GPL still un-challenged in court

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by thingy, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. thingy

    thingy Guest

    thingy, Mar 18, 2008
    #1
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  2. thingy

    peterwn Guest

    On Mar 18, 3:16 pm, thingy <> wrote:
    > http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2614635569.html
    >
    > Big companies just run....
    >


    It is difficult to see how it can be challenged in court.

    here are two issues in any copyright case:

    1. Is the work subject to copyright? The existence of any licence
    has no bearing on this issue.

    2. Was coyright infringed? Using the work within the terms of any
    licence is a defence. It follows that if a defendant convinces a
    court that the GPL is 'invalid' the defendant has merely burnt his
    bridges and hence his arse is right on the line for infringement.

    It does not matter whether the infingement is dealt with under common
    law (USA, English, Australia or NZ versions) or under civil law
    (European countries etc) - the principles are the same.

    Now the anti-Linux brigade is trying to twist this story such that a
    copyright infringement against Verizon failed. This is not the point
    - the infringement claim was successfully sheeted home against the
    contractor directly responsible for the infringement who settled out
    of court with the copyright holder pretty well on the copyright
    holder's terms.

    The message is clear - the GPL is no joke and not even Bill Gates is
    prepared to try and cock a snook at it (Microsoft would dearly love to
    be able to incorporate Linux and other GPL'd code into its products
    and not disclose the source).
    peterwn, Mar 18, 2008
    #2
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  3. thingy

    RL Guest

    peterwn wrote:
    > The message is clear - the GPL is no joke and not even Bill Gates is
    > prepared to try and cock a snook at it (Microsoft would dearly love to
    > be able to incorporate Linux and other GPL'd code into its products
    > and not disclose the source).


    I've not read the original article, because it doesn't interest me much,
    but this last statement of your is utter crap!

    Microsoft does give credit where credit is due. You will find both in
    accompanying documentation (as required) and within numerous Windows
    binaries, many such acknowledgements of code re-use..

    E.g. this one from finger.exe, Windows Vista x64 SP2...

    "Copyright (c) 1980 The Regents of the University of California."

    They've had a long time to remove this copyright notice if they really
    didn't want it to be there.

    Microsoft may not like the GPL, I certainly do not, but nothing suggests
    they are unwilling to acknowledge the rights of those who have
    contributed code used in their products.

    RL
    RL, Mar 18, 2008
    #3
  4. thingy

    impossible Guest

    "thingy" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2614635569.html
    >
    > Big companies just run....
    >


    That's one way to spin it. But out-of-court settlements are the norm with
    all lawsuits, so who knows. In this case, the big company -- Verizon --
    walked away scot-free. Actionec, a small manufacturing company, paid legal
    fees and agreed to apppoint a GPL compliance officer. Heady stuff for Linux
    Watch, I suppose, but it all sounded pretty amicable, if you ask me.
    impossible, Mar 18, 2008
    #4
  5. thingy

    shane Guest

    RL did scribble:

    > peterwn wrote:
    >> The message is clear - the GPL is no joke and not even Bill Gates is
    >> prepared to try and cock a snook at it (Microsoft would dearly love to
    >> be able to incorporate Linux and other GPL'd code into its products
    >> and not disclose the source).

    >
    > I've not read the original article, because it doesn't interest me much,
    > but this last statement of your is utter crap!
    >
    > Microsoft does give credit where credit is due. You will find both in
    > accompanying documentation (as required) and within numerous Windows
    > binaries, many such acknowledgements of code re-use..
    >
    > E.g. this one from finger.exe, Windows Vista x64 SP2...
    >
    > "Copyright (c) 1980 The Regents of the University of California."
    >
    > They've had a long time to remove this copyright notice if they really
    > didn't want it to be there.
    >
    > Microsoft may not like the GPL, I certainly do not, but nothing suggests
    > they are unwilling to acknowledge the rights of those who have
    > contributed code used in their products.
    >
    > RL


    Um
    You are aware that the copyright notice you speak of is displayed as part of the
    license governing that software. Being the BSD license.
    --
    Hardware n: Parts of the computer you can kick
    shane, Mar 18, 2008
    #5
  6. thingy

    RL Guest

    shane wrote:
    > Um
    > You are aware that the copyright notice you speak of is displayed as part of the
    > license governing that software. Being the BSD license.


    I certainly am. That is what I meant by "where credit is due".

