Italian courts sentenced two developers for non-compliance with the GPL

Recently the court of Venice, Italy, issued the first order in Italy which protects the GPL license, in which two former Ovation employees are involved, an open source plugin developer for Elementor, a website builder for the open source blogging platform WordPress who lost a lawsuit for not complying with the requirements of the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL).

The Venice court on December 13 recognized the legal enforceability of the GPL clauses and ordered the two developers to respect them and pay a fine for each day of delay.

The GPL is possibly the world's most famous license for free software. The GPL allows you to access the source code, redistribute copies, improve the program, and make it public. However, it does require disclosure of the source code, clarification of how to obtain it, and drafting of the license.

But over the years, the legal interpretation of the GPL, and free software licenses in general, has been the subject of a number of disputes, and various companies have filed lawsuits about it in the past.

Ovation, the developer of the "" plug-in, is one of the organizations that has filed a lawsuit under the GPL.

This year Ovation sued two of its former employees for having used the source code without complying with the requirements of the GPL, and won his case in the court of Venice.

In fact, because the Ovation plugins are open source, two former employees of the company redistributed "electronic plugins for Elementor" using the plugins under the GPL license.

At that moment, the two developers did not seek approval from their former employer and did not mention the changes nor who owns the copyright. They also ignored Ovation's official compliance request.

This is a violation of the GPL. This month's unprecedented Venice court ruling recognized the full legal value of GPL licenses and, according to Ovation, is an important step forward in protecting free software, making it clear that "free" does not mean conditions of free use. .

The order issued by the judge makes it clear that free software grants rights to everyone, but requires compliance with conditions by those who distribute it. Therefore, it orders the defendants to immediately remove the offending code and post the decision on their own website and social media platforms.

"They have also engaged in illegal behavior [by] ignoring the formal notice, which is the first protection tool implemented to protect developers who choose to freely share their code," Ovation said in a later press release. the court's ruling. "The ruling represents an important step in the direction of strengthening the protection of intellectual works distributed through free software licenses in all its forms, a concrete advance for Italian jurisprudence on the matter and more generally for the country", added.

In addition to ordering the defendants to stop distributing the software until it was in compliance with the license, a fine of 100 euros was imposed for each day the defendants delayed to bring the software into compliance, during the first 15 days, after which the fine will increase to 300 euros per day.

In addition, they must post an excerpt of the order on a page of their website, as well as a reference on the home page of the site, which is displayed in twice the normal font size of the site. The same rules apply to your Facebook page. The operational measures are as follows:

Defendants should cease any use made available to the public, as well as any publication, of the software called "E-addons for Elementor", except after removing any recurring code (except for a maximum amount of 500 lines) included in the version. of "Dynamic Content for Elementor" within seven days of communication of this provision.

If any violation of this license ceases, your license with a particular copyright holder is (a) provisionally reinstated, unless and until the copyright holder explicitly and definitively terminates his license, and (b) definitely, if the copyright holder does not notify you of the infringement by reasonable means within 60 days of termination. " However, the self-repair clause still allows the copyright holder to terminate an infringer's license if they choose to exercise part (a) of this excerpt.

Finally, if you are interested in knowing more about it, you can consult the details In the following link.

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