[FSFE PR][EN] [GNU/FSF Press] Violation of The GNU General Public License (GPL) by RTLinux

Bradley M. Kuhn pr at gnu.org
Fri Sep 14 19:54:34 CEST 2001

This press release is also available at:



Media Contact: Free Software Foundation
               Bradley M. Kuhn <pr at gnu.org>
               Phone: +1-617-542-5942

Violation of The GNU General Public License (GPL) by RTLinux

Boston, Massachusetts, USA - September 14, 2001 - The Free Software
Foundation today issued an official statement on violations of the GNU
General Public License (GPL) by RTLinux.  Victor Yodaiken, CEO of FSMLabs
(who distribute RTLinux), has used a patent license to impose restricted
terms on distribution of a GPL-covered program.  The FSF opposes software
patents, and in addition believes that Yodaiken's patent license violates
the GPL of the kernel named Linux.

Software patents are a harmful government policy of creating monopolies
that restrict computer users.  We oppose this policy, and we think it is a
shame that Victor Yodaiken has chosen to obtain a patent for an idea that
we believe should not be, and is not, patentable.  The patent covers
real-time interrupt handling using a software emulation layer for
interrupt masking, so that interrupts can be prioritized.  There is
significant prior art for this.

Yodaiken has attempted to use the patent to impose restrictive terms on a
GPL-covered program (Linux, the kernel used in the GNU/Linux operating
system).  These terms conflict with the GNU General Public License, and
imposing them is a violation of the GPL.  We have told Yodaiken this, and
we have told him what license terms would comply with GPL.  He, like
everyone, has the reponsibility to comply with the GPL or cease his
infringing distribution.  Anyone else redistributing a modified version of
Linux under the restrictive patent license that Yodaiken uses will also be
violating the GPL.

It is up to the copyright holders of Linux to enforce the GNU GPL for
their code.  The FSF is not one of them; we have never been involved in
developing Linux, the kernel.  The FSF holds the copyright for a number of
other major components of the GNU/Linux operating system, but those
programs are not involved in this issue.  So the FSF is not a party to
this issue in a legal sense.

However, we have told Yodaiken that if he remains in violation of the GPL,
we may well choose to support efforts by other companies to invalidate
Yodaiken's patent in the courts, and we may also support actions taken by
others to uphold the GPL.

About GNU/Linux:

GNU is a Free Software Unix-like operating system.  GNU/Linux is the
integrated combination of the GNU operating system with the kernel,

Calling the GNU/Linux system just "Linux" leads to confusion.  Making
consistent distinctions between GNU/Linux, the operating system, and
Linux, the kernel, clears up the confusion.

About the Free Software Foundation:

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs.  The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software and free documentation for free software.  Their web
site, located at http://www.gnu.org/.  They are head quartered in Boston,
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 232 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/press-release/attachments/20010914/b9946949/attachment.pgp

More information about the Press-release mailing list