GPL and Linux loadable kernel modules
Posted Aug 13, 2005 20:09 UTC (Sat) by GreyWizard
In reply to: GPL and Linux loadable kernel modules
Parent article: Interview: Eben Moglen
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.
Well, in fact I was though perhaps not clearly enough. My point was that attempting to push responsibility for binary modules from a vendor to end users, which is what we are doing when we reframe the problem in terms of insmod, is not likely to succeed. This is why I made the comparison to Napster and Grokster.
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.
If a binary kernel module is a derivative work of the kernel then distributing it is copyright infringement unless those who hold the kernel copyrights give permission, which they have not done by releasing under the GPL. Creating it in the first place is explicitly permitted by the GPL. So I guess I didn't read your post closely enough either: rather than calling your approach complex I ought to have said it was simply doomed. I also mispoke, perhaps still thinking of the comparison to Napster, when I mentioned inducing infringement. Distribution of derivate works is what I meant.
Perhaps now you understand why I think this is simpler than fretting about whether invoking insmod can be copyright infringement. Even without the GPL that hinges on strange questions about fair use and the way computers work -- not to mention the public relations problem suing potential customers represents. The distribution angle seems cut and dried by comparison. Both approaches require settling thorny questions about derived works which, not to put too fine a point on it, is the original topic here.
By the way, Moglen's law degree doesn't mean squat here. [...] BUT: I respect Eben Moglen's opinion because of his extensive study of copyright law and practice in the area.
Here is the text you are responding to: "I don't know about you, but Moglen has a law degree and much relevant practice so his opinion on this is worth something." The law degree is indeed important here, if only because without one such relevant practice would be illegal.
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