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The Courts Government Communications GNU is Not Unix News

GPL vs. Skype Back In Court 369

Posted by timothy
from the remember-what-a-license-is dept.
mollyhackit writes "Hackaday reports that the GPL vs Skype case is going back to court today. This as an appeal to the court's decision Slashdot reported last July. The original case was brought against Skype for the Linux based SMC Skype WiFi phone. The court upheld the GPLv2 and decided that Skype had not gone far enough in meeting section 3 which details how to provide the original source. This time around Skype is apparently trying to argue that the GPL violates anti-trust regulations."
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GPL vs. Skype Back In Court

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  • by NoSCO (858498) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:14AM (#23337936) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps if they code something off their own back then rather than leech off the work of others, there would be no problem. Honestly, the nerve!
    • by sohmc (595388) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:35AM (#23338280) Journal
      How exactly is the GPL violating Anti-Trust laws? Doesn't the GPL do the exact *opposite*? The whole point of open source is to allow others to have access to the same code, thereby leveling the playing field...I guess in a way.
      • by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:32AM (#23339112)
        Doesn't the GPL do the exact *opposite*? The whole point of open source is to allow others to have access to the same code, thereby leveling the playing field...I guess in a way.

        Yes, it is exactly the as you say. In fact, the power of the GPL is that its strength stems from copyright law. If the GPL is deemed in violation of anti-trust, it means copyright law is in violation of anti-trust. Needless to say, it is not very likely they have a sound argument here.
        • by Xenographic (557057) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:09PM (#23341622) Homepage Journal
          I wonder what they're going to do about Wallace v. FSF [groklaw.net] which already decided that the GPL does not violate any anti-trust laws?

          IANAL, but it would seem that a court having already decided this exact issue would pretty much kill their case. Wallace lost on summary judgment, which means that the court in that case found that, even if everything he said was true (and that was doubtful), he could not prevail.

          In other words, that claim is very likely to go nowhere, fast. The judge in the Wallace case was a well-respected anti-trust expert, too.
          • by Josef Meixner (1020161) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:43PM (#23342040) Homepage

            IANAL, but it would seem that a court having already decided this exact issue would pretty much kill their case. Wallace lost on summary judgment, which means that the court in that case found that, even if everything he said was true (and that was doubtful), he could not prevail. In other words, that claim is very likely to go nowhere, fast. The judge in the Wallace case was a well-respected anti-trust expert, too.

            The Skype case is in Munich, Germany, a US court does not exactly set any precedent here. But I doubt the decision will be much different to how it would be if it was, as the GPL has been upheld quite often in Germany as well.

      • by fishbowl (7759) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:58AM (#23339536)
        >How exactly is the GPL violating Anti-Trust laws?

        It is not.

        >Doesn't the GPL do the exact *opposite*?

        No. The "opposite" of violating the law is "compliance" and the GPL cannot "comply" with Anti-Trust laws.
        A creator of content has certain rights, that are reserved by default, purely on the basis of him having created that work. There are ways to assert those rights, such as giving notice (e.g., "registrations"), but these do not confer any "improved rights", they merely help with evidence when those rights need to be defended.

        But the GPL is a license, a grant of certain authority that the licensee would not have without the license.
        If you wanted to accused the grantor of a GPL-style license of breaking some law, you would first need to show that the grantor did not have the right to use the license, which in the case of the GPL, would mean somehow depriving the grantor of his rights that he has under copyright law. What you suggest doing would be unprecedented in the US.

      • by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:22PM (#23339958)
        The GPL doesn't violate anything, but even if they did manage to get the License declared illegal in some way... They would still be using someone else's copyrighted code without a license. GPL is the only thing that grants you the right to distribute copies, if you throw it out then you've got nothing to stand on. After all the other cases, I still find it amazing that people don't understand this.
      • by Jaywalk (94910) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:42PM (#23340282) Homepage

        How exactly is the GPL violating Anti-Trust laws? Doesn't the GPL do the exact *opposite*? The whole point of open source is to allow others to have access to the same code, thereby leveling the playing field
        SCO tried this same stunt, and we know how well it worked out for them. It all turns on the parts of the anti-trust laws that targets predatory pricing. With predatory pricing, your company sells your product at a loss in order to bankrupt your competitor, then mark your prices up to a level you couldn't sustain if there was any competition. The argument goes that Linux, with a price of zero, must be anticompetitve since it is impossible to underprice them.

