(L)GPL remarks and FreeGIS licensing

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at nedprod.com
Tue Aug 12 23:11:39 UTC 2003

On 12 Aug 2003 at 21:21, João Miguel Neves wrote:

> A Ter, 2003-08-12 às 20:54, Niall Douglas escreveu:
> > My own opinion is given recent historical judgements by US courts
> > with regard to similar issues, it does not bode well. The fact the
> > GPL has the sweeping power it does it because it can be interpreted
> > in so many ways ie; it's not been fixed.
> > 
> I couldn't disagree more with you on this. The force of the GPL and
> the reason why no company so far, after hundreds of GPL violations,
> dared to go to court against the GPL is because there aren't much
> doubts about its meaning.
> If you want to understand how much work has gone into getting the GPL
> to this point read the "Enforcing the GPL" series in

I appreciate your point in this, but I've not met many lawyers who 
think it's watertight. And indeed, quite a few management bods have 
thought about contesting it and backed down after realising how awful 
it would be for PR.

The GPL is far more a social contract than a legal one. To violate it 
invokes the ire of a very vocal group and even if you don't agree 
with it in itself, every programmer in the world doesn't like people 
doing things with their code they specifically said not to do.

However in situations where sales are already predetermined (ie; 
bespoke solutions), GPL violation is endemic according to a lawyer I 
talked to in British Aerospace systems. This is because PR image 
doesn't matter to sales and as the lawyer said, the FSF wouldn't want 
to test the GPL against military contractors who have plenty of cash 
and no sales to lose lest the GPL be struck down.

(His words, not mine)


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