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SubjectRe: Binary only module overview
Greg KH wrote:

>On Tue, Sep 25, 2001 at 04:09:02PM -0700, Crispin Cowan wrote:
>>Therefore, any additional constraints people may wish to impose, such as
>>Greg's comment in security.h, are invalid. When someone receives a copy
>>of the Linux kernel, the license is pure, vanilla GPL, with no funny
>My comment in security.h that I proposed [1] does not add any additional
>constraints to the license that is currently on the file. All it does
>is explicitly state the licensing terms of it, so that there shall be no
>confusion regarding it's inclusion in programs. If you think this is
>adding an additional restriction to the file, please explain.
What your comment does is explicitly state your *interpretation* of the
implications of the GPL. As is manifestly obvious, the GPL is subject to
lots of interpretation, especially in the area of what is a "derived
work." We are on the safest legal ground if we simply state that the
file in question is GPL'd, and leave it at that.

>If you were to include a GPL licensed user space header file in a closed
>source program, of course you would be violating that license.
That is not clear to me. I have been unable to find a definitive
reference that states that is the case. If so, it is problematic,
because then every user-land program that ever #include'd errno.h from
glibc is GPL'd, because glibc #include's errno.h, among other GPL'd
kernel header files. Are you sure you want to declare nearly all
proprietary Linux applications to be in violation of the GPL?

We have a Schrodinger's Cat problem of whether the courts will
eventually rule that modules are derivative works of the kernel. There
are two cases here. Either:

* Binary modules are permitted by the kernel's GPL: if this is the
case, then Greg's comment is invalid, and misleading.
* Binary modules are not permitted by the kernel's GPL: if this is
the case, then Greg's comment is redundant, and just marking the
file "GPL" is sufficient.

IMHO, in neither case is the special language appropriate. This file is
GPL'd, and we should stop playing lawyer by trying to interpret what
that means.

If you (Greg, Alan) are confident that your interpretation of the GPL is
correct, then just marking the files as GPL should be sufficient. What
purpose is served by saying anything else?


Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc.
Security Hardened Linux Distribution:
Available for purchase:

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