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Linux developer abandons VMware lawsuit

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Linux
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In August 2006, well-known Linux developer Christopher Helwig spotted Linux source code being used illegally in the VMware ESX bare-metal virtual machine (VM) hypervisor. Helwig, with the aid of the Software Freedom Conservancy, eventually sued VMware, Now, after the German Hamburg Higher Regional Court dismissed Helwig's appeal, he has decided that it would be pointless to appeal the decision.

The heart of the lawsuit had been that Hypervisor vSphere VMware ESXi 5.5.0 violated Linux's copyright. That's because VMware had not licensed a derivative work from Linux under the GNU General Public License (GPL). True, VMware had disclosed the vmklinux component under the GPL, but not the associated hypervisor components.

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Statement on VMware and the GPL violation lawsuit

  • VMware Suit Concludes in Germany

    Today, Christoph Hellwig announced the conclusion of his case against VMware in Germany. The Hamburg Higher Regional Court affirmed the lower court's decision, which dismissed the case on purely procedural grounds; they did not address the main question of the case. Hellwig has decided with his legal counsel, Till Jaeger, and after conferring with Conservancy, to not appeal the case further in German courts.

    “The subject of the complaint I filed was the question of whether the distribution of the software Hypervisor vSphere VMware ESXi 5.5.0 software is copyright infringement because VMware has no permission to create a derivative work from Linux under the GNU General Public License (GPL)” says Hellwig. Both courts declined to consider that essential question.

    VMware, in their news item about the decision by the Court, announced that they will finally remove vmklinux from vSphere. Both Hellwig and Conservancy had asked VMware to remove the Linux code from VMware's proprietary kernel many times. While the preferred form of GPL compliance is release of the entire work under the terms of the GPL, a common alternative is to merely remove the GPL'd code from the product. VMware chose the latter method to comply.

Linux developer ends licence violation case against VMware

  • Linux developer ends licence violation case against VMware

    Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig has ended his legal fight against cloud computing and platform virtualisation software and services company VMware, over alleged violation of the GNU General Public Licence version 2 under which the kernel is distributed.
    Hellwig, the maintainer of the kernel's SCSI sub-system, said in a statement that his appeal against the decision issued by the Hamburg District Court on 7 August 2016 had been dismissed by the Hamburg Higher Regional Court.

    He added that, after conferring with his lawyer, Till Jaeger, and the Software Freedom Conservancy, which bankrolled the litigation, that no further appeal would be lodged.

    [...]

    Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig has ended his legal fight against cloud computing and platform virtualisation software and services company VMware, over alleged violation of the GNU General Public Licence version 2 under which the kernel is distributed.
    Hellwig, the maintainer of the kernel's SCSI sub-system, said in a statement that his appeal against the decision issued by the Hamburg District Court on 7 August 2016 had been dismissed by the Hamburg Higher Regional Court.

    He added that, after conferring with his lawyer, Till Jaeger, and the Software Freedom Conservancy, which bankrolled the litigation, that no further appeal would be lodged.

    [...]

    Software Freedom Conservancy executive director Karen Sandler said: “VMware knew what they were doing was wrong, but continued to generate revenue by infringing copyrights in Linux, while only slowly working toward non-infringement.

    “As we have always said, we simply want companies to follow the rules and do the right thing when they incorporate GPL'd code into their products.”

Software Freedom Conservancy Announces End to VMware Lawsuit

  • Software Freedom Conservancy Announces End to VMware Lawsuit

    Linux developer Christoph Hellwig has announced that he is discontinuing his lawsuit against VMware for non-compliance with the terms of the GPL. Hellwig and the Software Freedom Conservancy accused VMware of including GPLed code associated with vmklinux into VMware’s proprietary vSphere product. A German appeals court dismissed the case on February 28. Hellwig and the Software Freedom Conservancy have decided they will not appeal the case further in German courts.

    The judge appears to have decided the case on procedural grounds without taking on the larger questions related to the GPL and the power of the copyleft protection. The questions hinged around whether the plaintiffs had successfully proven that the code was present in VMware’s code base and that the use of the code was non-compliant. VMware maintains that the vmklinux code is a separate component that does not force release of vSphere under the copyleft requirement.

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