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Re: As the GPL fades

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: As the GPL fades
Date: Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:18:32 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.90 (gnu/linux)

RJack <> writes:

> Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
>> Rubbish.  People have been predicting the death of the GPL for 20
>> years, and in 20 years time they'll still be predictig its death.
> Despite a concerted web-wide astroturf campaign by Free Softies
> predicting the legal enforceability of the GPL in the good old USA,
> nothing could be farther from the truth.

Strawman.  The GPL is not enforceable.  It says itself:

      9. Acceptance Not Required for Having Copies.

      You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or
    run a copy of the Program.  Ancillary propagation of a covered work
    occurring solely as a consequence of using peer-to-peer transmission
    to receive a copy likewise does not require acceptance.  However,
    nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate
    or modify any covered work.  These actions infringe copyright if you
    do not accept this License.  Therefore, by modifying or propagating
    a covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do

The GPL can't be enforced.  Copyright can.  The GPL gives you additional
permissions.  If you don't want them, you don't need to take them.  If
you are not in compliance with the GPL's conditions, the GPL is an
irrelevant piece of paper.  But copyright remains relevant.  The GPL
can't be enforced.  And nobody claimed it could.  It says itself so.

> The SFLC filed seven consecutive BusyBox lawsuits without the
> underlying works being registered with the U.S. Copyright Office --
> this fact rendered those frivolous lawsuits without standing to be
> heard by a federal court:

Why don't you tell that to the defendants that settled and came into

> Free Softies have lost all sense of self-respect. I predict the SFLC
> can prevent the legal interpretation of the GPL by a federal court for
> another twenty years.

Not unlikely, since its wording is sound enough not to require a judge
to understand it.  And so its unlikely for defendants to claim
compliance when the plaintiff thinks otherwise.

And indeed the cases up to now have been about copyright infringement.

David Kastrup

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