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SubjectRe: GPL violations: make it harder
On Tue, 5 Sep 2000, Mike A. Harris wrote:

> If even one file in the kernel source gets modified, then the entire
> patch is GPL via the GPL assimilation rules in COPYING - regardless of
> what the author of the patch says.

IANAL.

i know this is what the GPL wants, but AFAIK it's never been tested in
court.

while there are continued attacks on our rights in the US -- such as
microsoft and others trying to make shrinkwrap licenses enforceable, i
believe it is still the case that there are some rights that you have to
explicitly wave (by signature for example), no matter what a contract
says.

i can't say whether there are some rights that definitely apply here --
and i doubt that it'll really be known until this goes all the way through
the court system.

but, for example, we all own rights to our words -- and have to explicitly
give up those rights.

another example -- someone reading enough linux-kernel can compose many
patches or otherwise suggest modifications to the kernel without ever
having downloaded the source, or used the kernel, or otherwise "agreed" to
clause 5... simply because this mailing list, and our transactions on it
do not include the approriate copyleft notices on them.

also, there could be conflicts with contracts which you have signed with
employers -- which typically give up a bunch of your rights, even in
fields "unrelated" to your work field. only the courts can decide which
contract wins in the case where an employee of Big Company publishes a
patch which uses Big Company's intellectual property. the NPL/MPL try to
cover this with the patent clauses -- but watch out, there's now even big
business laws governing trade secrets intended to deal with corporate
espionage (fortunately the laws seem difficult to enact, 'cause they're
real ugly... see one of the CACM issues from this summer).

there's grey areas. maybe it's changed recently -- but in the past the
FSF itself recognized these grey areas by requiring you to explicitly
register a signed document with them before they could accept your
patches.

you can make the grey a little less grey by explicitly granting rights to
your own creations.

-dean


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