Re: Corel Lawsuit
I would again urge everyone to consider careful the difference between
- Things That Annoy You About Corel
- Mistakes That Corel Made
- Things That You Can Sue Corel Over
Again, these are not at all the same.
It seems that the problems with the Corel EULA are being used as an occasion
for flaming Corel, questioning Corel's motives, impugning the competence of
Corel's programmers... oh, and, of course, threatening to sue Corel.
With apologies to Monty Python, it seems that the Debian Project is on the
verge of saying to Corel something very like "Now go away, or I shall taunt
you a second time!".
Corel has good programmers, and they have done good things for free software.
They've also made some fairly serious mistakes. Some people might attribute
this to the attitude of the company as a whole, and others might suspect it
is an artifact of the company's decision-making processes and communication
problems. (It's not always easy to explain the free software world to
lawyers; I've heard the story of a lawyer who, on being shown a planned free
software release, expressed grave concern at the serious loophole in the
license that would allow _anybody_ -- _anybody_! -- to use and copy the
I don't mean to suggest any enthusiasm for the present EULA, or some of
Corel's previous licensing problems; it bugs me, too, and, at the best,
Corel deserves some criticism. (Perhaps they are getting a little more
If you don't think you can work with Corel because of these problems, don't
work with Corel. This is a fairly straightforward solution. With your
code under the GPL, Corel would be free to use it on the same terms as
anyone else, and I suspect that they would keep contributing various work
to the community.
If you see an important opportunity to clear up a misconception or an
ambiguous statement, and you see Corel as a colleague, as a helpful partner,
or even as an annoying rival or untrustworthy parasite, by all means, clear
If you want to keep credibility for Debian, the free software community,
and the idea of collaborative development, don't confuse behaviors that
annoy you or that you regret with behaviors that are illegal.
This is a test. Some day there will be even bigger companies with even
more investment in free software (no offense intended, Corel). Some of
those companies will have multi-million-dollar law firms (or bigger) with
lots of really experienced intellectual property lawyers, some of whom may
feel that free software is ridiculous and that most of our public licenses
are invalid. Think you can keep those firms there, contributing real free
software under real free software licenses, and resolving your differences
and misunderstanding without litigation, even if you personally don't like
or don't trust those companies?
If you see a deliberate and malicious GPL violation, you warn the violator,
you verify, with close reading and then with the advice of a lawyer or two,
that the GPL is really being violated, and the problem doesn't get fixed,
then, by all means, bring a lawsuit. But I don't think that most people
have even begun that process.
Seth David Schoen <email@example.com> | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp. http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/ | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down: http://www.loyalty.org/ (CAF) | not have leisure. -- Pirke Avot 2:5