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Why must the GPL be tested in court?

Aleksander Demko, September, 2007

The GPL is a very interesting license, with "viral" like properties that encourage keeping software free for users and developers. It's unique in that it's not a very liberal (in the "do with as you please" sense like BSD) or an exclusive, pay per use license like commercial/bought software.

Because of these novel viral aspects, people seem to think that the license itself must be validated through some kind of court judgement, to set precedence and to establish stronger prosecutionary powers to use against future GPL violators.

I think this is very silly thinking. The license is like any other, you either follow it and use the software in accordance with its rights and limitations or you don't use the software at all. Do Microsoft's licenses need to be tested in court? No, so why must the GPL? Furthermore, just because it's freely available software doesn't mean you can claim other ignorance, like:

Therefore, companies must treat GPL software like they do any other software they acquire. They must read, understand and comply with its licenses. Companies cannot think that ignorance or arrogance can be used to abuse GPL licensed software.