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GPL Successfully Defended in German Court 210

Posted by Zonk
from the penguin-shoots-penguins-scores dept.
Philip Bailey writes "The GPL Violations Project, based in Germany, have won (subject to appeal) a court case against D-Link, who had allegedly distributed parts of the Linux kernel in a product in a way which contravened the GPL. D-Link had claimed that the GPL was not 'legally binding' but have now agreed to cease and desist, and refrain from distributing the infringing product, a network attached storage device. Expenses, including legal expenses, were received by the plaintiffs; they did not request any damages, consistent with their policy. They have previously won a number of out of court settlements against other companies. Slashdot has previously mentioned the GPL Violations Project."
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GPL Successfully Defended in German Court

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  • Legally binding? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cheapy (809643) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:34PM (#16168235)
    So is it now legally binding in Germany?

    What does this say about propietry software's licenses?
    • by mindstrm (20013) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:37PM (#16168253)
      The thing is, even if the GPL is not legally binding... what else gives D-Link the right to distributed copyrighted works of others? Answer: Nothing

      • Re:Legally binding? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by caseih (160668) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:29PM (#16168681)
        Right. This is about software distribution, not software use by an end-user. The GPL is *not* an EULA; it's a license to distribute the program. The GPL explicitly states that you do not have to agree to the terms of the GPL in order to use the program.

        I suppose that by these same arguments you could argue that EULA's must be valid because nothing else grants you the right to use copyrighted materials when you buy a program from a closed-source vendor. But EULAs go beyond copyrights into contract law, I believe they are a different beast than source code licensing.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          IANAL, and I'm from Europe, so this may be different in the US.
          Over here, though, an EULA cannot be enforced unless you buy the software directly from the company that wrote it. The reason for this is that buying an off-the-shelf copy of, say, Windows XP from your local computer store is a deal between two parties - you and the store owner. Therefore, Microsoft is not an involved party in this deal, and thus cannot dictate what you may or may not do with the software.
          Of course, if you buy directly from Micr
      • Re:Legally binding? (Score:5, Informative)

        by zcat_NZ (267672) <zcat@wired.net.nz> on Saturday September 23, 2006 @05:25PM (#16170419) Homepage

        The GPL is NOT legally binding. It never has been, and it never claimed to be.

        Copyright law is legally binding. If you want to distribute copies of software (Be it Microsoft's or Richard's or Linus's) you need permission from the copyright holder. You're quite welcome to completely ignore the GPL, but in that case you have no permission to distribute copies of the software and doing so becomes copyright violation.

        It's really simple.
    • by LehiNephi (695428)
      Yup, it looks like the GPL is now (officially) legally binding in Germany. This says nothing about the EULAs that come with proprietary software. Those are different licenses with different terms, and would have to be tested individually.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        A license is a permission to break some law (James Bond: license to kill, GPL: license to violate copyright under certain conditions). EULAs don't fit the profile, they aren't licenses (unless you live in a country where installing a program from the retail CD to your harddrive is considered a copyright violation).
        • by abertoll (460221)
          I'd have to agree. The last letter in EULA is "Agreement" making "License" an unusual adjective.
      • Re:Legally binding? (Score:5, Informative)

        by KDR_11k (778916) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:55PM (#16168407)
        The difference is that an EULA is a forced contract you have to sign after purchasing the product and before using it that restricts rights you usually have while the GPL is simply a written version of the terms the copyright holder has set for copying the software. The GPL is the condition under which the copyright holder is willing to make concessions to you while an EULA is an attempt to extend the powers of the copyright holder beyond those granted by law.

        And AFAIK EULAs aren't considered valid under German law.
        • by frost22 (115958)
          hmmm... IANAL

          but as long as they confirm to the $$305 ff BGB (the successor clauses of the formel AGB-Gesetz (law to regulate fine print in contracts)) they can - AFAIK - be perfectly valid.

