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Re: [gNewSense-users] Copyright, but no license: Free or not?

From: Matthew J. Fisher
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] Copyright, but no license: Free or not?
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:34:59 -0500

Here's the thread in which RMS replied to my previous post.

On Tue, 2008-12-02 at 11:02 -0500, Richard M Stallman wrote:
>     Up to this point it looks like kfv volunteers have marked such files as
>     "No license, so assumed to be GPLv2". Now we may have to report them as
>     freedom bugs -- and re-check sections which were previously certified
>     free.
> That's whaty I think.
>     I'll wait a reality check before starting to file bug reports.
> I do not understand.  What is the "reality check" that you're
> waiting for, and who is doing it?

... and here is where we get to the reality check.

What does the gNewSense users list think? Do we have any clear basis on
which to argue that copyrighted, unlicensed files within the gNewSense
kernel are free? 

For example, are files copyrighted by Linus Torvalds clearly free since
the kernel as a whole is released by him under GPLv2? What about other
contributors, like the copyright holders for  arch/x86/ia32/sys-ia32.c:

* Copyright (C) 2000            VA Linux Co
* Copyright (C) 2000            Don Dugger <address@hidden>
* Copyright (C) 1999            Arun Sharma <address@hidden>
* Copyright (C) 1997,1998       Jakub Jelinek (address@hidden)
* Copyright (C) 1997            David S. Miller (address@hidden)
* Copyright (C) 2000            Hewlett-Packard Co.
* Copyright (C) 2000            David Mosberger-Tang <address@hidden>
* Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002  Andi Kleen, SuSE Labs (x86-64 port) 

If we do have to file bugs, and the rate at which I've found them in
arch/x86 applies to the entire kernel, then we're talking about
approximately 8,000 kernel freedom bug reports for copyrighted but
unlicensed files. I don't know if this concern also applies to
previously certified packages in main -- but it could.

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