An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit organization that promotes open source software and protects the free General Public License (GPL) software, recently sued major TV provider Vizio for abusing the GPL with its Linux-based SmartCast. Vizio replied that SFC has no right to request source code. However, on May 13, SFC succeeded in federal court with a motion to return the lawsuit against Vizio to the Orange County Supreme Court, California.
Doesn’t that seem like a big deal? Think again. An important part of the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staten argued that the SFC’s claim, “that [GPLv2] the fulfillment of an “additional contractual promise separate and distinct from any rights under copyright law” is an “additional element” and therefore the SFC’s claims are not prejudiced. Karen M. Sandler, CEO of SFC, explained: “The ruling is a turning point in the history of copyright licensing. This ruling shows that GPL agreements function both as copyright licenses and as a contractual agreement. ”Sandler added that even in the legal community of free open source software (FOSS) people are wrong to claim that the GPL and other copyright licenses function only as copyright licenses .. This decision clearly states that the GPL also acts as a contract.In addition, this decision makes it the first case that shows that individual consumers are entitled to the source code as third-party beneficiaries of the GPL.