FAQ - GPL Case Law? : GPL issue at my work place

Ernest Prabhakar ernest.prabhakar at gmail.com
Fri Jan 18 18:06:55 UTC 2008

Hi all,

This is a topic that seems to come up periodically.  Someone care to  
take a stab at writing a FAQ?

Q: Is there any existing case law covering the GNU General Public  

-- Ernie P.

On Jan 18, 2008, at 5:20 AM, Tzeng, Nigel H. wrote:

>> From: Arnoud Engelfriet [mailto:arnoud at engelfriet.net]
>> As far as I can tell this has not made European lawyers more (or
>> less) comfortable with open source licenses.
> I think James's point is that without actual court results as  
> opposed to
> settlements the risks of using GPL is unbounded from the conservative
> point of view of some corporate lawyers.
> The worst case scenario is an injunction against distribution of all
> affected products unless all the corporate IP used in the software is
> released under GPL including all relevant software patents (under v3
> anyway).  Business process patents presumably as well since they would
> be codified in the software.
> For the past cases, like BusyBox, it wasn't really THAT big a deal to
> conform since those companies were largely hardware makers.  It was  
> more
> costly to have the devices sit in legal limbo hence the settlements
> But for other domains the potential impact to a company could be quite
> significant to have to conform to the GPL.  FSF's position on what  
> is a
> derivative work is not overly helpful in reducing concerns.  Not that
> Sun would force a company to release their product IP because they  
> used
> the GPL'd MySQL connector library without a commercial license but  
> that
> they potentially COULD under the GPL has to be factored in.
> There is a reason I use PostgeSQL over MySQL beyond any technical  
> ones.
> Certainly this conservatism can be seen in the current example even
> though from Google's example they are on pretty safe ground.

More information about the License-discuss mailing list