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GNU is Not Unix Government The Courts News

German Court Says GPL is Valid 327

Axel Metzger writes "The Munich District Court has ruled on May 19, 2004 that the main clauses of the GNU General Public License are valid under German copyright and contract law. This seems to be the first judgment worldwide proofing the validity of the most popular free software license. The ruling is a confirmation of the preliminary injunction of April 2, 2004. The new judgment gives on 20 pages the reasons for the ruling. It states explicitly that the terms of section 2, 3 and 4 of the GPL are valid under German copyright and contract law. Here is the German text of the judgment; an English translation will be available soon. The judgment comes at the right time to fight those (SCO and others) who challenge the legal validity of the GPL in Europe and elsewhere. The lawyer of the plaintiffs, Till Jaeger from Munich should be granted the Free Software Award."
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German Court Says GPL is Valid

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  • Before partying.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Karamchand ( 607798 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:31PM (#9781314)
    Please note that the German copyright law (Urheberrecht, as it is called) is quite different from the US copyright.
    • Re:Before partying.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by albalbo ( 33890 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:32PM (#9781329) Homepage
      They're a Berne Convention signatory; it's not that different.
      • Re:Before partying.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by oxygene2k2 ( 615758 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#9781627)
        berne convention only defines a minimum set of requirements.

        in germany (as well as various other european countries) you can't give away all your rights on your work, in short "public domain" doesn't work, "signing over copyright" doesn't work.

        so there definitely are differences.

        (oh.. you _can_ put stuff into the PD, technically speaking: publish anonymously, leave no trace that it's been you.)
        • There are differences, they just don't matter.

          The implication that the German decision has little to do with the US is unfounded; the two systems are so sufficiently similar that the decision would have been the same in the US.
        • Re:Before partying.. (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The main difference between US copyright and most(?) of the rest of the world, is that the US pretty much glosses over 'moral rights'.

          Most of Europe has a distintion between moral rights and reproduction rights. Moral rights are basic rights that belong to the creator, such as the right to prevent modification of the work. In most countries, these rights cannot be transferred (although they can be waived) and terminate at the death of the author. US law mentions these rights, but pretty much just glosse
        • Re:Before partying.. (Score:4, Informative)

          by gnuman99 ( 746007 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:25PM (#9781923)
          in short "public domain"

          Just so no one is confused, GPL has nothing to do with "public domain" or "signing over copyright". It is a license that a copyright holder puts on the work.

    • True, however (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:43PM (#9781450)
      There is really no way for the GPL to be invalid under US copyright law, and any company to still be able to use the code. If the GPL is invalid, that means the companies lack a license to distribute the code, so it's copyright infringement, pure and simple.

      That's really why it works so well. If I make a work, it is copyright to me. By default no one other than myself has any right to distribute it at all. To do so, you need a license. The GPL is that license, but has provisions. You don't have to accept it, that's fine, but then you don't have a license to distribute. In no way are your rights infringed on, or copyright cricumvented.

      Same thing applies to overall vailidity. If it's not valid, as SCO would like, that's fine, but then they, and anyone else, distributing GPL code are infringing on copyright since they have no license to do so. So if it's ruled invalid, it's a loss for them, espically since I imagine many bitter OSS people would go after them for copyright infringement as retribution.

      This ruling is just a formal legal statement on that fact. A court has formally analyzed the GPL and come to the quite obvious conclusion: It's a legit license that obeys both the letter and spirit of copyright law.

      Supposing it does go to court, I bet the ruling is the same in the US.
      • Re:True, however (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        There is really no way for the GPL to be invalid under US copyright law

        This is true. However, how copyright law defines software "derived works" has never been clarified, so there might be some edge cases (such as with dynamic libraries) where the traditional FSF interpretation doesn't hold up. If there ever is a real legal question over the (L)GPL, it would likely involve the "viral" aspects of glibc or QT,
        • There is nothing grey or viral about the GPL. Derivative works is clearly about sourcecode, not object code or binaries or anything else.

