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SubjectRe: more files with licenses that aren't GPL-compatible
Kyle Moffett wrote:
> If someone distributes _on_their_own_ (site, CDs, whatever) copies
> of Linux with their copyrighted code in it, or contributes copyrighted
> code _that_they_own_, they are giving someone a license to use
> against them. That is actually one of the difficulties SCO is facing
> right now in court; _they_ distributed copies of Linux _including_ any
> code that they may claim is copyrighted. Since they have the right to
> license such code, any license that appears to be associated with it
> when they distribute it becomes valid even if it was not before. If you
> distribute a copy of Linux under the GPL that contains code you
> claim is violating your copyright, then I don't believe you have a leg
> to stand on, legally.

Your argument applies to the SCO case because their code (if there is
any, which nobody but SCO still believes is the case) did *not* have a
license attached to it that didn't allow modification, redistribution or
whatever else the GPL requires; otherwise they wouldn't have trouble
demonstrating which code it is they're talking about. So any sane person
would understand that they knowingly released it under the GPL: if
they'll try to argue that they didn't know the kernel was covered by the
GPL, I don't think the judge will go for much less than capital
punishment when he stops laughing.

In this case, if I followed the discussion correctly, there are files
and binary blobs in the kernel whose license explicitly disallows some
of the freedoms the GPL grants. So they *have* to get out of the kernel
proper *now*, period. There is no other choice, legally.

Once those files and stuff are out of the kernel, we can think of a
solution that works from both a technical and a legal perspective, such
as loading firmware from external files (which users will have to
download themselves from vendors' sites -- we can't distribute them in
any form if they don't change the license). Modules under a non-GPL
license are a different can of worms: many people believe they are
violating the GPL even if they remain outside of the kernel proper
because they are obviously a derivative work of the kernel. So far AFAIK
nobody sued NVidia, ATI or anyone else for distributing non-GPL modules,
but they can _not_ stay in the kernel. I wonder how and why they were
accepted in the first place.

Ciao, Flavio

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