GPL lawsuit in Germany

Joerg Schilling schilling at
Thu Jan 24 23:25:13 UTC 2002

>From nickm at Thu Jan 24 23:36:01 2002

>> 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.

Sure, in Germany it is impossible to give away "authorship rights".
You will not loose your standard copyright, this is what my lawyer told me.
.... but as I cannot enforce GPL, I cannot force the person to e.g.
publish the part of the new source that has been created by this person.

>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.

kI have been told that of course, I can stop this person immediately to 
continue to break my license but I am only able to get a finacial compensation 
for what this person did illegaly.


 EMail:joerg at (home) Jörg Schilling D-13353 Berlin
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