          The only time it becomes grey is if your trying to circumvent it, in order to steal the code without giving anything back... or if a certain monopoly is spreading FUD claiming it works in a manner it doesn't.
      • Re:True, however (Score:2, Interesting)

        by oxygene2k2 ( 615758 )
        what parties such as SCO seem to hope is that the judge responsible for that case decides that public domain is the best equivalent of the terms of the GPL, as they were envisioned by the users of the license, that is possible.

        in germany that can't work out as PD doesn't really exist here
        • That was discussed a long time ago on Groklaw. The caselaw SCO was citing is used when the author is dead and it was that author's wish that the work be put into the public domain. It completely falls apart since most contributors are still alive and it is obvious that the GPL does not even come close to putting a work in the public domain.

          Anyway, SCO really doesn't have any applicable copyright claims in their ammended complaint to push the issue. Just another example of them reaching for straws.

          • The caselaw SCO was citing is used when the author is dead (...) It completely falls apart since most contributors are still alive

            Well... since SCO looks quite desperate now, they might try to solve this problem in the simplest possible way...
      • by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:02PM (#9781668) Homepage
        IANAL, but: Pretty much every license has a "gray area". IMHO two such problems with GPL are: 1. What constitutes derived work off the source code 2. How much it is reasonable to charge for distribution of source code.

        It's quite conceivable that one judge would rule "against" one of the provisions of GPL for a very specific case, without invalidating the whole license. For instance: what if NVidia gets sued for not publishing their drivers under the GPL, and the judge does not consider their kernel module to be derived off the kernel ? Does that mean the GPL is invalid/unenforceable and NVidia used the linux kernel without a license? Hardly.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Yes, but you must agree that the GPL is one of the "least gray" licenses out there:

          1) no dependence on contract law, only federal copyright law

          2) clearly written intent and explanation (a confused judge can understand exactly what the GPL is about, if some part of it happens to be ambiguous).

          3) detailed terms

          Note that many open source (and many shareware) license are much more ambiguous than the GPL. Example: Consider the recent discussion on the PHP license.. it has GPL-like terms but states that "only
        • 1. What constitutes derived work off the source code

          This still doesn't get around the fact that, if what you're distributing classifies as 'derived work', then you're caught by the GPL.
          Note that the GPL can, in some cases, call on you to distribute the source code to something that -- standing by itself -- would not constitute derived code. An example might be embeded device manufacturers. Even though a Linux module, distributed on it's own, might not classify as a derivative work triggering the GPL, th

          • "Even though a Linux module, distributed on it's own, might not classify as a derivative work triggering the GPL, the entire OS, distributed as part of the device and including the seme modules could concievably classify as a derivative work, and thus require the release of the entire source (including the otherwise standalone module) to classify as GPL compliant."

            There isn't a grey area here as wide as people would like to make out. It only becomes this wide if you start magically deciding on your own des
            • If a work can stand alone WITHOUT modification to the source, then that work is NEVER a derivative of the thing it can stand seperate from.

              In the literary world, you can, for example, have a collective copyright on a collection of short stories -- This would be despite the fact that each short story wourld be (clearly) copyright it's own author (and still is). The collective copyright would be as a derivative of it's consituant parts.

              Although the GPL explicitly excuses the case of a loose collective

        • The Linux kernel has a special provision added to the GPL which specifically allows linking against binary-only kernel modules.
      • As copyrights are made stronger, the GPL is also made stronger. The GPL is a beautiful and skillfull judo move.
      • Great Post!

        Almost all GPL attacks can be refuted by one of two statements:

        1) No company or individual has to accept the GPL in order to use the product.

        2) Whatever your criticism of the GPL, if you reword that criticism to "INSERT PROPRIETARY EULA HERE", the GPL winds up looking 10x as good as the proprietary one (most journalists fail to ask themselves if the same criticisms applies to the proprietary licenses, and they usually do in spades).

