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[GNU/FSF Press] Press Release: GPL tested in US courts in Wallace

From: Peter Brown
Subject: [GNU/FSF Press] Press Release: GPL tested in US courts in Wallace
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 19:52:39 -0500

The GPL tested in US courts - Wallace Vs FSF.

The GNU General Public License stands firm.

On Monday March 20, 2006 US Federal Judge John Daniel Tinder, dismissed
the Sherman Act antitrust claims brought against the Free Software
Foundation. The claims made by Plaintiff Daniel Wallace included: that
the General Public License (GPL) constituted a contract, combination or
conspiracy; that it created an unreasonable restraint of trade; and that
the FSF conspired with IBM, Red Hat Inc., Novell and other individuals
to pool and cross-license their copyrighted intellectual property in a
predatory price fixing scheme.

Peter Brown, FSF Executive Director, responded to the news, "As the
author of the GPL and copyright holder on the largest body of GPL'd
covered free software, the FSF hears many theories of potential legal
claims and challenges to the GPL. We hear the fear, uncertainty and
doubt (FUD) expressed, that the GPL has never been tested in court, and
that somehow that is a sign of its weakness. Nothing could be further
from the truth of course. Put quite simply, if you don't accept the
terms of the GPL, then you have no rights to the copyrighted works it
covers. What is there left to test? The GPL is a software license, it is
not a contract. It gives permissions from the copyright holder. You
don't want to accept those permissions? End of discussion."

On Monday, a US Federal Court Judge dismissed Daniel Wallace's case
saying "[The GPL] acts as a means by which certain software may be
copied, modified and redistributed without violating the software's
copyright protection. As such, the GPL encourages, rather than
discourages, free competition and the distribution of computer operating
systems, the benefits of which directly pass to consumers. These
benefits include lower prices, better access and more innovation."

Brown continued, "Let us all stop and consider the consequences of what
this US Federal Judge has said. On being presented with the facts
surrounding the GPL, he was able to define a range of benefits available
to those that value the freedoms delivered by the GPL. The question we
are all left with is, why would anyone put up with the inferred
consequences of proprietary software?", and, "If you care about lower
prices, better access to software, or more innovation, then GPL'd
software is for you. Or as the Free Software would describe that, you
value freedom".

Having dismissed the case, and finding in favor of the FSF and against
Wallace. The Judge also allowed FSF costs against Wallace. Wallace, now
has thirty days to appeal the decision, but the FSF expects no relevant
news on this matter.

About the Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software - particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants - and free documentation for free software. The FSF
also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of
freedom in the use of software. Their Web site, located at ,
is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to
support their work can be made at Their
headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

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