Friday, 11 April 2014

'Internal' distribution does not mean GPL is not invoked

Chicago software licensing attorney Evan Brown  notes an interesting case, XimpleWare Corp. v. Versata Software, Inc., 2014 WL 490940 (N.D.Cal. February 4, 2014), one of very few which address the workings of the General Public Licence (in suit, GPLv2) - a document which becomes more and more important every day.
The plaintiff (as they still call them over there - how quaint! Oh, sorry, I forgot that British irony would be completely lost on any American readers) wrote an XML parser and made it available under GPL v2. The defendant acquired software from another vendor that included the code, and allegedly distributed that software to parties outside the organization. The plaintiff argued that the defendant did not comply with the conditions of the GPL (no attribution, no copyright notice, no reference to the plaintiff's source code, no offer to 'convey' as the GPL puts it the source code), and sued for copyright infringement.
The defendant's argument was that its 'distribution' of the software was merely internal, mainly to its own financial advisers, so the GPL's requirements were not triggered. The court rejected defendant’s argument, looking to the allegations in the complaint that defendant distributed the software to vendors in India, as well as providing it to 'thousands of non-employee financial advisers.'

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