Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Germany enforces the GPL

The GPL gets enforced in Germany. This particular case has been brewing in years, and has served to set all sorts of legal precedent, starting with the Munich court's decision in Welte v. Sitecom Deutschland GmbH,that the GPL is, yes, a valid, enforceable license carrying legal weight. And now, this decision. Read a bit more about Welte and check out his website, In writing on Welte, Brian W. Carver, in ("Share and Share Alike: Understanding and Enforcing and Open Source and Free Software Licenses", Berkeley Technology Law Journal 443-481, Vol. 20, 2005) wrote:

"Welte did not win damages, but rather an injunction and GPL compliance. If he had lost, under German law, he would have had to pay attorneys fees, and these enforcement actions take up valuable time. What motivates those, like Welte, that seek to enforce the GPL? The answer can be found in the philosophy driving the GPL itself. The netfilter team members... chose the GPL for the work that it does as a license. The license keeps one's copyrighted work available in the manner one chooses. Software developers spend a great deal of time creating such software, and when they are not being paid directly for that work, there is even more reason to think they may seek other forms of compensation for the long hours, such as the assurance that others will always be able to study, modify, improve, and share the work that they have begun. Welte is one of many free software developers who has made a conscious choice to use the GPL because it prevents others from making proprietary derivatives of his work. When asked why he pursued this legal action, Welte said, "Because I write code under the GPL and not the BSD license" "


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