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

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 21:31:40 EST

On Fri, 15 Jun 2007, Rob Landley wrote:
> Technically what they're holding back is _trademark_ rights, which are a
> different area of IP law and not addressed by the GPL. (I know you know
> this, but just for the record...)

No, technically Red Hat really *does* have copyrights of their own.

Red Hat owns the "compilation copyright" on their distribution. That
means, for example, that even if they have _only_ open source programs on
their DVD image, you still are not necessarily able (without their
permission) to set up a "cheap-cd's" kind of operation, and sell their
CD-ROM/DVD images for a lower price.

So yes, they do own the Red Hat trademark too, but they fundamentally do
own copyrights over and beyond those of the individual programs they

Now, I think it so happens that the RHEL DVD's contains other programs
than just open source, and that you couldn't legally copy them *anyway*,
but that's a different issue.

Also, happily, a lot of vendors do not *want* to exercise their
copyright in the compilation, so you can go to, and you'll
find Fedora CD's, OpenSuSE CD's, Ubuntu CD's, etc, and as far as I know,
they're all perfectly legal. Exactly because open-source vendors usually
don't want to look nasty by limiting the compilation, when they can't
really limit the individual parts anyway.

> The five main areas of IP law as I understand them are copyright, patent,
> trademark, contract, and trade secret.

I'd not put contract there, but fair enough. But what I was really trying
to point out is that there are many different "levels" of copyright.

So you can own a "copyright in the compilation" - which just means that
you own the details of how you set it all together - _without_ actually
necessarily owning the copyrights in any of the individual packages
(although you obviously have to have a license to _make_ a compilation of
them - but the GPLv2 is one such license).

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