        There's a whole raft of problems with this argument. Here's my short list. Feel free to add your own.
        • * The GPL isn't a monopoly. There's plenty of competition for software out there, including a convicted monopolist.
        • * GPL code cannot be priced up if a monopoly is ever achieved. The terms of the GPL prohibit charging for GPL code ever, so real predatory pricing is precluded.
        • * The antitrust laws have been gutted by a series of court cases [metrolink.net]. One of the "new" standards is harm to the consumer, an almost impossible to prove issue. (So, how do you know Netscape wouldn't have gone bankrupt anyway?) While Microsoft has benefited from this standard, it also will require Skype to prove that giving away software for free harms the consumer.
        That's my short list. Like I said, please feel free to add your own.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Morosoph (693565)

          The terms of the GPL prohibit charging for GPL code ever, so real predatory pricing is precluded.

          By 'code' here, I assume that you mean 'source'. You can charge what you like for the runtime code, provided that you also ship the source.

          If you do not provide another way of providing the source code, they you can charge no more than the reasonable cost of physically making a copy. Also, once three years are up from their last shipping of runtime code, the GPL licencees can charge what they like for the source.

          The point isn't that the software is free-as-in-beer, but rather that any shipped soft

        • "The terms of the GPL prohibit charging for GPL code ever"

          This is a horrible misconception.
          You can charge whatever people will pay for GPL code.
          You just can't sell it to them without also granting them the code and the right to redistribute. That's it. Nothing says no money may change hands.
          This is the difference between "free as in freedom" and "free as in beer". GPL code is free as in freedom, not beer.

          http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html [gnu.org]
      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:52PM (#23340432)

        How exactly is the GPL violating Anti-Trust laws?


        It would probably be easier to have a sensible discussion of that if anywhere in TFA or even in the post to which TFA linked as its source there was any indication of the particular legal argument Skype was making.

        Of course, even if we had that, the odds of a sensible discussion of German anti-trust law on Slashdot when the GPL is involved would be low.

        Doesn't the GPL do the exact *opposite*?


        No, the GPL does not do the opposite of violating anti-trust law, which would be enforcing anti-trust law.

        The GPL in some ways lowers certain barriers to entry in markets, which would seem to broadly align with the policy goals notionally served by anti-trust laws. But they also impose other restrictions; whether those conflict with laws governing restraint of trade in any particular jurisdictions would be the kind of question that would require knowing the applicable laws in the jurisdiction.

    • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:15AM (#23338862)
      Well, that's the core take-away from this story. We don't yet know how the case will play out, and I certainly don't claim to understand their theory on the anti-trust angle well enough to speculate. But either way, this speaks to the ethical stance of a company.

      A company that takes what it needs/wants, knowing what is expected in return; doesn't give what is expected; is caught and convicted; and then challenges the validity of the agreement under which they were allowed to take what they want, with the implied conclusion that they should be allowed to take what they want anyway while giving nothing back.

      Bunch of children.
  • by jeiler (1106393) <.go.bugger.off. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:17AM (#23337980) Journal
    ...and the license won!
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:24AM (#23338086) Journal
      I usually prefer the Dead Kennedys version of that song to The Crickets version, but not in this case. YAY GPL!

      Drinkin' beer in the hot sun, I fought the law and I won
      I needed sex and I got mine, I fought the law and I won
      The law don't mean shit if you've got the right friends
      That's how the country's run
      Twinkies are the best friend I've ever had
      I fought the law And I won
      I blew George & Harvey's brains out with my six-gun
      I fought the law and I won
      Gonna write my book and make a million
      I fought the law and I won
      I'm the new folk hero of the Ku Klux Klan
      My cop friends think that's fine
      You can get away with murder if you've got a badge
      I fought the law And I won I am the law So I won
    • "Sitting on my encounter-suited butt."
      Do Vorlons have butts?? They are energy beings!

