[MPlayer-dev-eng] KiSS of copyright

D Richard Felker III dalias at aerifal.cx
Tue Mar 16 23:14:22 CET 2004

On Tue, Mar 16, 2004 at 10:08:51PM +0100, Jonas Jensen wrote:
> On Tue, 2004-03-16 at 21:08, Diego Biurrun wrote:
> >  > IANAL, but I think you're wrong. KiSS never accepted the license, so you 
> >  > may not enforce it. You may however, force KiSS to either accept the 
> >  > license or stop using the software. But it's their choice, not yours. 
> >  > Remember the case when Apple accused Microsoft of stealing their video 
> >  > code? In the end, Microsoft decided to remove the infringing code 
> >  > rather than paying for a license.
> > 
> > No, you are wrong.
> > 
> > MPlayer is copyrighted.  To use copyrighted material you need the
> > permission of the copyright holder, i.e. a license.  Using copyrighted
> > material without permission is a crime in most countries.  MPlayer is
> > only available under the terms of the GPL.  By using MPlayer you
> > implicitly accept the terms of the GPL, otherwise you would be
> > knowingly infringing copyright.
> > 
> > This is how the GPL works.
> Here is the relevant section from the GPL itself:
>   4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program
> except as expressly provided under this License.  Any attempt
> otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is
> void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.
> However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under
> this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such
> parties remain in full compliance.
> The way I interpret that, it means that KiSS lost their rights to
> distribute MPlayer-derived code as soon as they violated the GPL, and
> you can prosecute them for doing that using the copyright law, just like
> the RIAA can prosecute p2p users. I do not see anything about forcing
> KiSS to release sources after they violated the GPL.

It's very simple. KiSS has committed a crime which makes them liable
for millions of dollars (at least under US law, dunno about other
countries). We can press charges/file civil suit, with then intention
of bankrupting them. But as an alternative, we can give them the
option to remedy their offense by retroactively complying with the
GPL, i.e. releasing all sources under GPL.

If they refuse to do this on their own accord, then IMO we should sue

If they refuse to do this because they don't hold copyright to all the
other code, and don't have permission to release it, then IMO we could
be more lenient and let them off the hook if they:

1. Release under GPL all the sources which they DO have copyright to.
2. Immediately stop distributing MPlayer code and provide proof that
   their new products do not contain MPlayer code. This means
   already-produced hardware units with MPlayer in ROM, too.

Does this sound like a reasonable arrangement? IMO if we settle for
significantly less than this, we're acting as an irresponsible member
of the free software community by cheapening the GPL.

Further, any settlement reached with KiSS should be SIGNED by all
developers whose code was stolen, and of course that means we must
have a way to verify how much code they actually stole.


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