De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Flacc » Sat, 05 May 2001 03:43:52



what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this (inevitable?)
eventuality?

Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Aaron R. Kulki » Sat, 05 May 2001 06:34:43



> what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this (inevitable?)
> eventuality?

I'm sure the Free Software Foundation will see to it that the GPL
is actually heeded.

Quote:> Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

--
Aaron R. Kulkis
Unix Systems Engineer
DNRC Minister of all I survey
ICQ # 3056642

L: This seems to have reduced my spam. Maybe if everyone does it we



K: Truth in advertising:
        Left Wing Extremists Charles Schumer and Donna Shalala,
        Black Seperatist Anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan,
        Special Interest Sierra Club,
        Anarchist Members of the ACLU
        Left Wing Corporate Extremist Ted Turner
        The Drunken Woman Killer Ted Kennedy
        Grass Roots Pro-Gun movement,

J: Other knee_jerk reactionaries: billh, david casey, redc1c4,
   The retarded sisters: Raunchy (rauni) and Anencephielle (Enielle),
   also known as old hags who've hit the wall....

I: Loren Petrich's 2-week stubborn refusal to respond to the
   challenge to describe even one philosophical difference
   between himself and the communists demonstrates that, in fact,
   Loren Petrich is a COMMUNIST ***hole

H: "Having found not one single carbon monoxide leak on the entire
    premises, it is my belief, and Willard concurs, that the reason
    you folks feel listless and disoriented is simply because
    you are lazy, stupid people"

G:  Knackos...you're a retard.

F: Unit_4's "Kook hunt" reminds me of "Jimmy Baker's" harangues against
   *ery while concurrently committing *ery with Tammy Hahn.

E: Jet is not worthy of the time to compose a response until
   her behavior improves.

D: Jet Silverman now follows me from newgroup to newsgroup
   ...despite (C) above.

C: Jet Silverman claims to have killfiled me.

B: Jet Silverman plays the fool and spews out nonsense as a
   method of sidetracking discussions which are headed in a
   direction that she doesn't like.

A:  The wise man is mocked by fools.

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Adam Warne » Sat, 05 May 2001 07:12:19


Hi Flacco,

Quote:> what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this (inevitable?)
> eventuality?

> Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

You could have a chat with the Free Software Foundation.
http://www.fsf.org/copyleft/gpl-violation.html
"Note that the GPL, and other copyleft licenses, are copyright licenses.
This means that only the copyright holders are empowered to act against
violations. The FSF acts on all GPL violations reported on FSF copyrighted
code, and we do offer assistance to any other copyright holder who wishes to
do the same."

This is also a good reason why Sun has a dual license. Sun can attempt to
enforce its licensing terms without having to get the agreement of all the
numerous authors that have contributed to OpenOffice.

I'm sure the Free Software Foundation is always looking for funds.
http://www.fsf.org/help/help.html#helpgnu

Note for any newbie: We are chatting about intellectual property (copyright)
protection. Enforcement of the GPL depends upon copyright protection. New
intellectual property is being created, not destroyed.

Regards,
Adam

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Interconnec » Sat, 05 May 2001 07:31:01





> > what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> > code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> > Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this
(inevitable?)
> > eventuality?

> I'm sure the Free Software Foundation will see to it that the GPL
> is actually heeded.

> > Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

Hmmm, I'm starting to worry about MS being able to STOP GPL.

I wonder if MS took the concept to court if they could stop the whole
process?  They sure do have a boat load of money.

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Aaron R. Kulki » Sat, 05 May 2001 07:54:40






> > > what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> > > code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> > > Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this
> (inevitable?)
> > > eventuality?

> > I'm sure the Free Software Foundation will see to it that the GPL
> > is actually heeded.

> > > Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

> Hmmm, I'm starting to worry about MS being able to STOP GPL.

> I wonder if MS took the concept to court if they could stop the whole
> process?  They sure do have a boat load of money.

Nope.  Simple Copyright law.

No amount of money is going to protect them from an infringement suit.

That's why they're so *ing scared.

--
Aaron R. Kulkis
Unix Systems Engineer
DNRC Minister of all I survey
ICQ # 3056642

L: This seems to have reduced my spam. Maybe if everyone does it we



K: Truth in advertising:
        Left Wing Extremists Charles Schumer and Donna Shalala,
        Black Seperatist Anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan,
        Special Interest Sierra Club,
        Anarchist Members of the ACLU
        Left Wing Corporate Extremist Ted Turner
        The Drunken Woman Killer Ted Kennedy
        Grass Roots Pro-Gun movement,

J: Other knee_jerk reactionaries: billh, david casey, redc1c4,
   The retarded sisters: Raunchy (rauni) and Anencephielle (Enielle),
   also known as old hags who've hit the wall....

