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Re: Is the GPL all encompassing?


From: amicus_curious
Subject: Re: Is the GPL all encompassing?
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 09:47:41 -0400


"Hyman Rosen" <address@hidden> wrote in message news:address@hidden
amicus_curious wrote:
It is hard to understand just what you are getting at here.

There are people who claim that distributing GPLed code without
following the GPL's requirements is not copyright infringement.
(Some allow that it might be a contract dispute, others that it
is entirely permissible.) The fact that industry generally acts
as if the GPL works as intended will be used as evidence to the
contrary if one of those people actually winds up in court. This
sort of evidence was presented in the JMRI appeal.

I see what you are saying now and I do agree that industry generally seems to avoid GPL issues due to their perceived viral nature. I work for a very large software company and their specific policy is that no OSS code is allowed in our products unless specifically reviewed by our legal department and a technical staff that was set up for this specific purpose. GPL is verboten to a very high degree. With such a cumbersome process we pretty much do not even bother with trying to use OSS stuff.

I think that is contrary to the fundamental principles of OSS, though, and so conclude that the GPL does a lot of damage to the idea.

I don't know how that affects court cases in real life. Certainly there are both contractual and copyright issues involved and the issue of how to compensate an author whose work is infringed is central to the litigation. To win a case, the author must prove that the work was infringed and harm occurred. The JMRI issue seems to center around issuing an injunction and the only harm being asserted is the presumed harm that stems from some previous judgements in other cases. I think that the author had no expectation of any monetary return, so that could not harm him. I don't think that it is too far fetched for a court to decide that whatever harm there is to his ego due to non-attribution of his work is over balanced by what harm might come to the defendant if he were put out of business. I am sure that the court could order some in-between solution if pressed to a verdict.

I cannot imagine that the work that was copied is so monumental that it could not be re-created in a non-infringing manner just as the OSS advocates insist that OSS code can be re-written to avoid any copyright or patent issues with commercial companies.


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