751337)

It isn't that- people keep coming up with that because you don't precisely have to pay anything for it.

What they don't further understand is that it's not covered BY the UCC at all, even if it was for pay.
It's covered under Copyright law- it's a reproduction and derivative works license grant, which confuses
the HELL out of anyone unfamiliar with producing Protected Work(s) or protecting them. They're used to
EULAs and the lot. They're not used to the types of license grants that authors give publishers, etc.
because they're not normally exposed to anything of the sort unless they're in that space, either as
an artist, OSS developer, inventor, or a Copyright/Patent/Trademark attorney.

Being that it's solidly established as part of Copyright (even GPL v. 3) Law, there's NOTHING unconstitutional
about it- and if there is, all the RIAA and MPAA people, as well as all the magazine and book publishers
have got a LOT more problems on their horizon beyond "pirates" >;-)

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751967)

It isn't that- people keep coming up with that because you don't precisely have to pay anything for it

No, my argument was more rhetorical. In America, the Supreme Court can do whatever it wants. Scalia rails on about Roe V Wade not being "constitutional" and then goes and does legal somersaults when it suits him. Justices don't have to make anything "logical". All they have to do is invent a set of tests for which their ruling applies, and then, say, in that case, here is the law. It can be as schizophrenic as they want.

So, if you put the GPL in front of the SCOTUS, you could get some arse of a Judge looking at it, decide that it wasn't inline with their philosophy, and then just invent some sort of ruling just to scupper the whole thing. The interesting thing is that RMS has actually thought of the ultimate experiment in the GPL: If one is against socialism, one is in favor of private ownership, but does a private owner have the right to compel his users to share to grant a license? Either way, RMS wins, as, some limit is placed on private ownership. I'm suprised more people on slashdot, so obsessed with the "cause", haven't really gleaned yet just how big this really is.

The GPL is THE socialogical question of our time. Even if I disagree with a lot of his ideas, the importance of what he has done cannot be underestimated. He's up there with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Jefferson, etc, in terms of doing something new.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (5, Interesting)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751411)

No fees are required for any of the rights it grants, yet it puts restrictions on the exercise of those rights (or, if you prefer, the grants are not unlimited). This makes issues that are normally simple to figure out much more difficult.

For example, if two people negotiate a license agreement that says A can distribute B's book so long as B pays A 15% of the gross receipts, it's clear that the license makes the grant and that the payment is a secondary obligation. If there was non-payment, B would sue A for breach of contract but would have waived the right to sue for copyright infringement.

The GPL is much more complex because it is non-commercial. The "payment" in the form of reciprocation, yet it's written such that the "payment" is a condition precedent to the grant of rights rather than a secondary obligation. Also, there is no agreement between the two particular parties to the GPL.

There haven't been enough cases close to the GPL to figure out exactly what the rule is. The general rule is that things outside of copyright (such as payments) are secondary obligations, not conditions precedent but things inside of copyright (such as selling just film rights) are conditions precedent.

So if I license you to make a movie out my book and you have to pay me $1 million, if you don't pay me, that's a breach of contract. If you sell copies of my book, that's copyright infringement.

If the GPL is read as a license that waives the right to sue for copyright infringement, that would leave only the ability to sue for breach of contract. If the only penalty the contract allows is loss of license, it's not clear what happens. Do you get back the right you waived? The whole GPL then becomes self-referential. "I waive the right to sue you for copyright infringement so long as you give me the right to sue you for copyright infringement."

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751469)

If the GPL is read as a license that waives the right to sue for copyright infringement, that would leave only the ability to sue for breach of contract


How could one read that one?

You don't waive the right to sue for Copyright infringement with the acceptance of the terms.

