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

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 18:07:43 EST

On Wed, 13 Jun 2007, Alan Cox wrote:
> > find offensive, so I don't choose to use it. It's offensive because Tivo
> > never did anything wrong, and the FSF even acknowledged that. The fact
> Not all of us agree with this for the benefit of future legal
> interpretation.

Well, even the FSF lawyers did, but one of the reasons I never wanted to
do the copyright assignments(*) is exactly because I think people need to
make their own judgments on what the GPLv2 means. In the end, the only
thing that really matters is what a judge says (after appeals etc), and
the fact is, any license will always have gray areas where people disagree
about interpretation.

And I actually am of the very firm opinion that a world with gray areas
(and purple, and pink, and green) is a hell of a lot better than one where
everything is black-and-white. Only lawyers want a black-and-white world.

So I would actually *encourage* other people to sue over their GPLv2
interpretations, as they have done in Germany (and as IBM has done in the
US). I'd sue based on _my_ reading of it, but hey, while my opinion is
obviously always correct, I recognize that I live in a world where not
everybody else always sees that.

[ (*) Obviously, the *biggest* reason not to do copyright assignments is
that they are just a total pain in the ass to do, and cause tons of
totally pointless paperwork. So "Linus is lazy and not interested in
being a lawyer" is obviously the primary reason for the lack of
assignments. I'm just much happier with people owning their own code
outright. ]

Of course, I also realize that suing people over license violations is a
big pain in the ass, and in that sense while I "encourage" people to
assert their own copyrights, I would obviously also say that it's almost
certainly not worth doing if it's in a "gray" area. But that, in the end,
has to be the copyright owners own decision!

> > The GPLv2 is a *legal*license*. And no, the FSF doesn't get to define what
> > the words mean to suit their agenda.
> Agreed - everyone contributed to the kernel based upon the GPLv2. Lots of
> different reasons, lots of different viewpoints about GPL2 v GPL3, DRM ,
> Treacherous Computing, etc. The commonality is not political, not a
> grand plan, not a grand unified social agenda but a bunch of people for
> whom the GPLv2 was an acceptable license for furthering their intentions
> whether that is education for all, a shared commons or just making a
> quick buck

Indeed. And it's _fine_ to even be in it "just to make a quick buck". We
do want all kinds of input. I think the community is much healthier having
lots of different reasons for people wanting to be involved, rather than
concentrating on just some specific reason.

For some it's the technology. For some it's the license. For some it's
just a thing to pass boredom. Others like to learn. Whatever. It's all

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at