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

From: Markus Laire
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] gNS seems to be violating GPLv2
Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 09:56:55 +0300

On Fri, 09 May 2008 16:32:19 -0300
Alexandre Oliva <address@hidden> wrote:

> 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.

I don't think that question is relevant here. If you modify files, you
need to acknowledge that fact so that everyone knows that they are
getting modified version, even if the changes are non-copyrightable.

Otherwise someone could think that your modified version is actually
upstream version and complain to upstream developers about bugs which
were introduced by your non-copyrightable modifications.

> 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.

These might be good questions to ask from address@hidden

> 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.

It's not, at least not for all files (I didn't check them all).

Markus Laire

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