GPL issue at my work place

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Fri Jan 18 11:53:26 UTC 2008

Maybe, but the FSF and SFLC doesn't appear to have had much trouble in 
convincing the accused that their history of successful settlements 
constitutes a comparable kind of case "law".  And there have been 
successful prosecutions in Germany.


On Fri, 18 Jan 2008, James McGovern wrote:
> The thing that would make most lawyers in corporate America more comfortable
> about open source is if someone who violates a license were to sue another
> and NOT litigate a deal only to have it not go to court. If open source were
> to make it through the US court system where a judge ruled on it, and
> lawyers could then make their decisions based on precedence, things would be
> a lot better.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Arnoud Engelfriet [mailto:arnoud at]
> Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 5:24 AM
> To: Dirk Dierickx
> Cc: license-discuss at
> Subject: Re: GPL issue at my work place
> Dirk Dierickx wrote:
>> - You don't need to 'share' the code of your program if it is a web
>> based application, as long as you use it internally and not depending if
>> it is used by employees or contractors (eg. not sell or give the actual
>> program to somebody else).
>> - Applications written in the LAMP stack, are _not_ a modification, and
>> such you also don't need to provide any code for it.
>> - GPL 3 does not affect RH 4 (I'm not sure about this one, though).
> This is a very difficult issue, and something you're not going to
> resolve by pointing to postings on a mailing list. As secretary and
> legal counsel in a corporate OSS board in a big firm I know how hard
> it is to get the right kind of attitude in place.
> Your legal department's main job is to ensure the company does not
> get sued. There's this old Dilbert cartoon where the company lawyer
> rejects any contract "because someone may sue us for something".
> That's an exaggeration, but only slightly.
> If you're doing something that involves legal risks for the company,
> no matter how theoretical, the legal department will say no when
> they can't assess the impact of that risk. Brendan Scott calls this
> the "siege mentality" in a company:
> My view is always that if you worry about "exposure of IPR", you're
> going about it the wrong way. Open source is not a risk to your IPR,
> it's a solution that helps you extract value from your IPR. And just
> like you need to select the right supplier for your hardware components,
> you need to select the right source for your software solutions.
> This means education. And more importantly, it also means that they need
> to get involved in the business process that calls for open source. Why
> does your company want to use OSS?
> I've written about this in _Intellectual Asset Magazine_, whose
> catchy name may make a bigger impression on your lawyers than this
> mailing list post.
> If your company is at all interested in open innovation, then maybe
> this article would be a good start:
> riet.pdf
> For your businesspeople that is, not the lawyers. Your business needs
> to take the lead and decide that OSS makes sense for your products or
> services. It is then up to the lawyers to find a legally sound way
> of using OSS.
> Feel free to e-mail me if you need more information.
> Arnoud
> --
> Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch & European patent attorney - Speaking only for
> myself
> Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies:
>              Arnoud blogt nu ook:

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