You get the right to distribute the Protected Work(s) and make Derivative Protected Work(s) (Also covered by the same license)
as long as you abide by the terms- which is you give access to the source code to the original and any derivative work to any
recipient of the code in source or binary form that you give it to. The bulk of the GPL license is the boilerplate for establishing
the aforementioned grant of rights and establishing what is considered to be a breach of the agreement and what happens if that
breach occurs. Given that there is no waiving of ANYTHING stated or implied in the verbiage, there is none. Just because
there is no remuneration present in the form of monetary exchange does NOT make it a waiving of rights or anything else.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751853)

It is a general principle of law that if one offers a license, one waives the right to sue for copyright infringement in exchange for the right to sue for breach of contract. See, for example, Sun v. Microsoft, Jacobsen v. Katzer, and Tansini v. New York Times.

"Generally, a 'copyright owner who grants a nonexclusive license to use his copyrighted material waives his right to sue the licensee for copyright infringement and can sue only for breach of contract. If, however, a license is limited in scope and the licensee acts outside the scope, the licensor can bring an action for copyright infringement."

The scope of the license is a matter of copyright law and is only informed by the terms of the license, not determined by them.

"You get the right to distribute the Protected Work(s) and make Derivative Protected Work(s) (Also covered by the same license) as long as you abide by the terms- which is you give access to the source code to the original and any derivative work to any recipient of the code in source or binary form that you give it to. The bulk of the GPL license is the boilerplate for establishing the forementioned grant of rights and establishing what is considered to be a breach of the agreement and what happens if that breach occurs. Given that there is no waiving of ANYTHING stated or implied in the verbiage, there is none. Just because there is no remuneration present in the form of monetary exchange does NOT make it a waiving of rights or anything else."

This may seem right, but from a legal standpoint, it makes no sense. If there's no waiver of the right to sue for copyright infringement there is no license. Ask yourself this, "if the GPL is not a promise not to sue someone who complies with the license for copyright infringement, what is it?"

If I say "you may make and distribute copies of my book so long as you pay me $10 each", I definitely cannot sue you for copyright infringement if you don't pay me. The right to a $10 payment does not appear in copyright law. The distribution is authorized by the license, only the license is breached, not copyright.

On the other hand, if you make a movie out of my book, I can sue you for copyright infringement. Creation of derivative works is outside the scope of the license, not just a breach of it.

I know, it's complicated and it should be simple. But that's just the way the law is.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751865)

The GPL is basically the Golden Rule. That's pretty simple, isn't it?

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751679)

In what way could the GPL possibly be considered non-commercial?

The point is, a Supreme Court Judge can make up whatever law they want to, if they want to.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751375)

If the court system is as heavily politicized as you speculate, then having a software license thrown out would seem to be the least of our worries.

Kind of a stupid Post.... (2, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751377)

Does an admittedly left leaning GPL

Jeepers! I feel much stupider having read that. The GPL is a software license. It can't hold an opinion on the old order [wikipedia.org] following the French Revolution.

and they could declare the GPL to be in violation of anti-trust, unconstitutional because it is non-commercial

Anti-trust? WTF? Non commercial? You can use the GPL license to cover commercial software all you like. Do you have any understanding of the issues here?

Etymological fallacy? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751489)

The GPL is a software license. It can't hold an opinion on the old order following the French Revolution.
The opinion of a document is the opinion of its author, in this case the Free Software Foundation. Some critics have characterized the FSF's position that led to the drafting of the GPL as socialist, and socialism is a left ideology. Besides, "left" and "right" can refer to things other than French politics; claiming that they cannot because they first did not is the etymological fallacy [wikipedia.org].

Re:Etymological fallacy? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751927)

Some critics have characterized the FSF's position that led to the drafting of the GPL as socialist, and socialism is a left ideology

The real question is thus. Is the world wide left wing, seemingly so resurgent, that casting something as socialism is considered a criticism?

Interesting.

Re:Etymological fallacy? (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751939)

Please define 'left' for me & then tell me how that relates to the GPL.

Extra points if you don't come away looking like a complete idiot.

Re:Kind of a stupid Post.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751619)

Kind of a really stupid post really.

A judge could make up anything, a Supreme Court, even more so
This is exactly why you should hope that a "conservative" judge, like Justice Thomas, hears your case. Conservative judges, in principle anyway, can not just make something up, and must rely on the Constitution, current law, etc. Your liberal judges, like Justice Ginsberg, are much more likely to make something up, as they hold more to the "living constitution" train of thought. The latter thinks that the judicial branch can create law; the former thinks (correctly, I might add) that the judiciary is there to interpret law.