          On the other hand, the majority of EULAs is so outrageous they would not pass muster in most iurisdictions, including Germany and the EU.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            It doesn't fall under 305ff. because it wasn't available at the time of the conclusion of contract. Submitting terms after contractual agreement doesn't make them included.
      • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @03:02PM (#16169381) Homepage Journal
        Hm,

        Yup, it looks like the GPL is now (officially) legally binding in Germany.
        No, the GPL is not legal binding in germany. In germany only 2 things are legal binding: laws, and contracts. And this is more or less true also for the rest of the world, except that in some countries court rules "become law" or are similar to law unless in later times other courts do no longer agree in certain situations.

        What after all does legal binding in your eyes mean anyway?

        This says nothing about the EULAs that come with proprietary software. Those are different licenses with different terms, and would have to be tested individually.

        What is an EULA? Something you agree on before you buy a product, that is before you aquire ownership? If so the EULA is completely valid as long as it does not contradict any law.

        If you have aquired ownership of the product before the EULA is presented to you, e.g. there is a EULA on a sheet of paper inside of the box, or after opening the box and using the software a EULA dialog pops up, the EULA is completly irrelevant and void.

        Back to the topic: as far as I understand the ompany D-Link claimed they simply used the GPLed software and had no contract with the author so the "GPL note" on the software would be not legal binding. Thats of course a bullshit idea of D-Link, especially as this is not the first GPL law suit in germany and in all cases the copyright owners won ...

        angel'o'sphere
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The German legal system doesn't have binding decisions, i.e. a judge will - for any new case - look at the legal text and provided evidence and make a decision himself; but as there's nothing wrong with the GPL (and nothing else gives you a right to redistribute software) I'm pretty sure it will hold in the future as well.

      This is basically just a relief for people who had doubts in the past.
    • Re:Legally binding? (Score:5, Informative)

      by arth1 (260657) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:53PM (#16168399) Homepage Journal
      So is it now legally binding in Germany?

      IANAGL, but as far as I know, the Ius Commune based legal system in Germany doesn't require a court decision setting precedence before a legal contract or new law is binding, nor does one court have to support earlier decisions by other courts.
      All the precedent does is make it easier to fight similar cases, as one can draw on the experiences of the earlier case.
    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Saturday September 23, 2006 @02:19PM (#16169093)
      What does this say about propietry software's licenses?

      It should say absolutely nothing, because the GPL only covers distribution (which you don't automatically have a right to do) while most proprietary software licenses try to cover mere use (which you do automatically have a right to do, under the Doctrine of First Sale). Unlike the GPL, EULAs have no real meaning.

      Of course, I'm not German so I have no idea if they do things differently than we do in the US.

  • Strange.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:37PM (#16168255) Journal

    I don't get it..

    Why were they barred from distributing the product?

    Or was there some reason that they could not also just distribute the source, which would have also made them compliant with the GPL?

    • Re:Strange.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:00PM (#16168447)
      They didn't want to. Yes, distributing source would make them GPL compliant. They refused to, so they were forced to stop distributing the product.
    • Re:Strange.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pausanias (681077) <pausaniasx@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:42PM (#16168787)
      Imagine this. A clueless properietary software company builds some software based on all the best libraries it can find. It takes some GPLed libraries, licenses some closed source libraries, and links it all together into one closed source executable. Normally, it has to sign non-discolsure agreements as parts of the deal to license the closed source libraries.

      In this situation, there is absolutely no way for the clueless company to legally sell the executable. Under the GPL, it must supply the source code for everything needed to build the executable. The only options are: 1) violate the GPL and try to get away with it; 2) release the complete source and get sued by the other closed source licensors for violation of the NDA; 3) no longer sell the executable. I wonder which options most companies would go for?

      I bet you this happens all the time. Perhaps even in some of our favorite closed source Linux kernel modules. NDAs are the primary reason given by NVidia and ATI for not open sourcing their graphics card drivers. Perhaps there are even several layers of this happening, with companies trying to sell licenses to closed-source modules that include GPLed software.
    • Hi,

      Why were they barred from distributing the product?