    RL
    RL, Mar 18, 2008
    #6
  7. thingy

    peterwn Guest

    On Mar 18, 7:11 pm, RL <> wrote:

    >
    > Microsoft may not like the GPL, I certainly do not, but nothing suggests
    > they are unwilling to acknowledge the rights of those who have
    > contributed code used in their products.
    >


    1. If one does not like the GPL, there is nothing to stop the use of
    proprietary products. It is horses for courses.

    2. From a comment I read some time back, there is alot of GPL code
    base which Microsoft would love to use, but does not because it does
    not wish to abide by the terms of the GPL. In my earlier posting I
    did not imply that Microsoft was 'pirating' GPL code. In fairness to
    Microsoft, any 'pirating' of GPL code would probably have come to
    light by now - I do not recollect seeing any claim anywhere that this
    has happened.
    peterwn, Mar 18, 2008
    #7
  8. thingy

    shane Guest

    RL did scribble:

    > shane wrote:
    >> Um
    >> You are aware that the copyright notice you speak of is displayed as part of
    >> the
    >> license governing that software. Being the BSD license.

    >
    > I certainly am. That is what I meant by "where credit is due".
    >
    > RL


    Then you will also know that the BSD license is a very different license to the
    GPL license.

    --
    Hardware n: Parts of the computer you can kick
    shane, Mar 18, 2008
    #8
  9. thingy

    RL Guest

    shane wrote:
    > Then you will also know that the BSD license is a very different license to the
    > GPL license.


    Exactly what are you trying to establish here?

    My comment related to the OP making a statement regarding the activities
    of Microsoft that was inaccurate.

    RL
    RL, Mar 18, 2008
    #9
  10. thingy

    RL Guest

    peterwn wrote:
    > On Mar 18, 7:11 pm, RL <> wrote:
    >
    >> Microsoft may not like the GPL, I certainly do not, but nothing suggests
    >> they are unwilling to acknowledge the rights of those who have
    >> contributed code used in their products.

    >
    > 2. From a comment I read some time back, there is alot of GPL code
    > base which Microsoft would love to use, but does not because it does
    > not wish to abide by the terms of the GPL. In my earlier posting I
    > did not imply that Microsoft was 'pirating' GPL code. In fairness to
    > Microsoft, any 'pirating' of GPL code would probably have come to
    > light by now - I do not recollect seeing any claim anywhere that this
    > has happened.


    I didn't say you implied anything of the sort. What you did imply was
    that Microsoft did not wish to disclose the origin of source they use.
    Their acknowledgement of differently licensed source suggests that is
    not the case, and their choice to not use GPL'd code is based on other
    reasons (e.g. the fact that it is a viral license).

    RL
    RL, Mar 18, 2008
    #10
  11. thingy

    peterwn Guest

    On Mar 18, 7:21 pm, "impossible" <> wrote:
    > "thingy" <> wrote in message
    >
    > news:...
    >
    > >http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2614635569.html

    >
    > > Big companies just run....

    >
    > That's one way to spin it. But out-of-court settlements are the norm with
    > all lawsuits, so who knows. In this case, the big company -- Verizon --
    > walked away scot-free. Actionec, a small manufacturing company, paid legal
    > fees and agreed to apppoint a GPL compliance officer. Heady stuff for Linux
    > Watch, I suppose, but it all sounded pretty amicable, if you ask me.


    All GPL cases apart from one in Germany have been settled out of court
    in favour of the copyright holder, and the German one was a victory
    for the copyright holder in the court. Depending on circumstances,
    the GPL copyright holder (SFLC has either had the copyright assigned
    to it or acts on behalf of the copyright holder) will just give the
    violator a gentle reminder to comply through to court action if
    needed. No alleged violator has so far 'squared off' in court in a
    'common law' country, they recognise the game is up before that. In
    this case the copyright holder was awarded undisclosed damages.

    Verizon did not walk away scot-free: "the SFLC announced that Verizon
    has come to an agreement with the SFLC and the BusyBox developers,
    which enables them to dismiss the GPL enforcement lawsuit". Verizon's
    general counsel most probably handled the matter in a concilitory and
    constructive way and most probably demonstrated that they had respect
    for the GPL, but were let down by a contractor in this instance. This
    may not be entirely correct, but it is difficult to comment on this
    without knowing the precise material facts.

