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Bradley Kuhn - Fork and ignore: fighting a GPL violation by coding instead

Typically, GPL enforcement activity involves copyright infringement actions which compel license violators to correct errors in their GPL compliance, defending the policy goals of the GPL: the rights of developers and users to copy, share, modify and redistribute.

While traditional enforcement is often undeniably necessary for embedded electronics products, novel approaches to GPL violations are often possible and even superior for more traditional software distributions.

Recently, Software Freedom Conservancy engaged in an enforcement action whereby, rather than fight the violator in court, we instead provided resources and assistance to a vetted GPL-compliant fork of a violating codebase.

This talk discusses which scenarios make this remedy optimal and the lessons learned. The talk includes some licensing and technical content about vetting the licensing information of codebases.


7 years, 6 months ago

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staff-board · video · lp2015 · LibrePlanet · LibrePlanet 2015 · LibrePlanet 2015 video

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LibrePlanet 2015 Videos (libreplanet)


CC BY-SA 4.0


This talk was presented at LibrePlanet.


LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference. The FSF campaigns for free/libre software, meaning it respects users' freedom and community. We believe that users are entitled to this; all software should be free.


We do not advocate "open source".

That term was coined to reject our views. It refers to similar practices, but usually presented solely as advantageous, without talking of right and wrong.


Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 by announcing development of the free operating system, GNU. By 1992, GNU was nearly operational; one major essential component was lacking, the kernel.


In 1992, Torvalds freed the kernel Linux, which filled the last gap in GNU. Since then, the combined GNU/Linux system has run in millions of computers. Nowadays you can buy a new computer with a totally free GNU/Linux system preinstalled.


The views of the speaker may not represent the Free Software Foundation. The Foundation supports the free software cause and freedom to share, and basic freedoms in the digital domain, but has no position on other political issues.