Re: Additional clauses to GPL in network drivers

From: Alex Belits
Date: Sun Dec 07 2003 - 19:51:35 EST

On Sun, 7 Dec 2003, John Bradford wrote:

> For example, it brings up a few issues:
> 1. How is 'operating system' supposed to be defined in this context?
> I assume that if it meant just the kernel, it would say 'kernel'.
> If you define 'operating system' as including some userspace
> utilities, it's going to cause problems, as some common utilities are
> not GPL'ed, (the extra clause doesn't say 'GPL-compatible', it
> specifically specifies GPL).

I guess, it really means, "kernel as distributed".

> 2. Is code licensed under this extra term actually compatible with
> code placed under the GPL alone?

As I understand it, the statement was only meant to emphasize that the
file is a part of a larger work that is licensed under GPL, and its (and
derivations') distribution as a separate work is still governed by GPL
(in particular, it does not allow incorporation into other products under
other licenses) and the authors are unwilling to re-license it under any
non-GPL terms. The way how it was expressed is unclear and formally
incorrect, but I think, the intent of the statement is merely to re-state
the restrictions that are already in GPL and discourage attempts to obtain
(or assume) other licenses.

> 3. I haven't tried to trace the history of this code, but if these
> drivers were based on, and include, other developer's purely GPL'ed
> code, applying this extra condition is presumably not valid, (unless
> specific permission was sought to do so).
> 4. The obvious issue concerning binary modules - does loading a binary
> module which is not licensed under the GPL invalidate your license to
> use these network drivers? Note that I personally have no interest
> whatsoever in using such binary modules, but whatever ends up being
> decided for the GPL'ed parts of the kernel, this extra clause suggests
> to me that it specifically isn't OK whilst using these network
> drivers.

The statement is unclear on this, however if you read "operating system"
as "kernel as distributed" and "use" as "distribute" it would make perfect
sense. Otherwise it's meaningless.

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