I: Loren Petrich's 2-week stubborn refusal to respond to the
   challenge to describe even one philosophical difference
   between himself and the communists demonstrates that, in fact,
   Loren Petrich is a COMMUNIST ***hole

H: "Having found not one single carbon monoxide leak on the entire
    premises, it is my belief, and Willard concurs, that the reason
    you folks feel listless and disoriented is simply because
    you are lazy, stupid people"

G:  Knackos...you're a retard.

F: Unit_4's "Kook hunt" reminds me of "Jimmy Baker's" harangues against
   *ery while concurrently committing *ery with Tammy Hahn.

E: Jet is not worthy of the time to compose a response until
   her behavior improves.

D: Jet Silverman now follows me from newgroup to newsgroup
   ...despite (C) above.

C: Jet Silverman claims to have killfiled me.

B: Jet Silverman plays the fool and spews out nonsense as a
   method of sidetracking discussions which are headed in a
   direction that she doesn't like.

A:  The wise man is mocked by fools.

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Charles Shulle » Fri, 04 May 2001 19:36:47




> what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this
> (inevitable?) eventuality?

> Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

What you do is contact GNU.  Look at their web-site at http://www.gnu.org
The GPL is a binding contract and has stood up many times in court.  It
was written by lawers, or at least persons very fammiliar with contract
law.  The fact of the matter is, when you create software, the resultant
code belongs to you.  If you stick the GPL, or LGPL on it, no one can
contest that.  And I suspect that any intelecual property lawer would be
glad to take the case for a percentage of the winnings if you have proof
of the GPL violation.  It is binding and protective.
 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Nick Cond » Sun, 06 May 2001 00:39:30




>> I'm sure the Free Software Foundation will see to it that the GPL
>> is actually heeded.

>Hmmm, I'm starting to worry about MS being able to STOP GPL.

>I wonder if MS took the concept to court if they could stop the whole
>process?  They sure do have a boat load of money.

Nobody gains from challenging the GPL in court, so it will never happen.

Suppose MS took some GPL'd software and wrapped in up into Windows. Let's
pluck an example out of the air and say it was a TCP/IP stack. The FSF says  
"Whoa! you can't do that, that's a violation of the GPL!". Microsoft flips
them the finger and says "See you in court". Microsoft wins and the GPL is
exposed as rubbish. What happpens then? The copyright is still held by the
author (or perhaps the FSF). Microsoft now has no license to distribute the
code *at all*. The GPL is no more. RIP.

Net result for everyone is a lose, so nobody will allow it to go that far.
--
Nick

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Roberto Alsi » Sun, 06 May 2001 00:41:08





>>> I'm sure the Free Software Foundation will see to it that the GPL
>>> is actually heeded.

>>Hmmm, I'm starting to worry about MS being able to STOP GPL.

>>I wonder if MS took the concept to court if they could stop the whole
>>process?  They sure do have a boat load of money.

>Nobody gains from challenging the GPL in court, so it will never happen.

>Suppose MS took some GPL'd software and wrapped in up into Windows. Let's
>pluck an example out of the air and say it was a TCP/IP stack. The FSF says  
>"Whoa! you can't do that, that's a violation of the GPL!". Microsoft flips
>them the finger and says "See you in court". Microsoft wins and the GPL is
>exposed as rubbish. What happpens then? The copyright is still held by the
>author (or perhaps the FSF). Microsoft now has no license to distribute the
>code *at all*. The GPL is no more. RIP.

>Net result for everyone is a lose, so nobody will allow it to go that far.

Actually, the judge could declare the GPL only partially void, or
partially unenforcable. The judge could, for example, declare
that none of the "you must give away the code" stuff is
valid, and turn it into something like the BSDL.

--
Roberto Alsina

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Greg Copelan » Sun, 06 May 2001 01:29:55






> >>> I'm sure the Free Software Foundation will see to it that the GPL
> >>> is actually heeded.

> >>Hmmm, I'm starting to worry about MS being able to STOP GPL.

> >>I wonder if MS took the concept to court if they could stop the whole
> >>process?  They sure do have a boat load of money.

> >Nobody gains from challenging the GPL in court, so it will never happen.

