FDL again, was: My concerns about GPLv3 process

Alfred M. Szmidt ams at gnu.org
Sun Feb 12 18:29:46 UTC 2006

   > In theory, anyone can go and make Linux a non-free program, since
   > it is simply impossible to enforce the license there.

   I suggest you read http://gpl-violations.org/ in order to see where
   the GPL has been discussed, and upheld, in court, following
   companies attempting to make the Linux kernel proprietary.  Harald
   Welte, who started the site and wrote some of the Netfilter code,
   took (and continues to take) many companies to court over the use
   of his code, which is included in the kernel. The violations being
   sued for now are on a wider scale than just Netfilter, as I
   understand it.

This is different, netfilter had presumable only a single copyright
holder (or a few), Harald Welte.  This isn't the case with the whole
of Linux.  For each infginged part, you would have to figure out who
the copyright holder is, and ask them to sue.  Something that is
infact a practical impossibility. Harald Welte can only ask for his
copyrighted bits to either be removed, or have the infringing party to
comply with the license, he (or the court I think) cannot dictate what
should be done with the other parts, since no copyright holder has
come up and sued.

None of the cases at http://gpl-violations.org are about companies
infringing on the license of Linux, but seperate projects or stand
alone bits in Linux, as far as I can see.

I spoke about Linux as a whole, not in small parts.

For example you could do something like: take Linux, someone sues, you
remove the infringing bit, continue distributing a non-free version of
Linux, and simply wait until someone "sues" again (have any of the
cases listed on gpl-violations.org gone go court?), and only do the
minimal to comply with the bits you are infringing on.

Anyway, this is all in theory...


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