After a false alarm last month, the first lawsuit to test the GPL in the US has actually settled. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with Monsoon Multimedia to end the SFLC's copyright infringement suit against the company. The lawsuit accused Monsoon of violating GPL …
I too would like some clarification, but no one is trying to make it scary to use open source code they just want the conditions met.
Wrong conclusion, mates!
El Reg somehow seem to have the not-uncommon idea that, because every GPL-related lawsuit in the US has settled, this somehow weakens the position of GPL rights-holders due to an absence of legal precedent supporting the GPL. This is mistaken, and the whole meme is nothing but FUD, probably out of Redmond.
The fact that every GPL-related lawsuit that's been filed has settled points rather strongly to the fact that the GPL is VERY strong, and that for a GPL violator, contesting it is doomed to failure.
Let's. Think. Logically. Here.
If there were a reasonable prospect of sliding out from under the GPL in court, someone would have tried it by now, which would mean going to trial. That this hasn't happened in the course of numerous lawsuits means that the GPL violators to date have the sense to listen to their lawyers, fold their cards, and pay up/get into compliance/commit to sin no more.
The fact that, if you're not in compliance with the license, you have NO right to use the code and are violating copyright by doing so, is a VERY painful stick to get whacked with in court; it's much simpler and cheaper to get into compliance. Getting a "legal precedent" here will be very hard, because that will require a GPL violator who is too stupid to listen to his lawyer tell him there's no point in going to trial.
Of course, by that same token, that precedent won't really matter, 'cause the cases will keep settling out of court.
Busybox is a trap
After all is said and done the expenses of dealing with a busybox install are simply not worth it for most devices that will be manufactured in quantities of less than a hundred thousands. The amount of hassle you have to go through on licensing cancels out most of the gain in memory especially for a complex system.
It ends up being easier and cheaper to add 32MB more RAM and use a cut-down linux distribution with proper libraries and a proper dynamic loader. This is yet another case to prove it (not the first and definitely not the last).
Re: Busybox is a trap
Ivanov: "It ends up being easier and cheaper to add 32MB more RAM and use a cut-down linux distribution"
Which is licensed under what license? Correct: The same GPL that BusyBox is licensed under. BusyBox does not introduce any extra hassle. And what hassle? Being prepared to deliver the source code for the GPL licensed packages you have reused (not your own sources, unless you have mixed GPL code into them). You get serious hassles only if you mistakenly think you can get away without doing so.
"Instead, the court treated the attribution requirement contained in the license as a condition on a contract, which foreclosed on the possibility of an injunction, or any other remedy under copyright law."
Then sue for breach of contract. Or simply write the injunction and suitable compensation as a clause in the GPL. You can then sue to get them to comply with it as they are contractually bound.
@ Wrong conclusion, mates!
Not really. Lawyers like precedents as proof of that particular contract/licence etc. being supported by the judiciary. Reaching a settlement just means that the defending party has decided it would be cheaper and easier to settle than to have to drag the whole thing through the courts, wasting time that they could be selling licensed items and making the profits thereon.
Re: Wrong Conclusion
I agree with what you're saying, but I think it mainly comes down to cost and risk.
Many (the majority?) of software houses which use/violate GPL software tend to be small outfits without many resources. Hence why they need to use/rip-off open source software. So, even if they did think they /could/ contest the GPL it's probably cheaper to settle and get on with business.
Plus, the risk of losing such a case would be even more punitive than settling that it's not a risk worth taking.