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

From: Paulo Marques
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 07:50:15 EST

Bernd Paysan wrote:
On Thursday 14 June 2007 19:20, Paulo Marques wrote:
Watching the output of the first grep without "wc -l" shows that,
although it is not 100% accurate, it is still ok just to get a rough

So yes, ~6300 files are definitely more than a couple ;)

I knew I shouldn't post into the yearly GPL flame-fest... :(

Most of them don't say anything, so they are "any GPL" by the author.

I've contributed some code for the kernel (unlike yourself, AFAICT), and believe me, I did so under GPL v2. The COPYING file is pretty much self explanatory, so I didn't need to add any explicit license statement to my code.

When do you people accept that Linus can't change the GPL, he can only add comments of what he thinks is the case! His interpretation of the GPLv2 might be that not saying anything about the version means "v2 only", but if he does so, he's simply wrong. He was wrong in the module case, as well, and dropped this comment a while ago. He might drop this comment in future, as well. In fact, anybody can drop this comment, as it's just a comment.

Linus can't and is not _changing_ the GPL. He can however use whatever license he sees fit for _his_ code just like all the other kernel developers do.

People seem to forget that the kernel license in COPYING *never had* the "v2 or later" clause. Never. Period.

The only change in license was from the previous hand-made one from Linus into GPL v2 only. And that is perfectly fine since the previous license was even more permissive than GPL v2.

The kernel *as a whole* is clearly under GPLv2 only from Linus' comment, which is in fact true, since the common subset of GPL versions from all authors is indeed GPLv2 (by virtue of some files from Al Viro, and maybe some other explicit GPL v2 files). The author must specify the version himself, there simply is no other way. If you don't specify any, it's "any version", because I can license all patches straight from the authors.

No, it is not "any version". It is the license specified in COPYING and nothing else.

The way the GPLv2 allows you to explicitely specify "any version" is by not saying anything about the version at all. Linus isn't in the positition to change that unless he does a substantial change to the file, and also adds a comment that this file is now GPLv2 only.

Man, I sure ain't a lawyer, but people in these discussions seem to not understand the basics at all.

And the basics are: "people who write the code decide the license to give it". And that's just it.

And people who write kernel code are perfectly aware that the kernel license is GPL v2 only, and always has been (except for the initial linus license).

So don't go around saying that because people don't put explicit license statements they don't care about the license. I care very much about the license, and would have never contributed to the kernel if it had a BSD license of some sort.

Putting a license statement in _every_ file in the kernel tree would just be idiotic when there is such a clear COPYING file in the root of the kernel tree.

Paulo Marques -

"Oh dear, I think you'll find reality's on the blink again."
Marvin The Paranoid Android
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