"Derivative Work" for Software Defined

David Johnson david at usermode.org
Tue Jan 7 03:55:53 UTC 2003

On Monday 06 January 2003 06:24 pm, Ian Lance Taylor wrote:

> When writing a binary loadable module in Linux, can you really be
> described as using a published API?  I'm not aware of any meaningful
> publishing of that API other than the Linux sources themselves, and
> it's worth noting that API changes regularly as the kernel changes.

Loadable kernel modules are in a grey area. The Linux team certainly has the 
right to say "this API is internal and not for public use". But at the same 
time they can't say a certain API is public for some people but private for 
others. Merely marking a symbol "GPL" isn't good enough. If it's in a header 
file meant for public consumption then it's a published API.

It's the "public consumption" part that's the grey area. That could be 
potentially any header file, since they are all available to the public. It 
depends upon how they are used.

p.s. I'm not arguing that you can make an "end run" around the GPL using 
kernel modules. That is a different case.

David Johnson
pgp public key on website
license-discuss archive is at http://crynwr.com/cgi-bin/ezmlm-cgi?3

More information about the License-discuss mailing list