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Re: The SFLC dismissals should be coming soon

From: Rex Ballard
Subject: Re: The SFLC dismissals should be coming soon
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 06:30:40 -0800 (PST)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Feb 12, 7:13 am, RJack <> wrote:
> SFLC voluntary dismissals should be coming soon in Best Buy et. al.
> case.

> The SFLC cannot risk a judge actually interpreting the GPL license.
> The court would read the covenants in the GPL contract which Eben
> Moglen claims are "conditions" and quickly file the license in the
> court's little round filing bin -- if he didn't die laughing first.

The GPL license is just another copyright license.  The judges can't
really nullify the terms of a copyright license unless the license
requires that the licensee engage in criminal acts such as collusion,
illegal wiretapping, or fraud.  Even these restrictions vary from
country to country.

> Another frivolous lawsuit to which the SFLC can spin:

The goals of the SFLC is not to make a boatload of cash for FSF.  The
primary goal is to assure compliance with key license terms.  The
penalties for copyright violation provide good incentives.

In the United States, the penalty for violating a copyright license,
for illegally copying and distribution of software, is $150,000 or up
to 5 years in federal prison if convicted in a criminal proceeding.

The cost of compliance with the GPL, providing a location where the
link to the source code for the GPL portions of the vendor's software
implementation, is just a few hundred dollars per year.

Normally, the SFLC issues a warning letter indicating the required
actions before filing the lawsuit.  If the target organization refuses
to comply, or after various attempts to make contact are ignored, the
SFLC files a lawsuit, which then REQUIRES a response, because the
defendant does not want to lose to a defuault judgement.

Once the defendant realizes that communication is no longer optional,
the defendent's legal council usually realizes that the SFLC has a
strong case, and that the terms of the settlement are very
reasonable.  At that point, the defendant is usually advised to
settle, and a settlement usually covers the legal costs of the
plaintiffs, publication of the link to the location of the source code
for the GPL licensed software and other OSS software, and pubilcation
of the information to inform those who did not get the link in the

> "Captain Moglen scared them out of the 
> water!"


The companies who get these lawsuits don't laugh, until they comply
with the settlement.  When they compare the terms of the GPL to those
of companies like Microsoft, Oracle, or IBM, they can laugh along with
the SFLC lawyers at how reasonable the GPL really is.

Remember, it's not that hard to comply with the licenses and still
have key proprietary technology as well.  Often, it's as simple as
using LGPL software to interface to the GPL software, or plug-ins such
as Linux driver modules.

For example, the earliest versions of Android had drivers compiled
directly into the kernel, but now most of those drivers and driver
interfaces have been converted to modules, allowing vendors to use
proprietary drivers when they don't want to give away details about

> Sincerely,
> RJack :)

Rex Ballard

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