SFLC files GPL lawsuit on behalf of Busybox developers
Posted by: Anonymous
on September 21, 2007 11:53 PM
I don't see where the idea that the GPL is a contract comes from. It's just a statement of several permissions. It says "you can do foo, bar and baz". Even though some of these permissions are delimited (it's more like "you're welcome into my house, as long as your feet are clean", a conditioned permission, than "you must clean your feet", an obligation that might be established in a contract in return for some other obligation).
When they distribute the program in a way that is not permitted by the license, that's copyright infringement, for they're using a copyrighted work in a way that requires permission from the copyright holders without having secured that permission.
You're correct AFAIK (but IANAL) that there may be no grounds to demand Monsoon to publish the source code of the binaries they distribute. But this is not the only way for them to come to compliance with the GPL. They might as well stop distributing the program. And if they are indeed distributing the work in a way that is not permitted by the license (or licenses) they may have as to that work, then the judge ought to tell them that, under copyright law, they must stop distributing the program that way unless they obtain permission to do so. Pure and simple copyright, no contract law involved.