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Re: [gNewSense-users] gNS seems to be violating GPLv2

From: Alexandre Oliva
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] gNS seems to be violating GPLv2
Date: Fri, 09 May 2008 16:32:19 -0300
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.2 (gnu/linux)

On May  9, 2008, Markus Laire <address@hidden> wrote:

> Several files in Linux Kernel have been changed in gNS without
> including such a notice (as one example: sound/pci/Makefile) which
> seems to be clear violation of GPLv2.

> Also, according to section 4 of GPLv2, such violation would
> automatically terminate the rights under the GPLv2.

Even though this strict interpretation may be correct, I don't think
it's black and white like that.  First of all, there's a question on
whether the changes at hand are copyrightable in the first place.
Second, there's a question on whether the practice followed in that
project indicates there's permission to proceed in this way.  For
example, it's quite common for these files to be modified upstream
without strict compliance with these terms and with explicit sign-off
by other copyright holders.  I guess this could at least be used as a
defense against a claim of license violation and automatic revocation,
in the unlikely case that one of the copyright holders decides to make
a fuss over these changes.

And then, very many GPLed projects use ChangeLog files that make up
for the lack of these explicit notes in the modified files themselves,
and I'm not aware of any fuss over that.  I suppose the deblob script
could serve as a sufficiently prominent notice of the changes, should
anyone question that, but it is indeed debatable.

GPLv3 relaxes the GPLv2 requirement to make these practices clearly
compliant, and for GPLv2+ projects this should be enough, but this
unfortunately isn't the case for the kernel Linux as a whole, although
it may be for the files at hand.

Alexandre Oliva
Free Software Evangelist  address@hidden,}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! =>
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   address@hidden,}

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