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    SubjectRe: Developing non-commercial drivers ?
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    There is an interesting situation that seemingly meets the GPL clause
    but is also used for developing proprietory drivers, and it works as
    under :

    Consider an organization A ( the Technical organization ) that is
    contracted with developing specific hardware & software for an
    organization B that happens to be the Navy.

    Also assume that both the organizations ( A & B ) are under the Ministry
    of Defence.

    Organization A now contracts me, a freelancer, for developing some linux
    kernel drivers for an embedded defence related project.

    I develop the drivers and hand them over to Organization A and clearly
    mark my code as GPL since I believe in the spirit of GPL.

    However, Organization A now bundles the code with the specially
    'manufactured' hardware and sells it to their ONLY customer,
    Organization B ( The Navy ).

    Now, Organization B ( The Navy ) who is also the CUSTOMER, INSISTS that
    Organization A NOT REVEAL the source code to anybody else and this is
    agreed upon by Organization A since the software can ONLY work on the
    specific hardware supplied to the Navy and this is a highly classified
    project, and cannot/will not be sold to anyone else.

    Under this scenario,

    a) The software is GPL-ed

    b) No-one can get to see the software unless I the developer squeal.
    A 3rd party cannot pop-up and demand to see the software since the 3rd
    party is not a customer or in any way related to any transaction.

    c) If I squeal, I may disappear. Since I am paid for my hard work lets
    say I do not have any desire to squeal.

    Am I therefore right in assuming that this is a specific case where the
    open source nature of Linux is being used with great effect but the very
    nature of the licensing denies ANYONE ELSE from being a party to this
    transaction ?

    V. Radhakrishnan
    www.atr-labs.com


    On Tue, 2008-11-18 at 11:17 -0600, Chris Friesen wrote:
    > Fredrik Markström wrote:
    >
    > > At this point I feel that we have two possibilities, help our customer
    > > violate GPL or say no to the project. I'd prefer a third option where
    > > I could tell the customer that we can setup the project in a certain
    > > way (some "cleanroom" setup ?) to ensure that the results can not be
    > > considered derived work.
    > >
    > > Is your short answer also the definite answer considering this ?
    >
    > I'm not a lawyer, and you need to consult one.
    >
    > There isn't really a "definate answer" since it depends on copyright
    > law, which varies by region. The key question is whether the driver is
    > a derivative work of the kernel under copyright law. For the purposes
    > of copyright law this is primarily a legal question, not a technical one.
    >
    > There are some that claim that a driver written for another OS and
    > running in linux via a shim layer could qualify (especially if the
    > closed-source portion is written without any knowledge of linux
    > internals). Nvidia is one company that does this, but there are others
    > as well.
    >
    > Also, releasing the driver under the GPL doesn't necessarily mean
    > "released to the world". Technically, they would only need to provide
    > source code to their customers. Of course, their customers would be
    > free to redistribute, but it's unlikely that most of them would bother.
    >
    > Chris
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