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Innovation

Taking the offensive - GPL-Violations.org

Doing my evening browsing, I ran across the GPL Violations website, put together by Harald Welte -- one of the heroes of open source (or free software, if you prefer). Welte is a contributor to several projects, including the Netfilter/iptables project that provides the framework for packet filtering, network address translation (NAT) and packet mangling for the 2.
Written by Joe Brockmeier, Contributor on

Doing my evening browsing, I ran across the GPL Violations website, put together by Harald Welte -- one of the heroes of open source (or free software, if you prefer). Welte is a contributor to several projects, including the Netfilter/iptables project that provides the framework for packet filtering, network address translation (NAT) and packet mangling for the 2.4.x and 2.6.x Linux kernels.

Welte is also serious about letting vendors know that the "GPL is not public domain, and that there are license conditions that are to be fulfilled." That's where the GPL Violations site comes in. It's a one-man show right now, but Welte is looking to enlist other free software contributors to help maintain the website and put pressure on companies utilizing GPL'ed software without releasing source code. Perhaps the Groklaw community could jump in and give him a hand? It seems like a good match...

It's interesting to note the difference in Welte's approach compared to, say, the scorched earth tactics of the RIAA. Welte advises a calm, level-headed approach to companies that are believed to be in violation of the GPL and trying to work out an amicable solution with the companies to bring them into compliance with the GPL.

So far, the gentlemanly approach is working. The question is whether it will continue to work as GPL'ed software becomes more and more prevalent. What do you think? Will out-of-court settlements and education continue to work, or will free software developers have to resort to lawyers, nastygrams and ugly lawsuits? Is the GPL Violations approach too soft, or just right?

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