Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2024


GPL’s Termination under German Law

This talk will first have a look at the previous German rulings on GPL-violations. We will see that the courts were only asked and only ordered that the defendant may not distribute the GPLed software in a GPL-violating way. This leaves one wondering whether the courts would order a defendant to no longer distribute the software at issue at all. This question essentially goes to section 4 of the GPLv2; the so called termination clause. A look into the German Civil Code (sect. 534) reveals us that such automatic termination clauses have to be read as rescission clauses (i.e. as manual termination). We will then look at the sections of the Civil Code which deals with rescission in generally and learn about the separation principle. The talk will conclude with a summary what the copyright holder faced with GPL-violations best does under German law.


Sebastian Steck