        The only legitimate criticisms I've found are those between F
        • ...amaze me.

          It's like complaining that abolition of slavery restricts the rights of slave traders and owners. Jesus H. Christ on a stuffed platypus.
          • From your sig: "Standing up to an evil system is exhilarating." --Richard M. Stallman

            The one thing I've never understood about RMS is that he claims to both be an atheist and believe in evil. While I can see how a pantheist can believe in evil, I have trouble seeing how atheism and the belief in evil mesh.
  • It's nice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 2names ( 531755 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:33PM (#9781341)
    but that won't help us in the United States. Unfortunately, our government doesn't take heed from European countries anymore. Sad. We won't take counsel in our closest allies.
    • by surreal-maitland ( 711954 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:39PM (#9781402) Journal
      sure we do. we take counsel in our allies who agree with us. because those are obviously our closest allies. because they agree with us and that means they must be right.

      anyway, can't folks in the judicial system can still use this as 'precedent' in a way?

      • No, it can't (Score:3, Informative)

        by 2names ( 531755 )
        be used as precedent in the legal system of the United States. Only rulings handed down from US courts can be used as precedent.

        BTW, IANAL.

      • Re:It's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:47PM (#9781499) Homepage
        It can't be used as formal precedent, but international law and court decisions can, and often are, cited as supporting arguments in a court's decision.
        • It can't be used as formal precedent, but international law and court decisions can, and often are, cited as supporting arguments in a court's decision.

          Which is rather sad. In spite of the nice feeling of togetherness such logic makes, it is inherently wrong. The purpose of any court is to determine the application of a particular law to a particular situation or in the case of the U.S. Supreme Court, to test the legality of a law under the U.S. Constitution. Foreign rulings on similar cases should hav
          • I'm not claiming that a country should be so arrogant as to never study the laws or rulings in another country, but that should be reserved for students and lawmakers, not judges.

            Why should judges not study the law in other countries, too?

            If identical cases are tried in two different countries, the second trial court would be foolish not to look at the reasoning and arguments in the other case. Looking at rulings in other countries that have similar legal structures and traditions is not unreasonable.

      • Re:It's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:48PM (#9781511) Journal
        anyway, can't folks in the judicial system can still use this as 'precedent' in a way?

        IANAL, but technically, "yes and no". It can't be an actual precedent because a precedent is a prior ruling/interpretation on the SAME law, which isn't the case since it was a ruling on a German law. However, it can still be quoted by an attorney as previous ruling, to demonstrate that upholding the GPL is not so unusual and is "universal". The GPL isn't American or German, after all. The judge can do with that info as he pleases, consider or discard it. A smart judge would probably look at it and at least say "hmm".
      • sure we do. we take counsel in our allies who agree with us. because those are obviously our closest allies.

        Allies that seriously disagree about important issues central to the alliance are, by definition, not allies.

        No matter how much they claim to be. (France is no longer an ally in most regards; that may change somewhat with their next election. I don't think our next election will matter either way.)

        Certain people's inability to understand this is quite frightening. (Not yours, though, unless you ar
        • Allies that seriously disagree about important issues central to the alliance are, by definition, not allies.

          this is definitely true, but i would argue that your closest allies are not necessarily the ones that agree with you right this moment. for example, if britain had disagreed with us about iraq, and germany had agreed, i bet britain would still be a closer ally. there's the whole idea of being "allied against such" and such, which is slightly different from being allied in general.

          (Not yours, t

      • Re:It's nice (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ninewands ( 105734 )
        It is not a binding precedent, which means that US courts do not HAVE to follow it. I imagine that since it is a DISTRICT court (trial-level court, IIRC) other German courts are not even required to follow it. That being said, the legal reasoning the judge used in deciding the case CAN (and probably will be) be followed as "persuasive authority" in other courts.
        • I imagine that since it is a DISTRICT court (trial-level court, IIRC) other German courts are not even required to follow it

          German law is quite different in this respect. It does not know the concept of binding precedent. The juridical system is solely based on law.