      Because the product (lets give it the version number 1.1) does not honour the GPL, so it's banished from distribution, ofc.

      Or was there some reason that they could not also just distribute the source, which would have also made them compliant with the GPL?
      Of course they can do that, but then they have a new product with the version number 1.2 (source included). That one then would be distributeable again ... until some copyright owner complains because
  • GPL vs EULA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by delirium of disorder (701392) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:37PM (#16168259) Homepage Journal
    Since the GPL is based on well established copyright and contract law, in most nations it shouldn't really need to be "tested" in court. IANAL, but I would think that it would have a far stronger legal standing than EULAs which often make the people who agree to them take all sorts of measures that have nothing to do with traditional copyright protection.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cfulmer (3166)
      That's a bit simplistic. Contracts are tested in court all the time and some of them are found to be unenforceable, often on the basis of "well established . . . contract law."

      Here are a few examples:

      (1) Who gets to enforce the GPL? I don't know much about the GPL-Violations group, but if they didn't write any of the code then (at least in the US), they wouldn't have standing to enforce the GPL.

      (2) While we're at it, what is the ownership status of a work with one original author that has been modified
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ClamIAm (926466)
        I don't know much about the GPL-Violations group, but if they didn't write any of the code then (at least in the US), they wouldn't have standing to enforce the GPL.

        Hey, I have an idea. Instead of posting something that draws on no actual facts, you could take two minutes and read their homepage [gpl-violations.org]:

        The founder, Harald Welte ... [discovered] companies violating the GPL in software he wrote for the netfilter/iptables project.

        ...

        Over time, some other Linux kernel developers have transferred their rights in a fi

  • I read the news article linked and didn't see any reference to D-Link releasing the source, nor any request by the GPL Violations group for them to do so.

    "It was very sad to see D-Link starting to argue that the GPL would not apply. Given D-Link's repeated license violations, it can be thankful that we've never asked for any kind of damages, but merely to cease and desist from further infringements, plus our expenses. I start to wonder whether they actually deserve such a mild strategy."

    The group eve

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sique (173459)
      They preferred not to but rather to cease and desist. It's their decicion, not yours.
      Who knows what other corpses they had in the cellar (to use a german proverb)?
      • by jeremyp (130771)
        No, you have missed the point. If I bought one of these D-Link widgets with GPL code in it, the licence terms clearly state that I have a right to a copy of the source code since D-Link distributed the binary to me. D-Link have distributed GPL code so they have an obligation to supply the source code to the people they distributed it to regardless of whether they stop distributing it or not.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          IANAL..., But the person who gets to defend that right is the copyright holder, not you (the poor victim who depended upon the terms of the GPL.) If the copyright holder takes them to court, and accepts "court costs + stopping distribution", then that is it. I don't see what standing you would have to sue since it wasn't your copyright that was violated...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      "if the GPL is valid and a company has released a product contaminated with GPL code, shouldn't they have to release the source rather than simply refraining from the practise?"

      This is the viral nature of GPL. I suspect from now on, D-Link will move over to one of the BSD's, probably FreeBSD. The viral aspect of GPL is what I suspect keeps many companies from going full Linux. At least when you make a deal with the Devil, i.e. Microsoft, and MS allows you to modify one of their Windoze kernels for a ha
      • by Sique (173459) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:19PM (#16168591) Homepage
        Copyright by itself is viral. If you modify someone elses Work of Art (i.e. creating your own work based on the original), you need her permission. To distribute it you need her permission again. And to distribute it for modification, you have to ask for permission again and again. Same is valid for the modificaton of the modification. This is viral by nature. The GPL just gives you all three permissions at once, but it doesn't change the virality.

        In fact the same is valid for the BSD licence. The original copyright holder has to be mentioned in all derived works, and also in the derivations of the derivations. In this case the virality is attached to another aspect, but it is still viral.
        • If you modify someone elses Work of Art (i.e. creating your own work based on the original), you need her permission.

