Subject: Here's a-what I'm a-gonna do.
From: nelson@crynwr.com
Date: 8 Jun 1996 03:42:57 -0000

[ There's no point in *having* a Free Software Business mailing list
  unless we actually *use* it.  So, I'm using it.  BTW, in case you
  have lost interest and want off the mailing list, please send your
  request to fsb-request@asylum.sf.ca.us; don't just reply to this
  mail.  -russ ]

There's this company, see, and they've got some neat hardware.  No
Linux driver.  No interest in a Linux driver, even in bartering for it
with hardware.  "We're a small company and can only afford to hit the
high-volume mass markets."  So, after much negotiation and badgering
and signing of nondisclosures (that allow source distribution),
they've agreed to give me the source code to their DOS/Windows driver.

So, I guess I'm going into the hardware business.  I'm going to write
the Linux driver as a kernel module, and resell their hardware.  My
profit on writing the driver is going to come from reselling the
hardware.  Only way I can see to do that without relying on the
goodness of people's hearts, however, is to not use the GPL.

If I used the GPL, the driver would get uploaded to sunsite, and
people would just buy the hardware from whomever.  If I put code into
the driver to check for only the hardware serial numbers that I sold,
someone would "fix" the driver (and from their perspective, that's
what they would be doing -- removing a bug).  Even if I paid the
company to slightly modify the hardware so that my driver would only
work on the hardware that people purchased from me, someone would
probably adapt the driver, again, fixing a bug.

I just don't see any way around it: if I want to profitably write a
driver for this hardware, it can't be GPL'ed.

L. Peter Deutsch's FPL (Free Public License) is no help here, because
the product manufacturer isn't interested in distributing the Linux
driver.

I don't know of anyone distributing proprietary kernel modules for
Linux.  I hesitate to be the first, but I figure that I'm the best
person to do it.  I've been writing GPL'ed programs for over a decade.
I maintained the Linux kernel changes page for well over a year when
no one else was doing it.  I'm not trying to take monopoly profits
here -- I'll be selling the hardware for the same price as the
manufacturer.

It'll be interesting....

-russ <nelson@crynwr.com>    http://www.crynwr.com/~nelson
Crynwr Software   | Crynwr Software sells packet driver support | PGP ok
11 Grant St.      | +1 315 268 1925 voice | It's no mistake to err on
Potsdam, NY 13676 | +1 315 268 9201 FAX   | the side of freedom.