Is it possible to sue infringers under the GPL?
Seth David Schoen
schoen at loyalty.org
Wed Mar 8 21:34:08 UTC 2000
Justin Wells writes:
> A big problem with the GPL, and other OSS licenses, is that very few people
> have standing to press a complaint. If someone violate's a GPL license,
> only the author of the software has the right to press the complaint (or
> so I think, and I am not a lawyer).
> Worse, if there are multiple authors, you probably need a majority
> of them present to press the complaint. How do you find out who the
> authors of an OSS project are, and how on earth would you track down
> a majority of them?
I'm just curious why you need a majority. In the absence of some agreement
between developers about the disposition of the copyright, isn't a GPLed
work normally copyrighted in part by each of its contributors?
> In my SPL, which I am *still* working on, I have this clause:
> For the sole purpose of taking action against an infringer of our
> copyrights, including actions seeking remedies, compensation, or the
> recovery of damages, anyone engaged in the lawful distribution of our
> software shall be considered a beneficial owner of the rights to copy and
> distribute it, and therefore has the authority to pursue such actions.
> The goal here is to give someone like Red Hat the standing to press a
> claim against a violator, even if the original author has vanished from
> the face of the earth. The copyright act (in the US) has some similar
> language granting television broadcasters "beneficial owner" status
> so they can go after pirates in their broadcast area, without having
> to track down the copyright owners.
Isn't that ownership granted by law? If it weren't granted by law, could
you create such a thing simply by publishing that statement in a license?
Seth David Schoen <schoen at loyalty.org> | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp. http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/ | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down: http://www.loyalty.org/ (CAF) | not have leisure. -- Pirke Avot 2:5
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