If anything, the Thomas's on the court are much more likely to uphold the GPL. Part of the US Constitution says that States may not pass any law "Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts." This should logically apply to the federal government as well. Your "right" judges are more likely to uphold the contract argument of the GPL based on this. Your "left" judges may very well ignore this portion of the Constitution.

The danger with the "left" judges is that, if you adhere to the "living constitution" thought, there is really no reason to continue to have a legislature, as even if a law is constitutional, the "left" judges can invalidate it (or vice versa, uphold a clearly unconstitutional law; witness the recent "campaign finance reform" law).

-john

Re:Kind of a stupid Post.... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751945)

This reminds me of an interview with some congress woman at a time of one of the Bush supreme court nominations going through congress. I don't remember who she was or what party she held associations with. I though it was California which means it should be a democrat But I have attempted to verify who and where with no luck.

Anyways, Her comment was on how important the nominations process was and what it meant to Americans. She said that they can't just have any judge on the supreme court ruling things unconstitutional because congress passes laws for a reason. They can't work for the people and have to constantly worry about their laws being overturned or rules unconstitutional all the time.

Obviously, she was of the living constitution thought where they could pick and chose what they thought was relevant and change anything else without going through the amendment processes. The thing is, if it was constitutional in the first place, it should always be unless an amendment changes it. And if it was unconstitutional, then it should be the same too. Not allowed because we think things are a little different 200 years later. I don't think you could be closer to the truth about who is more likely to rule in accordance with their feelings of the day instead the letter of the laws. The GP was making a point about what could happen which is valid to some extent outside the improbability as you pointed out.

the sooner the better (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751425)

The sooner we find out the better, and I don't see any serious consequences.

I mean, what can happen?

SCOTUS can invalidate the GPL. So, nobody has a license, and the authors will just release a new license.

Or SCOTUS can declare that all GPL'ed code is public domain now. So, the BSD guys are really happy, and the GPL projects will simply put all new code under a new license.

What's the big deal?

OTOH, the sooner we know, we can act.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751507)

You DO realize that the Supreme Court doesn't bother to hear most cases, right? And those judges below? Well, they have to justify whatever they do in terms of current precedent.

So tell me, what precedent is there to find the GPL invalid? Hmm? Anti-trust won't work: that nutjob who tried that claim got shot down in flames. You might try to finagle it as saying that it's really a contract, not a license, so you can only sue for breach instead of copyright infringement, but that only worked in one lower court and that was against the Artistic License. The GPL's nice long manifesto works against it ever having been intended as a contract, and I've yet to see any lawyer actually get concerned over that precedent applying to the GPL.

So what do we have to worry about? Judges do NOT just get to do whatever the hell they feel like. They get removed from that. Yes, they might decide close cases according to their biases, but it has to be CLOSE first, and they have to have *something* to justify their decision with. If they decided something purely on the basis of prejudice, they'd get bitchslapped by the appeals court.

IANAL, but I did take a college-level class on court procedures.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751629)

I'm calling you out.

You say "Does an admittedly left leaning GPL..." I want to know who "admit[ted]" that the GPL is "left leaning," and when. Don't cite me RMS's opinions on other matters, or the lifestyle of FLOSS users, or any other ad hominem red herrings. Tell me, specifically, whose admission you are referring to.

Otherwise, I will file you (and any further arguments you may wish to make) next to people who misuse the word "literally," cannot distinguish between "to" and "too," and believe that quotation marks are used to add emphasis.

The rest of you: forgive my grammar Nazi-esque rant, but I'm doing my best to forestall the day on which, as Hobbes the tiger said, language becomes a complete impediment to understanding.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751857)

But, but... that admittedly Nazi-esque rant was literally to "harsh" too read aloud.

Re:Kind of a stupid strategy... (1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751903)

You say "Does an admittedly left leaning GPL..." I want to know who "admit[ted]" that the GPL is "left leaning," and when. Don't cite me RMS's opinions on other matters, or the lifestyle of FLOSS users, or any other ad hominem red herrings. Tell me, specifically, whose admission you are referring to.

