I'd like to publish a C library project that I have written on GitHub and license it under GPL, so I am doing some research on open source licenses and some confusion comes to mind.

Let's say Evil Corps uses and modifies my code in a commercial software without disclosing their source. I have come across their software, and realized that one feature it has is very similar to what my library does. Upon my inquiry, they deny that they have used my code but also refuse to show me their source.

How would I have to proceed in order to enforce the GPL? How is it done in the past to prove that the GPL is violated?

1 Answer 1


If an infringement suit is filed, the plaintiff(s) would have rights of discovery. They could subpoena the source code in such a case for comparison. They could take the depositions of EvilCorp's developers and ask them about the libraries that they used.

There might well be other ways to achieve the same effect.

  • You may think "but EvilCorp is evil, so their developers will be lying". Lying in court during discovery is criminal, and EvilCorp's developers don't want to go to jail. And there is the effect of employees becoming ex-employees who may be only too happy to provide evidence.
    – gnasher729
    May 6, 2019 at 16:40
  • This might be true, but go sue a large organization (say Amazon or Oracle) in court for said infringement and see how far you get. The probability of winning is close to zero, regardless of whose side the truth is on.
    – Gili
    May 16, 2020 at 15:39
  • 1
    Gili, if you sue Amazon or Oracle, and you have an actual case, then these companies have deep pockets both to pay lawyers and to pay penalties. With a good case, some big law company will happily take your case.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 1, 2022 at 22:37

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