[clug] The GPL and kernel modules

Conrad Canterford conrad at mail.watersprite.com.au
Tue Jun 20 23:01:46 GMT 2006

On Tue, 2006-06-20 at 20:10 +1000, Chris Smart wrote:
> The only "freedom" the GPL takes away from me is the ability to combine
> it with non-GPL software and distribute it. This is fair enough
> considering I would then be robbing others of their freedom.

No. The only 'freedom' you rob them of is the ability to use your
software, and that is not a freedom you have to give them (generally
speaking - see my point below about GPL specifically). You haven't done
anything to prevent them from using any free code they wish, and making
any changes they wish. They might need to get it from other sources, but
you still haven't deprived them of that freedom. 

> (Not to
> mention taking from free software but not returning the favour.)

This to me is the benefit of the GPL. It got nothing do do with
"freedom" and being 'more free' or 'less free'. What the GPL does is say
"If you are going to distribute stuff including our work, you must
contribute back to the community.". And THAT is fair enough.

Getting back to the topic at hand -
Both FSF and Wasabi Systems are pushing barrows full of FUD. Having read
through the stuff posted on Chris' site from the FSF and the Wasabi
article, I have to say that their interpretation might nicely support
their world view or commercial interests, but does not appear to be a
sane approach. Mind you, having never been decided by a court, I have to
say that it only appears insane until someone convinces a court that
because it runs on a chip protected by Intel copyright (for example), it
is clearly a derived work of Intel's and therefore owned by Intel...

I guess what I'm saying is, to my mind - and not having a ideological or
commercial viewpoint to press - provided some fairly simple rules are
followed a LKM can easily not be in breach of the GPL. From what is on
Chris' site about the drivers concerned, I doubt very much that they are
in any way a breach.

I'm happy to elaborate more (on or off channel) if people really want.


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