GPL and Linux loadable kernel modules
Posted Aug 13, 2005 3:42 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata
In reply to: GPL and Linux loadable kernel modules
Parent article: Interview: Eben Moglen
I didn't read your post closely enough. Looking at it now, I see that you're not addressing the parent poster's claim that doing an insmod isn't a copyright violation. Instead, you're talking about the guy who supplied the LKM to insmod violating copyright. However, without establishing that doing the insmod is a copyright violation, I don't see how you could possibly argue that supplying the LKM violates copyright law by inducement.
In any case, there's nothing simple about making an inducement argument. This is fairly new law, and judge-made (that's why there was so much uncertainty about how Napster would turn out). By contrast, the derivative work law starts out in statute, and has been refined for about 100 years.
Check out the US Copyright statute, Title 17 of United States Code. (Just google "derivative work"). It lists the 6 exclusive rights that copyright law creates. #2 is "the right to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work." It is, of course still up in the air whether insmod qualifies as preparing a derivative work, but you can find plenty written on the idea that modifying a program for your own use qualifies. GPL enumerates preparing a derivative work as a specific right the licensee gets.
I agree that Eben Moglen and FSF believe and have always believed that insmodding is within those exclusive rights of the copyright holder. I only commented on what Moglen said about what everybody else believes.
By the way, Moglen's law degree doesn't mean squat here. A law degree from a US law school means you know the fundamental concepts of US law and have a broad overview of various areas of law -- all possibly as of 40 years ago. It doesn't mean you know the law of any particular jurisdiction or enough about any area of law to avoid embarrassing yourself in front of a judge. I know because I have one. BUT: I respect Eben Moglen's opinion because of his extensive study of copyright law and practice in the area. I have none (what I know about copyright law is mostly via LWN. I did learn some in law school, but have forgotten all that).
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