          BTW: the court is a so-called "Landgericht", which is still a regional court, but not the lowest level (that would be "Amtsgericht" - municipal court), because the amount of money in dispute was fixed to the rather large sum of 100.000 Euro.

      • No, we take council with ALL out allies. Taking council is NOT synonymous with "do what they say".

        I can, and do, ask people for advice from time to time. Sometimes I follow the advice I get. Sometimes I don't. Not following advice is not the same as not not getting advice.

    • Anymore?

      Exactly when do you think the US ever has?
    • Would you prefer to be Germany's puppet?

      That doesn't in any way mean that the GPL will be overruled in the US. Just because we don't do everything Europe does doesn't mean we never do the same thing.

    • The European countries often give the U.S. the choice between undermining its own national interests, or doing what is best for the U.S. and being criticized for being unilateral, not caring about the international community, and so on. Consider the things some of our "closest allies" have asked the U.S. to do:

      • Leave Saddam Hussein in power. He was such a nice guy.

      • Sign the Kyoto protocol. This would be a big negative impact from a commerce/economic perspective, and of debatable environmental benefit.

  • My translation: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:34PM (#9781346)
    Rough translation pasted from my Groklaw posting,
    sorry for the messed up formating:

    The open source project netfilter/iptables has won a huge success in the legal
    battle against the router manufacturer Sitecom: With the decision of May 19,
    2004 (Az. 21 O 6123/03) the Landgericht München [something like a district
    court? R.] has confirmed the temporary injuction. Acording to this the
    manufacturer Sitecom is prohibited to sell its WLAN routers until further
    notice. Also the comparatively high amount of the dispute of Euro 100000 was
    confirmed in the decision.

    In the written opinion which was published on friday, it is clearly stated that
    the judge considers the GPL valid for principal reasons. It says: "The
    chamber shares the opionion that the conditions of the GPL can under no
    circumstances be seen as an abandonment of copyrights and legal positions linked
    to copyright." The sueing developer was legitimized to demand the rights
    linked to the sourcecode

    This makes it finally clear that the GPL model also works according to
    German law", rejoiced Lawyer Till Jaeger, who represents the
    netfilter/iptables project, in an interview with heise online. After this
    "probably worldwide first decision on the validity and enforcability"
    it was assured that the open source community defends itself. On the other hand
    the Court has made it clear, that nobody has anything to fear if he plays by the
    rules of the GPL

    It is unknown if the router manufacturer plans furter legal steps. Jaeger's
    client in the mean time found out that Sitecom offers one additional router
    model (WL-111) with a firmware that infringes the GPL. A fine of 10000 Euro
    because of infringement against the temporary injunction has already been
    demanded, declared Jaeger /ralph -- that is all of the heise article!
    Truly a reason to rejoice, for Jaeger and for us!
  • by wormeyman ( 797562 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:34PM (#9781357) Homepage Journal
    Considering that the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas sodomy law was invalid based on European court's rulings perhaps IBM can use this and that case as part of their defense.
  • Prosecutor: Mr. McBride, isn't it true that you have a tattoo on your chest that says "DIE, GPL DIE"?

    Darl McBride: No no! That's German for "The GPL, the".

    Jury mumblings: Well, no one that speaks German can be evil! NOT GUILTY!
  • While I personally prefer the BSD license, GPL has it's uses, and I think it's great that it's gotten some official recognition.
  • This is good news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:36PM (#9781367) Homepage
    But it is not a surprise to anyone with even basic knowledge of copyright law.

    The GPL is probably one of the least controversial copyright licences out there, and I would say it is totally watertight.

    The only places where there might be problems are in countries like Iran which don't recognise copyrights from countries like the US. - if there is no copyright, there is no need to agree to the terms of the GPL to be allowed to use the software.
    • if there is no copyright, there is no need to agree to the terms of the GPL to be allowed to use the software.

