RE: GPL vs non-GPL device drivers

From: David Schwartz
Date: Mon Feb 19 2007 - 12:54:26 EST

> On Saturday 17 February 2007 15:19, David Schwartz wrote:

> > Static Controls argued that taking the TLP was the only practical way to
> > make a cartridge that would work with that printer.

> Which shows how that case is different from writing Linux drivers. For
> example, looking at the example the OP was himself proposing a few
> alternative approaches to work around the limitation they were hitting:
> could just switch to static major/minors instead of dynamics ones, they
> could skip sysfs, or they could even reimplement something like sysfs
> themselves, or whatever other interface they deem useful for the
> purpose of
> plopping in their own binary blob on top of it, sort of like what nVidia
> and ATi do for their stuff.

These are all different functional ideas.

It is no response to an argument like this to say, "you could always express
a different idea". Copyright only protects the one way the author chose to
express an idea. You should not ever need to change an idea to get around

I hate to sound like a broken record, but have you read Lexmark v. Static
Controls? There was a section where they talked about how perhaps you could
have used a different algorithm to measure the toner level.

You may have to change your idea to get around a patent, but you should
never, ever have to change a functional idea to get around a copyright.

Do you realize that you are arguing for software patents? And worse, for
patents that are easy to get (and last as long) as copyrights.


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