[linux-elitists] GPL Violations [was Re: Mobile Phone Choices]

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Wed Jul 26 17:56:26 PDT 2006

Quoting Shlomi Fish (shlomif@iglu.org.il):

> There's a certain BSD developer I know, who is a mega-troll and tends to be 
> an "idiot" in a sense (despite being very intelligent), but I am sometimes 
> reaching some interesting insights from him[Fool]. In any case, he claims 
> that sites like gpl-violations.org are the "anti-thesis of hacking"....

"Hey, I disapprove of the way you enforce your property rights.  You 
should adjust your priorities to match my preferences.  Trust me."

> However, one of the reasons that I've been using the Public Domain for 
> my work....

People who believe they're placing their work in the public domain are
generally mistaken, and sadly ignorant of the fundamentals of copyright
law.  (Your legal jurisdiction might have a specific provision to the
contrary.  Mine doesn't -- and this raises the additional risk that your
property might be treated very differently _within_ various jurisdictions.)

> ...is because of the least-worrying principle....

Explain to, please, me how you as copyright owner foregoing the benefit
of a warranty disclaimer (via a public domain declaration) could qualify
as "least worrying".

> ...am using the MIT X11 licence now....

By contrast, _this_ meets your stated criteria.

[Your licence statement:]

> Relax, this is not GPL software, but rather it is distributed under the
> public domain.

Congratulations:  You've created a potential legal quagmire for
recipients.  Pray that the code instances in question don't ever become

> One thing the FSF got right and the gpl-violations.org got wrong is that 
> dealing with GPL violations should be done discretely....

As others have noted, you don't seem to be familiar with Harold Welte's 
way of doing things.

> A company values its good reputation a lot, and even if it violated the GPL, 
> we should not deprive it of it.

"Hey, I disapprove of the way you enforce your property rights, because the
people who're abusing your property are nice, and you're being mean to them."

> One can philosophise whether the GPL helps this or not, due to the fact it 
> discourages proprietary code....

Not necessarily.  Your homework assignment:  Outline a business model
that uses a GPLed codebase as a way to build a proprietary software
product.  It's not a very difficult problem, Shlomi.  ;->

> I probably dropped a really large bomb here. 

Nope, the t-shirts we all got during thrashing out those topics a decade
or two ago are all worn out, leaving only a fuzzy glow of nostalgia 
for the long-ago murdered hours and electrons.  But, since you asked:
you didn't _think_ very much before posting.

> [GPL Complexity] - See the GPL FAQ:
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html

GPLv2's text itself is a much more reliable guide, as I believe I've
pointed out before in this space -- during discussion of the FAQ's
misleading and inaccurate wording regarding clause 3b.

> (IANAL). 


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