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You are here: Home Blogs Licensing Licensing resource series: License Violations and Compliance

Licensing resource series: License Violations and Compliance

by Donald Robertson Contributions Published on Nov 29, 2016 10:56 AM
This is the latest installment in the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) Licensing & Compliance Lab's series highlighting licensing resources.

A big part of our work in the compliance lab revolves around license compliance. We handle compliance for many GNU Project packages, like GCC and GNU Emacs. When someone fails to meet the conditions of the GNU General Public License we help them to understand what is needed to be a good citizen in the free software community. But the nature of that work generally means that it all happens behind the scenes. We're not in the business of shaming those who need help with compliance, so when a compliance case arises there may never be any public statement about the situation. That can leave people wondering about the inner workings of the compliance lab. And whether that's borne out of pure curiosity or wanting to understand the system when going about their own compliance efforts, we want to share as much of that process as we can.

Thus, ten years ago we published an article License Violations and Compliance that helps to paint a picture of the work we do in the compliance lab. Beginning with an explanation of our philosophy when it comes to compliance (which has since been codified into The Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement ), the article goes on to explain the life of a compliance case. From the report of a potential violation, to confirming that a violation does exist, to the process of educating the violator about best practices, this article gives an inside look into how compliance work is actually done.

On the tenth anniversary of the publication of that article, it's remarkable how that process has remained in place. Of course, the FSF had been handling compliance work for decades at the time it was written. And while the software and devices involved in such cases has truly changed over the years, the basic principles for correcting an errors have remained unchanged.

We hope you'll enjoy looking back and learning more about how we have handled compliance issues for so long. Resources like "License Violations and Compliance" are made possible thanks to the users who support our work, here's what you can do to help

Enjoy this article? Check out our previous entry on Licensing resource series: How to choose a license for your own work

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