Re: The GPL: No shelter for the Linux kernel?

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Mon Sep 25 2006 - 11:14:42 EST

On Mon, 25 Sep 2006, Jan Engelhardt wrote:
> Though I strongly agree with you, some GNU folks (such as
> seem to explicitly require it, even for files
> that do not make up a single program (i.e. like coreutils/ls.c).

Each project obviously has its own rules. The kernel, in many ways, these
days does something even stronger, in the sense that we now ask not that
every file be marked, but each and every change be signed-off-on. It's
more than a copyright issue, of course (it started out motivated by the
worries of tracking codeflow, but I think one reason it has worked so well
is that it's become useful for so many other things).

So lots of projects have their specific rules. I don't think the "add
notice to every file" is wrong per se, I just think it's impractical: not
only does it get unwieldly with all those messages at the top, usually an
open source project ends up being a mix of lots of different people that
own rights in it, and in many ways it's thus better to track at a change
level rather than a file level if you do tracking.

But exactly because it doesn't have any real legal rules, the rules are
from other sources, and boil down mainly to just per-project "coding
style" issues.

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