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Thread: Debating Continues Over Possible Kernel GPL Violation

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  1. #1
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    Default Debating Continues Over Possible Kernel GPL Violation

    Phoronix: Debating Continues Over Possible Kernel GPL Violation

    For the past few days there has been a much-viewed and very polarized discussion happening on the Linux kernel mailing list about a possible GPL violation within the Linux kernel...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTIyNzU

  2. #2

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    And people wonder why we have binary blobs. No sane person would contribute code if doing so implies surrendering any rights that they can reasonably expect as a copyright owner. Incidents like this are a great way to drive companies either away from Linux or toward creating binary blobs.

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    I'm getting some popcorn for this. It's gonna be great.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryao View Post
    And people wonder why we have binary blobs. No sane person would contribute code if doing so implies surrendering any rights that they can reasonably expect as a copyright owner. Incidents like this are a great way to drive companies either away from Linux or toward creating binary blobs.
    Not really relevant. The question isn't over what rights they have over their own code - there's no question that they can release a proprietary version of the bits they actually hold copyright over. It's purely a question of whether their code is isolated enough that they're not using code that they *don't* own.

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    gpl is not definitive to the copyright owner. in the meanwhile, the owner has the right to distribute his code under another license. Nokia did dat with Qt: got it for free under gpl but everything you distribute must stay open source or pay a fee to get the code under a commercial license.

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    Quote Originally Posted by disgrace View Post
    gpl is not definitive to the copyright owner. in the meanwhile, the owner has the right to distribute his code under another license.
    That's true - but it's only true of the code the copyright owner actually owns. If they can keep their code separate enough that it doesn't depend on anyone else's code, that's fine.

    But if they can't, it's considered a derivative work, and they can't do so without the permission of any other relevant copyright holders. And reading those LKML posts, it sounds like people are generally skeptical, believing that such a separation is unlikely to be possible.

  7. #7
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    wow....

    No wonder so many developer have a hard time with Linux...

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    Quote Originally Posted by disgrace View Post
    gpl is not definitive to the copyright owner. in the meanwhile, the owner has the right to distribute his code under another license. Nokia did dat with Qt: got it for free under gpl but everything you distribute must stay open source or pay a fee to get the code under a commercial license.
    MySQL did much the same thing, double licensing it's code under both the GPL and a proprietary license. So assuming (in the absence of evidence to the contrary) that Nicholas Bellinger and RTS are correct that the commercial version was developed first, then a branch from that code base was subsequently released under the GPL and contributed to the Linux kernel, the important questions would seem to be:

    1. Is code contributed to the GPL version by others being backported into the commercial version?
    2. Does the commercial version use the GPL only kernel API's?
    3. Is the commercial version bundled with the Linux kernel and distributed as a combined product?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RagingDragon View Post
    MySQL did much the same thing, double licensing it's code under both the GPL and a proprietary license. So assuming (in the absence of evidence to the contrary) that Nicholas Bellinger and RTS are correct that the commercial version was developed first, then a branch from that code base was subsequently released under the GPL and contributed to the Linux kernel, the important questions would seem to be:

    1. Is code contributed to the GPL version by others being backported into the commercial version?
    2. Does the commercial version use the GPL only kernel API's?
    3. Is the commercial version bundled with the Linux kernel and distributed as a combined product?
    Its not like mysql which was a standalone application. They developed code against the kernel and ship a kernel and that code together to make their code work.

    whether they put that code into kernel at all doesn't matter.

    whether it uses _GPL APIs doesn't matter at all (these are pretty meaningless).

    All that matters is if they shipped a linux kernel and their closed code as a single product, which they did, which is generally seen as a GPL violation.

    Dave.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryao View Post
    And people wonder why we have binary blobs. No sane person would contribute code if doing so implies surrendering any rights that they can reasonably expect as a copyright owner. Incidents like this are a great way to drive companies either away from Linux or toward creating binary blobs.
    Well if they have written the code from which they created their proprietary version all by themselves then they certainly have the rights to provide that proprietary version and continue to develop it as such, they can also re-licence it under other terms, it's all within their rights as in this case the code are theirs alone.

    However, if they are shipping the proprietary version as part of a Linux kernel to third-parties then they are in breach of GPL as their code is then a derivative work, this is not some new concept and it's very well understood.

    Looking past the stupidity (imo) of trying to make a business out of shipping proprietary components for inclusion into the GPL licenced Linux kernel, it seems that they didn't even write all the code themselves to begin with, which would make this 'debate' entirely pointless.

    Your scaremongering of companies leaving Linux or turning to binary blobs betrays your dislike of the GPL as it's entirely illogical, if it wasn't for GPL preventing their inclusion into the kernel we'd have tons more binary blobs and far fewer open source drivers.

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