"Derivative Work" for Software Defined

Ian Lance Taylor ian at airs.com
Fri Jan 17 16:48:24 UTC 2003

Andre Hedrick <andre at linux-ide.org> writes:

> However ----- the issue is not talking about .exe or .com files, but
> pluggin objects using the well known and publish API of the Linux Kernel.

Why do you keep harping on this particular issue?  Is anybody telling
you that you can not distribute your Linux loadable modules without
source?  Anybody at all?

> Now lets move off to the land of Commerial OS's, specifically MicroSoft.
> If any of you think a single judge would allow Bill Gates and company
> to claim ownership of a third parties "ORIGINAL WORK" which is designed to
> operate and expand the uses of the MicroSoft Operating System, please pass
> around whatever you guys are smoking.

Think clearly.  The GPL does not claim ownership of your work.  It
merely puts conditions on distributing your work combined with GPL
work.  The question you are raising is whether #including a GPL header
file means that your work has been combined with GPL work.  I don't
think there is a definitive answer to that question.

(But I think there is a definitive answer for Linux, as opposed to
some arbitrary work under the GPL, so why are you still worrying about

> GPL states you can change and do whatever you want, provide you return the
> changes.

No, it doesn't.  Read it again.  The GPL has no requirement for
returning any changes to anybody.  If you distribute source alongside
your binaries, it has no requirement that you distribute source to
anybody else.

> Now that I can do whatever and create whatever, and in this model I will
> copy verbatium every operational function regardless of any associated
> flag tatoo'd to the API symbols list.  This secondary abstraction object
> layer will be dual licensed as OSL/LGPL.  Therefore it is permitted to use
> any and all exported sysmbols regardless of games played.

If you literally ``copy verbatim,'' then you have to follow the
permissions granted by the copyright owner (in section 6, note
``subject to these terms and conditions'').  Since the original is
under the GPL, that more or less requires that your new code be under
the GPL as well.  That prohibits you from distributing it under an
OSL/LGPL license.

If you use a clean room approach to creating the new header files,
then I expect that your approach is legal.

> So one sells the work or program on a single media, and make them download
> or purchase the associated GPL programs to use and execute the non-GPL
> product.  This bypasses the distribution controls and hooks of the
> tarbaby-license.  Also this makes the final destination, the enduser.
> Distribution is over and ability to dictate the usage is gone, section
> six (6).  Now argue out of this box.

This is an old argument, often called ``user does the link;'' you
distribute just enough source code to be able to use your binary
modules, and you make the end-user build the source code.  As with all
these cases, nobody knows for sure whether it would be considered
legal or not.  I'm not aware that anybody has ever actually done it.

Of course, I'm sure we're all clear that this has nothing to do with
anything you want to do, because Linux already clearly permits binary
modules.  Right?

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