on Sat, Oct 18, 2003 at 11:35:06PM +0800, Dasn Cups (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote: > On Sat, Oct 18, 2003 at 11:09:08AM -0400, Paul Smith wrote: > > If you use GPL'd code and distribute the results and refuse to hand out > > the source code, the copyright holder of the GPL'd code can sue you for > > copyright violation. > > > > If you really meant code owned by the GNU project, the copyright holder > > is most likely the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and they would sue > > you, if it came to that. > > > > The problem is that if I refuse to hand out the source code, who will know > that I used GPL'd code? By disassembling? Various means. First note that the lifetime of copyright in the US and most Berne signatories is authors life + 70 years. Odds are that your liability for infringement will extend into the foreseable future. Statute of limitations is 3-5 years for various remedies, _from date of infringement_. Meaning: if fifteen years from now you distribute, copy, broadcast, or otherwise exercise an exclusive right of authors in violation of the GPL, your liability will extend another 3-5 years (for various remedies) from that point. GPL violation can be detected by various means. First: be aware that a great many people are aware of GPLd code, particularly more poular projects. The odds that someone will become aware of an infringement of your project over its lifetime are pretty good. I've talked with Jeremy Allison, one of the Samba developers, about this a few times. Turns out that a freely available, source-code accessible, implementation of the MS SMB / CIFS protocol which often performs _better_ than Microsoft's own product, is highly tempting to a good number of folks. Ways infringement has been noted: - Watching network traffic. The Samba team knows SMB protocols and traffic signals. - Binary signatures. Executables and libraries cary distinctive signatures which are readily detected. - Infringers source tree accessible. It's happened. Browse right on in and surf. - Developer migration. Peple working on Product X leave project and drop a note to GPL team saying "you might want to look at this". - Customer suspicions. Customer (or prospective customer) sees proprietary product and thinks "Hmm...this looks an awful lot like...". On analysis, this is readily determinable. Finally, while legal countermeasures are one option, an equally effective one is to simply publicize the fact that a given product is in GPL violation and that the company producing it is failing to comply with GPL terms, if other negotiations fail. Since most violations are for commercial purposes, the prospect of facing zero demand (and potentially high-stakes fraud suits from customers) for a product known to contain infringing software. Of course, if you feel this is an acceptable business risk, you're more than welcome to test the system. Peace. -- Karsten M. Self <email@example.com> http://kmself.home.netcom.com/ What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand? Bush/Cheney '04: Over a billion Whoppers served.
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