      Wearing a tie is a *sin* against man and God!
  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:18AM (#23338000)

    This time around Skype is apparently trying to argue that the GPL violates anti-trust regulations.

    If you don't like GPL terms, don't use GPL software. How much simpler can it be?

    • Re:Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:21AM (#23338052)
      Don't you see? The source code is right there in the open! It's free! Why are you guys getting so worked up about something that you don't care about enough to protect? The nerve of you hippies; go smoke your pot while us real people turn your code into something useful, something that will revolutionize the world and move us closer to utopia, things like recording television and making phone calls on the internet.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        Why are you guys getting so worked up about something that you don't care about enough to protect?

        The funny thing is, they did care enough about it to protect it -- hence the first court case that they already won. Too bad Skype's apparently too stupid to figure that out...

    • Re:Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by neokushan (932374) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:23AM (#23338070)
      Try telling that to an overpaid manager that's thinking "hmm, we could spend maybe a few thousand hiring software developers to code up this thing we need, or we could save all that money by stealing this free thing. Worst case scenario is we'll need a couple of lawyers to get us out of that pesky GPL thing"
      • Re:Simple Solution (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:43AM (#23338404) Homepage
        Or you could use that free thing, add value to it and post the source code like you are supposed to. Then you save money and help out the public good all at the same time. That is how GPL is supposed to work.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by emag (4640)

          Then you save money and help out the public good all at the same time.
          There's very little profit in "public good".
          • Re:Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:08AM (#23338774) Homepage
            But there is a lot of profit in saving money. That's the point. In Business you make money by doing two things... raking in revenue and controlling costs. It would have been a lot less expensive for Skype to have just played by the rules.
          • Re:Simple Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

            by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:13AM (#23338836)
            There's plenty of profit in "public good" if it means the bottom line isn't crippled by solicitor's fees.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

              There's plenty of profit in "public good" if it means the bottom line isn't crippled by solicitor's fees.

              I think that someone at Skype has realized that they are in a commodity market. Thus there is no profit in the "public good" for Skype if that public good means giving any advantage at all to their competitors. They probably think the price of the lawyers is totally worth the benefit of denying anyone else in the VOIP market access to the software changes they have made.

              Unless they are selling the handsets at below cost, I can't see that reasoning really being true. But I'm not one of the skype managers

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by McDutchie (151611)

            There's very little profit in "public good".

            True. "Public good" is not profit, but the price you pay for incorporating someone else's GPLed software into your product. (You know, the "free as in freedom, not price" thing.) If Skype is not willing to pay that price, they should not have used the software.

      • Re:Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:47AM (#23338464)
        Hmm you could always go the apple route and just take BSD code that has a license that makes the software free to abuse as much as you like.

        It doesn't take a brain to see the differences. If you wanted it closed use a close source license to begin with.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Redlum_Jak2 (1171573)
        Even simpler. use the free thing when you have no revenue and no one cares. When the product becomes successful and someone notices that you're doing something illegal, then delay long enough to re-write it. When Skype is no longer using Linux, then they won't have to divulge their code.
    • by HardCase (14757) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:49AM (#23338490)
      There has to be a car analogy somewhere around here...
    • Re:Simple Solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:51AM (#23338516) Homepage
      Caveat: IANAL.

      But my exes dad was, he was the head of the anti truct division of the justice department in Los Angeles for 15 years.

      He had two seminal cases: 1) He beat Howard Hughes in court and 2) he was the guy behind US. Vs. Brown Shoe which I understand was a landmark case and is required reqading for anti trust lawyers today. Never mind Reagan gutted most anti-trust law.

      To run afoul of the Sherman anti trust act you must control 2% of the total means of production of something. This is clearly not the case.

