Most commercial projects use open source, they do have an obligation to distribute with copyrights and licence . Not doing so is violation.

What are the sanctions for violating copyright ?

  1. What if copyrights were omitted ?
  2. The commercial project was intentionally distributed without copyrights.

Juridiction: The company is in EU ( France and Germany) . The open source used are spread across US California, UK, Germany, France.

  • Open source and law are related. By answering this question, it will put in perspective the potential damage of not disclosing the copyrights and thus drive behaviors to no violation at all. – Raymond Chenon May 31 '17 at 16:49
  • @GlennRanders-Pehrson , the line was removed. You also have the edit rights – Raymond Chenon May 31 '17 at 21:18
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    "Sanctions" isn't really the right category. Copyright violations including FLOSS license violations are civil matters. What happens is you tell them to stop, and if they won't then you take them to court. – curiousdannii May 31 '17 at 22:44
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    @curiousdannii "Copyright violations ... are civil matters" Would that that were universally true. – MadHatter Jun 1 '17 at 11:43

GPLv3 says that

nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate or modify any covered work. These actions infringe copyright if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or propagating a covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so.

I know that you're asking about other (weak) copyleft licences, but the text above is so clear, and the point so general, that I thought it worth quoting. If you are only permitted to reproduce someone else's work if certain conditions are met, and you fail to meet them, then you have no right to reproduce their work, and if you do so you're infringing their copyright. The Apache 2.0 licence includes the grant that

You may reproduce and distribute copies of the Work or Derivative Works thereof in any medium, with or without modifications, and in Source or Object form, provided that You meet the following conditions:


(c) You must retain, in the Source form of any Derivative Works that You distribute, all copyright, patent, trademark, and attribution notices from the Source form of the Work, excluding those notices that do not pertain to any part of the Derivative Works

So it's pretty simple. By removing others' copyright notices you fail to meet that condition, and by then redistributing their work (in source, object, or binary forms) you're committing copyright infringement. Depending on the jurisdiction you're in, legal remedies for that include injunctive relief (where a court orders you to eg stop distributing your derivative work, and/or to recall and destroy any copies already distributed), compensatory damages (where a court estimates how much money the plaintiff would have made if you'd had to buy licences for the work you copied, and makes you give it to him/her), punitive damages (where a court makes a public example of you by giving a lot of your money to the plaintiff), and may include other remedies. In some jurisdictions imprisonment is a possibility.

Evidence that the infringement was deliberate (your part two above) may make certain of these penalties more likely to be applied, but it will all depend on local law (and you don't tell us your jurisdiction), and in any case IANAL/IANYL.

It's crazy to risk that. Free software gives you so much for little in return: just honour the licences and all will be well.

  • thank you very much for this complete answer. I can look in my local laws. BTW which juridictions apply the plaintiff or defender ? – Raymond Chenon Jun 1 '17 at 8:02
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    I'm sorry, but I don't understand that last question. – MadHatter Jun 1 '17 at 11:41
  • Sorry, I reformulate my question : which juridiction applies ? . The country where the company who violated the licences ( defender ) . Or in the country of the plaintiff . I know that you're not my lawyer. – Raymond Chenon Jun 1 '17 at 12:23
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    It's hard to say; courts argue about nexus and justiciability all the time. Generally, an offense occurs and is prosecuted within the jurisdiction in which it is committed, but the internet has sometimes made it hard to say where that is. It seems likely to me that any potential infringement has occurred where the infringer is located, but if they have then distributed infringing product to third-party jurisdictions, infringement may have been committed there also. The issue of enforceability also enters into the question. It's really hard to discuss this in the abstract, I'm afraid! – MadHatter Jun 1 '17 at 12:36

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