Re: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3

From: Tim Post
Date: Sun Jun 10 2007 - 11:38:57 EST

On Sun, 2007-06-10 at 19:36 +1000, Neil Brown wrote:

> I presume the heirs of the dead people could change the license. And
> if they have no heir, then there is no-one to sue for breach of
> copyright, so I assume the copyright lapses.
> And I wouldn't be surprised if there were some legal precedent that
> allowed for some process whereby we could make a "best effort" to
> contact copyright holders (including registered paper letters and
> entries in the "Public Notices" section of major newspapers) and if
> no-one stepped forward to claim copyright in a reasonable period of
> time we could assume that the copyright had lapsed. But you would
> need to ask a lawyer, and it would be different in different
> countries.

I've done some research on this and from what I can tell you are
correct. There is some sort of "Due Diligence" law that you have to
satisfy that is slightly different from country to country.

>From what I can tell the process is similar to changing your name, an ad
in the paper would be o.k. in most places. Since the intent of the
copyright holder to make their work free is clear, its pretty clear cut.

It was hard to find specifics, because not many people worry about it if
they know the copyright holder to be existentially challenged. I didn't
find many cases of people even bothering with the formality.

I say existentially challenged because you don't need to be dead to
vanish. I also read it as ".. a person of questionable existence." as
well as "A null (or moot) party".

> But I think this is largely academic. You only need a fairly small
> number of fairly significant contributors to say "no" and the rest of
> the process would be pointless. And at last count, the number of
> kernel people who were not keen on GPLv3 was fairly high. Of course
> no-one knows for certain yet what the final GPLv3 will be, and maybe
> lots of people would change their mind when it comes out.

I think its good that people have their own viewpoints instead of just
watching the Linus - RMS tennis match as the points of the license get
debated and assuming the views of whoever 'wins' in their eyes. Neither
person is going to be around forever.

> There would certainly be value in a straw-pole once GPLv3 was out and
> had been discussed for a while - to see if a license change to GPLv3
> would be accepted by a majority of current developers. Doing that
> would at least provide a clear statistic to point people at.

Unless you are distributing the Linux kernel in a whole or parts of it
in some way you don't even HAVE to accept the terms of the GPL2, or GPL3
for that matter. This doesn't really concern me as an end user, but it
should interest me (and does).

I'm more worried about someone finding a way to leverage existing or
future patents against users of the Linux kernel, or people who provide
the use of a computer using the Linux kernel as a service.

I'm not *overly* concerned about that. Anyone trying to get people to
pay for the right to use the Linux kernel would put themselves in clear
and certain danger of becoming ' a person of questionable existence '


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