      This is off the top of my head. Queue NewYorkCountryLawyer dude to correct me (as usual).
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jskline (301574) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:20AM (#23338022) Homepage
    Didn't Microsoft try this tactic some time back?? I'm almost sure of it but can't remember what and when. Seem to me they were trying to get the whole premise of "free software" banned on a legal level. Anyone??
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:20AM (#23338036) Homepage Journal
    The anti-trust theory was already tried in Wallace vs. International Business Machines et al. [wikipedia.org]. OK, Wallace represented himself, and wasn't a lawyer. But it's not going to fly. Why is eBay asleep at the switch while some rogue laywer at Skype pulls this? They have nothing to lose from releasing the kernel, and both reputation and money to lose while they balk.

    Bruce

    • by R2.0 (532027) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:31AM (#23338232)
      "Why is eBay asleep at the switch while some rogue laywer at Skype pulls this? They have nothing to lose from releasing the kernel, and both reputation and money to lose while they balk."

      For the same reason they are suing Craigslist for stock dilution. I'm not saying I know what it is, but they are both lawsuits with shaky legal ground and huge damages to reputation, so I figured the same genius is behind both.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Toonol (1057698)
        The eBay lawsuit against Craigslist isn't shaky at all; from everything I've seen, including their own admissions, Craigslist illegally diluted eBay's share in the company. I like Craigslist better than eBay, but I think they'll lose this one.

        The Skype lawsuit seems pretty groundless, though. It's probably some lawyer feeling that they need to exhaust every legal option, even the craziest ones, before admitting a loss.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by R2.0 (532027)
          "The eBay lawsuit against Craigslist isn't shaky at all; from everything I've seen, including their own admissions, Craigslist illegally diluted eBay's share in the company. I like Craigslist better than eBay, but I think they'll lose this one."

          Got any links? Not being a wiseass - I'm interested in the case but haven't seen a whole lot of substantial information.
    • by no-body (127863) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:39AM (#23338330)
      A - didn't Ebaybuy Skype at one point?
      B - shooting down the GPL - you can bet there is more behind that push than just "somebody" at Skype

      great to speculate....
      • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:07AM (#23338760) Homepage Journal
        shooting down the GPL - you can bet there is more behind that push than just "somebody" at Skype

        Well, if they tried to do it in a smart way. This is about the most stooooopid way possible. First, they use a legal theory that only a fool would pursue and that is, indeed, known for having been pursued foolishly only to be dismissed with a very clear finding by the judge in a U.S. court. Then, they pursue this case when complying with the terms of the GPL would cost them nothing, which is the mark of a lawyer who isn't considering his client's best interest. There is nothing special about Skype that belongs in the Linux kernel. Their proprietary software is safe in user-mode, where this case won't touch it. The only things that would need releasing is the customization for that particular embedded phone device, which is not terribly different from the wealth of customization for similar devices already in the public.

        In other words, complying with the terms of the GPL would cost Skype less than pursuing this case.

        They're stupid, or crazy. If eBay can't rein them in, what about eBay stockholders?

        Bruce

        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:26AM (#23339016) Homepage
          Then, they pursue this case when complying with the terms of the GPL would cost them nothing, which is the mark of a lawyer who isn't considering his client's best interest.

          An alternative explanation, which is fresh in my mind from the recent Reiser judgment, is a client who refuses to listen to the lawyer's advice as to what is in their best interest. At the end of the day, the client is the one who is in charge. In particular a corporate lawyer is going to take the legal strategy they are told to take.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        B - shooting down the GPL - you can bet there is more behind that push than just "somebody" at Skype great to speculate....

        I'm pretty sure this conspiracy theory will soon rank right up there alongside aliens at Area 51, the JFK shooting, the thousand mile carburetor and other notorious theories.

        If Microsoft wanted to legally challenge the GPL, they could easily set up a dummy corporation with huge amounts of money whose sole employees are top notch lawyers and their only job is to build a case and fight it. They wouldn't be doing it piecemeal through half arsed efforts through companies that hold no fealty to them.

        • by MrNaz (730548) *
          Please point me to the spot in the post you are replying to where MS is mentioned or even implied.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If ever there ever was a time to apply section 4 of the GPL surely appealing like this after losing the initial decision is it.

