Re: GPLv3 Position Statement

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Fri Sep 29 2006 - 14:18:54 EST

On Fri, 29 Sep 2006, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> - the GPLv2 allows usage in any circumstances except the geographical
> limitation that can be forced on it by other laws. No serious lawyer I
> have ever met is even ambiguous about this. There's just no question -
> people may not be happy about it, and iirc the FSF at some point tried
> to claim somethign else, but this really isn't all that controversial.

Btw, clearly the GPLv2 requirements do say that the use may have to be
done certain ways. For example, if you actually embed keys in the binary
itself, that almost certainly means that they keys are part of the source,
and as such you need to make the keys available through other means and
rely on the "mere aggregation" clause.

The same thing goes for things like signed images. It you sign an
individual binary, it can be argued that the private key was part of the
build process. It's really a pretty weak argument, but the whole point is
made moot by the fact that you don't actually _need_ any keys: you can
just control the bootloader instead.

That one not a derived work, and is quite often even on a totally
different media: flash vs disk or similar. And once you have it do a
consistency check by just verifying the SHA1 of the aggregate media
separately, you don't actually have any keys to release, because there
simply _is_ no key that actually covers any GPLv2'd code.

You can try to take it to some (il)logical extreme, and ask yourself
whether just even holding a 128-bit hash is a "derived work"?

But I not only think you'd be laughed out of court on that one if you
claimed it was, I _really_ don't think you want to go there anyway.
Because if you think it is, then you're violating copyright law every time
you look up a CD in CDDB/fredb/whatever-it's-called-now, or any number of
other things. You don't want to try to strengthen copyrights to insane
levels (you'd also be getting rid of "fair use" if you do).

In other words, if you _really_ care about "freedom" (just about any kind)
you should be _damn_ careful not to try to extend those copyright claims
of "derived work" too far. Because quite frankly, YOU are going to lose on
that one, and the RIAA is going to laugh at your sorry ass for helping
them prove their nonexistent point, and you would end up losing a lot
more "freedoms" than the ones you thought you were fighting for.

So the point is, there's no reasonable disagreement what-so-ever that you
can use GPLv2 code for anything you damn well want, including secure
lock-down. I think the FSF has even said so in public. You have to release
_source_code_, but the GPLv2 never controlled the environment it was used

Of course, a lot of people who have played games with these kinds of
issues also did other things very wrong. So a number of vendors that did
something fishy have gotten nailed for real copyright infringement due to
the _other_ things they did.

[ I'd also not be surprised if companies would decide to settle just to
avoid a lawsuit - especially one that made it clear that they were
sleazy even if they weren't perhaps actually doing anything actively
illegal. So there's a damn good reason why companies often don't want to
even toe _close_ to the line, and we should be happy about that. But we
shouldn't try to claim rules that simply never existed. ]

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