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

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 22:56:26 EST

On Wed, 13 Jun 2007, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> So, TiVo includes a copy of Linux in its DVR.

Stop right there.

You seem to make the mistake to think that software is something physical.

> TiVo retains the right to modify that copy of Linux as it sees fit.

No. If you were logical (which you are not), you would admit that
(a) physical property is very different from intellectual property (the
FSF seems to admit that when it suits their needs, not otherwise)
(b) They never modified "a copy" of Linux - they simply replaced it with
"another copy" of Linux. The only thing that actually got *modified*
was their hardware!

The first copy didn't "morph" into a second copy. There was no "physical"
software that was molded. They do need to follow the GPLv2, since clearly
they _do_ distribute Linux, but you have all the same rights as they do
with regard to the *software*.

The fact that they maintained some control of the *hardware* (and some
software they wrote too) they designed is _their_ choice.

What Tivo did and do, is to distribute hardware that can *contain* a copy
of Linux (or just about anything else, for that matter - again, there's
a difference between physical and intellectual property).

And their hardware (and firmware) will run some integrity checks on
*whatever* copies of software they have. This is all totally outside
Linux itself.

Btw, according to your _insane_ notion of "a copy" of software, you can
never distribute GPL'd software on a CD-ROM, since you've taken away the
right of people to modify that CD-ROM by burning and fixating it. So
according to your (obvously incorrect) reading of the GPLv2, every time
Red Hat sends anybody a CD-ROM, they have restricted peoples right to
modify the software on that CD-ROM bymaking it write-only.

See? Your reading of the license doesn't _work_. Mine does. What I say is
that when you distribute software, you don't distribute "a copy" of
software, you distribute the _information_ about the software, so that
others can take it and modify it. And notice? My reading of the license
must be the correct one, since my reading actually makes sense, unlike

And yes, when Tivo distributes Linux, they give everybody else all the
same rights they have - with respect to Linux! No, not with respect to
their hardware, but that's a totally different thing, and if you cannot
wrap your mind around the difference between "the software that is on a
CD" and the "piece of plastic that is the CD", and see that when you
replace "CD" with any other medium, the equation doesn't change, I don't
know what to say.

> It doesn't give the recipients the same right.
> Oops.
> Sounds like a violation of the spirit to me.

Only if you extend the license to the *hardware*. Oops. Which it never did

In other words, you basically try to change the rules. The GPLv2 clearly
states that it's about software, not hardware. All the language you quoted
talks about software.

In other words, the only way to argue that I'm wrong is to try to twist
the meanings of the words, and say that words only mean one specific thing
that _you_ claim are their meaning.

And I'm saying you act like Humpty Dumpty when you do. You can argue that
way all you like, but your argument is nonsensical. It's akin to the
argument that "God is perfect. Perfect implies existence. Therefore God

That kind of argument only works if you *define* the words to suit your
argument. But it's a logical fallacy.

And I'm saying that the GPLv2 can mroe straightforwardly be read the way I
read it - to talk about software, and to realize that software is not "a
copy", it's a more abstract thing. You get Linux when you buy a Tivo (or
preferably - don't buy it, since you don't like it), and that means that
they have to give you access to and control over the SOFTWARE. But nowhere
in the GPL (in the preamble or anywhere else) does it talk about giving
you control over the HARDWARE, and the only way you can twist the GPLv2 to
say that is by trying to re-define what the words mean.

And then you call *me* confused? After you yourself admitted that the FSF
actually agrees with me, and that what Tivo did was not a license

Trust me, I'm not the confused person here.

I'm perfectly fine with other people wanting to extend the license to
cover the hardware, but I am *not* perfectly fine with people then trying
to claim I'm confused just because I don't agree with them.

Face it: the GPLv3 is a _new_ license. Making funamentally _different_ and
_new_ restrictions that do not exist in the GPLv2, and do not exist in the
preamble. Any language attempts to make it appear otherwise are just

And btw, just to make it clear: as far as I'm concerned, you can read the
preamble and the word "freedom" and "rigths" _your_ way. I'm not objecting
to that at all. If you read it so that you think it's wrong to distribute
GPL'd software on a CD-ROM, that's really not my problem. You do whatever
you want to, and think the license means whatever you want to.

What I'm objecting to is how you claim that anybody that doesn't follow
your interpretation is "confused". When clearly even the FSF lawyers agree
that my interpretation was _correct_, and I don't think your
interpretation even makes sense!

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