Re: GPL Violation of 'sveasoft' with GPL Linux Kernel/Busybox +code

From: Michael Poole
Date: Tue Nov 09 2004 - 23:17:02 EST

Kyle Moffett writes:

> > You can fully exercise your rights under the GPL; they are not
> > restricted. However, you cannot expect future support from Sveasoft.
> But if I paid $20 for one year of said support?

The contract might have a termination clause triggered if you do a
handstand or file a patent lawsuit against Sveasoft. By your
argument, that would make the contract breach the GPL, since you could
not use the GPLed software while doing those things -- which is
ridiculous on its face.

> > Only your contract entitles you to that support, and if you do
> > something to terminate your contract, it is outside the GPL's scope.
> What _is_ inside the GPL's scope is that no contract may require me
> to abstain from my GPL rights. If I use my full GPL rights, then they
> are telling me that I break the contract and lose my $20 support.

That depends greatly on the wording of the contract.

Interestingly, the only description I can find on Sveasoft's web page
says this:

Sveasoft firmware and support is available for a yearly $20 USD
subscription fee. A subscription includes unlimited access to
firmware upgrades and unlimited access to priority support.

If Sveasoft terminates someone's "unlimited" access before the year
expires, Sveasoft may be in breach of contract, since there are no
disclaimers about termination -- but that still does not translate to
copyright infringement.

> > This is unpleasant for a lot of people. It is probably suboptimal for
> > the free software community. Life can be hard like that. Any
> > competent lawyer could have a copyright infringement claim dismissed
> > if the claim were based on your theory of the GPL.
> As I said, IANAL, but I do feel strongly about this issue (though I've
> never paid for their software). In any case, I think this point will be
> moot if SveaSoft continues with their announced plan to require an
> activation key. That would _definitely_ be against the GPL.

I suspect that an activation key would violate the GPL, but that is a
different question than the support contract.

Michael Poole
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