          I agree with the rest of your post, but this part is wrong. You can legally fold, spindle, and mutilate any copy of something you own (subject to any other contracts that may limit you) without asking permission of the author. Copyright is just that: the right to copy. It says nothing about the right to modify.

      • by mike2R (721965)
        I really don't understand the viral analogy. Code doesn't "catch" the GPL, only code that was placed under it, or derivitive works of that code, is covered by it. It's not like you have to be careful keeping your propriatry code on the same hard drive or anything. The GPL is strictly an inherited "disease" as far as I can see.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by man_of_mr_e (217855)
          The quintessential example is GNU Readline. GNU Readline is a library that is deliberately licensed under the GPL (not the LGPL) in order to "encourage" people to GPL the rest of their software if they need use of it. Basically, linking the Readline library into your application and distributing it requires you to GPL your entire application, even though merely linking to an unmodified library could hardly be called deriving the work from it.

          This aspect of linking which requires relicensing is what makes
    • I read the news article linked and didn't see any reference to D-Link releasing the source, nor any request by the GPL Violations group for them to do so.

      That's more likely a defect in the article than proof that the GPL Violations Group did not explain this to D-Link. After all, the best possible solution is for the product to still exist and the GPL to be followed, by releasing the source.

      But, if you really want to know, why don't you ask the GPL Violations Group instead of speculating on Slashdot?

  • How arrogant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@NOSpAM.uberm00.net> on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:42PM (#16168299) Homepage Journal
    We expect people to agree to our Terms of Use [dlink.com] but we don't have to obey those from others when we use their products.

    How hypocritical!
    • Re:How arrogant (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrShaggy (683273) <chris DOT anderson AT hush DOT com> on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:50PM (#16168379) Journal
      Nothing new here. Slashdot as a whole seems that way. It wants some sort of vindication that the gpl is valid, and c+d letters go flying. However when other companies, such as members of the **AA are involved, the crowd screams bloody murder. How dare these corporations excersize their right ? There goes my karma
      • Re:How arrogant (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sique (173459) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:10PM (#16168521) Homepage
        It's easy. It always depends on the rights you are defending. GPL is defending the right to copy, modify and distribute. *AA is defending the right to stop you from copying, modifying and distributing.
        • by MrShaggy (683273)
          Point! Counter-Point: Whether or not the terms of the agreement are for one person to copy more or less is irrelevant. Media is copy-righted. Either copy-right, or GPL is valid, because of legal issues, and the fact that the consumer is using the product, is aware of the license. Therefore bound to it.
          • Re:How arrogant (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mrchaotica (681592) * on Saturday September 23, 2006 @02:05PM (#16168963)

            Your "counterpoint" is stupid. Here's the bottom line: anything that increases the user's freedom is good. If copyright infringment (or better yet, DRM circumvention) does that, it's good. If the GPL does that, it's good. Legality is irrelevant.

          • by Sique (173459)
            Media is NOT copyrighted. Works of Art are. And they are copyrighted to further the advance of Knowledge and Arts and increase the available works by encouraging artists to create new works by giving them for a limited time a certain control about the usage of the work.

            The rationale behind copyright agrees that one of the necessary conditions to have Works of Art at all is to have a huge amount of Art and Knowledge accessible to everyone, and the more of those are available, the more new works will be creat
            • >The rationale behind copyright agrees that one of the necessary conditions to have Works of Art at all is to have a huge amount of Art and Knowledge accessible to everyone, and the more of those are available, the more new works will be created. In the end the right to copy, to modify and to distribute is a precondition for the creation of Art. On the other hand creation of Art takes time and costs money, so there has to be a way to reimburse the artist. Copyright does that by giving the artist a limite
              • by Sique (173459)
                Just because it's not the media, that defines a Work of Art. You can copy a shopping list as often as you want, independent of the media it is stored on. You can make a hundred copies of bird voices in your front yard, no one has a legal right to object. As long as the content of the media is not copyrighted, the media itself is copyable at your will, except for some strange technical hurdle called "copy protection". This is actually the issue I have with copy protection schemes: They forbid you to copy som
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by zecg (521666)
            The GPL is basically a legal system hack to ensure that the corporations don't take everything. It exists precisely because such things as copyright laws and software patents have been made evil.
      • by partisanX (1001690) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:20PM (#16168603) Homepage
        ...that your perceptions are maybe the result of different groups of people comprising the slashdot community? I've found that my own opinions on certain subjects are in a minority, while on other subjects they seem to be in the majority. I've even witnessed that on certain topics, moderation of certain viewpoints that you think would be related, turn out differently depending on the topic. I suspect this is due to many people, like myself for example, who just don't read certain topics, while reading other topics faithfully.

