GNU GPL and European law

Georg C. F. Greve greve at
Mon Nov 27 15:47:36 UTC 2000

 || On Mon, 27 Nov 2000 16:12:32 +0100
 || Giorgio Zarrelli <zarrelli at> wrote: 

 gz> Il giorno 16:01, lunedì 27 novembre 2000, Jan Schaumann ha scritto:

 >> Just the other day I found out that in Germany, there is no such
 >> thing as a "Copyright" - the "Copyright" is an american thing. The
 >> closest thing in Germany would be the "Urheberrecht", IIRC.

Which is essentially equal to the U.S. copyright. This concept exists
anywhere in Europe and at least in Japan, too, afaik.

 gz> <evil grin tag>
 gz> If Microsoft can sell in Europe, some kind of patent must hold.
 gz> </evil grin tab>

We might want to reduce such statements as a lot of people tend to
confuse patents and copyright to begin with. They are two entirely
different concepts.

 >> Now my question is, if there is no equivalent to the US-Copyright,
 >> does the GNU GPL hold in Europe?

 gz> The copyright does hold. In Italy, like everywhere it
 gz> exhists. Names are different, some terms differ, but the core
 gz> meaning is the same...

There is a study by some German lawyers that I once spoke about in the
Brave GNU World and I happen to have been at some seminar they gave a
few weeks ago - so I should be able to answer this.

The GNU General Public License holds _very_ well under German law. The
only problem so far is that the "no warranty" clause does not become
active as it is illegal as far as German law is considered. This means
that the more general terms are applied.

This is bad in so far as better terms than the general ones are
possible but aren't used by the GPL so far. This is something that the
people doing that study and I are seeking to change... how it would be
done isn't clear so far, though.


Georg C. F. Greve <greve at>
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