> >Suppose MS took some GPL'd software and wrapped in up into Windows. Let's
> >pluck an example out of the air and say it was a TCP/IP stack. The FSF says  
> >"Whoa! you can't do that, that's a violation of the GPL!". Microsoft flips
> >them the finger and says "See you in court". Microsoft wins and the GPL is
> >exposed as rubbish. What happpens then? The copyright is still held by the
> >author (or perhaps the FSF). Microsoft now has no license to distribute the
> >code *at all*. The GPL is no more. RIP.

> >Net result for everyone is a lose, so nobody will allow it to go that far.

> Actually, the judge could declare the GPL only partially void, or
> partially unenforcable. The judge could, for example, declare
> that none of the "you must give away the code" stuff is
> valid, and turn it into something like the BSDL.

But the judge would have to have an extremely strong position to stand on to do
something like that.  The fact is, the terminology of the GPL was very purposely
picked to hold its own on legal merit.  Furthermore, it's pretty obvious what the
intent was when someone used the GPL.  If someone comes in after the fact and
violates the GPL, intent is very clear.  As such, it's VERY hard to imagine that
someone could get away with something like this with both intent of the violator
clearly illustrated and the spirit of the GPL pretty well understood at this
point in time.  You need to remember that there are two important aspects in
contract law.  First and foremost is the terminology describing the contract/
license, the second is the "spirit of the law."  What was the intent of the
contract, regardless of the terminology (and was it understood by both parties).
In this case, the intent of the GPL is very well understood and can be easily
supported by numerous interviews and articles.  In short, it would be extremely
difficult for someone to strike down or walk over the GPL.  Having said that,
a better question would be what would happen to the violator?  Be forced to
immediately strip the code from the product and issue a recall?  Be fined?  Open
Source the product because it was known up front this would be the obligation
of the adopter?  Or acknowledge that the GPL was violated and ignore the violation
giving 120-days to fix?

As you can see, the risk of the GPL being struck down, IMOHO, is not all that great,
on the other hand, the risk comes from any punishment and/or rectifying actions
the court could or would not impose on the violator.  In other words, if a violator
is given a slap on the hand, it pretty much means the GPL stands, but the penalty
simply is not a motivator to prevent it.  That alone would crush the GPL.  That,
I think, is the FSF's fear.

--
Greg Copeland, Principal Consultant
Copeland Computer Consulting
--------------------------------------------------
PGP/GPG Key at http://www.keyserver.net
DE5E 6F1D 0B51 6758 A5D7  7DFE D785 A386 BD11 4FCD
--------------------------------------------------

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Mikkel Elmhold » Sun, 06 May 2001 02:29:33



Quote:> what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this (inevitable?)
> eventuality?

> Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

Most of the replies to this post concerns themselves with legal aspects.
There is however some more practical issues that could void the GPL. Before
you can take a case to court, you have to find out about someone mis-using
your GPL'ed code. And how are you going to do that? A company bound on GPL
misuse would probably not go around and brag about it. If your code is
wrapped up in a binary distribution, you are not going to find out just by
looking at it. And it would also be easy to tweak the code to deflect any
binary comparisons, just by switching function order, changing a for() loop
to a while() loop here and there, change variable and function names
globally, change names of executables, and such.

It would of course be more difficult with GPL'ed products, which has a
recognizable look-and-feel (like GNOME). That would need a lot of tweaking.

I feel that the GPL is more like a gentleman's agreement than a iron-clad
clause you can take to court anyday.

Mikkel

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Paolo Ciambott » Sun, 06 May 2001 11:27:21




> what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this
> (inevitable?) eventuality?

> Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

If you have strong evidence that you've been victimized in violation of
the GPL, you should contact Eben Moglen.  Mr. Moglen is a professor of law
and legal history at Columbia University Law School, and serves as general
counsel for the Free Software Foundation.  You can get in contact with him
through the F.S.F. at (617) 542-5942.
 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Weevi » Mon, 07 May 2001 12:50:54





> > what can a lightweight GPL author do if a corp decides to use his GPL'd
> > code contrary to the terms of the GPL?

> > Is there a legal fund established anywhere that covers this
(inevitable?)
> > eventuality?

> > Are there legal analyses of GPL available anywhere?

> Most of the replies to this post concerns themselves with legal aspects.
> There is however some more practical issues that could void the GPL.
Before
> you can take a case to court, you have to find out about someone mis-using
> your GPL'ed code. And how are you going to do that? A company bound on GPL
> misuse would probably not go around and brag about it. If your code is
> wrapped up in a binary distribution, you are not going to find out just by
> looking at it. And it would also be easy to tweak the code to deflect any
> binary comparisons, just by switching function order, changing a for()
loop
> to a while() loop here and there, change variable and function names
> globally, change names of executables, and such.