        I myself have a very low opinion of those who think they have a right to copy whatever they want because "information wants to be free". I see such people as manufacturing reasons to justify their own shoddy behavior. OTOH, I have a very high opinion of the GPL(and other open source licenses) and those who defend them.

        Just keep that in mind.
        • by MrShaggy (683273)
          Of course. Thats why I posted it as a generality. Most of my statements are to that fact. Lots of differing opinions is what makes the place good. Its maybe an irony, that slashdot is promoting the use of c+d letters.
          • by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @04:08PM (#16169823) Homepage
            Its maybe an irony, that slashdot is promoting the use of c+d letters.
            But you see, you never hear anyone on slashdot say anything against the idea of C&D letter themselves, only their use as a strong-arm tactic to enforce the current bought-and-paid-for copyright laws. It is entirely consistent, as the GPL is a means of turning the copyright system against itself. Pointing out such "ironies" makes you sound like Steve Martin in The Jerk, shouting "These cans! He hates these cans!"
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by squidsuk (850172)

          Where's the conflict between wanting people to be able to copy, modify, and redistribute what they receive, and supporting the GPL which manages to achieve the trick of achieving that for software in a world of strong copyright? The stronger copyright is made, the stronger the GPL becomes, and the more it can be enforced; conversely, weakening copyright weakens GPL enforcement but equally makes it less necessary. Given the circumstances we find ourselves in, with perpetual copyright and looming digital rest

          • by sydb (176695)
            Abolishing copyright doesn't get the source into the hands of the people, though, only the binaries, and what use are they, as they can't be easily modified.
      • by EvilIdler (21087)
        Are the same usernames against the *AAs maintaining their copyright while demanding
        cease & desist on GPL violators? Slashdot has a lot of users, with different opinions,
        and most of them wrong :)
      • by TheSpoom (715771) *
        The first line of my comment was meant to be a summary of D-Link's position as if they were speaking it, not Slashdot's. Hence the link to D-Link's terms of use.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wfberg (24378)
        Nothing new here. Slashdot as a whole seems that way. It wants some sort of vindication that the gpl is valid, and c+d letters go flying. However when other companies, such as members of the **AA are involved, the crowd screams bloody murder. How dare these corporations excersize their right ? There goes my karma

        Some differences;
        - accusations of GPL breaches are usually well-researched and levied at the correct legal entity, where the *AAs have been known to send C+D letters based on similarity of filenames
      • by bky1701 (979071)
        The GPL is about keeping code free. The RIAA, is not.
      • by Burz (138833)
        The **AA are trying to stamp out a tradition of Fair Use by locking-down the devices we own and making the mere reprogramming of such a device (whether shared or not) an instant crime.

        Are OSS advocates doing the same for their works? No.

        In skankazoid D-Link's case, I doubt their bias has much to do with protecting the interests of the end-user. Their capacity for respect stops at anything smaller than the size of an office park, with a seven-figure market cap and a team of lawyers flying a commercial banner
  • The same D-Link? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 23, 2006 @12:42PM (#16168305)
    That's interesting. I recently purchased a range of Gigabit network cards. An Intel Pro/1000, an Blekin and a D-Link. The D-Link box contained a printed copy of the GPL. So they clearly do consider the GPL binding, otherwise why would they have bothered? This is the first time I have ever seen a printed GPL included with a product.

