[FSFE PR][EN] FSFE offers to help companies adhere to Free Software licence terms

Joachim Jakobs press at fsfeurope.org
Fri Jul 27 14:35:32 CEST 2007

FSFE offers to help companies adhere to Free Software licence terms

	The terms of the GNU GPL licence have been confirmed as binding
	once again, with a German court ruling that Skype was failing 
	to uphold its obligations as a distributor.  FSFE wants to help
	other vendors understand their GNU GPL obligations.

Harald Welte of gpl-violations.org took Skype to court in Munich, 
Germany, regarding misuse of GNU GPL code he wrote for the Netfilter 
component of the Linux kernel.  This is the first time a non-German 
company has been convicted for GNU GPL licence violations, though the
gpl-violations.org project has reached numerous out of court 
settlements with various vendors in the past.

Skype had been selling the SMC WSKP100 VoIP telephone without providing
either source code or a written offer for the source code with the 
product itself.  Though Skype later included a supplementary text to 
the product which referred to the use of GPL software and contained 
URLs to source code downloads, this also failed to meet the terms 
contained in the GNU GPL licence. 

The ruling of the German court in favour of Harald Welte is welcomed 
by FSFE.  "Adhering to the terms of the GNU GPL is not difficult, and 
this case re-emphasises the importance of doing so, " says Shane 
Coughlan, Freedom Task Force coordinator at FSFE.  "Skype did not 
recognise this and unfortunately had to be reminded of their 
obligations in a court of law.  While many vendors are working 
pro-actively to resolve licensing issues, problems remain in the 
European market place.  We would like to see them resolved as quickly 
and as amicably as possible."

"The main focus of the gpl-violations.org project is to fix problems 
vendors have with shipping products that contain GNU GPL code," says 
Armijn Hemel, an engineer at the gpl-violations.org project.  "We want 
to work with vendors to implement long-term solutions to compliance 
issues. It is our wish to ensure everyone operates according to the 
same terms and rules, as decided by the authors of the code in 

There are several ways that companies distributing GNU GPL code in 
Europe can get help and advice.  Armijn Hemel, an engineer at the 
gpl-violations.org project, offers compliance services for embedded 
devices.  FSFE's Freedom Task Force has also recently launched 
professional consultancy services for businesses making use of Free 
Software in their products.

"There are avenues of information and advice for businesses using Free 
Software," says Shane Coughlan.  "One of the purposes of the FTF is to
help companies avoid costly mistakes.  Where the FTF can help people, 
we will.  If we don't have the answers in-house we will help guide 
people to the external information or expertise they need.  The one 
thing I would like to stress is that businesses should not and cannot 
ignore these issues."

The Freedom Task Force can be found at http://www.fsfeurope.org/ftf

The Freedom Task Force can be emailed at ftf at fsfeurope.org

About the Free Software Foundation Europe:

   The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
   non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
   involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
   participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation
   in the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
   Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
   furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
   modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these
   issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving
   people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are
   central issues of the FSFE.

About gpl-violations.org:

   In the past 30 months, gpl-violations.org has helped uncover and
   negotiate more than 100 GPL violations and has obtained numerous
   out-of-court settlement agreements. The gpl-violations.org project
   is a not-for-profit effort to bring commercial users and vendors of
   Free Software into compliance with the licence conditions as set
   forth by the original authors.  The project was founded and is
   managed by Mr. Harald Welte, a Linux Kernel developer and Free
   Software enthusiast.

   For more information on the project, its mission, milestones and
   goals, please see http://gpl-violations.org


   You can reach the FSFE switchboard from:
    Belgium:     +32 2 747 03 57 ext 408
    Germany:     +49 700 373 38 76 73 ext 408
    Sweden:      +46 31 7802160 ext 408
    Switzerland: +41 43 500 03 66 ext 408
    UK:          +44 29 200 08 17 7 ext 408 

   Shane Coughlan, FTF Co-ordinator, FSFE extension: 408

   Joachim Jakobs, Media Relations,  FSFE extension: 404
                                             mobile: +49-179-6919565

   Further information: http://fsfeurope.org

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