Subject: Re: Viral licenses (was: wxWindows library...)
From: "Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M." <>
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 23:02:36 -0500

An interesting case to watch is Liu v. PriceWaterHouse, wherein you might
say the agreement at issue, if validly enforced, is viral as to the
third-party Chinese programmers in a similar way that the GPL might be.

See, e.g., the Liu v. PriceWaterHouse case on petition for certiorari to the
U.S. Supreme Court.  Liu v. Price Waterhouse, 182 F. Supp.2d 666 (N.D. Ill.
2001), 64 USPQ2d 1463 (CA 7 2002).


Rod Dixon
Open Source Software Law

: amado.alves wrote:
: > <<
: > > I sense there are two senses to this word "viral". I'm really
: > > interested in this so I'll appreciate any input. One sense is the GPL
: > > viral because it spreads itself over derivatives i.e. forces
: > > to be distributed under GPL (if distributed at all, that is
: > > Is there another sense, perhaps more 'legal'? Thanks a lot.
: >
: > Ah but you see, the GPL does not FORCE itself.
: > >>
: >
: > Sorry, I still think "GPL forces itself upon distributed derivatives" is
: > true sentence.
: If you distribute a work that is a derivative of GPL-licensed
: code, and you do not comply with the GPL, you simply violate
: the license. The copyright holder can then demand a) that you
: comply with the license or b) that you stop distribution of
: his code. The GPL would be "viral" if you could not choose
: option b).
: > For me it is. Other words are: "infecting" (as 'bad' as viral),
: > "absorbing" (better), "reciprocating" (maybe the best).
: The problem with "viral" and "infecting" is that they have
: very strong negative connotations, and create an image that
: GPL-licensed code is just as bad as a virus that wipes your
: harddisk. It also creates the impression that any code on
: the same harddisk will somehow automatically "become" GPL-
: licensed.
: It is true that you have to be quite careful when importing
: GPL-licensed code in your project. But this is no different
: from other third party code; you have to study the license,
: figure out the implications and deal with them. If you take
: proprietary code from some vendor, you sometimes also get
: very problematic conditions imposed upon you.
: The main problem with the GPL is that it is not very clearly
: written (if you're a lawyer) and the copyright holder(s) are
: typically not available to answer detailed questions. Often
: it is practically impossible to track down all copyright holders
: to get clarification or an exception for your usage.
: Arnoud
: -- 
: Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
: Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies:
: --
: license-discuss archive is at

license-discuss archive is at