      That is true anyway. The GPL does not require agreement to use the software. It only governs distribution.
  • by Da_Slayer ( 37022 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:37PM (#9781373)
    In terms of the SCO lawsuits this is great. It will allow IBM and others to just point to this ruling as proof of support for the GPL.

    This is also a victory for good old RMS who has stated for years that the GPL is legally valid and binding.

    This brings up an interesting question in my mind. Lets hypothesize for a moment that SCO loses all it's lawsuits and the GPL is proven in a US court to be valid and legally binding. How will future lawsuits dealing with violations of the GPL handled?

    Are violators of the GPL going to have to pay fines or be forced to open source the code they designed in conjunction with GPL'd code. Add to this the possible stances the FSF could take on this issue.

    This definitly makes things more interesting in my opinion.
    • by eddy ( 18759 )

      Are violators of the GPL going to have to pay fines or be forced to open source the code they designed in conjunction with GPL'd code

      They are going to have to stop infringing, just like today. This means removing the infringing code from, or GPLing, the product. There's a choice.

      Of course, repeated willful infringment can and should definitely lead to fines.


    • This brings up an interesting question in my mind. Lets hypothesize for a moment that SCO loses all it's lawsuits and the GPL is proven in a US court to be valid and legally binding. How will future lawsuits dealing with violations of the GPL handled?

      The beauty of precedent (we dont have a precedent here yet) is that you usually don't HAVE to deal with lawsuits. Once the GPL is found to be fully legal and binding, if XYZ Inc. is infringing, FSF sends a letter to them saying to release the source, then XY
    • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#9781625) Homepage
      "violators of the GPL" are actually copyright infringers and are subject to the same punishments as copyright infringers. In all copyright cases in history, the maximum punishment has been cease & desist making the illegal copies, and monetary damages.

      I have never heard of a copyright infringer being forced to lose rights to other IP of their own. I very much doubt anybody will ever be forced to open source code. This would be like saying the New York Times has to give away all copies of their paper from now on because one of their columns was plagarized. Such ideas are total nonsense, but are always brought up by the enemies of the GPL.

      One part of confusion is that the infringer may choose to obey the GPL in exchange for getting the lawsuit threat dropped and to be able to continue distributing their product. But they were not "forced" by the GPL to do this. In fact, legally, it does not in any way get them out of their liability for the previous copyright violations (otherwise you could violate the GPL for years and then release the source code at the end as a "get out of jail free" card).
  • Germany says yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:38PM (#9781393) Homepage

    Which means the US courts are almost certainly going to have to say "no". Could lead to an interesting case where in Europe Microsoft is a monopoly that has to change its trading rules, Linux is perfectly okay and SCO is a joke. Meanwhile in the US its Microsoft the good corporate citizen, Linux is illegal and SCO is Unix.

    Start an orderly queue at the borders please gentlemen and start boarding those boats.
  • How important? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Knights who say 'INT ( 708612 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:39PM (#9781399) Journal
    I'm not sure about german law, but I think it's not a common lnaw system like the british/american system. That is, the decisions of judges don't have much impact on future judicial decisions. There is no 'quoting the xxx vs xxx trial of 19xx' in most legal systems. Since brazilian law students read a lot of german philosophy of law, I would guess they're in the same tradition we are.
    • you're right (Score:3, Informative)

      Pretty much all of mainland Europe follows the civil law tradition. Generally, only those countries having roots in the British Empire follow the common law tradition. The state of Louisiana still carries some remaining vestiges of the civil law tradition, which it inherits via its history as a French territory.
      • The state of Louisiana still carries some remaining vestiges of the civil law tradition, which it inherits via its history as a French territory.

        "Some remaining vestiges"? You mean the part about our law code being based on the Napoleanic Code? It's way more than "some remaining vestiges".

        • One man's vestige is another man's basis.

          Your courts follow stare decisis (respect of court precedent in addition to statute). Thus, you have fallen in line with the rest of us.