You know, that is some heap of non-logic you are throwing out there buddy. You would seriously believe that a person's body of thought is somehow isolated from a major portion of his work. That's absurd.

RMS's political philosophy is socialist, in that, he argues that the needs of the consumers so completely outweigh the rights of the producers that the producers of goods have no rights at all. The central thrust of his philosophy is that ownership is bad. That's socialism, and that, by definition, is leftist.

Being a software man, and, by all accounts, a rather intelligent and well thought one, he seeks to stamp his political philosophy into the technology world, before it is too late. To that end, RMS invents the GPL. The GPL is a license based on copyright. But note that he does not believe, per se, in copyright law. He argues, ultimtely, that http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/ [gnu.org], that, software should not be "owned" at all, but recognizes that under most western law, that copyright is the means with which to best achieve his end, effectively.

Stallman notes the stock socialist criticism of the soviet union - the communists were bad, and they just wanted it all for themselves. The thing is, a more detailed look at the history of soviet communism would show that many of the communist leaders were really actually rather smart, and genuinely tried to do the right thing, but power corrupts, over time. To some degree, stalin's paranoid period aside, many of the communist constraints on freedom were really, like the GPL gone mad - to protect the workers, we have to have rule, after rule, after rule, to keep it just so. It just doesn't work, and a worse tyranny results. The downfall of any socialist system is that to get the social arrangement you want in even one aspect of it, sooner or later, you have to try to control all of it. It's just the nature of things.

Otherwise, I will file you (and any further arguments you may wish to make) next to people who misuse the word "literally," cannot distinguish between "to" and "too," and believe that quotation marks are used to add emphasis.

Your threat is silly. It's silly that you are offended that I've called the GPL for what it is, an attempt to put a socialist system into software. Note that, I didn't make any moral judgements about it. In all other fields, the "real fields", I think socialism is evil, not because the idea is bad, because, on paper, if it could work, it would have been alright. It's just, its failed everywhere it has been applied. But in software, who knows, maybe it might work. That software can be copied without cost changes things, and its worth it to let things play out, as the experiment of GPL, and following its consequences with non-free software, is really the social experiment of our time, and it should be viewed as a non-catastrophic and above all, peaceful way to study the interactions of radically different ideologies as they compete and coexist. Who knows, maybe from all of this, some new thoughts about a radically new economic system might arise from this interaction, that gives us the benefits of capitalism but that addresses the social concerns that socialism wants to, but can't.

If you claim to have an open mind, the first thing to do is call things what they are, not call them what you want people to believe them to be.

Gotta cost something (2, Interesting)

zIRtrON (48344) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751287)

As an contributor to OSS and about to release a project, the GPL is there to be used how it states - any OSS license states what can and can't be done.

All profits from this product could be re-invested to projects or project maintainers to create better OSS products and services in a closely related area.

They pay a penalty now, but can redeem themselves by building a partner network.

Someone needs to write up a website with what you can and can't do (in plain english - with case studies) with various free software:

Mozilla Public License - commercial open source
Common Public License - commercial open source
FreeBSD - academic roots
Apache License - academic roots
(L)GPL - freedom roots

(1)From what I understand, GPLv3 is compatible with Apache for the first time. Does this mean if you license your project v3, you can use apache code within your license and relicense it?

(2)If you contribute to mozilla licensed code or freebsd licensed code, do you understand that your code can be used in a proprietary commercial product?

(3)Can you distribute a proprietary java app with mysql connector jar (open source) connecting to mysql, and charge money for the java app and maintenance on the jar and mysql as a service?

These are all gray-ish areas that I think I know the answer to, but IANAL.

I would answer
(1) - Yes
(2) - Yes
(3) - Yes

Regards

Re:Gotta cost something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751543)

The *GPL* does not matter regarding "relicensing" Apache licensed code. Only the terms of the Apache license (or the will of the copyright holder who can choose to make their work available under a different license).

