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

From: Bernd Paysan
Date: Thu Jun 14 2007 - 04:33:36 EST

On Thursday 14 June 2007 01:49, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> Oh, good, let's take this one.
> if you distribute copies of such a program, [...]
> you must give the recipients all the rights that you have
> So, TiVo includes a copy of Linux in its DVR.
> TiVo retains the right to modify that copy of Linux as it sees fit.
> It doesn't give the recipients the same right.
> Oops.
> Sounds like a violation of the spirit to me.
> Sounds like plugging this hole would retain the same spirit.

Note that Harald Welte has already managed to force Siemens to unlock
a "tivoized" Linux router with the GPLv2 in Germany. German contract law
values intention when the contract has no specific clause that deals with
the issue, and in German law, an accepted license is a contract.

So the fact that tivoizing Linux is against the spirit of the GPLv2 is a
court-proof fact, not just some speculation.

What about if your GPL program ends up in a piece of hardware (e.g. a ROM,
or an embedded ROM, or if it's some GPL code from OpenCores, as gate
netlist in silicon)? My interpretation is that you need a permission from
the author for doing that, unless there's an easy way to replace it with a
modified copy (e.g. if you put the OpenCores stuff into an FPGA, replacing
the configuration PROM would do it).

Some people have difficulties with intentions of contracts rather than
direct rules. That may be due to different rules in different countries. In
continental Europe, contract law usually bases on Code Napoleon, and
there, "good faith" is an important principle (and "good faith" means that
the intention is more important than the actual coded practices). In the
roman law that was used before and has survived in countries who didn't let
Napoleon in (like the UK and the USA), it's slightly different. But a
contract or a license still is not a program where anything that isn't said
explicitely isn't said at all.

Bernd Paysan
"If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself"

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