DISTRICT COURT OF FRANKFURT ISSUES VERDICT ON GPL VIOLATION OF D-LINK
BERLIN, Germany - September 22, 2006 -- The gpl-violations.org project prevails
in court litigation against D-Link Germany GmbH regarding D-Link's alleged
inappropriate and copyright infringing use of parts of the Linux Operating
D-Link Germany GmbH, a subsidiary of D-Link Corporation, Taiwan R.O.C.,
distributed DSM-G600, a network attached storage (NAS) device which uses a
Linux-based Operating System. However, this distribution was incompliant with
the GNU General Public License (GPL) which covers the Linux Kernel and many
other software programs used in the product.
Following-up a legal warning notice, D-Link signed a declaration to cease and
desist and agreed to refrain from further distributing the product, but refused
to reimburse gpl-violations.org for expenses incurred in connection with the
test purchase, re-engineering and legal advice and representation. In the court
proceedings, D-Link claimed that the GPL is not legally binding. A quote from
the German letter of the D-Link lawyers to gpl-violations.org, dated Feb 24,
2006 can be translated as:
- "Regardless of the repeatedly-quoted judgement of the district court of Munich
I, we do not consider the GPL as legally binding."
Since gpl-violations.org has been continuously revealing GPL violations by
D-Link since September 2004, it filed a civil case with the district court of
Frankfurt (Germany) in March 2006, seeking the court to issue a judgement in
support of its copyright claims based on the GPL, and seeking the court to
order D-Link to reimburse gpl-violations.org for the expenses of the
Mr. Harald Welte, Linux Kernel developer and founder of gpl-violations.org
"The Free Software community is very happy to see more and more vendors
to use Linux and other Free Software in their products. However, Free
Software is copyrighted material, much like any other software.
Redistribution may only take place in accordance with its license."
On September 6, 2006 the district court issued its judgement, confirming the
claims by gpl-violations.org, specifically its rights on the subject-matter
source code, the violation of the GNU GPL by D-Link, the validity of the GPL
under German law, and D-Links obligation to reimburse gpl-violations.org for
legal expenses, test purchase and cost of re-engineering. Only the amount of
the legal expenses was considered too high by some insignificant amount of 300
EUR. Therefore, this decision marks a clear-cut victory for
gpl-violations.org. D-Link may file an appeal against the judgement.
Mr. Welte continues:
"It was very sad to see D-Link starting to argue that the GPL would not
apply . Given D-Link's repeated license violations, it can be thankful
that we've never asked for any kind of damages, but merely to cease and
desist from further infringements, plus our expenses. I start to
wonder whether they actually deserve such a mild strategy."
In the past 30 months, gpl-violations.org has helped uncover and negotiate more
than 100 GPL violations and has obtained numerous out-of-court settlement
agreements. The gpl-violations.org project is a not-for-profit effort to bring
commercial users and vendors of Free Software into compliance with the license
conditions as set forth by the original authors. The project was founded and
is managed by Mr. Harald Welte, a Linux Kernel developer and Free Software