Subject: Re: JBoss aquired by Red Hat
From: simo <s@ssimo.org>
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 13:25:57 -0400

On Sun, 2006-04-30 at 01:27 +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "Bernard" == Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr> writes:
> 
>     Bernard> so what  ?
> 
> I'm not sure what makes Larry scream (he writes in his book that the
> GPL was intended by its authors to be a bare license), but in U.S. law
> contracts have several advantages over bare licenses.  From the point
> of view of free software, an important one is non-copyright-holders
> can enforce them.  This can be important for collective or derivative
> works where the upstream owners are unwilling or unavailable to
> participate in the lawsuit.

But there are also many problems in contracts v. licenses.
For Joe the common FS programmer it is much easier to stay away from
contract law.
Contracts have advantages only for companies or well-funded structured
groups.

> Another is that a bare license cannot compel performance of its terms;
> it can only be revoked/forfeited, and you can sue for damages and
> ill-gotten profits.  Actual damages in the case of publicly free
> software are generally going to be zero; there are statutory damages,
> but these are intended to proxy for actual damages and are at the
> discretion of the court.  It might be very small.
> 
> Consider a case where somebody adapts a copylefted program, and
> distributes only binaries for free.  In the case of a contract, I
> believe you can enforce distribution of the derivative source---the
> violator promised to do so, so that's only fair.  In the case of a
> bare license, though, I would guess that the violator can simply
> desist from distribution, and pay damages if any, since they have made
> no promises (the GPL's language of "acceptance of the license"
> notwithstanding, there is no promise made by the licensee in a bare
> license).

Where's the problem?
If your objective is to make money out of lawsuits you don't use the GPL
usually :-)
You either seek the release of the source or stop the distribution of
infringing binaries.

Simo.