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posted by janrinok on Saturday February 10 2018, @01:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the slapp-me-again,-I-like-it dept.

Having defeated a defamation claim for speculating that using Grsecurity's Linux kernel hardening code may expose you to legal risk under the terms of the GPLv2 license, Bruce Perens is back in court.

This time, he's demanding Bradley Spengler – who runs Open Source Security Inc and develops Grsecurity – foots his hefty legal bills, after Spengler failed to successfully sue Perens for libel.

Perens, a noted figure in the open source community, and his legal team from O'Melveny & Myers LLP – as they previously told The Register – want to be awarded attorneys' fees under California's anti-SLAPP statute, a law designed to deter litigation that aims to suppress lawful speech.

That deterrence takes the form of presenting unsuccessful litigants with the bill for the cost of defending against meritless claims.

"Plaintiffs Open Source Security, Inc. and Bradley Spengler sued Defendant Bruce Perens to bully him from expressing his opinions that Plaintiffs' business practices violate Open Source licensing conditions and to discourage others from expressing the same opinions," Perens' latest filing, submitted to a US district court in San Francisco today, declared.

"Rather than allowing the public to judge Plaintiffs' contrary opinions through public debate, Plaintiffs tried to 'win' the argument on this unsettled legal issue by suing him."


Perens is asking for $667,665.25 in fees, which covers 833.9 hours expended on the litigation by numerous attorneys and a $188,687.75 success fee agreed upon to allow Perens to retain representation he might not otherwise have been able to afford.

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  • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Tuesday February 13 2018, @02:13PM (2 children)

    by TheRaven (270) on Tuesday February 13 2018, @02:13PM (#637107) Journal

    You would also know that the GPL doesn't prohibit adding extra terms, it requires that the recipient receives the same rights that you receive, which is not quite the same thing.

    From section 6: "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein." The text of the grant disagrees. You may not impose any further restrictions... IE: No additional terms.

    No, it says exactly what I said. You may not restrict their rights, but that's not what GrSecurity is doing. As the recipient of their patches, you are free to exercise the terms of the GPL. If you do so, then they will no longer sell you future versions of their code, but you retain all of the the rights granted to you by the GPL to the code that you have received.

    " 4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance."

    Again, this does not contradict what GrSecurity was doing. They gave you the code under the GPL, you are free to exercise the rights under the GPL. They also have a contract with you to give you new versions of the code. If you distribute the code, then they will not give you future versions. This kind of thing isn't even unusual in contract law: here are a set of terms that you may exercise at any time, if you exercise the terms in contract A then we reserve the right to terminate contract B.

    sudo mod me up
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @02:59PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @02:59PM (#637120)

    Stick to code, kid.

    GPLv2 forbids additional terms added to the agreement between the licencee and those to whom the licensee distributes the work (or derivative work). (distributees)
    Terms can be memorialized or not. They can be verbal, be evinced by a course of business dealings, or be in a writing.
    Here the additional terms added to the agreement were in a writing (they are memorialized).

    You, a programmer, believe that the paper that the GPL v2 is printed on is "the agreement" (or the file in which the text of the GPL v2 resides). This shows your inadequacy in dealing with even slightly abstract topics.

    Stick to code. Nothing personal.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @03:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @03:05PM (#637123)

    Incorrect. The GPLv2 forbids the imposition of additional restrictive terms. GRSecurity imposed an additional restrictive term. No you cannot be "cute" by placing the additional term in a separate writing, verbal agreement, or course of doing business: it is an additional term no-matter how you memorialize it (or even if you choose not to memorialize it).
    And yes: IAAL.

    "You may not restrict their rights, but that's not what GrSecurity is doing."
    Yes it is. GrSecurity is assessing a penalty for the exercise of a explicitly permitted action. It is a restriction and a violation of the license grant.
    Argue all you want. You are not a lawyer. I am. You are simply wrong.