The GPL is enforceable in law — German court ruling
The General Public License (GPL) — the ‘Magna Carta of the Open Source Software movement’ — has passed its first important legal test. A district court in Munich has made the world’s first ruling on it. The ruling has been greeted with enthusiastic and widespread applause among the free software community, as it enforces compliance with the GPL retrospectively on a piece of free software licensed under the GPL. Another company used the software in question without including the license — i.e. without passing on the GPL terms to users of the company’s software. Christian Ahlert from Oxford has written a terrific introduction to the case, and co-authored a translation of the judgment.
This is a Big Moment in the history of open source. The genius of the GPL is that it uses intellectual property law to enable the owners (creators) of software to license it to others under exceptionally generous terms. But up to now we didn’t have a legal judgment confirming the validity of the licensing scheme implicit in the GPL.