I posted this, under the same heading as this journal.
The GPL is a flag for Open Source software developers to rally around, but it has no teeth and anyways by violating the GPL no one is actually harmed in any way. In fact, much of the software that is developed by violating the GPL is in fact useful to end users so they're more likely to use a FOSS product in the future.
I have heard that there is a small startup (in Oakland?) that is developing software that will take source code and manipulate it so that source code and compiled output are different enough from the original to be nearly undetectable. In addition to this software I believe they're planning on providing consulting and development services to take the Open Source code and manipulate it even further to obfuscate the code.
This is exciting, because most FOSS software isn't accessible to the general public, but by reducing the costs required to produce software by using an existing code base we should see many new products that are actually afordable and useable by the end user population. Of course, I'm sure some people will copy and distribute this software over the Internet, but that's not a big deal either as we've already established.
I was talking with a good friend of mine from Bratislava about this a couple weeks ago and he was pretty angry. He thought this violated the rights of the people who wrote the code and the end-users because the software wasn't free as in speech. I argued that this may be the case, but it doesn't really matter because the producers would have developed the software anyways, and the end-users are in 99% of the cases not going to even want to manipulate the source code. Furthermore this is a civil issue, so if there is a coypright violation that has real impact on a developer then they'll just take it to the courts. My friend couldn't argue with this one. He agreed that many open source developers, particularly in the U.S., have day jobs that pay them 10x what he makes and are so wealthy that they can easily hire a lawyer to defend their IP rights. He was concerned about the rights of the myriad of developers around the world who don't make as much as the uber-rich American developers. I agreed that it would be very very hard for the "little guy" to properly defend his IP, but suggested that by using GPLed code and releasing it as a closed source product, they could in fact create a small revenue stream that would help them advance their education, research, or general standard of living. He liked that idea a lot.
It's a very exciting time.
This reads like a troll, and probably is in the strictest sense of the term. Trolling isn't my intention though. Copyright violators justify their copyright infringement in so many illogical ways and yet are extremely hypocritical about any other violation of copyright or software licensing. They argue against the wealthy powered corporations, they argue that it's all for the greater good, they drag out straw men from what must be the world's largest straw man factory... they keep coming so rapidly. My point with the post is that you can rationalize violating the GPL or any other license very very easily, and that most of the arguments I've made are just as sound (read not sound) as the arguments for violating copyright.
That said, there are many concerns about how the government has responded to IP issues in general, and I've seen some reasoned responses that have made me think. Unfortunately the reasoned responses are drowned out in the sea of illogical and inconsistantly implemented arguments.