GPL issue at my work place

James McGovern james at
Fri Jan 18 12:01:47 UTC 2008

American lawyers care about cases in America. Europe is academically
interesting to US folks but not useful in terms of making an informed

Likewise, the lawyer who doesn't respect the fact that it hasn't been
decided on by a judge in a court of law is minimally an idiot who will
probably get themselves disbarred. Since most settlements aren't also
public, then the outcome without the other aspects is irrelevant.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian Behlendorf [mailto:brian at]
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 6:53 AM
To: James McGovern
Cc: license-discuss at
Subject: RE: GPL issue at my work place

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
> 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
> 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
> 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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