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

Smith, McCoy mccoy.smith at intel.com
Fri Jan 18 21:36:29 UTC 2008

Nope.  I think alexander already circulated the Wallace 7th Cir decision
and some or all of the European decisions.  To complete things, someone
should probably locate the two dismissal orders from the Wallace case in
Indiana, one in favor of IBM, the other in favor of FSF.

-----Original Message-----
From: Danese Cooper [mailto:danese at gmail.com] 
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 10:22 AM
To: Smith, McCoy
Cc: Ernest Prabhakar; Tzeng, Nigel H.; license-discuss at opensource.org
Subject: Re: FAQ - GPL Case Law? : GPL issue at my work place

Are you volunteering, McCoy :-)?


On Jan 18, 2008, at 10:13 AM, Smith, McCoy wrote:

> If you're talking US, pretty sure the answer is "not really, inless  
> you
> include the Wallace case"
> Overseas, there are the various German decisions coming out of
> gpl-violators.org enforcement efforts.
> I'm assuming you also mean "interpreting the GNU General Public
> License";  the term "covering" is pretty expansive and would include a
> massive body of contract and copyright law cases.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ernest Prabhakar [mailto:ernest.prabhakar at gmail.com]
> Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 10:07 AM
> To: Tzeng, Nigel H.
> Cc: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: FAQ - GPL Case Law? : GPL issue at my work place
> 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
> License?
> -- 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
>> IMHO.
>> 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.

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