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SubjectRe: GPL vs non-GPL device drivers
On Thursday 15 February 2007, v j wrote:
>So far I have heard nothing but, "if you don't contribute, screw you."
>All this is fine. Just say so. Make it black and white. Make it
>perfectly clear what is and isn't legal. If we can't load proprietary
>modules, then so be it. It will help everybody if this is out in the
>clear, instead of resorting to stupid half measures like
From this observers view, a long one over most of a decade, and a believer
in the GPLv2 since its was v1, it seems to me that you are missing the
point entirely with your use of the term 'legal'.

This definition seems to be a bit like nailing jelly to a tree in that so
far only one companies legal dept has pursued this to the point of
actually getting a court verdict rendered. That was the German ruling a
link was given to earlier in this thread(s).

Everyone else, and there have been many who tried, rattling all sorts of
legal swords at first, changed their mind once their legal people had a
chance to sit down and explain to them what their chances of winning in
court against the GPL were given the limited precedence of legal opinion,
have eventually taken the cheaper way out and complied with the terms of
this license. No one here in the states has been willing to spend the
legal money to establish once and for all by the rendering of a court
decision, which then becomes quotable case law, while knowing up front
that their chances of prevailing, while not impossible, are indeed quite

Now, if you would like to make a precedent setting "legal definition" of
what is or is not legal to do with GPL'd code, then hire the lawyers and
go to court with your case.

There is no one to my knowledge here, who would not cheer loudly once a
verdict was rendered because that courts decision would give the FOSS
community a quotable case law as to exactly what is, and is not legal for
you to do with GPL'd code. We would after 16+ years of the GPL, finally
have a firm, well defined line drawn in the sand, a precedence in US case
law that at present, only exists in Germany.

I'm a bit like Clint Eastwood here, do you feel lucky? If not, then
please comply with the terms of the software you have chosen to base your
product on. As you have been told here repeatedly, a distribution to
your customers of code that is based on the GPL'd kernel headers does
bring you into non-compliance with the terms of the GPL. You can do
anything you want in house, but the minute that code ships, that is
a "distribution" and the GPL applies in full force in that its all made
GPL, or you cannot legally ship it. I don't know how it can be said any
plainer than that. But of course IANAL, so talk to yours, please.

Cheers, Gene
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author) and AOL/TW attorneys please note, additions to the above
message by Gene Heskett are:
Copyright 2007 by Maurice Eugene Heskett, all rights reserved.
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