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Re: Groklaw attacks Alexander

From: amicus_curious
Subject: Re: Groklaw attacks Alexander
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 11:15:01 -0400

"Rjack" <> wrote in message">

FACT: No claim for any relief requested by an S.F.L.C. plaintiff
has ever been granted by a federal court.

The spin here is that it has never been necessary to go to judgment due to the defendant always yielding to the impeccable logic of the SFLC. Multiple instances of this have been cited ad nauseam here and in Groklaw and many other places.

What is always ignored, however, is that the real issue of interest is never in play. The GPL essentially allows anyone to do anything with everything GPL with the sole provision that the doer pass onto any downstream user the source materials involved, including the license text itself. Anyone making direct use of the GPL program is even indemnified by the GPL to automatically receive permission even if the materials are not supplied by the upstream distributor. No money is required to change hands unless the distributor wants to charge for "support" or for the cost of generating the copies of the material involved.

That is a wonderfully benevolent position until someone makes a contribution that is actually worth some money to downstream users. ( I am not familiar with any case where that has actually occurred and perhaps some FOSS advocate could point to one.) Regardless, it has never been an issue in any of the SFLC actions which have centered around an author using the BusyBox utilities for a Linux compatible program without publishing the source materials for the BusyBox version used. The "settlement" has universally been for the defendant to simply publish or otherwise provide access to the material on a web link somewhere. In the Verizon case, that was performed by the Verizon supplier rather than Verizon itself, which was promptly deemed an adequate move and the plaintiff moved for dismissal.

Such a low cost or no cost solution to the case has to always be preferable to even a slight bit of litigation expense and so the SFLC is destined to always "win" such victories. I have never heard of a case where the defendant was trying to protect the disclosure of some improvement to the original GPL program that had commercial value. Until that happens, the whole issue remains a silly academic tempest in a teapot.

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