Reply to post: It's how much does he own

VMware survives GPL breach case, but plaintiff promises appeal


It's how much does he own

My understanding of the case is that the problem is not whether VMWare was distributing software in violation of the license terms. It was whether Hellwig could demonstrate that enough of the unlicensed code had copyrights held by him personally as opposed to other software developers. Without demonstrating that a sufficient threshold of unlicensed copying of software owned by him was reached, under German law Hellwig does not have a sufficient complaint against VMWare to proceed.

The court is not saying that the software in question wasn't Hellwig's. They're just saying that Hellwig hasn't shown to their satisfaction which of the code in question was his, versus which of the code in question belonged to other software developers who are not taking part in the lawsuit. Hellwig has to show that he has enough code in question to make a lawsuit worth the court's time.

Where Hellwig went wrong was to not have all his legal ducks in a row before launching the case. If he has a second go at it later, he may be better prepared. He has to present the right evidence at the right time, and he has to do it in the format which the court wants to see. It's a technicality, but that's what lawyers get paid for.

It's cases like this by the way which are why the FSF requires assignment of copyright to them for any projects which they own. That way they don't have any problems proving they have sufficient interest in the software when enforcing the copyrights.

With Linux kernel development on the other hand, the copyrights are distributed over a very large number of parties. That means that getting enough copyright holders together to agree on enforcing the license terms can be difficult.

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