    Even if SFLC let Verizon off scot-free, it was in effect the 'second
    defendant', and the case was successful against the contractor 'first
    defendant', so this particular violation was dealt with to SFLC's
    satisfaction, despite the 'spin' from some quarters that SFLC 'lost'
    the case.

    For general information, Busybox contains 'lite' versions of the
    common and fundamental *NIX commands, and codes them compactly by
    making the most of common code for the various commands. For
    example:
    busybox mkdir xxxx will create the directory xxxx and if the
    appropriate sumlink is in place:
    mkdir xxxx 'translates' to busybox mkdir xxxx . The busybox
    'executable' requires about 400k space.
    Hence it is very popular for embedded system developers as well as
    'compact' Linux systems used for example to install a full
    distribution.
    peterwn, Mar 18, 2008
    #11
  12. thingy

    peterwn Guest

    On Mar 18, 8:36 pm, RL <> wrote:
    > peterwn wrote:
    > > On Mar 18, 7:11 pm, RL <> wrote:

    >
    > >> Microsoft may not like the GPL, I certainly do not, but nothing suggests
    > >> they are unwilling to acknowledge the rights of those who have
    > >> contributed code used in their products.

    >
    > > 2. From a comment I read some time back, there is alot of GPL code
    > > base which Microsoft would love to use, but does not because it does
    > > not wish to abide by the terms of the GPL. In my earlier posting I
    > > did not imply that Microsoft was 'pirating' GPL code. In fairness to
    > > Microsoft, any 'pirating' of GPL code would probably have come to
    > > light by now - I do not recollect seeing any claim anywhere that this
    > > has happened.

    >
    > I didn't say you implied anything of the sort. What you did imply was
    > that Microsoft did not wish to disclose the origin of source they use.


    I said:
    "Microsoft would dearly love to be able to incorporate Linux and other
    GPL'd code into its products
    and not disclose the source".

    I can see that it can be misunderstood - by 'source' I meant 'source
    code' and disclosing the source code (including modifications) is the
    key condition for GPL compliance.

    > Their acknowledgement of differently licensed source suggests that is
    > not the case, and their choice to not use GPL'd code is based on other
    > reasons (e.g. the fact that it is a viral license).
    >


    .... including the desire not to disclose source code of modiications
    and extensions if something is based on GPL software. GPL software
    may be 'viral' but there are ways of dealing with this so there is a
    win-win situation for all. This may suit some commercial entities,
    but not others, the latter can build their systems on a proprietary
    base eg Microsoft or SCO Unix.
    peterwn, Mar 18, 2008
    #12
  13. thingy

    RL Guest

    peterwn wrote:
    > I can see that it can be misunderstood - by 'source' I meant 'source
    > code' and disclosing the source code (including modifications) is the
    > key condition for GPL compliance.


    Ah, I see. The use of the word 'disclose' set me on the wrong path I think.

    RL
    RL, Mar 18, 2008
    #13
  14. thingy

    thingy Guest

    impossible wrote:
    > "thingy" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2614635569.html
    >>
    >> Big companies just run....
    >>

    >
    > That's one way to spin it. But out-of-court settlements are the norm with
    > all lawsuits, so who knows. In this case, the big company -- Verizon --
    > walked away scot-free. Actionec, a small manufacturing company, paid legal
    > fees and agreed to apppoint a GPL compliance officer. Heady stuff for Linux
    > Watch, I suppose, but it all sounded pretty amicable, if you ask me.
    >
    >


    If you want....having followed the story for a while, it pretty much
    took a court action to make them stop....and when it was coming they ran.

    As for the norm....well if their rhetoric was so sound you would think
    by now some of these executives would have stood up. In their eyes
    breaking the GPL and in effect making the GPL'd stuff freeware would pay
    huge dividends for them....

    regards

    Thing
    thingy, Mar 18, 2008
    #14
  15. thingy

    shane Guest

    RL did scribble:

    > shane wrote:
    >> Then you will also know that the BSD license is a very different license to
    >> the GPL license.

    >
    > Exactly what are you trying to establish here?
    >
    > My comment related to the OP making a statement regarding the activities
    > of Microsoft that was inaccurate.
    >
    > RL


    Actually you're both barking up funny trees.
    1) Microsoft abhors the GPL because it impedes the embrace and extend policy
    that has gained them so much over the years
    2) The BSD license allows use of the code as long as the copyright notice is
    displayed.
    The only thing the two licenses have in common is that they deal with OSS, so
    any attempt at comparison is, daft, to say the least.


