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

From: Daniel Hazelton
Date: Thu Jun 14 2007 - 18:49:20 EST

On Thursday 14 June 2007 15:13:31 Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Jun 14, 2007, "Chris Friesen" <cfriesen@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> >> But see, I'm not talking about getting permission to hack the
> >> hardware. I'm only talking about getting permission to hack the Free
> >> Software in it.
> >
> > No you're're talking about being able to hack the software
> > *and load it back onto the original hardware*.
> Yes. You wouldn't impose restrictions on modifying the software like
> that, now would you? Even though the GPL says you can't impose
> further restrictions on modification and distribution.

replace != modify

> >> It's your position that mingles the issues and permits people to use
> >> the hardware to deprive users of freedom over the software that
> >> they're entitled to have.
> >
> > The software license controls the software. If the hardware has
> > restrictions on it that limit what software it will run, then that is
> > unrelated to the software license.
> As in, the license controls the software. If a patent creates
> restrictions that limit what you can do with the software, then that
> is unrelated to the software license.

No - because this case is covered in GPLv2. Lose the straw-men.

> As in, the license controls the software. If a discriminatory
> contract limits what you can do with the software, then that is
> unrelated to the software license.

Incorrect. This is, again, covered by the GPLv2. Straw-man argument.

> As in, the license controls the software. If I send you the source
> code, but it happens to be protected by a key that only the hardware
> can decode, and it won't decode for you, then that is unrelated to the
> software license.

Straw-man. Situation covered by the GPLv2.

> Is that so, really?
> > There is nothing stopping you from taking the code for the tivo,
> > modifying it, distributing it, or even running it on other hardware.
> True. But TiVO is still imposing further restrictions on how I can
> modify the software stored in their device, while reserving that
> ability to itself. This is wrong. This is not "in kind". This is
> not "tit-for-tat". Tit-for-tat is: if they can, then I can too, and
> if I can't, then they can't either.

But that right has never been guaranteed by the GPL. It might have been the
*intent* of RMS when he wrote GPLv1 and the *intent* of the FSF when they
wrote GPLv2, but intent is worth exactly *NOTHING* in the law *UNLESS* that
intent is spelled out.

Anyway, as I've pointed out before: replace != modify

You can *replace* parts of a program and it will be a modification, you can
*replace* components of a piece of Hardware and it will be a modification but
replacing one software component of a device with another is *NOT* a
modification. Why? Because the hardware hasn't changed at all - the hardware
is merely there so the software can perform its job. And since you are
*replacing* the *ENTIRE* piece of software, it isn't a modification of the

> > Suppose I had some machine that will only run microsoft-signed
> > binaries. Would it be at all related to any software license that this
> > machine won't let me run linux?
> That would be an unfortunate machine to have, but if Linux or some
> other GPLed software was not shipped in it, then I don't see how this
> is relevant to this discussion. It's not about the hardware, it's
> about the software in it, and about passing on the freedoms related
> with it.

Exactly. However, you are making it about the hardware by making the claim
that "replacing a program, in its entirety, with another is a modification".
It isn't. A modification is when you replace or change a *portion* of a
program. By your logic I could write an operating system that is 100% binary
compatible with Linux and I'd be *required* to release it under the GPL,
because, even though it *replaces* Linux, it's still a "modification".


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