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Is the GPL a Valid License?
There have been a number of legal disputes in
the USA and
Germany related to the GPL.
In all the cases which have been resolved, the
GPL has proven to be both enforceable and legally binding.
case has not yet been resolved, however in that case, the principal remaining GPL-related
issue appears to be whether
violated the GPL
(IBM alleges that they did,
claims that they did not).
So, to summarize, so far, wherever tested, the GPL has proven to be both a valid
and enforceable license.
- In cases in
have won injunctions and judgements preventing copyright-infringing use
of GPL licensed software (where the copyright infringement arises from
breaching the license's terms through GPL violations).
a private individual, Daniel Wallace, filed two law suits in Southern
one against the
Free Software Foundation,
and the other against
alleging that the use of the GPL violated anti-trust law.
Wallace's lawsuits were however ultimately dismissed by the court, which
comprehensively rejected his arguments.
- The SCO Group
has made various allegations (and filed lawsuits based on these allegations)
claiming that some of the code in
is there in violation of
alleged intellectual property rights.
In the course of these lawsuits, as well as on their web site and in other
public statements, the
has made various claims and assertions about the GPL, including:
- The assertion that the GPL
"violates the United States Constitution and the U.S. copyright and patent laws"
(in a letter that the
CEO, Darl McBride, sent to the US Congress and published on its web site).
- A defense (subsequently dropped) in a lawsuit to
counterclaims, alleging that
"The GPL violates the U.S. Constitution, together with copyright, antitrust and export control laws, and IBM's claims based thereon, or related thereto, are barred."
- A defense (also subsequently dropped) in a lawsuit to
counterclaims, seeming to allege that
could not enforce the copyrights of
GPL-licensed works, without the presence of various third parties:
"IBM has failed to join one or more parties needed for just adjudication of the counterclaims, including but not limited to the Free Software Foundation and contributors to the Linux 2.4 and 2.5 kernels."
- That the
(including IBM copyrighted works)
did not violate the GPL,
was simultaneously attempting to impose licensing fees and various restrictions
counterclaims in the lawsuit include a copyright claim based on
programs in Linux
in alleged violation of the GPL).
Discuss GPL Validity
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