    --
    Hardware n: Parts of the computer you can kick
    shane, Mar 18, 2008
    #15
  16. In article <fro0ee$n7g$>, shane did write:

    > 1) Microsoft abhors the GPL because it impedes the embrace and extend
    > policy that has gained them so much over the years


    Basically, it locks out freeloaders.

    > 2) The BSD license allows use of the code as long as the copyright notice
    > is displayed.


    Note that there are two different BSD licences. When people say "BSD
    licence", they're normally referring to the second one
    <http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/>.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 18, 2008
    #16
  17. thingy

    RL Guest

    shane wrote:
    > The only thing the two licenses have in common is that they deal with OSS, so
    > any attempt at comparison is, daft, to say the least.


    No part of this thread has been about comparing licenses, at least from
    my point of view. It turns out my interpretation of what the OP was
    talking about was different from what was intended. He was intending to
    refer to 'source code', not the 'source' (origin) of the code. In that
    aspect, the licenses are very different.

    RL
    RL, Mar 18, 2008
    #17
  18. thingy

    impossible Guest

    "thingy" <thing@/dev/null> wrote in message news:47df8190$...
    > impossible wrote:
    >> "thingy" <> wrote in message
    >> news:...
    >>> http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2614635569.html
    >>>
    >>> Big companies just run....
    >>>

    >>
    >> That's one way to spin it. But out-of-court settlements are the norm with
    >> all lawsuits, so who knows. In this case, the big company -- Verizon --
    >> walked away scot-free. Actionec, a small manufacturing company, paid
    >> legal fees and agreed to apppoint a GPL compliance officer. Heady stuff
    >> for Linux Watch, I suppose, but it all sounded pretty amicable, if you
    >> ask me.

    >
    > If you want....having followed the story for a while, it pretty much took
    > a court action to make them stop....and when it was coming they ran.
    >
    > As for the norm....well if their rhetoric was so sound you would think by
    > now some of these executives would have stood up. In their eyes breaking
    > the GPL and in effect making the GPL'd stuff freeware would pay huge
    > dividends for them....
    >


    Breaking the GPL is no different than breaking any other license
    /copyright -- it's illegal and unethical and it goes on all the time because
    it's costly to prosecute infringements. Lots of silly rhetoric gets tossed
    around to the effect that this or that license is a "cancer" or a "threat to
    liberty". But for the most part we're talking about businessmen here, and
    they are rarely motivated by ideological conviction. The trick, of course,
    for any license-holder is to first of all identify an actual infringement.
    But whether you're talking about the GPL or some proprietary EULA, the mere
    threat of a lawsuit is usually all it takes to stop the practice from
    continuing, because unless there's been some kind of major misunderstanding
    there's never really much of any case for someone to defend. Cheap
    out-of-court settlements are therefore the norm.
    impossible, Mar 18, 2008
    #18
  19. thingy

    thingy Guest

    impossible wrote:
    > "thingy" <thing@/dev/null> wrote in message news:47df8190$...
    >> impossible wrote:
    >>> "thingy" <> wrote in message
    >>> news:...
    >>>> http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2614635569.html
    >>>>
    >>>> Big companies just run....
    >>>>
    >>> That's one way to spin it. But out-of-court settlements are the norm with
    >>> all lawsuits, so who knows. In this case, the big company -- Verizon --
    >>> walked away scot-free. Actionec, a small manufacturing company, paid
    >>> legal fees and agreed to apppoint a GPL compliance officer. Heady stuff
    >>> for Linux Watch, I suppose, but it all sounded pretty amicable, if you
    >>> ask me.

    >> If you want....having followed the story for a while, it pretty much took
    >> a court action to make them stop....and when it was coming they ran.
    >>
    >> As for the norm....well if their rhetoric was so sound you would think by
    >> now some of these executives would have stood up. In their eyes breaking
    >> the GPL and in effect making the GPL'd stuff freeware would pay huge
    >> dividends for them....
    >>

    >
    > Breaking the GPL is no different than breaking any other license
    > /copyright -- it's illegal and unethical and it goes on all the time because
    > it's costly to prosecute infringements.


    Breaking as in proving in a court of law that the GPL is not valid. If
    you look at the SCO case, SCO is in quite a pickle, even with their no
    holds barred throw everything they have not tried to get the GPL
    declared invalid.

    Lots of silly rhetoric gets tossed
    > around to the effect that this or that license is a "cancer" or a "threat to
    > liberty".


