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SubjectRe: Kernl module ethics.

On Thu, Feb 28, 2002, Jeff V. Merkey wrote:

>There is a belief that the GPL can contaminate upward and
>downward any driver or kernel module written that runs on Linux.
>This statement, irregardless of what language is in the GPL, is
>total bullsh_t, **EXCEPT** in those states who have adopted
>UCITA. UCITA is an evil body of legislation approved by
>representatives of various state legislatures that in essence
>makes anything written into a software license (like the GPL)
>enforceable and potentially criminal in those states who adopt
>UCITA for any use of a particular software program. By way of
>example, UCITA makes reverse engineering an illegal act if
>the software owner writes into the license that reverse engineering
>is not allowed. UCITA will also give the GPL enormous "teeth"
>to actually enforce this up/down contamination of code written
>on the Linux kernel.

Jeff, you are WAY off in left field. The GPL is fundamentally different
from any other software license. The so-called license that comes with
Windows seeks to limit the rights of the Windows buyer. It limits your
right to fair use, criticism, and so forth. The GPL is different
because it actually grants you rights you would not have other wise had:
the right to redistribute the software product.

UCITA seeks to make Microsoft's license -- which cannot be a contract
because it provides no benefit for the software user and no obligation
for the software maker -- enforceable as a contract. Again the GPL is
fundamentally different because people assent to its terms for their own
benefit. Microsoft's license provides no benefit and no person would
ever agree to it, nor do they need to: their rights are secured as the
buyer of goods[1] and they can throw the license in the recycling pile.


1: "The Court understands fully why licensing has many advantages for
software publishers. However, this preference does not alter the Court's
analysis that the substance of the transaction at issue here is a sale
and not a license." Judge Dean D. Pregerson, United States District
Court for the Central District of California.

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