Re: GPL Violation?

From: Chase Venters
Date: Thu Aug 17 2006 - 22:07:24 EST

On Thursday 17 August 2006 08:41, Alan Cox wrote:
> Ar Iau, 2006-08-17 am 14:39 +0200, ysgrifennodd Grzegorz Kulewski:
> > Why does Linus and others let lawyers and courts decide in such
> > (important?) thing like what is allowed in Linux (or with Linux) and what
> > is not?
> Because licenses are bounded and defined by the law. In the case of
> copyright based rights they extend only to the thing that is copyrighted
> and any derivatives so the grey area is not one the GPL could clarify
> further.

IANAL, but I think there are 2 cases here:

1. The courts decide what "derived works" are when someone distributes code
that they wrote. So if NVIDIA writes nvidia.ko, the courts will decide if
nvidia.ko is a derived work.

2. However, the only valid license under which to distribute the Linux kernel
is GPL. If the GPL prohibits linking in non-GPL code, and Linux adds no
exception, then one clearly has no license to distribute Linux if they
distribute it alongside code that links in to Linux and does not carry the
GPL license. If they were just shipping binary modules, it's questionable
grey area. But if they distribute _Linux itself_, especially considering they
haven't paid for it (and hence have no 'natural' rights), they must comply
with the GPL and the GPL's definitions of its terms, else they have no
license at all to distribute Linux and are in violation of copyright.

NVIDIA might be able to skate closer to the cracks because they do not
distribute the Linux kernel. NVIDIA couldn't ship NVIDIA Linux with the
binary-only driver. TiVo has to obey the GPL to distribute Linux, so does
Linksys, etc. In the embedded case, you're distributing the kernel which
means you must execute whatever conditions GPL chooses to impose.

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