    Lots of rubbish.

    But for the most part we're talking about businessmen here, and
    > they are rarely motivated by ideological conviction. The trick, of course,
    > for any license-holder is to first of all identify an actual infringement.
    > But whether you're talking about the GPL or some proprietary EULA, the mere
    > threat of a lawsuit is usually all it takes to stop the practice from
    > continuing, because unless there's been some kind of major misunderstanding
    > there's never really much of any case for someone to defend. Cheap
    > out-of-court settlements are therefore the norm.


    In the mean time though lots of execs seem to be either claiming its
    (GPL) not going to hold up in court....and there are quite a few
    companies using GPL's code and I think pretty much knowingly....getting
    told off.

    regards

    Thing
    thingy, Mar 18, 2008
    #19
  20. thingy

    impossible Guest

    "thingy" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > impossible wrote:
    >> "thingy" <thing@/dev/null> wrote in message
    >> news:47df8190$...
    >>> impossible wrote:
    >>>> "thingy" <> wrote in message
    >>>> news:...
    >>>>> http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2614635569.html
    >>>>>
    >>>>> Big companies just run....
    >>>>>
    >>>> That's one way to spin it. But out-of-court settlements are the norm
    >>>> with all lawsuits, so who knows. In this case, the big company --
    >>>> Verizon -- walked away scot-free. Actionec, a small manufacturing
    >>>> company, paid legal fees and agreed to apppoint a GPL compliance
    >>>> officer. Heady stuff for Linux Watch, I suppose, but it all sounded
    >>>> pretty amicable, if you ask me.
    >>> If you want....having followed the story for a while, it pretty much
    >>> took a court action to make them stop....and when it was coming they
    >>> ran.
    >>>
    >>> As for the norm....well if their rhetoric was so sound you would think
    >>> by now some of these executives would have stood up. In their eyes
    >>> breaking the GPL and in effect making the GPL'd stuff freeware would pay
    >>> huge dividends for them....
    >>>

    >>
    >> Breaking the GPL is no different than breaking any other license
    >> /copyright -- it's illegal and unethical and it goes on all the time
    >> because it's costly to prosecute infringements.

    >
    > Breaking as in proving in a court of law that the GPL is not valid.


    I understand. But the case you referenced is certainly not concerned with
    that. Have you seen anything to suggest that the manufacturer believed the
    GPL was not valid? They were caught infringing and they settled out of
    court -- end of story.

    > If you look at the SCO case, SCO is in quite a pickle, even with their no
    > holds barred throw everything they have not tried to get the GPL declared
    > invalid.
    >


    I think you misunderstand SCO's claim. It wasn't the GPL per se they were
    after but rather the application of GPL licensing restrictions to software
    that it said was riddled with proprietary code. Since SCO was never able to
    substantiate its patently reckless claim of infringment, it was deservedly
    crushed and vilified, but that's a different matter. **IF** the claim had
    been somehow proven, the GPL would still have been considered a valid legal
    instrument for protecting intellectual property -- just not one that was
    applicable in that particular case. The same principle of law applies to
    proprietary licensing arrangements -- so long as your intellectual property
    claim is legitimate (i.e, you haven't poached someone else's code and called
    it your own) then you're entitled to exclusive control over the terms of
    duplication, modification, and distribution.

    > Lots of silly rhetoric gets tossed
    >> around to the effect that this or that license is a "cancer" or a "threat
    >> to liberty".

    >
    > Lots of rubbish.
    >
    > But for the most part we're talking about businessmen here, and
    >> they are rarely motivated by ideological conviction. The trick, of
    >> course, for any license-holder is to first of all identify an actual
    >> infringement. But whether you're talking about the GPL or some
    >> proprietary EULA, the mere threat of a lawsuit is usually all it takes to
    >> stop the practice from continuing, because unless there's been some kind
    >> of major misunderstanding there's never really much of any case for
    >> someone to defend. Cheap out-of-court settlements are therefore the norm.

    >
    > In the mean time though lots of execs seem to be either claiming its (GPL)
    > not going to hold up in court....and there are quite a few companies using
    > GPL's code and I think pretty much knowingly....getting told off.
    >


    Yes, there's a lot of intellectual property infringement going on, much of
    it willful. But I've never actually heard/read any exec attempt to justify
    the practice by claiming that the GPL won't hold up in court. That just
    seems silly.
    impossible, Mar 18, 2008
    #20
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