For those of you who have not yet seen the news, another company in Germany has fallen prey to the GPL-Violations organization run by Herald Welte. In this case, network equipment provider D-Link was accused of violating the General Public License (GPL) through the distribution of the Linux kernel in its DSM-G600 network attached storage device. As it has in the past with other suspected violators of the GPL, GPL-Violations led by Herald Welte brought a claim seeking to enforce the terms of the GPL against D-Link, this time in district court in Frankfurt, Germany. Earlier this month that court ruled against D-Link and ordered it to cease violating the GPL and to pay the court costs of GPL-Violations. Further information regarding this case is available from a number of sources online.
Other cases such as this one have previously been brought in Germany and elsewhere. However, this case is of particular note in that the judge specifically rejected claims by D-Link that the GPL is not a legally binding document and found the GPL to be valid under German law. This case is also significant in serving further notice that groups are active in seeking to enforce open source licenses on a worldwide basis and that an increasing number of courts outside of the U.S. are acting to legally enforce open source licenses against open source software users who violate the terms of those licenses. While a lawsuit like this one has yet to be brought here in the U.S., groups such as the Free Software Foundation are active in enforcing the GPL in the U.S. and it may only be a matter of time before one of these enforcement actions gives rise to a similar lawsuit here in the U.S.