Open Ballot: is it good to sue for GPL violations?

TuxRadar

The Software Freedom Law Center has announced a lawsuit against 14 companies, including Best Buy, JVC and Samsung, for GPL violations relating to BusyBox, which is a GPL-licensed bundle of Unix tools. The SFLC said it "gave each defendant ample time to comply with the requirements of the license", but what do you think: is suing necessary in today's world, or does it reflect badly on the Free Software community? Moreover, should we be encouraging the naming and shaming of offenders, or does it generate bad feeling towards the GPL?

As per usual, the best comments will be used in our podcast, so please leave a name other than Anonymous Penguin, please state your view clearly, then back it up with some sort of logical reasoning.

You should follow us on Identi.ca or Twitter


Your comments

words like "honoured", "respected" and "immoral"

should be abandoned, so last millennium.

Anyway as a rule of thumb there should always be another way found to settle any inaccuracies.
in this case it looks like that other way fell on deaf ears.

I think suing is the lowest common denominator, but reluctantly agree that they should sue.
And that they should sue because suing is the lowest common dominator and not the answer to solving problems.

Sad to sue

It is a sad day when companies feel the need to sue others for software infringements, or for things like not sticking to the GPL rules properly. Maybe it can be used as a last resort in cases of very bad behaviour towards the open source software movement, but suing does kind of imply that the one suing is bad, not just the one being sued. It has negative connotations and an air of self-righteousness/selfishness.

It is a very American thing; over in the US they sue anyone for anything, like someone "damages" a person's car with a sweet wrapper or fails in a promise they made. Suing is what you do when you run out of other options and you hate the other person/company so much that you want to destroy them. Suing is basically evil and should be avoided.

The FOSS world should not be associated with suing, nor to sue. (Nor anyone called Sue -- just kidding.)

Re: Sad to sue

Oh, it's a "very American thing"? Huh? I happen to be American, and I take offense to your extremely ignorant statement. Say what you will about suing and what it means, but do not make comments about something you really know nothing about. Americans are every bit as much regular people as English, Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish people.

Stereotypes are bad for you. :D

America and patents

Let me make it very clear that I will *not* come back to defend this comment - it is off-topic here and discussing it further will not improve anything. So, I'll make it a hit-and-run, just to get it out of my system.

@ Mike_IronFist:

1) If you are visiting a friend and in your way out you slip and break a leg while still in his house, you will sue your friend because he failed to take proper measures to protect you from falling and breaking your leg. This will happen in America - and nowhere else as far as I know it.

2) America is the land of big corporations that killed the individual. Today, instead of being a slave to a landowner or the state, you have to be a slave to some big corporation - otherwise you won't be able to earn a decent life. I'm talking about mom-and-pop shops, small publishing houses, individual inventors, and the like. "Intelectual property" laws - an aberration - allow for corporations to steal and appropriate ideas, and sue and ruin the original creators should they *dare* to defend their rights.

I am far from an ignorant person. I come from a very rich background, I have lived in Europe, South America and now I'm back to the States. All I can say is that the American way is not the right way - "including, but not limited to" the two small problems I exposed above. (See the irony inside the quotes?)

So, my advice to America is to take a looooong look at itself, climb down from the pedestal and try to stop being such a double-speaking troublemaker.

Like I said, this is a hit-and-run comment. If you don't agree with it, tough. But take a moment to sincerely reflect before posting anything.

necessary evil.

(excuse my use of the word evil there)

to me, this is like folks working on a 3.5 dimensional consciousness not getting it, and the folks who peer past 4D, into even 5D, "get it", they know where it will go if a few good men do nothing.

it's essential. yeah, sure, "last resort", give folks a fair chance, but we cannot let our freedom slip back into the hands of tyranny, and whatever means we are left with to ensure this, we must adhere to, stick to our guns, apply it. otherwise whats the GPL for?

i dont even like it when folks just up and decide to change the liscence from GPL to something else. i'm sorry, WHAT??? isnt it part of the GPL's spirit that once its released under GPL all subsequent versions must be released under the general PUBLIC license too?

if ever someone tries to change the license from the GPL to something else, then it is a form of THEFT from EVERYONE!

it's like watching the bloody tories and new labour sell off all the services which for decades it was well understood why they had to be publically owned, not left to the ravages of lessez faire capitlism and profiteering at our expense.

i do have one question though... who gets the money?

i find it appropriate that the "captcha" i have to type bellow this post is "we keeps". damn right! WE keeps. we in the broadest sense. if a bloody caveman understood that the guy in the cave trying to hoard all the food for himself had to be dealt some swift harsh justice, why are we so hesitant? why is this even up for discussion? and if it is up for discussion, it damn well better not be to sue or not to sue, it aughta be, what alternatives are there to sueing! anyone got a club?

;p

Absolutely

You want to avoid MS licensing fees by using FOSS in your products then pay the GPL fee and pay tribute to the devs and make your source code available. If you don't want to do this then spend a few million and develop your own software OR be prepared to be sued. If this was MS software the guys at Redmond would have ripped into them with no hesitation.
FOSS maybe available for zero dollars but there are conditions and they must be enforced as per any other licence.

The offenders must be sued

GPL is meant to grant freedom to users of computers. When ill-minded people use it but not grant the same freedom (by making their copied versions of software proprietary), the only way is to sue them and bring the justice. Should the freedom prevail, these offenders must be sued. It is always welcome!

You have to sue whether or not you want to.

The GPL relies on the protections of Copyright Law. If you become aware of a violation of Copyright, and don't take measures to rectify it, up to and including legal action, you lose the protection of Copyright Law.

Colonial perspective

"Those who will not fight for freedom are not deserving of it."

Unfortunately, it is

Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to sue and take action against corporations, particularly those that would stifle the freedoms of people.

As somebody that was born in China,but grew up in North America, I find it remarkably ironic that they would criticize China for its harsh treatment of political dissidents, yet go be equally hard incarcerating those who violate patent laws, which is arguably a much lesser crime (if a crime at all).

I firmly feel that in the interests of a free and open society, not for profit organizations should actively defend their rights,provided that they truly are not for profit and acting in the public interest.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

CAPTCHA
We can't accept links (unless you obfuscate them). You also need to negotiate the following CAPTCHA...

Username:   Password:
Create Account | About TuxRadar