The Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) has produced its first white paper, which deals with the potential threat to developers who distributes software under the GPL. The alleged threat comes from a securities legislation called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002, which establishes criminal sanctions to corporate board members who fail to fulfill some of their responsibilities with regards to auditing, quality control and accounting. What does the GPL have to do with corporate securities legislation? The allegation from GPL critics is that using the GPL creates a threat of widespread license violation (it’s free after all), and this should be reported to the securities regulator in the United States (the SEC) and to shareholders.
The paper goes into some detail about why they think this is just more FUD against the GPL, but the main argument is that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act only applies to large corporations, and that GPL litigation has been minimal in recent years, so the risk is not there.
The SFLC seems like an interesting team, and I’m sure that we can expect more from them in the future.