    • Re:How important? (Score:3, Informative)

      by lelitsch ( 31136 )
      Yes, Germany has a codified law system, so individual decisions of judges don't have the same impact on future decisions. That being said, though, most judges use decisions made by higher courts into account.

      This decisions was made by a fairly low level court, so it might be of interest to other judges, but doesn't really set a precendent.

      The basic way this works:

      -Decisions by the constitutional court are binding for all German judges
      -Decisions by the 7 federal courts are not binding due to article 97
  • Took long enough! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eadz ( 412417 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:47PM (#9781507) Homepage
    The GPL v2 has been around for 13 years and this is the first time it's been proven valid, even though it's in such widespead use.

    I guess it's a testament to the plain english and common sense language of the licence.
    • Very few software distribution licenses are ever proven valid, because you've always got the right to refuse the license and go somewhere else. The reason the GPL hasn't been contested in court before is that it's a lose-lose situation for the one trying to get it invalidated because the outcome is either:

      1. The GPL is valid. Comply with the terms of the license or cease all distribution.
      2. The GPL is not valid. You have no right to distibute anything released the GPL you didn't write yourself because of b
      • No, there can be a third result:

        3. The GPL is partially valid. You can distribute the software even if you don't comply with all the terms.
        • by mark-t ( 151149 )
          That option basically says that copyright itself is invalid.

          That the owner of a copyright on a work does not get to dictate the terms and conditions that one must fulfill in order to copy and distribute the work. Whether what is being demanded or not is improper or not is irellevant, under copyright law, you do NOT have permission to distribute a work without a license to do so from the copyright holder.

          For what it's worth. I could be a copyright holder on a work and demand that in order to obtain the

          • Wrong. The court can rule a provision to be illegal/unenforceable, which does *not* invalidate the rest of the clauses, solely the illegal clause.

            Just like if I have a lease with my landlord containing an unenforceable clause, I can get that clause invalidated without voiding my lease.
        • I don't think so. You'd have to rule sections 4 and 5 invalid to allow your case. And I think even then Copyright Law would trump you.

          Note also that ruling 4 and 5 invalid would likely make all current EULAs invalid as well.

          I also suspect very much that since only section 7 is severable, that declaring 4 and 5 invalid would render the whole license invalid, thus unvoking Copyright Law.

          Any lawyers out there who can offer a better opinion?

  • Congrats to everyone involved, and RMS for writing it.

  • Some perspective... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#9781618) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft speaks against the GPL for this very reason - now the developers must reveal their source code, because it was based on GPL'ed code. But what they conveniently neglect to mention is that according to the EULA, a Windows developer cannot distribute, or even build, a derivative of Windows, under any terms . The license for GPL code covers only distribution of derivative products, whereas the MS EULA covers merely using the product. In fact, to even view the source code for an MS product requires that a developer agree to never develop a competing product!

    Merely posting the source will allow these guys to continue to ship their product, but if they'd chosen the Microsoft development model, they'd owe royalties for every single product shipped!

    Even though these guys might not like divulging their source code, they are still in a much better position than had they used Microsoft's code as a basis for their product.

  • by bokmann ( 323771 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#9781621) Homepage
    On a somewhat related question, how does SuSE, a German company, justify their '30 day evaluation' download under the terms of the GPL?

    I downloaded it, right? Even if it is just a '30 day eval'. Shouldn't they give me the source code?

    isn't this '30 day eval' against the premise of the PGL anyway, that I should be able to redistribute the software I use?
    • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:06PM (#9781711) Homepage
      Yes, you are entitled to the source code, and it is available from their site.

      You can also redistribute it. Make sure you remove all the copyrighted material such as the SuSE logos and the installation program and help files, however. And make sure you remove any and all non-GPL stuff that you don't have a right to redistribute, such as Acrobat or any other such included programs. And you better recompile everything from scratch so you are sure their is nothing in the binaries that you don't have rights to redistribute. There are probably a lot of other rules, too.
    • Could you let us know where you found this '30 day evaluation' download? The only related link I could find on the SuSE website is for an evaluation copy of the Tarantella platform, which has nothing to do with SuSE.