I believe the Apache license, much like BSD license, requires attribution and not altering the license statement, which would not allow you to replace it with some different license. It does allow you, like the BSD license, to redistribute in source or binary form, bundle with other stuff, etc, etc, provided you comply with those terms.

Re:Gotta cost something (1)

ComputerSlicer23 (516509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751551)


I believe your answer to number 3 is wrong according to MySQL AB (the corporation that owns the copyright of MySQL). They changed from the LGPL in version 2.x to GPL in version 3.x. See http://mmmysql.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]. I can't find the page right now, but at the time all this changed it was fairly clear that MySQL was tired of losing the licensing fees. Because the Connector was LGPL, you could embed MySQL in virtually any application and never need to purchase a license. The LGPL had little burden on a commercial use (essentially, ship the source, or offer a copy of the source to any one you shipped the connector to). The change to using the GPL should mean that your application should be bound by the GPL'ed. While your interpretation might be correct, the copyright holder disagrees with you. Even if your right, that could be very expensive.


As for 1, I'm not sure you can relicense it, I'd have to read the licenses closely, but you could release your stuff under GPLv3 and include any requirements the Apache license has (including the notice files, not removing the copyright notice, or the waivers of any warrantee). Effectively you can do what you want.


Kirby

those who think the GPL is bad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751307)

...aren't going to find anything here to change their minds.

When you hear people like Linus talk about the license (the good ol' GPL v2, that is), it sounds very reasonable - I gave you code, so you have to give back what you went on to accomplish with it. Except that it's not enough to post Linus (or whoever the original programmer was) a CD with your latest and greatest; you have to provide convenient source code access to anyone who ever received your software, for every version that you ever distributed, for years. If you have a serious customer base, even if those "customers" are getting your stuff for free, this requirement is neither easy nor cheap. Better take it seriously though, because the FSF has shown it intends to come down hard on those who fall short.

And we're not even talking about GPL v3 here.

Re:those who think the GPL is bad news (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751371)

...aren't going to find anything here to change their minds.

When you hear people like Linus talk about the license (the good ol' GPL v2, that is), it sounds very reasonable - I gave you code, so you have to give back what you went on to accomplish with it. Except that it's not enough to post Linus (or whoever the original programmer was) a CD with your latest and greatest; you have to provide convenient source code access to anyone who ever received your software, for every version that you ever distributed, for years. If you have a serious customer base, even if those "customers" are getting your stuff for free, this requirement is neither easy nor cheap. Better take it seriously though, because the FSF has shown it intends to come down hard on those who fall short.

And we're not even talking about GPL v3 here.

If you read the gpl (v2) you would realize its not that hard:

a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
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) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

Also, just make the source available via a html page with google ads. If enough people download it, you'll make money.

Re:those who think the GPL is bad news (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751421)

this requirement is neither easy nor cheap.
I've heard a lot of arguments against the GPL, but come on, it's not easy or cheap to make your GPL'd source available? That takes the biscuit. All it needs is a tiny bit of paper in the box with your product, or a single file on the disk that says we make our source available at this URL...

Even a shared server would be fine forserving single files - a $20/month hosting agreement could serve the tarballs for all but the biggest files. There are other options for GPL projects like sourceforge

Maybe you mean it's not cheap or easy to keep track of the licence that covers individual parts of your program. In that case you had better make sure your staff are coding every single line of code your app uses, because if yo ucan't keep track of the licenses covering your files, you are just asking to be sued. The GPL offers software that if Free as in Freedom, not Free as in beer. One of the very small costs the GPL imposes on anyone that uses software licensed under it is to contribute back to the community. Don;t like it, then don't use it - write your own code instead.

Damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751515)

Okay, I didn't RTFA. So what are the damages on free software? I'm not being facetious. Are they suing only for punitive damages? If so what are they asking?

The Meaning Of Compliance (3, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751577)

"Simply coming into compliance now is not sufficient to settle the matter, because that would mean anyone can violate the license until caught, because the only punishment would be to come into compliance."
I must be living on a different planet from the lawyers. Here I was thinking that compliance means publishing the source code together with all the proprietary modifications, in a form that anybody can recreate the exact same software by recompiling it. In the warped mindset of a PHB, that means giving away the crown jewels for free. How is this not a deterrent for such deadbeat companies?

