[lkml]   [2003]   [Dec]   [10]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
SubjectRe: Linux GPL and binary module exception clause?


Nice bit of research! Hat tip to you, just close your eyes so the glare
off my balding head does not blind you :-)

This is so much fun!


Andre Hedrick
LAD Storage Consulting Group

On Wed, 10 Dec 2003, Jason Kingsland wrote:

> "Andre Hedrick" wrote:
> > How can the additional words alter the mean of GPL itself?
> Because if the additional words in the license predate the publishing date
> of the code, they form a valid part of the license for that code as
> published.
> So the answer to whether such a clause in valid and enforceable (rather than
> just Linus' opinion) depends on when any particular piece of code was first
> submitted publicly into the kernel tree, who the copyright holder is
> (usually the author) and hence which license prevailed at the time the code
> was first published.
> Later changes to a license are not retroactive to earlier publications
> unless the original copyright holder agrees - as only the copyright holder
> can change the terms of any license after publication.
> The readme for Linux version 0.1 had the copyright owned by Linus and was
> not licensed under GPL at all:
> "
> This kernel is (C) 1991 Linus Torvalds, but all or part of it may be
> redistributed provided you do the following:
> - Full source must be available (and free), if not with the
> distribution then at least on asking for it.
> - Copyright notices must be intact. (In fact, if you distribute
> only parts of it you may have to add copyrights, as there aren't
> (C)'s in all files.) Small partial excerpts may be copied
> without bothering with copyrights.
> - You may not distibute this for a fee, not even "handling" costs.
> "
> This changed in Version 0.12 with the following statement of intent:
> "
> The Linux copyright will change: I've had a couple of requests to make
> it compatible with the GNU copyleft, removing the "you may not
> distribute it for money" condition. I agree. I propose that the
> copyright be changed so that it confirms to GNU - pending approval of
> the persons who have helped write code. I assume this is going to be no
> problem for anybody: If you have grievances ("I wrote that code assuming
> the copyright would stay the same") mail me. Otherwise The GNU copyleft
> takes effect as of the first of February. If you do not know the gist
> of the GNU copyright - read it.
> "
> The next major release was v0.95 in March 1992 which contained a reference
> to GPL with this clarification:
> "
> NOTE! The linux unistd library-functions (the low-level interface to
> linux: system calls etc) are excempt from the copyright - you may use
> them as you wish, and using those in your binary files won't mean that
> your files are automatically under the GNU copyleft. This concerns
> /only/ the unistd-library and those (few) other library functions I have
> written: most of the rest of the library has it's own copyrights (or is
> public domain). See the library sources for details of those.
> "
> For release 0.99 the clarification was missing, with just a standard GPL V2
> being used for releases up to 0.99.11 when the (in)famous disclaimer about
> user programs was added:
> "
> NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
> services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
> of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".
> Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software
> Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the linux
> kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it.
> Linus Torvalds
> "
> and then it stayed constant until 2.4 when the GPL V2-only clause was added:
> "
> Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel
> is concerned is _this_ license (ie v2), unless explicitly otherwise
> stated.
> "

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: 2005-03-22 13:59    [W:0.098 / U:4.692 seconds]
©2003-2020 Jasper Spaans|hosted at Digital Ocean and TransIP|Read the blog|Advertise on this site