GPL and linking
Posted Feb 17, 2006 1:12 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata
In reply to: GPL and linking
Parent article: On the dual-license model
It's very telling that it has been successfully enforced without going to court -- going to court is what you do only if there looks like there might actually be a question.
It's telling, but not as much as this suggests. These successful enforcements are merely settlements. Both sides gave up something, in recognition by each of the possibility he would lose in court. In the settlements I've heard about, the copyright owner didn't get royalties, which he would be entitled to if the GPL really said everything he claimed. All he got was for the alleged infringer to stop infringing.
In such a case, I don't think the alleged infringer really gives up much in the settlement, so he might actually be 90% convinced he's right, but it just isn't worth the 10% risk to go to court.
A few years back, I read a quote from FSF's Eben Moglen, the foremost enforcer of GPL, about all the fact that GPL had never been to court because of all these settlements. He said the alleged infringer always says, "we don't know GPL means we can't link, because no one's ever lost in court" and Moglen replies, "but do you want to be the first?" That makes the choice not to defend sound more like a fear of litigation than a solid belief that FSF's interpretation is right.
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