RE: GPL vs non-GPL device drivers

From: David Schwartz
Date: Fri Feb 16 2007 - 06:43:03 EST

> What are you talking about? This is not about software patents AT ALL.

Yes, it is. The difference between a copyright and a patent is this
simple -- a copyright protects the one particular way you chose to do
something and a patent protects every possible way of doing the same thing
(or employing the same method).

> Not one person is claiming they have a patent on whatever it is that
> V J's company is putting out (especially since we have no idea what
> that might be). Patents != copyright.

That's exactly what they're doing. Knowing only the *function* of his
program, they are claiming it must obey their licensing terms. They have no
idea exactly how he chose to implement that function, but claim they must
own it anyway.

> Software patents: This super cool red button idea is mine. If you make
> a red button, you have to give me money.

> Copyright: This code is mine. You can't copy my code without my
> permission.

Not quite. Copyright is: This particular implementation is mine, but you are
free to implement any idea any *other* way you want. You simply can't
implement an idea precisely the way I did it, but all ideas are open to you.

> GPL: You can copy my code all you want, BUT if you add on to it
> and give out
> the results, you have to give out your code too!

But that's not what's happening here. "A Linux driver for graphics cards
based on the X1950 chipset" is not an "add on" to Linux. It's an idea and a
function all on its own.

> Your argument might have some sort of merit, but I gave up trying to work
> through it. Stop confusing patents and copyright and try again.

I do not have them confused. You cannot own "any practical way to make a
driver for Linux" under copyright, only patent gives you that kind of power.
You can, of course, own "the particular way I chose to make a Linux driver,
out of many other equally-good ways".


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