[lkml]   [2006]   [Jan]   [25]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
SubjectRe: GPL V3 and Linux - Dead Copyright Holders
On Wed, 25 Jan 2006, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> On Wed, 25 Jan 2006, Chase Venters wrote:
>> This means that when the code went GPL v1 -> GPL v2, the transition was
>> permissible. Linux v1.0 shipped with the GPL v2. It did not ship with a
>> separate clause specifying that "You may only use *this* version of the GPL"
>> as it now does. (I haven't done any research to find out when this clause was
>> added, but it was after the transition to v2).
> Bzzt. Look closer.
> The Linux kernel has _always_ been under the GPL v2. Nothing else has ever
> been valid.

I see. That makes perfect sense given that the GPL v2 is dated 1991...
this slipped my filters when I was grokking Dick's comment:

>>> The original GPL said something about:
>>> "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients'
>>> exercise of the rights granted herein." (Section 6).
>>> Then, that __exact__ code was redistributed under Version 2
>>> which further restricted rights,

> The "version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version"
> language in the GPL copying file is not - and has never been - part of the
> actual License itself. It's part of the _explanatory_ text that talks
> about how to apply the license to your program, and it says that _if_ you
> want to accept any later versions of the GPL, you can state so in your
> source code.

I wasn't actually referring to the explanatory text; rather, clause 9 in
MODIFICATION". I suppose though upon reading clause 9 again the phrase "If
the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may
choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation." is
kind of confusing.

Does the header of the GPL in COPYING ("GNU General Public
License; Version 2, June 1991") count as the "Program" specifying a
version number of the license?

> The Linux kernel has never stated that in general. Some authors have
> chosen to use the suggested FSF boilerplate (including the "any later
> version" language), but the kernel in general never has.


> In other words: the _default_ license strategy is always just the
> particular version of the GPL that accompanies a project. If you want to
> license a program under _any_ later version of the GPL, you have to state
> so explicitly. Linux never did.

If the header of the GPL counts as the "Program's" specification of
the version number, I suppose you're right. I just don't really understand
why the language allowing _any_ version of the GPL if the version number
isn't specified then... when would any project ever publish a version of
the GPL license that has been modified to remove any mention of a version

> So: the extra blurb at the top of the COPYING file in the kernel source
> tree was added not to _change_ the license, but to _clarify_ these points
> so that there wouldn't be any confusion.
> The Linux kernel is under the GPL version 2. Not anything else. Some
> individual files are licenceable under v3, but not the kernel in general.
> And quite frankly, I don't see that changing. I think it's insane to
> require people to make their private signing keys available, for example.
> I wouldn't do it. So I don't think the GPL v3 conversion is going to
> happen for the kernel, since I personally don't want to convert any of my
> code.

Fair enough. I'm not trying to really argue for or against the kernel
switching versions... just trying to address some posts I've seen on LKML
that seem to get the licensing issue _really_ wrong (perhaps I'm now in
that group.)

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at

 \ /
  Last update: 2006-01-26 00:28    [W:0.265 / U:0.356 seconds]
©2003-2018 Jasper Spaans|hosted at Digital Ocean and TransIP|Read the blog|Advertise on this site