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.