    • by HardCase (14757) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:47AM (#23338452)
      I think, Bruce, that the difference in this case is that it's being tried in Germany, not the US. I suspect that Germany puts as much value on US precedence as the US puts in Germany's.

      Still, it does appear to be a stretch.
    • by Hozza (1073224) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:52AM (#23338528)
      This case is being tried in Germany, so a different set of anti-trust laws apply than in the IBM case. The original case was brought by people involved in the gpl-violations.org project, who have a good track record of ensuring companies follow the principle of the GPL for products released in Germany. (IIRC, IANAL in Germany anyone can bring a copyright case to court, it doesn't have to be the actual owner of the copyright)
    • If the GPL is invalid, what license they used when they took the original source?
      Fighting the only license that makes your code usage legal equals suicide.
    • by c0p0n (770852) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [gnopoc]> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:57AM (#23338616)
      GPL vs Skype is being held in Munich, not in the US. And the GPL has been successfully tested [news.com] at least once in Germany.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kripkenstein (913150)

      Why is eBay asleep at the switch while some rogue laywer at Skype pulls this? They have nothing to lose from releasing the kernel, and both reputation and money to lose while they balk.

      Bruce

      Just a random theory: Perhaps they modified the kernel in some way, for example, adding device drivers for their particular hardware, or something else. Which means that if they supply the source code, they need to supply their own kernel-residing code as well, and not just the vanilla kernel.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) *
        Perhaps they modified the kernel in some way, for example, adding device drivers for their particular hardware, or something else. Which means that if they supply the source code, they need to supply their own kernel-residing code as well, and not just the vanilla kernel.

        Now, figure out how their proprietary value is in that kernel code. If it's just driver code, rather than the skype application, the user interface, etc., it does not represent some big trade secret or a large amount of proprietary value t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kripkenstein (913150)
          Oh, I agree with you, I highly doubt that even if they did modify the kernel, that there is any significant reason not to release the source. Skype itself is in userspace, presumably. But, perhaps having to release source of any kind is too frightening for them (they wouldn't be the first company with that irrational fear).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by penix1 (722987)

      The anti-trust theory was already tried in Wallace vs. International Business Machines et al.. OK, Wallace represented himself, and wasn't a lawyer. But it's not going to fly. Why is eBay asleep at the switch while some rogue laywer at Skype pulls this? They have nothing to lose from releasing the kernel, and both reputation and money to lose while they balk.

      It depends on how much stock a Munich court puts in US legal decisions. The Wallace case was a US case and according to TFA this one is in Munich. I kn

  • by Dancindan84 (1056246) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:23AM (#23338072)
    IANAL, but it seems like their's only two coices 1) The GPL is valid and they need to comply 2) The GPL is invalid and they arein violation of copyright. Aren't they shooting themselves in the foot arguing that it's invalid?
    • I was about to say the same thing. The license is the only thing that keeps the people who wrote the source code from suing them. They would have to invalidate the license, and somehow get the judge to declare the source code to be in the public domain, or some such nonsense. Even if the judge grants their motion, I don't see how this is going to fly.
    • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:29AM (#23338178) Journal
      Option 3 - the clause that requires them to release code is invalid/only applies to the unmodified version of the code. Option 4 - Chewbacca is a Wookie and therefore the copyright belongs to Skype. Both of these are unlikely but there's not a dichotomy here.
  • by sm62704 (957197)
    Anti-trust regulations govern companies. The GPL is not a company. I have no idea how skype thinks this will fly.
    • Re:Dumb! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cfulmer (3166) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:41AM (#23338376) Homepage Journal
      Antitrust regulations govern interactions and arrangements among companies. The GPL can be one of those. Cross-licensing agreements, effectively what the GPL is, have been held to violate antitrust law when they're used to keep competitors out of a market.

      Consider a company that manages to create a de facto standard based on GPL software and then use the GPL to force competitors to release changes to their own software. The original company doesn't have to do this (since, as the author, it doesn't have to release its own changes). As a result, the original company has a competitive advantage over its competitors.