    I havn't checked the driver CDs in the Intel & Belkin cards yet to see if they have Linux drivers on them. While I'm at it, also shame on Intel for not mentioning Linux on the box; Novell & Windows logos are there, but nothing for Linux (The Belkin & D-Link boxes do not mention any OS compatability at all)
    • by Sique (173459)
      Accompaning the product with the GPL is only one of the obligations. Making the source code available for copying, modifying and distributing is another one. Obviously D-Link decided not to follow this obligations and rather agreed to stop the distribution.
    • by Tim C (15259)
      This is the first time I have ever seen a printed GPL included with a product.

      If I recall correctly, I got a printed copy of the GPL with each of my Netgear products (2 wireless APs), along with an URL from which to download the relevant source. I can't vouch for the source though, as I never bothered.
  • reperations (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darkchubs (814225)
    without seeking damages.. GPL has no teeth. more of a, "lets infringe and see, whats the worst that could happen" attitude. asside from that it COSTS money to goto court in the fist place. If the RIAA didnt seek damages would anyone have stopped Kazaing?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) *
      . . .without seeking damages.. GPL has no teeth.

      Damages are about financial loss.

      Copyright is about copying; monopoly. What you do with a monopoply is largely up to you; within the limits of law. You may choose to exploit it for financial gain or not. If you do not that does not infringe on the enforcability of your legal monopoly.

      The GPL requires a sharing of code. Code is what you can demand in court. Those are the only teeth that the GPL is designed to have. It's about the code, not money.

      If you want mon
      • In that case, what they ought to do is demand that the source code be released without giving the option to merely cease and desist. The violation has already occurred; users already have devices that they should be free to modify but aren't; therefore, releasing the code is the only reasonable outcome because it's the only thing that actually fixes the problem!

        Of course, since IANAL I don't know if this is actually possible. It could be that the damages must be monetary. In that case, they ought to demand

    • by TCM (130219)
      I have read the verdict.

      In order to prove the copyright violation, the plaintiff had bought a device and reverse-engineered the firmware on it.

      He successfully demanded the purchase price and expenses for reverse engineering. So D-Link now has to pay him back the price of the device - which he in turn must return back to D-Link of course - and 4 hours at 140,-EUR each.

      Plus, of course, loser pays.
  • Dlink could have cheerfully continued to distribute their product but simply made available the source code from the kernel. Include a little piece of paper in the bodx that says something to the effect of, "This product is power by the Linux Kernel. In accordance with the GPL the source code for GPL software running on this device can be downloaded from www.dlink.com/GPL under [model number]. Please note that this product also contains proprietary software not included in the GPL." They can use linux f
    • You forget that the GPL is about as viral as AIDS.

      If they didnt anything further than running a stock linux system, they would have a hard time not releasing own source, too.
  • by hullabalucination (886901) * on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:15PM (#16168561) Journal

    I've got a Belkin F5D8230-4 MIMO wireless router and the matching F5D8010 cards. Airgo makes the chipset on both. Guess what the router's internal OS is? Guess which OS doesn't have driver support from Belkin/Airgo for the card? I know--this is probably off-topic, as Airgo does release some parts of the router's bits and pieces to the public. That being said, however, to me it's like a violation of the spirit of the GPL to make use of the GPL'd OS to make your product a success, then turn around and very pointedly ignore the support needs of the folks whose code you depended on to get your product off the ground (and Belkin wireless pre-N stuff is exceedingly popular now, as even a casual scan of the Wireless Aisle at the Usual Retail Outlets will confirm). Reading the forums, there's a lot of Linux folks out there who'd love to have a bona fide driver available from the OEM. Probobably a few of whom have contributed code to the OS at one point or another which Belkin/Airgo is dependent on.

    At least you can get the card to work via the NDIS kludge (but not in every case, and not even using Belkin's Win32 drivers). I guess I shouldn't complain. WinXP-64 campers are completely out in the cold with this kit, so my partner won't be able to upgrade her Win2K any time soon.

    * * * * *

    The preceding poster is a wholly owned subsidiary of the the Mitsubishi Corporation and his post may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the consent of Major League Baseball.