Re:The Meaning Of Compliance (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751603)

Another way to come into compliance, if you were mixing proprietary code with GPL code, which isn't the case here, would be to remove the GPL code from your product and replace it with something else which you have a right to distribute.

Re:The Meaning Of Compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751803)

I think he's just saying that if there's no punative result other than late compliance, then there's no downside in a game theoretic sense to noncompliance. Companies would not be penalized for taking a strategy in which they would simply not comply until they are caught and sued.

SFLC wants GPL tested in court... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751595)

and case law to be made, as well. Settling this out of court will imply that such violations of the spirit of the GPL are not 'costly' - the FSF would like to create the exact opposite impression, with respect to the unholy MS-Novell agreement.

Re:SFLC wants GPL tested in court... (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751633)

Well, settling it out of court for some large some of money would do that too, and is a lot more likely.

Maybe this is what Eben Moglen meant when he said [geof.net]:

Now, as usual, when you win a small tactical engagement that turns out to be a large strategic victory, you have to consolidate the gains, or the other side will take them back. So we are now moving into a period in which what we have to do is to consolidate the gains. We have to strengthen our own understanding about what our community can do.

Re:SFLC wants GPL tested in court... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20752083)

Well, settling it out of court for some large some of money would do that too, and is a lot more likely.

I think this is unlikely, and a cash settlement would be a step backwards for the FSF. Let me use a portion of your own quote:

when you win a small tactical engagement that turns out to be a large strategic victory, you have to consolidate the gains, or the other side will take them back.
Let's look at some recent strategic victories for the FSF:

1. Microsoft have publicly dissociated themselves from the GPL3, and reworded their prior contract with Novell.
2. Even under the GPL2, a company that knowingly disrtibutes code in violation of the GPL is liable for penal action.

In the case of Monsoon Multimedia, they initially refused to comply or settle AFTER THE FSF POINTED OUT THE INFRACTION.

So, allowing them to settle NOW, after a case has been filed, would be a retrograde step. Offenders would continue to ignore the GPL and violate with impunity... thinking, they'd later on settle if and when a suit is filed.

In short, if the FSF wants to consolidate their gains and wins; it would be in their interest for this case to proceed in court, the infringer found guilty, and the GPL upheld in a court of law. THEN, AND ONLY THEN, will the FSF / SFLC combine consider taking DIRECT LEGAL action against the BIG FISH, as opposed to the current sabre-rattling in the media.

My 2 cents, and IANAL.

freedom, protection of yOUR rights are both.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751635)

a part of stallman gnu.., without which, there'd be no linux/sourceforgerIE, etc....

engineering/development operations based in India (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751665)

Hrmmm ... why does it not surprise me to see "GPL violation" and "main engineering and development operations are based in New Delhi, India" in the same story.

From the company website [monsoonmultimedia.com] ...

"Monsoon Multimedia's marketing and sales operations are headquartered in the Silicon Valley in the US, while its main engineering and development operations are based in New Delhi, India."

KJKJKJ (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751701)

_O_
\''\
'=O='
.|!|
.| |

Re:KJKJKJ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20751733)

Outstanding! Kind sir, I salute you!

Captcha: murderer. WTF?

While they're at it... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751747)

Why don't they try to test the phrase "No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without written permission from the publisher"?

hypocrite much? (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751773)

"Simply coming into compliance now is not sufficient to settle the matter, because that would mean anyone can violate the license until caught, because the only punishment would be to come into compliance."

how the fuck can they make this claim, yet when SCO filed it's complaint, the open source community's response was "all we have to do is fix the infringment" - the very same claim now being denied.

you can't have it all your own way.

Re:hypocrite much? (4, Insightful)

bug_hunter (32923) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751953)

Because these guys were warned first that they were violating the GPL and did nothing until legal action was mentioned.
SCO was more of the opinion "We'll tell you what you're violating in court" without giving Linux a chance pre-lawyers.
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