      I'm not asserting that this applies here. But, there are situations where it might.
      • by Tuoqui (1091447)
        And if the competitors didnt want to abide by the GPL they could just as easily hire developers to 'reinvent the wheel' so to speak... Saving time is the benefit of the GPL, releasing your modifications in source code format is your obligation under the GPL.

        If you use it, you have to abide by it. Just like when you install a copy of Windows on your machine. You basically have an agreement that you wont install it on like 50 computers with the same key or something unless you have volume licensing or some ot
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by igb (28052)

        The original company doesn't have to do this (since, as the author, it doesn't have to release its own changes).
        They do if they distribute the binaries. If they're not distributing the binaries, it's hard to see how they can be keeping other people out of the market.

        ian

        • Re:Dumb! (Score:4, Informative)

          by Ares (5306) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:36AM (#23339174) Homepage
          Igb, I'm assuming that you're talking about the sources with this. As long as they're the sole copyright holder, they don't have to release the source for those changes, as they aren't a licensee of their own software. If I as the author of some GPL'ed software choose to release a binary-only version of that software under some other license with a feature not encompassed in the GPL release, I'm free to do so. I certainly won't get much standing in the community for it, but I am free to do it. MySQL had plans to do this before Sun reversed that path.
          • by igb (28052)
            But they can't incorporate the changes that are made by others into the non-GPL'd release, because those changes _are_ GPL'd.

            You can dual-license your own code, of course, with one version released under the GPL and another version, derived from the same codebase, under a completely closed license. But the scenario in the grandparent was that a company could incorporate other users' changes back into the closed release. They can't: you can't dual-license, and then take changes made by other people in th

          • You write a big app, release it GPL and sell products using it. OK, what happens next? You make changes, release under a diff license. Still OK, it's all your code.
            You get the community's version of your app, with community updates. You release under diff license without source - hold on there, buddy. You're in violation of the GPL of the community's updates to your code.
            You don't own that other code. If you want to duplicate their efforts with your own code that parallels community features, fine
      • The original company doesn't have to do this (since, as the author, it doesn't have to release its own changes).

        That strategy breaks down as soon as they incorporate anyone else's changes into their version. The GPL doesn't require any copyright assignments, so the product would then have two separate copyright holders - and both are bound to release their changes in order to meet the GPL license on the other one's code.

      • If the company distributes software itself, it will have to release to source-code. If you distribute software under the GPL, source-code must always be accessible (on request).
        Second, you can only create a defacto standard if it is accepted within the industry. If you have a monopoly, you can effectively force (defacto) standards, but that's another story.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by shentino (1139071)
        The GPL is very much a permissive and mandative license, not a prohibitive one.

        It absolutely will NOT stifle competition, because anything you release can only help other companies if they decide to use it.

        Which means...a restraint of trade can ONLY happen with the cooperation of the victim.

        "You gotta give out the source code" does NOT mean "you can't use this".

        The only case where the GPL "encumbers" anything is if there's a patent involved, in which case the encumberance is both legal AND preexisting anywa
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)

        Consider a company that manages to create a de facto standard based on GPL software and then use the GPL to force competitors to release changes to their own software. The original company doesn't have to do this (since, as the author, it doesn't have to release its own changes). As a result, the original company has a competitive advantage over its competitors.

        So considered. If internal, neither company would be required to disclose source. If distributed, the original company couldn't incorporate any of those GPL changes in their own product without distributing it under the GPL themselves. Also noone can be prevented from having a license, assuming they got it legally. I assume the regular use is for all members of a cartel to only cross-license between themseelves and slam any outside competition. I guess it's not impossible to use the GPL that way but it sou

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by profplump (309017)
        Their competitor does not have to use GPL software to implement the standard -- they are free to re-implement the standard so long as they don't copy code. Compaq seemed to do just fine in terms of copyright with their whiteroom implementation of the IBM BIOS, and that BIOS wasn't even offered under such open terms as GPL software.
  • by Ford Prefect (8777) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:27AM (#23338148) Homepage
    I've got a Belkin Skype phone, which judging by pictures and reviews is nigh-on [amperordirect.com] identical [belkin.com] to the SMC model - and while looking for updated, marginally less buggy firmware a while ago, I noticed that Belkin had 'GPL Downloads' [belkin.com] available for their own product.

