GPL lawsuit in Germany

Nick Mailer nickm at
Thu Jan 24 22:35:59 UTC 2002

On Thu, Jan 24, 2002 at 11:17:44PM +0100, Joerg Schilling wrote:
> Hi all,
> one of my GPL programs is abused by a German company and I am going to sue them 
> soon. I like to report from a talk I had with my lawyer today.
> He told me that GPL cannot be enforced in Germany.
> He said, that to have a valid contract, there is a need that both
> parties aggree in the contract which is not the case for the GPL.
> So if the abuser tells you that he never aggreed in GPL and that
> he _knows_ that is is using th eprogram in an illegal way, this will
> help him in the lawsuit.

The German company is talking utter rubbish. Even if the GPL were
shown to be invalid in German Contract Law (which is unlikely), this
would not suddenly cause you to lose your standard copyright - it
would not magically revert to the public domain! The very best they
can hope for is the even MORE restrictive general protection that
copyright affords you.

Let us assume that, indeed, the contract is somehow "invalid". Well,
that's fine - they don't use it. Their problem is, it is the ONLY
contract you are prepared to offer. Even if you were forced to STOP
offering that contract, this is not forcing you to START offering
laisez-faire acceptance of a complete breach of your protected
copyright! I hope you understand the point I'm making, because it is
obvious and crucial, and if you can make them understand it, they will
buckle down very quickly.

> My questions:
> -	Has there been ever a GPL lawsiut?

Not as far as I'm aware.

> -	Is FSFeurope willing and able to help me and my lawyer?

I suggest you mail Eben Moglen:

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