How To Break The GPL

cszigetv csaba.szigetvari at
Tue Mar 7 11:25:06 UTC 2000

After following this thread for a few days I have to raise the question:

"Why should Alice care at all about any legal tricks to workaround the GPL?"

In my scenario Alice takes all the GPL code that she can use, hires an 
interface designer to hide the functionality behind a smashy interface 
and sells the package as a custom-tailored solution to Bob. 

Bob is her only paying customer and they have a contract that states: 
Bob is not allowed to publish any performance benchmarks, he may not
documentation available to anyone outside his company, the software may
be copied, moved or reinstalled on any other computers (that is: outside
company), no unauthorized user may use the program, etc.

Two things can happen:

1. No one ever founds out that Alice's software uses GPL sources and
the GPL license. Bob probably doesn't even know. Alice tells him that
she hired 
excellent programmers in India. 

Result: Alice makes a lot of money.

2. Trent visits Bob's company for some reason. Bob violates the contract
Alice and shows Trent the software, shows him the documentation, allows
him to 
try it out and even to disassemble to code to find evidence against
Trent then takes all the evidence (software, documentation and
code) outside of Bob's company to be able to sue Alice.

Result: Alice will lose some money because she violated the GPL. But
now can sue Bob for violating their contract (see above) and for
her reputation (Please note: this is NO fiction, similar cases happened, 
though not related to software products). Bob will be found guilty, 
Alice wins this case.

Final result: Alice makes even more money.

My questions ares: How to find out about GPL violations? Who is going to
Who can afford the costs for a lawsuit?

I think the reason for companies to request the legal position of the
FSF is only 
to ensure that the FSF doesn't sue them. 

---Csaba Szigetvári

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