Good points.

On the other hand, if I were the author of (to randomly pluck an example out
of the air) an implementation of a TCP/IP stack and I suspected Microsoft of
using my code for their own stack (beginning in Win95, say), I would make it
known that I was considering suing them for 50 gazillion dollars, and that I
would richly reward any Microsoft insiders who could bring me legally useful
evidence.

The 50 gazillion dollar figure would be based on the fact that virtually
everything Microsoft does now is geared toward the Internet, and without a
TCP/IP stack, all their internet business would be impossible.  And since
they stole *my* stack...

I bet it would not be impossible to come up with the evidence.

Quote:> I feel that the GPL is more like a gentleman's agreement than a iron-clad
> clause you can take to court anyday.

> Mikkel

I believe it started out that way in spirit.  Microsoft's recent attacks on
it might be hardening it into something more, now.

--
Weevil

----------------------------------------------------------------

"The obvious mathematical breakthrough [for breaking encryption schemes]
would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers."
 -- Bill Gates

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Mikkel Elmhold » Tue, 08 May 2001 18:44:48



<snip>

Quote:> > Most of the replies to this post concerns themselves with legal aspects.
> > There is however some more practical issues that could void the GPL.
> Before
> > you can take a case to court, you have to find out about someone
mis-using
> > your GPL'ed code. And how are you going to do that? A company bound on
GPL
> > misuse would probably not go around and brag about it. If your code is
> > wrapped up in a binary distribution, you are not going to find out just
by
> > looking at it. And it would also be easy to tweak the code to deflect
any
> > binary comparisons, just by switching function order, changing a for()
> loop
> > to a while() loop here and there, change variable and function names
> > globally, change names of executables, and such.

> Good points.

> On the other hand, if I were the author of (to randomly pluck an example
out
> of the air) an implementation of a TCP/IP stack and I suspected Microsoft
of
> using my code for their own stack (beginning in Win95, say), I would make
it
> known that I was considering suing them for 50 gazillion dollars, and that
I
> would richly reward any Microsoft insiders who could bring me legally
useful
> evidence.

> The 50 gazillion dollar figure would be based on the fact that virtually
> everything Microsoft does now is geared toward the Internet, and without a
> TCP/IP stack, all their internet business would be impossible.  And since
> they stole *my* stack...

Them thievin' lyin' bunch o' no-godders!

Quote:> I bet it would not be impossible to come up with the evidence.

Probably not. And if it is indeed impossible, then said company will
probably have spent so much time on obscuring the code that:

1) They might just as well have written the damn thing themselves.
2) They cannot really take advantage of future developments and bugfixes
without serious reworking.

But if you are going to develop something anew, it is sure as h... better to
have some code to get "inspired by", i.e. steal the design idea rather than
the code.

One area where the GPL might face serious trouble getting enforced is
however in embedded devices or appliances. It is not customary for end-users
to be able to get access to the binary code. So the chances of detection
here would be smaller. But of course, you can never guard yourself against
the occasional geek, who like to take things apart and reverse-engineer the
machine code .....

<snip>

Mikkel

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Rob S. Wolfr » Fri, 11 May 2001 02:09:48




>>Suppose MS took some GPL'd software and wrapped in up into Windows. Let's
>>pluck an example out of the air and say it was a TCP/IP stack. The FSF says  
>>"Whoa! you can't do that, that's a violation of the GPL!". Microsoft flips
>>them the finger and says "See you in court". Microsoft wins and the GPL is
>>exposed as rubbish. What happpens then? The copyright is still held by the
>>author (or perhaps the FSF). Microsoft now has no license to distribute the
>>code *at all*. The GPL is no more. RIP.

>>Net result for everyone is a lose, so nobody will allow it to go that far.

>Actually, the judge could declare the GPL only partially void, or
>partially unenforcable. The judge could, for example, declare
>that none of the "you must give away the code" stuff is
>valid, and turn it into something like the BSDL.

I don't think that would be possible (see section 7 of the GPL). The GPL
grants you rights in the license only if it is legally possible, else it
denies you the right. So I think Nick was right. If the application of
the GPL is invalid in some specific case, either by court order or some
other restriction, you fall back to copyright law, i.e. you have no
right at all to use or reuse the stuff. A court cannot give you more
rights than the copyright holder grants you.

