GNU GPL and European law

Jan Schaumann jschauma at
Tue Nov 28 15:20:24 UTC 2000

Alex Hudson <home at> wrote:
> If there is no copyright, the GPL becomes completely ineffectual, AFAIK. The
> whole GPL system is based on copyright. The idea is, you've giving freedoms
> to people, but restricting/ensuring the freedoms that they pass on. For you
> to be able to do such a thing, you need a legal mechanism to impose your
> will - something that they cannot get out of (unless they don't use the
> software ;). Copyright provides such a mechanism: it allows the GPL to say
> "This is the property of the author. To be allowed to use this, you must
> follow this code of conduct". If there is no mechanism, the GPL is
> unenforceable..

My point exactly.
Maybe I should have posed my original question differently. let me

Is there an exact equivalent to the us-american "copyright" in each of
the countries of Europe (side-note: what "europe" are we talking about?
Only the countries of the EU or the "physical" Europe?)?
If there is no exact equivalent, what is the closest thing and does it
guarantee that the GPL holds and is enforcable?
If there is no equivalent, and things are in general rather different
(law-wise), does the GPL hold? Would it need to be rephrased?

I may sound paranoid here, but I could imagine companies using free code
to produce closed-source software, _if they can_, meaning if there are
loopholes in the GPL that don't hold for <insert your country here>-law.



Jan Schaumann <>

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
		-- Albert Einstein

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