Netfilter developers defended collective decision making 

The current ones Netfilter kernel subsystem developers sued to settle with Patrick McHardy, former leader of the Netfilter project, which for many years discredited free software and the community with attacks on GPLv2 violators, similar to blackmail and carried out for the purpose of personal enrichment.

In 2016, McHardy was removed from Netfilter's core development team for ethical violations, but still benefit from the fact that its code is in the Linux kernel.

McHardy pushed GPLv2 requirements to the point of absurdity and for minor infractions by companies that use the Linux kernel in their products, requested large sums (up to 1,8 million euros), without giving time to eliminate the infringement and presenting ridiculous conditions.

For example, it required smartphone manufacturers to send hard copies of the code for automatically delivered OTA firmware updates, or interpreted the term "equivalent code access" to mean that code servers provide download speeds no slower than servers for downloading binaries.

The main leverage in such procedures was immediate revocation of the offender's license, provided for in GPLv2, which allowed breach of GPLv2 to be treated as a breach of contract, for which monetary compensation could be obtained from the court.

The netfilter project announces a deal with Patrick McHardy.
This agreement is legally binding and governs any legal application activities relating to all programs and program libraries published by the netfilter/iptables project on their website as well as the Linux Kernel. 

To counteract this aggression, which undermined the reputation of Linux, some developers of the kernel and companies whose code is used in the kernel took the initiative to adapt the GPLv3 rules for the kernel regarding license revocation.

These rules allow to eliminate problems identified with the publication of the code within 30 days from the date of receipt of the notification, if violations were detected for the first time. In this case, the rights of the GPL license are restored and the license is not completely revoked (the contract remains intact).

This agreement establishes that any decision-making regarding enforcement activities related to netfilter must be based on a majority vote. Therefore, each member of the active core team [5] at the time of the execution request has a right to vote. This agreement covers past and new performance, as well as performance of obligations

It was not possible to peacefully resolve the conflict with McHardy and he stopped communicating after being kicked off the main Netfilter team. In 2020, members of the Netfilter Core Team went to the German courts and in 2021 reached a settlement with McHardy that is defined as legally binding and governs any law enforcement action related to the netfilter/iptables project code included in the core. or distributed as individual applications and libraries.

Under the agreement, all decisions related to responding to GPL violations and complying with GPL license requirements in Netfilter's code must be made collectively.

The netfilter project continues to support "The Principles of Community Oriented GPL Compliance”. Therefore, this agreement not release third parties from their obligations to comply with the license onwards.

The decision will be approved only if the majority of the active members of the Core Team vote in favor. The agreement not only covers new violations, but can also apply to previous proceedings. In doing so, the Netfilter project does not abandon the need to enforce the GPL, but will adhere to the principles of action in the interest of the community and the provision of time to remove the violation.

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


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