FDL again, was: My concerns about GPLv3 process

Alfred M. Szmidt ams at gnu.org
Mon Feb 13 12:31:07 UTC 2006

   > 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.

   Why each, and not any? Suing for any infringment should suffice,
   AFAICS. (Though, as I said, perhaps for lesser damages etc., so
   it's probably good to get as many and substantial contributors as
   possible, but I can't see why all would be required.)

You can only sue for the bits you hold the copyright on.

   If your position is true, then how about the following scenario
   (yes, I like to construct scenarios ;-):

Me too. :-)

   - E. Vil claims that as not all of the copyright holders of the
     work he obtained are suing, they cannot sue at all.

Since E. Vil is still violating the copyright of the FSF copyrighted
works, they will need to comply, "or else".  They can then keep _your_
changes non-free, since you didn't sue.

     That's obviously an absurd defense. I suppose you agree.

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

   Yes, you talked about "mak[ing] Linux [as a whole] a non-free
   program". But since this would violate the license of the whole, it
   would also violate the license of each of its parts (some
   double-licensed parts perhaps excluded).

And each party would have to come to the table to protect the `whole'
work.  They can ofcourse come to the table and protect parts of the

   > and only do the minimal to comply with the bits you are
   > infringing on.

   So, if the one who sues is Linus Torvalds? You'd have to spend
   quite some effort to identify and remove hit "bits", and even more
   replacing them so you get something working again.

Linus' bits are really small in Linux.

   And all that only in order to wait for Alan Cox to sue you next (in
   which will probably a rather simple court decision, given that it
   will be the same situation applied to the next "few" source lines),
   etc. And even in the meantime you probably can't do much with your
   non-free version if you don't want to become liable for damages
   (probably for intentional violation, at least from the second
   time). Seems like an even sillier tactic than SCO's, IMHO. IANAL.

Sure, I didn't say it was practical. :-)


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