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Subject[RAPIDLY MOVING OFF-TOPIC] GPL and binary only drivers [once again] [was: Re: [ANNOUNCE] Withdrawl of Open Source NDS Project/NTFS/M2FS forLinux]
Hi,

On Mon, Sep 04, 2000 at 12:18:10PM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
>
> hps@tanstaafl.de said:
> > I'm sure that once the FSF is willing to step up, there will be lots
> > of supporters and sponsors to finance this.
>
> Far smaller companies have _already_ got away with not only violating the
> Linux kernel's GPL, but blatantly encouraging their customers to do so.
>
> Why should we believe that anyone's actually going to pursue one as large
> as Microsoft?
>
> See http://www.m-sys.com/files/drivers/doc/DOC_linux_2_2_x.zip for a
> binary-only driver which comes with instructions on how to link it into
> your kernel - encouraging you to break the GPL.

I can link my kernel statically with binary-only modules as long as I
want. I don't redistribute it and I just use it inhouse. This is my
personal decision and it has nothing to do with GPL. _IF_ I would ship
such a kernel, then I would be in violation of GPL.

If I give you a binary-only module which can either be loaded as a
driver or, maybe with some glue code, linked into the kernel and some
instructions how to do this, I am _not_at_all_ in violation of any
GPL. Because I distribute only my code under my license. If you follow
my instructions and link a kernel and use it, you're not in violation
of GPL because you don't distribute anything.

If you follow the instructions _and_ distribute the result, then you're in
violation. So your point is moot.

> Note that it doesn't come as a loadable module (although it's possible to
> hack it a bit to do that). The instructions only tell you how to link it
> into your kernel - hence violating the GPL if you distribute your product.

Yes. But not before. And _I_ am violating the GPL, not M-Systems.
Their licensing scheme just makes it for me impossible to distribute a
product with their driver. But that's _my_ problem not the problem of
M-Systems.

> I believe that IGEL's products are shipping with the DiskOnChip driver in
> this form. Has anyone sued them yet?

In Germany we have a saying: "Wo kein Klaeger, da kein Richter" (If
there is noone who sues, there is noone to judge"). This applies here,
too. Sue them and you will see.

But then again, to my knowledge noone, has yet tested if the GPL holds
in a lawsuit. Imagine what would happen if it does not.

Regards
Henning


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