"Mere aggregation" is there for a reason.
Posted Dec 1, 2010 1:01 UTC (Wed) by khim
In reply to: Yup. You just omitted important fact.
Parent article: The kernel and the C library as a single project
The "mere aggregation" clause just makes crystal clear something that is probably already true anyway: that bundling two completely unconnected things together on a single media does not magically make them legally derived from each other.
To bind two completely unconnected things together on a single media you still need explicit permissions from both copyright owners. And if one hates the guts of other... well, that's it: you can not distribute these two things on the same media. People from Be, Inc tested your insane theory - and failed (with dire consequences). Copyright owners can and often do forbid to distribute things together under same cover.
People are often surprised to hear that, but think about it: can you put Linux kernel and Adobe Flash player on the same media? No! But why "no"? Because standard Adobe Flash license forbids that. You can buy separate redistribution license - but this is different story (and said redistribution license often does impose limitations over what can you put on the same CD). If Adobe's license can allow you to run and use program but will stop the redistribution then why GPL can not do the same? It can and it does - unless you'll use GPL for the whole "work" you plan to redistribute or use "mere aggregation" escape.
Second, the reason glibc, etc. and the kernel are allowed to use different licenses is not the "merge aggregation" clause.
Ok, I'll bite. What other clause gives you this right? GPL extends to "any work based on the Program" - and of course compilation of kernel and some other library/program is "any work based on the Program". If you'll forget about "mere aggregation" clause, that is.
These are not considered to be derived works of the kernel and so they don't have to take the kernel's license into account.
If they are distributed separately? Sure. When they are combined to form bigger, larger, work like Android or Ubuntu? No. It's like when Alice hates Bob's guts (they had messy divorce or something): if you are lucky you can get a permission to publish a book of stories from two under some cover - buf if they'll demand to never put two such stories on one page... you must obey. