[Ksummit-discuss] [CORE TOPIC] GPL defense issues

Jeremy Allison jra at samba.org
Fri Aug 26 20:09:00 UTC 2016

On Fri Aug 26 19:03:56 UTC 2016, Linus Torvalds <torvalds at linux-foundation.org> wrote:

> So note how I said earlier that it's not an entirely black-and-white thing.
> ...
> We've also seen how even successful lawsuits haven't actually helped
> the project involved. So there was certainly an education there too -
> for the developer side.

(This may also be a re-port, sorry if so - just joined the list
so not sure if my previous posting of this went through).

Apologies for the drive-by posting. I'm not normally on this list,
but this discussion is important enough I wanted to correct the
above point.

The Samba project has never sued anyone over GPL-violations. We've
discussed violations with companies more times than I can remember,
but never had to go to court over the GPL being violated on our code.

These days we rely on Conservancy doing the kind of back-room negotiation
that they are really good at, and they've never failed us on this. Lawsuits
*are* a last-ditch nuclear option.

However, we do have experience with one successful lawsuit, which
provides a good counter example to the comment above.

Samba and the FSFE were the last entities standing in the Microsoft vs EU
anti-trust lawsuit. We even helped cost them over $1b in fines.

Next month I'll be going up to my second invite-only Microsoft plugfest
of the year - this one set up specifically for the Team that sued them.

I'll be visiting several of my friends there, including one of their
lawyers (although the rest of them are engineers :-).

The Microsoft vs EU lawsuit was not only successful, it helped the
Samba project a great deal. The documentation that was released because of
the lawsuit has provided impetus for a great deal of new Samba development,
as well as creating a diverse marketplace of new proprietary competitors
(which has helped raise everyones code and improved interop for the users).

None of this would have happened without the successful lawsuit, rancorous
though it was at the time (and in public too :-).

So as someone said earlier, this is not an entirely black-and-white thing :-).


Full disclosure: I'm on the Conservancy Board of Directors, so I obviously
agree with their mission.

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