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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

> On Tue, 2008-06-10 at 10:43 -0400, Alan Cox wrote:

On Jun 10, 2008, David Woodhouse <dwmw2 infradead org> wrote:

> Because they have been assembled into a collective whole; the bzImage
> file which is distributed and used as a single entity, and which makes
> use of both the firmware and the GPL'd kernel code.

And some people even go as far as claiming this whole is under the
GPL, which is evidently false.

> Such a wide-sweeping exemption would effectively render the
> preceding two paragraphs entirely redundant.

Yup.  Which would be inconsistent with the way these things would be
interpreted in a court of law.  "If interpreting this sentence this
way renders this other useless or nonsensical, while there's another
interpretation that doesn't, then the former can't be the correct

> And nothing "magically becomes GPL". Either it _is_ available under a
> GPL-compatible licence and you are permitted to incorporate it into a
> collective work under the terms of the GPL, or not, and you may not do
> so. There's no magic involved.

And then, if you do distribute the work you got under the GPL in spite
of not having permission to do so in a particular way, you're not only
infringing on copyrights, you're also getting your license over the
work revoked, so you no longer have permission to modify or distribute
it in any other way unless you manage to reinstate the license.

>> Take the cases you think are a collective/derivative and the cases
>> you think are not and define a test by which this can be
>> ascertained, then perhaps I can see what you are trying to argue..

> As I said, it is a grey area. There is no easy test.

And there's no reason why it's our burden to provide such a test.  It
suffices that we provide one interpretation that a court of law could
possibly accept.  It doesn't even have to be convincing for our biased
interlocutors, for it would be enough to convince an unbiased court.

> It _might_ even (and I suspect we should hope that it does) cover
> Linux distributions with many programs collected together for
> convenient installation.

When such distros come with a copyright notice over the collective
work, a license for the whole, and the various pieces were customized
to operate as a unit, it would be a bit difficult to argue it's not a
derivative/collective work rather than mere aggregation, methinks out

> But when it comes to such things as a bzImage file which contains
> both a driver for some hardware _and_ the firmware which drives it,
> and which will not operate on that hardware unless both of those
> fundamentally intertwined parts are present, I do not believe that
> is covered by the exception.

I think the case of bzImage may actually be more defensible than that
of combined sources, in which a single file contains both GPLed and
GPL-incompatible code, and if you just take out the GPL-incompatible
code (is that a modification?  to which code, under which license?)
it won't even compile.  Say, the bzImage directly containing these is
not all that different from concatenating to the bzImage an initrd
containing both modules and firmwares.  The only doubt is whether
there's still an identifiable separate work in the former case that
amounts to the GPLed source code.  It's clear that there is such a
work in the initrd case, and it's clear that the firmware is a
separate work in both cases.

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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