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Re: GPL Software Gold Standard

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPL Software Gold Standard
Date: 12 May 2004 11:52:12 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

Alexander Terekhov <> writes:

> PrussianSnow wrote:
> [...]
> > Anyone with some legal knowledge care to comment on the
> > possibility?
> The only thing that the GPL is "incompatible" with is the GPL
> itself. FSF's "GPL incompatibility" claims are barred by the
> doctrine of copyright misuse and the doctrine of first sale.  The
> GPL states it clearly that copies and derivative works must be
> distributed under the terms of the GPL and only the GPL. It just
> can't restrict anything else. The FSF theory of derivative works is
> total crap, however.

Any legal theory is exactly as good as it holds up in the courts.  The
FSF is a small organization without the means to go through year-long
legal fights.  There is a large body of interesting software under its
copyright.  And yet none of the big software outlets with large legal
departments have felt fit to try your theory in court.

For example, the netfilter team has recently forced quite a few
router producers to comply to the GPL by giving source code to their
products (such as Fujitsu-Siemens and Allnet).  Don't tell me that
Fujitsu-Siemens would be unwilling to go to court if they stood a
reasonable chance of prevailing.

Sitecom tried dodging, cf
<URL:>, and
were nailed with a court injunction.

So you can see there is money in being able to dodge the GPL, and yet
nobody seems to be able to see this through court.

That's not exactly what I would call "total crap".  If you think you
can persuade anybody in a court or jury differently, then I am sure
that you can get a high-paying job in the legal department of a large
technological outlet.  I am sure that the managers would just love a
guarantee that somebody can let them ignore the GPL without

Maybe you should make a legal insurance company?  For a few thousand
dollars, you guarantee a large corporation that they may ignore the
"total crap" GPL linking guarantees of the FSF, and you will pay all
legal expense and damages any court might award against them.

Should be a safe business for you, and in fact there _are_ quite a
few outlets that offer indemnification centered around the GPL.  They
just seem to be focused on slightly different guarantees than you
seem to be.

So why don't you make this your business?  Indemnification against
netfilter alone should fill your coffers according to your theory.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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