IBM/SCO/GPL (Was: Re: (L)GPL remarks and FreeGIS licensing)

Alex Hudson home at
Sun Aug 24 18:37:04 UTC 2003

On Sun, 2003-08-24 at 17:59, edA-qa mort-ora-y wrote:
> This varies a *lot* from country to country, but a typical pattern is 
> that ignorance is no excuse from criminal law, and in contract law it 
> becomes fuzzy.

Not really. Ignorance of the law is indefensable; ignorance in general
is. We're talking about the difference between knowing whether or not an
act is right or wrong, and knowing whether or not an act is taking / has
taken plac, apologies if you are misunderstanding the use of the word.

For example, let's say you have your video machine stolen by a friend.
Even if you've been around to their house subsequently to watch videos
on it, if at some point later you can show it was stolen from you then
it's still yours. The defence of "you saw it a number of times and
didn't realise it was yours" doesn't exist, as far as I know.

> In the case of distributing code dervied from a GPL licensed codebase 
> (from party A) and them claiming your (party B) own code is not GPL, 
> this removes the original parties compensation in the contract.  When 
> party B decides they made a serious mistake and effectively withdraw 
> their code from the GPL, an arbitrator/judge has two reasonable options, 
> considering that party B has already profited from the contract:
> a) Party B compensates party A in a reasonable amount based on the 
> amount of profit they made off the product; or
> b) Party B abides by the terms of the contract and allows their code to 
> be released as GPL.
> (option A is very difficult when there are potentially thousands of 
> people who would need to be compensated)
> Any Judge, or contract law, that allows Party B to both start 
> disallowing their code from being used, and not provide any form of 
> compensation to Party A, is seriously flawed.

I really don't see what this example has to do with anything. I presume
Party B are SCO, I'm not sure who Party A are supposed to be (Linux
developers?). The example fails mainly because we're not talking about
contract law (the GPL is not a contract). But it's also not an accurate
description of what's happening at the moment.

SCO aren't distributing code derived from GPL code (at least, not that
we know ;), they are claiming that GPL code being distributed derives
from theirs. The argument being put forward was because they had
redistributed this code, it must be covered by the GPL already, not that
they must now GPL the code for some reason of damages.


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