26 July 2021

Stockfish vs. ChessBase

Near the end of the post The Condemnation of Fat Fritz (March 2021), I wrote,

This controversy could go on for months, maybe years.

The latest salvo in the dispute was documented last week in Our lawsuit against ChessBase (stockfishchess.org). The blog post started,

The Stockfish project strongly believes in free and open-source software and data. Collaboration is what made this engine the strongest chess engine in the world. We license our software using the GNU General Public License, Version 3 (GPL) with the intent to guarantee all chess enthusiasts the freedom to use, share and change all versions of the program. Unfortunately, not everybody shares this vision of openness. We have come to realize that ChessBase concealed from their customers Stockfish as the true origin of key parts of their products. [...]

The basis for the lawsuit goes back to March.

In the past four months, we, supported by a certified copyright and media law attorney in Germany, went through a long process to enforce our license. Even though we had our first successes, leading to a recall of the Fat Fritz 2 DVD and the termination of the sales of Houdini 6, we were unable to finalize our dispute out of court. Due to Chessbase’s repeated license violations, leading developers of Stockfish have terminated their GPL license with ChessBase permanently. However, ChessBase is ignoring the fact that they no longer have the right to distribute Stockfish, modified or unmodified, as part of their products.

The complaint continues,

Thus, to enforce the consequences of the license termination, we have filed a lawsuit.

What do chess fans think? Unfortunately, Talkchess.com is currrently returning '403 Forbidden; You don't have permission to access...' messages, so I'll come back to that forum another time. For a discussion of the issues by the wider world, see Our lawsuit against ChessBase (hacker-news.news). It appears the case will be decided in German courts.

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