Judge Saris defers GNU GPL Questions for Trial in MySQL vs. Progress Software

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Media Contact: Free Software Foundation
Bradley M. Kuhn <pr@fsf.org>

Boston, Massachusetts, USA - Friday, March, 1, 2002 - In a decision handed down today in Boston, US District Judge Patti B. Saris ruled on the preliminary injunction motion in MySQL AB vs. Progress Software Corp. On the trademark dispute, on which the Free Software Foundation (FSF) takes no position, she has ruled that Progress Software is enjoined from marketing products under the MySQL trademarks until trial.

On the matter of Progress' distribution rights under GNU GPL, she has not granted an injunction. In the public hearing this week, Judge Saris made clear that she sees the GNU GPL to be an enforceable and binding license, but that as long as Progress Software appears to be presently in compliance with the GNU GPL, there is probably no irreparable harm being caused to MySQL AB. Since Progress did previously distribute in violation of the GNU GPL and thus did harm MySQL AB and the Free Software community, the FSF expects MySQL to prevail at trial on these claims. The Court recognizes in today's order that MySQL “seems to have the better argument”.

The Court fully recognized the need for expert testimony at trial about the GNU GPL and the technical facts at hand, particularly as to why static linking of software components into a single, unified, compiled binary forms a derivative work of the original components. As publishers of the GNU GPL and defenders of software freedom, the FSF has a basic ethical imperative to educate the public and the judiciary about the license and its terms. The FSF respects the due process of law, and thus plans to continue to offer our General Counsel as an expert witness; Professor Moglen has donated his time to the MySQL legal team, as he donates his time to the Foundation, for the public good. The FSF believes that the best way to serve the Free Software community is to educate and clear up common misconceptions about the GNU GPL, and will continue to do so despite attacks from those who oppose software freedom.