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SubjectRe: Reiserfs licencing - possible GPL conflict?


What you say is correct, but inclusion in the Linux kernel does not
"contaminate upward" to other software. The author's (or copyright
holders) have absolute authority to specifiy how much or little they
want to be covered under the GPL. There is a mistaken belief by a lot
of folks that the GPL can somehow "convert" any code integrated within
the kernel of Linux. Our legal folks say this is not correct. We
litigate quite a bit, and I am sharing some of our experiences and
understanding with you. The Linux folks love it when you give them the
whole thing with no strings attached and it's clearly the right way to
help make Linux better for everyone.

Hope this helps.


"Mike A. Harris" wrote:
> On Tue, 9 Nov 1999, Jeff V. Merkey wrote:
> >Mike,
> >
> >My attorneys have reviewed this license and they tell me that this means
> >that the ReiserFS is ***NOT*** open sourced.
> With the current wording, that may perhaps be true - which is why
> I've wanted clarification. The wording of the licence is not
> legal terminology by far, and states "GNU Public Licence" of
> which no such document exists either in the reiserfs
> distribution, nor anywhere on "GNU"'s site.
> One would "assume" that what IS intended by the author is the GNU
> General Public Licence (GPL). The wording *IS* important, as is
> the inclusion of the GPL licence text along with the work - if
> that is truely the author's intention - to use the GNU GPL
> licence. (Which I believe it is).
> So, the current ambiguous wording of the licencing for reiserfs
> may not 'legally' qualify for open-source, but I believe that
> this is just an oversight on the author's intentions - which was
> my reason for pointing it out to him. Hopefully soon the licence
> can be fixed up, and all can rest assured that if they use the
> code, that it is properly GPL licenced.
> On a side note, I believe that NOT GPL licencing the code would
> violate the kernel's own GPL licence as the reiserfs code appears
> to modify kernel stuff. Either way, it links with the kernel,
> and therefore would produce a derivative work of the kernel, and
> thus must be GPL licenced, in order to be made available for
> Linux in the first place.
> Since I believe the author's intention is to GPL it for Linux,
> this is no problem - so long as the licencing statement is
> cleared up, and the GNU GPL 'COPYING' file included.
> Of course, the author is certainly free to licence the same code
> under other licences as well - perhaps for other OS's, or perhaps
> for a 'more up to date' version for Linux. Ghostscript uses a
> scheme like this.
> >Using it with this restriction makes any commercial vendors who
> >want to ship it liable for damages claims, since the act of
> >shipping it means they will integrate it with an OS. We
> >thought of doing something similiar with NWFS, but our
> >attorneys, after spending several weeks examining the GPL and
> >reviewing case law for open source IP, advised us is that we
> >either could "give it all away" or restrict it, but that if we
> >placed any restrictions on it, it wasn't open sourced.
> Exactly. GPL doesn't allow restrictions. If something is GPL,
> and has restrictions, then it is not GPL.
> >If you place any use restrictions, then you are in essence not
> >releasing as "open" source. As such, we opted for the full GPL
> >with no restrictions, since they defeat the whole purpose under
> >current US law.
> Right. That is the best way IMHO. Everyone is free to use the
> GPL licence, or alternatively some other licence. There is no
> "half GPL" or "GPL plus this" licence - since it would be
> invalid. Multiple licences would be fine though, even if one is
> GPL. Some people erroneously think however that if something is
> licenced under GPL *AND* another licence, that the other licence
> pertains GPL'ed usage as well - and that is not the case as it
> violates the GPL and nullifies it.
> >I know lots of folks want to maintain some control (which is
> >not a bad thing if you are trying to turn a profit), but they
> >should understand that a GPL+ license scheme defeats the whole
> >point and makes the stuff less attractive .....
> Yep, a lot of licences out there do just that. Sun's licence, as
> well as others are "we want to try this open source thing, but we
> don't want to try this open source thing - so.. here, you can
> look, but you cant touch."
> Basically, every author should carefully read the licence that
> they are using - if they didn't write it. If they DID write it,
> then they should read it closely as well. Choosing GPL, means
> that you are not part of the decision process of modifying the
> licence (unless you are Richard Stallman ;o) If the licence must
> be restricted or modified, it is NOT GPL, and can not be put out
> as such as it is invalid.
> Restrictive licences - as you say - very much miss the point of
> open-source to begin with...
> This is getting a bit off topic though.. ;o)
> Hans, please fix the wording of the licence on Reiser FS so we
> can give it a whirl! I read the website pages, and it looks
> good!
> --
> Mike A. Harris Linux advocate
> Computer Consultant GNU advocate
> Capslock Consulting Open Source advocate
> Join the FreeMWare project - the goal to produce a FREE program in
> which you can run Windows 95/98/NT, and other operating systems.

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