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Re: Is the GPL all encompassing?


From: amicus_curious
Subject: Re: Is the GPL all encompassing?
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 21:50:28 -0400


"Hyman Rosen" <address@hidden> wrote in message news:address@hidden
amicus_curious wrote:
The test would be where an infringing vendor is ordered by the court to either disclose the changes made to the GPL source or cease distributing the program entirely. I would also be interested in any case where the infringer was ordered to pay statutory damages.

Relatively few companies are interested in becoming martyrs
to try to destroy the GPL. The JMRI case is about the closest
that I can think of in that respect. Most cases of GPL violations
happen through laziness and stupidity. Those violators generally
agree to come into compliance. So you might have to wait a long
time before you find a case where the GPL is addressed definitively.

I think that there are reasons beyond fear for this lack of occurrence. For one thing, there does not seem to be any future in a company's ever doing that. Regardless of whether or not they are detected as having violated the GPL, they cannot make any profit doing it, so it is not done. There is nothing really worth stealing. That was my original point as to why the GPL was not very useful to anyone.

What you do have industry-wide are companies and individuals
behaving as if the GPL works in the way it means to. Even companies
like Microsoft who are presumably hostile to its goals act as if it
is valid. They carefully write their own licenses to make sure that
their code doesn't get tangled up with GPLed code. If a case does
finally get into the courts in the way you envision, that existence
proof will help support the GPL.

It is hard to understand just what you are getting at here. As far as I am aware, most sensible companies that develop software for sale are indeed aware of the GPL and have policies internally to ensure that their employees refrain from its use. I know that mine does. They have the same sort of attitude that the OSSers often voice, i.e. if there is some infringement, they will simply replace the infringing code with non-infringing code.

I would further believe that any copying that did occur would be substantially obscured to the point that the copying was not detectable unless it were revealed by the person doing the copying. The cases featured to-date involved a public admission of the GPL product use and centered on failure to provide the unmodified source per the rules laid down in the GPL documents.


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