This FAQ answers questions related to the gpl-violations.org project, it's background and it's intentions.
What are the goals of your GPL enforcement ?
- To raise awareness of violations of GPL licensing
- To assist vendors in their compliance with the GPL
- To enforce the GPL and to protect free software from abuse
Does gpl-violations actually have any ability to do this ?
In the situations where violations have been found and action taken enforcement has been successful. This includes out of court settlements with several large vendors and a legal injunction against Sitecom. We strive to resolve issues amicably. When this fails we resolve them through legal actions.
How large is "large vendor" here ?
Fujitsu-Siemens is large, surely they are not the only example.
Is the GPL enforceable in law ?
At least in Germany, based on our own experience: yes. In recent years, there have also been successful court cases in the United States. We see no evidence to believe it is not enforceable globally.
What process does gpl-violations.org follow ?
The goal of gpl-violations is to resolve violations. We recognize that companies make mistakes. We seek amicable solutions whenever possible, but only if that solution resolves the violation.
How can I help gpl-violations.org ?
Firstly by not reacting to a technical GPL violation in an extreme fashion. Secondly by checking the violation is indeed a violation.
Join the mailing lists, discuss issues there first. Be polite but firm when dealing with companies and remember that the goal is to ensure a company stops violating the GPL and does not violate it again, rather than to leave a smoking crater at the location of their HQ... at least not on the first offense.
Keep records of conversations with companies. Co-ordinate with others. A company faced with eight different stories will find it hard to deal with. A company faced with a single accurate information source can respond better.
Beware the "public shaming" bomb. It's easy to let off, but very hard to defuse if you made a mistake or the issue turned out to be minor and is rapidly resolved. In addition companies may become very defensive in such cases and decide to "tough it out". We want to build bridges and giving a company no way to avoid losing face hinders that, especially in certain cultures.
What can I do if I encounter a GPL violation?
The gpl-violations.org project keeps track of reported GPL violations in its internal request tracking system. If you want to report an alleged violation, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to enable --verbose mode, i.e. include as much details as possible.
How can I donate to your project?
At this point, gpl-violations.org does not seek donations from individuals. Corporate donations are welcome, please contact <ulink url="mailto:email@example.com">Harald Welte</ulink> in case you're interested.
As soon as the project has been incorporated (planned for 2016), we will provide opportunity for individual donations and some form of membership scheme for authors of Free Software who want to have their rights represented.