    No idea what's included (there are two versions of a ~100MB .tgz), but there's definitely something.

    Now to get the bloody thing to talk WPA to my (also Linux-based) router thingy...
  • Maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:40AM (#23338352)
    Maybe it's time I shitcanned my Skype account.

  • Antitrust? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:09AM (#23338778) Homepage
    OK, forgive me if I'm wrong here, but I thought the whole purpose of antitrust legislation was to crack down on things that discourage competition.

    What in the GPL discourages competition? Nothing. You can make your own competing programs all you want. You may not be able to use GPL'd code without also releasing your source, but this is irrelevant: no one complains when Coke doesn't let Pepsi use the Coke recipes.

    Even if that were a legitimate complaint, however, it would still be irrelevant. There is plenty of competition, even among GPL'd software. Consider the myriad Linux distributions, to give an example of entire businesses that compete with one another despite using GPL'd products. If Skype wants to compete with Linux using some kind of "Skynux," they too are free to do so. All they have to do is comply with the license.
    • by rkanodia (211354) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:49AM (#23339380)
      Welcome to the new capitalism. What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine. If you attempt to stop me from taking back the things of mine, which you have had the sheer gall to put in your own possession after doing nothing but think them up with your own mind and create them with your own effort, I'll sue your ass.
  • by Ares (5306) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:44AM (#23339280) Homepage
    IMO, this case from the Skype point of view, is more about protecting the hardware from what one might call "rogue" firmware developers. Compared to SIP based hardware, Skype-only equipment is very cheap. If a new firmware image could be built for the phone, it would be incredibly easy to use the phones with Asterisk rather than the intended Skype, simply by replacing the phone application with something that speaks SIP, since the hardware access pieces of the software would fall under the GPL, being part of the OS.
  • "After the initial GPL violation, a flier with the URL for the source was added to the package. The GPL wasn't provided and the court found this insufficient for fulfilling the requirements of the GPL"

    I went to the SMC [smc.com] site and it includes the GPL in the firmware section. What exactly is the violation?
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:55AM (#23339500) Homepage Journal
    9. Acceptance Not Required for Having Copies.

    You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or run a copy of the Program. Ancillary propagation of a covered work occurring solely as a consequence of using peer-to-peer transmission to receive a copy likewise does not require acceptance. However, nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate or modify any covered work. These actions infringe copyright if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or propagating a covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so.


    In the GPLv2, the language was simpler: "You are not required to accept this license, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission..." It's completely clear. You accept the terms of the GPL as written, or you don't use the code. Period.
  • by wes33 (698200) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:20PM (#23339918)
    according to this site (in German) the appeal has been withdrawn and skype has retreated with its tail between its legs.

    http://www.linux-magazin.de/news/ [linux-magazin.de]

    It seems - as usual - lawyers think they can beat down the "amateur made" gpl ... until they take a few minutes to understand it.
  • Absolutely Stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hackus (159037) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:19PM (#23340862) Homepage
    How can the GPLv2 which essentially is a public domain license with a few twists of ownership thrown in, violate Anti Trust laws?

    Freaks!

    I say they can run, but they cannot hide.

    -Hack
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:44PM (#23341200) Homepage Journal

    I know their service appears to be superior to traditional POTS and mainstream VoIP offerings, but they still suck. You're locked into a proprietary protocol that doesn't interact with anyone else's apps, and the crypto is "fake" (in the sense that Skype is always the trusted introducer for key exchange, and is therefore subject to coercion by, say, governments).

    Kill this app. The "free" calling seems neat, but this isn't what we really need. Like the iPhone, it's a good demo of the future, but everyone loses if the actual product is the future.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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