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

David Woodhouse dwmw2 at infradead.org
Fri Aug 26 21:19:02 UTC 2016


On Fri, 2016-08-26 at 12:33 -0700, Jeremy Allison via Ksummit-discuss
wrote:
> 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.

Without the option of a lawsuit, there *is* no negotiation. The GPL has
certain requirements and they are backed up by law. If you don't have
that, you might as well have a BSD licence.

You won't get far in negotiating with someone to release their
modifications if the code in question is under a BSD licence and you
start the conversation by saying "You need to release the changes you
made or... we'll be sad". And that's *precisely* the same as the GPL if
you state up front that you'll never sue. You'll just get laughed at.

Conservancy quite rightly use legal action as a last resort after all
other reasonable avenues have been exhausted. But you can't abandon it
completely.

And the idea that legal action against violators would scare away those
who are using the software *legally* is laughable. There is *always*
risk...

If you use commercial software and don't pay for the licence, you can
be sued.

If you use Free Software and don't comply with the licence, you can be
sued.

And even if you write it yourself, you have to be really careful your
engineers don't pick up code snippets they found on the Internet... or
you can be sued.

Whatever you do, you have to actually follow the rules and do it right.
Holding persistent violators to the rules the hard way, if they refuse
to do the right thing after years of negotiation, *really* shouldn't
scare off anyone sensible from using Free Software.

-- 
dwmw2
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