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

From: Rob Landley
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 03:17:57 EST

On Thursday 14 June 2007 22:25:57 Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Jun 14, 2007, Bill Nottingham <notting@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > Alexandre Oliva (aoliva@xxxxxxxxxx) said:
> >> And since the specific implementation involves creating a derived work
> >> of the GPLed kernel (the signature, or the signed image, or what have
> >> you)
> >
> > Wait, a signed filesystem image that happens to contain GPL code
> > is now a derived work? Under what sort of interpretation does *that*
> > occur?
> Is the signature not derived from the bits in the GPLed component, as
> much as it is derived from the key?

Actually, you can't copyright, trademark, or patent a number. In order to
copyright something it has to have some creative element. You also can't
copyright (or trademark) book titles. So no, last I checked you can't
copyright an MD5sum or SHA1sum.

I vaguely recall somebody dredging around for the smallest thing there was a
legal precedent explicitly affirming you could copyright it, and it was a
haiku. So they put an uncompressed ascii haiku in their protocol...

Now if you sign the executable binary, then the binary (as a whole) is a
derivative work of your copyrighted code etc. ad nauseum pluribus unum and so
on. And THAT is due to Apple vs Franklin in 1983:
Before which copyright was only guaranteed to apply to source code, not to
binaries (which are basically big numbers). That's why everybody distributed
source code before then: it was the only thing they knew you could enforce a
copyright on...

IBM's "Object code only" initiative happened around the same time...
Along with the AT&T breakup commercializing Unix, the launch of the GNU
project, and the general rise of "shrinkwrap" software.

(There's this marvelous book called "Legal battles that shaped the computer
industry" by Lawrence D. Graham, devotes a few pages to Apple vs Franklin.
Franklin honestly didn't think Apple's binary ROMs were copyrightable. Just
as in a 1980 interview with Bill Gates, he couldn't stop somebody from
printing a book with an annotated printout of the TRS-80 ROMs Microsoft had a
copyright to. He sounded kind of pissed about it, actually. Also young and

"One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code."
- Ken Thompson.
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