Software Freedom Conservancy Wins Big Step Forward For Open-Source Rights

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    An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit organization that promotes open-source software and defends the free software General Public License (GPL), recently sued major TV vendor Vizio for abusing the GPL with its Linux-based SmartCast OS. Vizio replied that the SFC had no right to ask for the source code. On May 13, however, the SFC succeeded in federal court with its motion to have its lawsuit against Vizio remanded back to Superior Court in Orange County, CA. Doesn’t sound like that big a deal? Think again. The important part of the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton stated that SFC’s claim “that the [GPLv2] enforcement of ‘an additional contractual promise separate and distinct from any rights provided by the copyright laws’ amounts to an ‘extra element,’ and therefore, SFC’s claims are not preempted.” Karen M. Sandler, SFC’s executive director, explained, “The ruling is a watershed moment in the history of copyleft licensing. This ruling shows that the GPL agreements function both as copyright licenses and as a contractual agreement.” Sandler added that even in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) legal community people argue incorrectly that the GPL and other copyleft licenses only function as copyright licenses. This decision clearly states that the GPL also acts as a contract. Further, this decision makes it the first case to show individual consumers have rights to the source code as third-party beneficiaries of the GPL. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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