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

From: Lennart Sorensen
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 14:04:58 EST

On Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 01:57:10PM +0200, Bernd Paysan wrote:
> Have you ever signed a copyright transfer agreement to the FSF? Obviously
> not, because then you wouldn't utter such nonsense. The agreement reads
> that you transfer a non-exclusive right to the FSF to distribute the code
> under GPL (versions of your choice, they have this right anyway, but making
> it explicit is always good), and the right to enforce the license. You
> still have the right to relicense the work as you like. You also have the
> right to enforce the license yourself, or to transfer that right to
> somebody else like The FSF even doesn't require to
> transfer copyright if you make a GNU project, but if you don't, the FSF
> won't help you (because they can't).
> They make very obvious promises about what they care ("four freedoms"), and
> that they will be very consistent in doing so. So far, all track records
> have proven that they indeed are very consistent in doing so - the main
> controversy here is not whether the FSF protects the "four freedoms", but
> whether these four freedoms are the right goal, and if they really should
> try so hard to protect these four freedoms. This part of the discussion is
> fully acceptable, what's not acceptable is that the Linus-fancurve claims
> things the GPL sais which it doesn't (like "tit-for-tat") or doesn't say
> which it does (like section 6 - direct license from the licensor, and in
> cases like Linux where no copyright transfer agreements whatsoever exist,
> these are the individual contributors). Or that Linux 0.something was
> already under GPLv2 only, when GPLv2 clearly says that there may be
> updates, and when you as author don't say something, you are allowing users
> to update if they like.

So if Linus wasn't entirely clear to begin with that he wanted GPLv2
only, then that is just too bad? Well why not then say that if the
GPLv2 didn't say that what Tivo did was bad, then too bad, you can't
change your mind later. The FSF can't have it both ways.

> The last point IMHO makes clear that my interpretation of the comment is
> valid: This is a commend made by Linus Torvalds, as how he understands or
> misunderstands the license text. It's not even something you can take as
> legal advice, because Linus is not a lawyer (fortunately - think how the
> kernel would look like if it was programmed by a lawyer ;-).
> Sure, if you as outsider strip the kernel of obvious GPLv2-only code to
> relicense it as a whole under GPLv3, you need a good asbestos suite, a good
> lawyer, and good arguments. But let's assume Microsoft really succeeds with
> its patent FUD against Linux, and the only way out is GPLv3, when will
> opinions here change?

No the GPLv3 is not the only solution. Perhaps a GPLv2.1 that is
actually in the spirit of the VPLv2 with just enough changes to fix the
real problems, that may in fact be a solution. The GPLv3 is very much
not the only solution. A totally different kernel specific license may
even be an option. There are many options, most of them just happen to
be pretty hard.

Len Sorensen
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