Subject: Re: [ppc-mobo] GPL-like Hardware Solution: Remeber the CAD file
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 14:17:32 -0700

Ralph Giles wrote:
> On Thu, 7 Oct 1999, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >     John> Can I include a device driver, which is not open sourced?
> >     John> Can I modify the kernel by calling code which is "loaded at
> >     John> runtime" which is not open sourced so only the hooks are
> >     John> visible?

> > Probably not.  Current official interpretation of the GNU GPL as I
> > understand it requires you to call non-GPL code by exec'ing a new
> > process.  This rules out all the things you want to do, if the code is
> > to be kept secret.  RMS may want to correct this if I've got it wrong.
> My understanding is that this is in fact the case, except that Linus is
> reported to have said that binary-only module (which do not require
> modifications to the core kernel) are in fact ok, and since he's the
> nominal head of the project one could argue this makes it a legal
> exception to the GPL. At least, I've heard RMS say something to this
> effect.
> I don't have on original reference to this (I assume it's on linux-kernel
> somewhere) but certainly not all authors agree on this. It might come down
> to who owns the copyright on the affected portions of the kernel.

Read the copyright terms of the Linux kernel.

The legality is another issue.  I'm not sure of the terms of copyright
transfer in the case of Linux kernel development -- whether or not Linus
has the rights to the code that he's slapping his exception clause
onto.  The case could probably be made that there's implicit license
among developers contributing patches to issue their work under the
terms specified by Linus.

The whole issue of the link-layer boundary is apparently very poorly
understood.  I was sitting next to Mitchell Baker, lawyer and chief
lizard wrangler for Mozilla, as she told an assembled audience that she
couldn't figure out what the GNU LGPL was trying to say.  The spirit is
clear, but the language is not.  (The GPL also has some linguistic
problems, but is, in her opinion, a pretty good legal work despite

The Mozilla license is meant to address several problems a commercial
firm / commercially oriented organization has with the concept of
proprietary extensions, as well as some of the other IP (patent and
trademark) issues that come up in business.  I'm starting to like it.

My copyright-based patent trap language (for those following that
thread) comes originally from the MozPL version 1.1, though I'd run
across it in another license which borrowed heavily from it.

Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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