[clug] Fwd: [LINK] Software Freedom Law Center files first US GPL infringement suit

James Polley clug at zhasper.com
Mon Sep 24 12:49:15 GMT 2007

On 24/09/2007, Michael Cohen <scudette at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 24, 2007 at 08:20:48PM +1000, James Polley wrote:
> > True - it is no different.
> Would you suggest then that all linux software must be releasable under
> the GPL? e.g. skype, google earth, vmware and the list goes on? These
> are all applications running on a linux distribution, just like the
> defendants software was using busybox to build their own distribution.

Not the same at all; the defendants didn't just use busybox, they
distributed it. The other things you've named require that you first
have a working Linux system, they don't distribute it for you.

> > > Busybox will have to prove that the defendant actually
> > > extended busybox itself,
> >
> > False. The GPL provisions trigger on distribution of software covered
> > by the GPL, not on modification or extension of the software.
> Yes - but the software in this case is busybox. The vendors might be
> using busybox just like debian is using bash. They may just release the

Debian distribute bash. Debian provide source for bash. I don't see
how you feel this is helping your point.

> source for busybox and are not forced to release the source for their
> application which is different - and not related or derived from
> busybox.

They're distributing busybox. They must therefore provide the source
for busybox.

> What I was saying here is that even if busybox was modified for the new
> firmware. Only these modifications need be released. If the firmware
> contains completely original code it does not need to be released at
> all.

No. If busybox was modified (and then distributed), the complete
modified source must distributed, not just the bits that were

Busybox was distributed. Whether it was modified or not is irrelevant.
Other, unrelated-to-busybox source that might happen to be on the same
device is irrelevant, not the subject of the lawsuit, and not part of
the discussion.

> No thats not what I meant. They need to distribute source for all
> projects which are shipped (in full), because that falls under gpl. But

Excellent, we agree. So what was all the waffling above about?

> if there are original programs which are not gpl they do not need to be
> distributed. It is not immediately obvious that if they ship some gpled
> programs and some proprietary code that the whole thing is gpled.

Correct. Well, potentially correct, anyway, and not under dispute here.

So umm... it seems as though we agree on most thing, except that
somewhere along the line you've gone and dragged in bits of code that
aren't busybox. Am I missing something here?

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