Worked my first GPL enforcement case in 1999 (as FSF volunteer).
Started working for FSF in 2000 (until 2005).
Worked at SFLC from 2005–2010.
Plurality of my time since 1999 has been spent on GPL enforcement.
Through the eyes of a GPL enforcer …
Mine are the stories of the latter.
This talk isn’t for you.
Well, I wrote for you so, it’s for you.
But, it’s not about you.
Sophisticated users and developers generally comply with GPL.
Copyright: the internationalized standard for authors’ controls over works.
Use copyright license to grant permission.
Make permission conditional on giving your downstream the four freedoms.
This is the copyright law hack of copyleft.
Copyright rules require compliance with the license.
GNU Emacs: was the first GPL’d program.
AFAIK Emacs’ copyleft never been violated.
From: bpal…@bbn.com (Brian Palmer)
Subject: Objective Gnu?
Date: 19 Sep 89 15:36:16 GMT
In “The NeXT Book” by Bruce Webster, he says: (page 134):
Objective C is based on the Gnu C compiler developed by Richard Stallman. Release 0.9 has merged the Objective C syntax with the the Gnu C compiler to speed up compilation and to produce faster, more efficient code.
Are they using FSF software in their product? Or is Webster just badly explaining the situation … and Objective C is just preprocessing and passing C to gcc.
Otherwise Gang, I see a Copyleft violation right?
Subject: Objective-C front end for GCC from NeXT
Date: 21 Sep 89 01:01:50 GMT
In response to Steve Simmons’ inquiry about an Objective-C front-end for GCC, NeXT will be making our modifications to GCC for Objective-C available very soon.
Once GCC–1.36 is released (any day now), I will create a patch kit which will be announced on this mailing list. (The modifications are very small.)
GPL is now well-known in the software industry.
Everyone makes mistakes; I just want to see them set right in a timely fashion.
So, who the heck am I talking about?
These companies undercut those that comply.
The end-users buy these devices.
The software build is often poorly put together.
The community wants make it better.
They can’t; even if there were minimal feature changes.
Users are left helpless.
GPL isn’t just there to prevent proprietary improvements.
What does it mean to modify software for an embedded device?
Sure, I’ve got the sources.
But, can I build it in the same way the company did?
If I get it built, can I install it?
By the time I get all that working, will the device be discontinued?
Will they get away with it if they do, only to violate in the next product line?
In the age of the embedded device, copyleft seeks to answer these questions correctly.
For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable.
“the scripts to control…” gets us close.
It handles most of the issues.
“Installation Information” for a User Product means any methods, procedures, authorization keys, or other information required to install and execute modified versions of a covered work in that User Product from a modified version of its Corresponding Source. The information must suffice to ensure that the continued functioning of the modified object code is in no case prevented or interfered with solely because modification has been made.
If you convey an object code work under this section in, or with, or specifically for use in, a User Product, and the conveying occurs as part of a transaction in which the right of possession and use of the User Product is transferred to the recipient in perpetuity or for a fixed term (regardless of how the transaction is characterized), the Corresponding Source conveyed under this section must be accompanied by the Installation Information.
In my view, just clarifies GPLv2’s terse wording.
In any event, it makes it certain.
This is one of the reasons projects should upgrade to GPLv3.
Enforcement is about entire software stack builds, not just single programs.
Users deserve the right to upgrade when and how they want to.
When I said that I was king of forwards, you got to understand that I don’t come up with this stuff. I just forward it along. You wouldn’t arrest a guy who was just passing drugs from one guy to another.
—Michael Scott, The Office
(Mostly) small companies churn out the software builds for various OEM boards.
Companies (big and small) acquire both as a unit.
Aren’t even sophisticated enough to realize they have software licensing obligations.
I continue on GPL enforcement for BusyBox and uClibc.
New reports at least once a week.
Samba is quite often in the devices, too, though.
Lawsuits have become undeniably necessary.
Only used as the very last resort.
GPL Violations are everywhere.
This talk and the slides are: Copyright © 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Bradley M. Kuhn.