Cheers,
Rob
--

   I wonder why half the world is crying, while the other half of the
   world is crying too...
                -- Janis Joplin

 
 
 

De we need (or is there) a GPL Legal Defense Fund ?

Post by Roberto Alsi » Sat, 12 May 2001 22:24:41





>>>Suppose MS took some GPL'd software and wrapped in up into Windows. Let's
>>>pluck an example out of the air and say it was a TCP/IP stack. The FSF says  
>>>"Whoa! you can't do that, that's a violation of the GPL!". Microsoft flips
>>>them the finger and says "See you in court". Microsoft wins and the GPL is
>>>exposed as rubbish. What happpens then? The copyright is still held by the
>>>author (or perhaps the FSF). Microsoft now has no license to distribute the
>>>code *at all*. The GPL is no more. RIP.

>>>Net result for everyone is a lose, so nobody will allow it to go that far.

>>Actually, the judge could declare the GPL only partially void, or
>>partially unenforcable. The judge could, for example, declare
>>that none of the "you must give away the code" stuff is
>>valid, and turn it into something like the BSDL.

>I don't think that would be possible (see section 7 of the GPL).

The judge can say "ignore section 7".

--
Roberto Alsina

 
 
 

1. Funding GPL projects or funding the GPL?

In a recent discussion about developers running out of money (arch,
perl) and what can we do for helping them I can up with an idea. I'd
like to share it with anyone in the list even though it'll probably be
disregarded or flamed. The Kernel may well be nicely funded, because of
companies supported. But that's not always the case, and the schema just
fails in a lot of key areas of OSS.

Why post it here then? Because for it to work it must be supported by
at least some of the grand developements of OSS.

Here's the actual idea, which actually is a slashdot repost

Re:Isn't dual-licensing with the GPL perfect for t (Score:2)

(User #525414 Info | http://www.arrancar.com/)

Yes, but that underfunds the projects. You can see this clearly when
Microsoft can sell lots of buggy software and of the best OSS developers
can't earn a decent salary.

I'd love to see a new license, that could be called the fGPL. That would
be the "Funded GPL". To be able to use fGPLd programs you'll HAVE to
contribute some small amount of money to the fGPL foundation. You'll not
be required to pay for any individual fGPL software, just a plain simple
yearly $10 or $20 charge. And you will be able to distribute exactly
where that money goes, among all the different projects. If you can't
pay $20 a year it will be no problem, just a bit penalty: all fGPL
software would be free as in beer once the year passes (old releases).

The money paid to the developers would only cover salaries and some
expenses that are needing to continue developement. So if any proyect
gets over-funded, you'll be noticed that you must reasign some of your
credits.

It'd always be free as in freedom. We only need to bring some beer for
that to happen. It'll also kill the anti OSS argument that the system is
for comunists or anti-american. I know that is FUD, but do your
representatives know that? It will also kill most of the other FUD
targeted at OSS and will also bust developement to unknown levels.

What do we need for this to happen?

To have the Linux Kernel, the Red Hat distro, mplayer, X and gcc (for
example, could be others as well) adopting the fGPL for the next
releases. After that, we'll see most every GPLd program adopting the
fGPL. After that, you'll start to see how much sense it made to pay $20
a year. And even the ones that can't pay (if any) will be able to use
the software (though 1 year old, but their hardware si severla years old
for sure).

This is my opinion. I'd gladly pay the $20, as long as EVERYONE ELSE
pays their $20. That's why we don't see many donations now: because you
have this felling everyone else is just waiting for a fool like you to
contribute to project X in order to save it.

------------- end -------------

Thanks for everything and to everyone here!

Federico

pd: Please CC if you need my reply as I am not on the list

-
To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in

More majordomo info at  http://vger.kernel.org/majordomo-info.html
Please read the FAQ at  http://www.tux.org/lkml/

2. help - SCSI: trying harder??

3. Defense agency pulls OpenBSD funding

4. The Best Video Card For HighRes/HighColor

5. If you like PGP ... support Philip Zimmermann Defense Fund (PZDF)

6. extract email from text file and send an email to the email address

7. Microsoft confirms that they provide funding to the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

8. Is it supported - DP83932-based EISA ethernet adapter?

9. Legal test of GPL.

10. Input on the Non-GPL Modules - legal nonsense

11. I need help finding driver for D-link DE-660/DE-660+

12. Backup de ficheros mayores de 2 Gb en robot de cintas Sun.

13. Is this legal bourne shell, or am I just lucky?