  • No doubt the kernel developers will be quick to rush to D-Link's defence. Surely it's intolerable that the GPL restricts D-Link's freedom to use the kernel in this way, and attempts to force a particular moral code?
  • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @03:23PM (#16169505) Journal
    Many people (apparently even those in charge of large companies) seem to have this very strange idea that the GPL is not valid, and that because of this they can do whatever they want with the work in question. The premise doesn't have any basis in reality, but the conclusion is sheer insanity. It's somewhat akin to walking into a liquor store, noticing that their liquor license has recently expired and then stealing on their booze, claiming that because it can't legally be sold it must be free. The GPL's validity as a license has nothing to do with copyright law, and those people who have licensed their work under the GPL have explicitly NOT placed their work in the public domain. Hell, D-Link doesn't have (to my knowledge) a publically availible license for their proprietary code at all! That must mean it's public domain, right?

    As much as I'd like to see a legal test of the GPL (not because I think it's invalid, but because coporations will become much more willing to deal with it, once it's been proven in court), this is simply a very, very basic test of copyright law. It's amazingly basic, but apparently some people still don't get it: D-Link doesn't think the GPL is a valid contract? Fine, then they're not licensed to distribute the code at all!
    • by Tim C (15259)
      The GPL's validity as a license has nothing to do with copyright law

      How so? Without copyright law, the GPL would have no teeth, as when you violate the GPL, it's copyright law that you'll be sued under. (As when you violate the GPL, you no longer have permission to distribute the offending code, and so are infringing copyright)
      • *basic, non-contractual copyright law. Copyright law without anything extra added, e.g. the copyright law that takes effect if the GPL is ever declared invalid.
    • by wrook (134116)

      As much as I'd like to see a legal test of the GPL (not because I think it's invalid, but because coporations will become much more willing to deal with it, once it's been proven in court), this is simply a very, very basic test of copyright law.

      The thing about the GPL is that it will never be tested in court. For precisely the reason you give. Either you accept the GPL (meaning you accept it and don't think it's invalid), or you are faced with dealing with the situation under very, very basic copyri

  • This is Good News.

    There are parts I really do like about the german law system. For one, it's 'loser pays all'. Which means, if you're right, it's actually reasonable to defend yourself, even if it costs a little. And this also means that big entities can't just go around sueing everybody and everything to chunky kibbles. Because if they lose, they have to pay. Which even corporations can only afford that often.
    #2: Civil lawsuits over money have their amount also judged by the jury, which prevents insane am
  • The GPL is a method and a means to design, build and execute software engineering that is self sustaining, and allows others to contribute, pass those contributions on and be rewarded for thier labor in real cash.

    Something the BSD style licenses doesn't do. (i.e. take our our code we don't give a damn we are your slaves.)

    By forcing contribution back into a products process and life cycle, which is what the GPL does, better products are produced because people are allowed to build on each others work.

    Patent
  • I've been messing around with DSM-320 and Dlink does provide lots of gpl code at their ftp site [dlink.com]. However I haven't had much time to mess around with it to see if it will work without major missing pieces. These guys [freytechnologies.com] have been trying to get a DSM-520 working and it seems it is a little more complicated:

    Also legally who's responsible to release the sources: the OEM (DLink), the design house (Redsonic), or the company who probably customized the kernel for the SI8210 (Sigma)?

    I've called D-Link before m

    • by jrumney (197329)

      Also legally who's responsible to release the sources: the OEM (DLink), the design house (Redsonic), or the company who probably customized the kernel for the SI8210 (Sigma)?

      Dlink, or maybe even the retailer you bought it from, is distributing the product to you, so they are responsible for distributing the source to you. They can chase up the chain to get the source from whoever distributed the binaries to them, but they shouldn't be trying to deflect you up the chain and claiming no responsibility. Un

  • Jesus, when are people going to figure out that the money received for damages can fund open source development? They broke the license, you have a right to damages, seek them and use the money to sue more people. It's basic guerilla tactics!

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