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Re: LGPL module linked with a GPL lib

On 7/28/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 7/28/05, Raul Miller <moth.debian@gmail.com> wrote:
> > I don't think that the point is that people would be going to jail for
> > violating the GPL.
> "Violating the GPL" doesn't mean anything.  

Yes it does -- it means actions in the context of a GPLed program
which copyright law doesn't allow and which the GPL license does
not allow.

> > GPL violators appear to face several potential penalties:
> >
> > (*) Works they hold copyright on might be released under the
> > terms of the GPL when they thought they could get away with 
> > not doing that.
> This is extraordinarily unlikely except as part of a consent decree,
> agreed on by the parties and ratified by the court as an alternative
> to proceeding to judgment.

Granted -- copyright cases very rarely are resolved in court, so
any court action other than preliminary injunction is extraordinarily

Nevertheless, this was exactly the outcome of the one case where
the GPL was tested in court (with Progress consenting to
release their code under an appropriate license), and this has
also been the outcome of a number of potential cases which never
made it to court.

So it may be "extraordinarily unlikely except ..." but it's still a fairly
likely outcome.

> > (*) They might be forced to pay someone else to release their 
> > work under GPL terms.
> This is even more unlikely; 


> > (*) They might be forced to stop distribution of some work where 
> > they don't have the proper rights available to them.
> In other words, injunctive relief -- often granted temporarily pending
> trial at the preliminary hearing stage, and if granted often followed
> by out-of-court settlement.  As I have explained ad nauseam, I think
> it very improbable (IANAL, TINLA) that preliminary injunctive relief
> could be obtained in a linking scenario involving the GPL even under
> the most egregious of fact patterns; compare Progress Software v.
> MySQL.

I think I made it clear that I think this would not be the first choice of
the court -- only in the case where someone was clearly being malicious
and refusing to take the easier options would this be granted.

Whether that would happen in a preliminary injunction, or not, 
depends on the particulars of the hypothetical case.

> > Obviously there would be cases where one or more of these would not apply,
> > but if none of these apply that's probably because they're not violating the
> > terms of the GPL.
> AIUI most copyright infringement suits end with monetary damages,
> sometimes with attorneys' fees and costs attached, sometimes with
> impoundment and an added injunction against continued infringement
> (which makes it quite easy to come back for more penalties if the
> infringer doesn't cease).  But IMHO a competently defended "GPL
> violation" suit, if its facts reflect reasonable disagreement about
> the interpretation of a contract of adhesion, is unlikely to result in
> any penalty other than the stipulation of future conduct consistent
> with the contract terms as construed by the court.

I think we're loosely agreeing on this point.


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