Re: GPL Violation?

From: Arjan van de Ven
Date: Thu Aug 17 2006 - 02:51:43 EST

On Thu, 2006-08-17 at 02:42 -0400, Patrick McFarland wrote:
> On Thursday 17 August 2006 01:48, Anonymous User wrote:
> > I work for a company that will be developing an embedded Linux based
> > consumer electronic device.
> >
> > I believe that new kernel modules will be written to support I/O
> > peripherals and perhaps other things. I don't know the details right
> > now. What I am trying to do is get an idea of what requirements there
> > are to make the source code available under the GPL.
> I am not a lawyer, and I suggest your company speak with one before doing
> this. (And most likely, someone from the list will correct me if I get
> something wrong).
> However, your company only has to release any code they use, preferably in the
> form of unmodified tarballs (pointing to project websites for downloads isn't
> valid anymore) plus patches against said unmodified tarballs if modified. If
> not modified, you still have to release the unmodified tarballs.
> They don't have to release source code for any module you wrote from scratch
> themselves, but said modules cannot say they are GPL (ie, they have to poison
> the kernel).

Just as a warning: This is your own legal opinion/advice, one which is
apparently not shared with many other kernel developers, including me.
For example see Greg's OLS keynote:
or some of Linus' emails on this topic:*checkout*/rpms/kernel/devel/COPYING.modules?rev=1.5

I hope you have talked to a lawyer about your advice, but I sort of
doubt it since your answer doesn't sound like something a lawyer will
tell you (it sure doesn't match what the various lawyers I talked to
told me, not at all)

Anyway the best advice for anyone who asks such a question is to go talk
to a lawyer, and probably he should take a few of those links printed
out with him just to alert the lawyer about the controversial nature of

Arjan van de Ven
if you want to mail me at work (you don't), use arjan (at)

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