On 02/18/2013 06:36 PM, Richard Fontana wrote:
That said, on to the HBR cure: I had a conversation with Bradley
in which we very briefly discussed this issue, as Bradley was long
under the impression that the GPL could not *possibly* support an
argument that mere licensees have some standing to enforce the source
code requirement (despite the fact, of which Bradley might not be
aware, that over the years some legal academics have at last taken the
question seriously, if skeptically, and some private practice lawyers
[admittedly seeking to profit from the erstwhile open source boom, the
SCO crisis, etc.] purported to take this qite seriously too).
I noted the obvious point that copyleft-next and GPLv2/GPLv3 are not
worded identically, so his comment was partially irrelevant.
Bradley mentioned some interesting work that Australian lawyer Brendan
Scott had done attempting, AIUI, to use Australian consumer protection
law to give a basis for GPL licensees to sue upstream distributors for
failure to provide source code. It is not clear whether such efforts
have been successful.
Under dutch law a mere licensee should be able to enforce the GPL.
Dutch IT lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet blogged  about this last year.
I will give a quick English summary of the relevant bits of that blog post:
Dutch contract law has a "third-party beneficiary" concept. An example
of where this can be used is when you purchase something from an online
retailer. The retailer has a contract with a courier service to deliver
the package, as a buyer you do not have a contract with the courier
service. However you are a beneficiary of the contract between the
retailer and the courier, you can sue the courier and demand that the
courier honors the contract it has with the retailer (on penalty of a
"dwangsom" -- a conditional fine).
This should also work for copyleft licenses. If you purchase a device
with e.g. the Linux kernel in it, and the manufacturer does not give you
the source code when you ask for it, you can sue the manufacturer of the
device and demand that it honors the contract (GPLv2) the manufacturer
has with the Linux kernel developers.
-- kuno / warp.