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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Jun  9, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:

> Even if such a copyright existed, it would not resemble the GPL which
> explicitly permits works with other terms to be aggregated

Subject to certain conditions, such as that the whole derivative work
be offered under the terms of the GPL, the corresponding source code
for the entire work be offered, etc.  The exception is the narrow case
in which you can show that you're merely aggregating the works in a
volume of storage or distribution medium.

But the moment you claim the aggregate containing a GPLed work is a
work in itself, say by claiming copyright over the collection of
programs adapted and engineered so as to work as a whole, and
attaching a license to it, it's no longer clear that you're still
covered by the exception, after all the whole work is evidently a
derived work from the GPLed work, and after all the adaptation, it's
not clear at all that it is mere aggregation.

> You'll note that printed combinations of different works do exist
> and the terms under which each is included do not affect the others.

Could this be just because the terms of each grant permission for the
publication of collective works derived from it, not subject to any

> And thus it has no relationship to other things that might be carried
> in the same container, regardless of the form of that container.

The important question is whether or not the container amounts to a
copyrightable work, evidently derived from the contained parts if so.

> Firmware that happens to live in a vmlinuz container

Forget the kernel binary.  Think of the sources.  What is/are the
license/s of the work published as linux-2.6.25.tar.bz2?  Do you have
permission to modify any part of it you want, according to the terms
of the GPL?

There's no dispute that the firmwares are independent works and that
they stand on their own.  The important question is whether the GPLed
portions of the *kernel* are an independent work that stands on its
own.  ATM, it doesn't look like it is.  The only thing we get is a
work that claims to be an aggregate, but if we go looking for the
separate pieces, we can find all but the biggest of them.  And it's
this biggest piece I'm concerned about.

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva {lsd ic unicamp br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva {redhat com, gcc.gnu.org}

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