      If you can't provide more specific information, I have to conclude that you are spreading FUD.

  • When did people start doubting the GPL? Who started saying such things? I don't understand why it would be deemed invalid by anyone! IANAL but it seems to me that the licence is quite clear and there is no reason most civilized countries shouldn't find it valid with their laws.
  • seriously, the ruling was 2+ months ago...
  • And we can trust the Germans.
    Surely no one from Germany could be evil. Right?
  • GPL Valid? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tonywestonuk ( 261622 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:17PM (#9781825)
    I'm not sure if this is a GPL is legally valid president, more like a copyright infringement case, where the defendants are claiming the GPL allows them to carry on infringing, where in reality, it does not.

    Its a bit like a Credit Card company providing a licence to someone that grants them the permission take anything they like they find in a shop without paying, on the condition that they deposit monies equaling that value into an account at some point later. Now, when some thief ends up in court for common theft, after nicking a load of stock, The thief claiming the Credit card companies licencing agreements with him are invalid, and can't be held up in court!.....

    The GPL will be proven in a case of law when:

    Person A , receives some software under the GPL, makes amendments to suit their needs, releases these changes to the world, as required by the GPL.

    Person B, who makes software that competes with Person A (but this software also happens to be GPL'ed), Finds that there's this really neat piece of code done by person A, That will do wonders for his 'competing' GPL'd software, and so copies this code, line by line, into his product.... This product then becomes the market leader, no one wants to know A's product anymore!

    Person A, isn't to happy with person B, and so sues A for copyright infringement. person B, then will have to rely on the GPL, to get themselves off the hook. At this point, if A can claim the GPL is invalid, then A has a case, however, by winning that particular case, they then leave themselves open to as similar copyright case by person C, who's software they original ripped off in the first place.
    • Lets say, a particually ruthless company (Hello M$) copy some GPL software into there own product that they market and make loadsass out of (eg Windows). Now, at some point, the source code is leaked, and it is found that GPL code is in there. Does this mean that, Legally, for Windows to have been distibuted, it must have been under the terms of the GPL, and in which case, it would be perfectly leagal for anyone, from that point forward, to make 'pirate' copies of that software and distribute it without fea
      • Absolutely not. (Score:3, Informative)

        by AzrealAO ( 520019 )
        All it means is they are guilty of Copyright Violation, and would have to pay damages based on that (which, depending on how long it's been in there could be fairly significant).

        Going forward they would have to either remove the offending code from their products, comply with the GPL, or risk facing another Copyright Infringement case.
  • I hope Darl McBride is looking at the Help Wanted section... under "Toilet Bowl Cleaners".
  • IANAL (Score:2, Funny)

    by cwis42 ( 563232 )

    For all of you who are wanting to post into this topic, I give you some "IANAL" so you won't have to bother yourself:


    Just copy and paste 'em wherever needed, you are encouraged to actively put one of them into each paragraph of your posts.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  • It states explicitly that the terms of section 2, 3 and 4 of the GPL are valid under German copyright and contract law.

    The GPL has more sections than 2 3 and 4... what about the other sections? If those are invalid, the GPL as a whole doesn't mean anything, right?
  • Is Sitecom. The product they provide is: http://www.sitecom.com/products_info.php?product_i d=237&grp_id=6
  • Just in case somebody is wondering what company this injunction was targeting: According to heise [heise.de] it is Sitecom [sitecom.com].

    An immediate consequence of this judgment will be that Sitecome will not be able to market their offending router products in Germany unless they start complying to the GPL. There is an interesting twist to this case. The company that has been sued in Germany is named on Sitecome's website as distributor for Germany - they also happen to be a wholly owned subsidiary. They argued that since

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A firefly is not a fly, but a beetle.