GPL and embedded linux Re: [oclug] Disintermediate the
lists at L8R.net
Fri Jun 11 15:12:20 EDT 2004
On Fri, 11 Jun 2004 13:43:10 -0400
"Francis J. A. Pinteric" <linuxdoctor at linuxdoctor.biz> wrote:
> On Fri, 11 Jun 2004 11:44:44 -0400 (EDT)
> Charlie Brady <charlieb-oclug at budge.apana.org.au> wrote:
> > On Thu, 10 Jun 2004, Chuck Henry wrote:
> > > Thought this list might find this interesting ...
> > >
> > > http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20040527.html
> > It's a pity he didn't point out that Sveasoft is rather cagey about
> > making their source available(*). Some problem seems to infect all
> > groups hacking on the Linksys source. And infects many manufacturers
> > of 802.11g devices - and maybe even most other users of embedded
> > linux. Linksys seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
> > *) They are either skating on thin ice, or have found a GPL loophole.
> > They are making source available (only) to purchasers of their
> > firmware - then taking punative action on any who redistribute the
> > source.
> Well, the loophole is probably that the GPL is an unenforcable contract,
> just like ALL "shrink wrap" licenses. But if there is a loophole, it is
> in section 7 that would allow distributors of GPL'd code to prevent you
> from distributing it further.
That's right, shrink wrap licenses are not legal, nor enforceable.
However, the trick with the GPL is that if you don't accept the license,
then you are bound by copyright law.
Since copyright law, here and in the US, will not allow you to just do
whatever you will with code that is not yours, to redistribute you must
abide by the GPL, or be in violation of copyright law. Unless you agree
to ALL terms of the GPL, then you are stuck with copyright law. Copyright
law does not permit people to redistribute code that is not theirs. It
does not permit you to modify it by stealing code, incorporating it into a
product, and then selling it.
In other words, the GPL is enforceable in terms of redistribution of code.
> "7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
> infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
> conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
> otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
> excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot
> distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
> License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
> may not distribute the Program at all."
> They then immediately give an example: "if a patent license would not
> permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who
> receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you
> could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from
> distribution of the Program."
> So, this means that if I create a derivative work from some GPL'd code
> that implements a patented process (that I presumably have rights to)
> then I need not distribute the code of the derivative work if it would
> violate the terms the patent license that my derivative work implements.
> Further, if I do decide to distribute the code then I could impose upon
> you the requirement that you not distribute it. But that is just one
> narrow example.
> The clause "or for any other reason (not limited to patent
> issues)" gives me a free hand here. For instance, I could say that for
> "competitive business reasons" I require you not distribute the code of
> my derivative work, or even choose not to distribute the work at all,
> and that would still be in full compliance with the GPL, thanks to
> section 7.
It isn't just code that is being referred to in section 7, but the
compiled work too. If you can't comply with the GPL, you can't distribute
the code in any form, compiled or otherwise.
The long and short of it is, if you are selling GPL software to people,
modified or otherwise, that code has to be made available. Period.
More information about the OCLUG