Brad Kuhn of Software Freedom Law Center on GPL Violations

Interesting post urging moderation in reporting and acting on GPL violations.  It’s great to hear this coming from an influential source like SFLC.  Most violations really are ad hoc oversights or the result of companies not sufficiently developing their own open source policies or educating their engineers about those policies.  Most offenders who find out about a GPL violation do try to address it in good faith.  Free software is about cooperation, not gotchas. 

French case involving GPL

In late September, the press announced that a French court had enforced the GPL.  Cour d’Appel de Paris, Pôle 5, Chambre 10, no: 294, issued on 16 September 2009).  ArsTechnica said, “The Free Software Foundation France (FSF France) is jubilant about a recent court ruling that has affirmed the validity of the open source GNU General Public License (GPL) under French copyright law. This successful GPL enforcement effort will send a strong message about the importance of open source license compliance to the French software industry.”

The reporting of this case noted that it was remarkable that a licensee — not a licensor — had enforced the terms of GPL.  However, although FSF France was involved, the case was not a GPL enforcement claim; it was a breach of contract claim.  The decision mentions the GPL a few times, mostly in connection with whether the contract allowed delivery of GPL software. 

For a useful and clarifying explanation (and a translation of the relevant part of the decision) see Martin von Willebrand’s Blog.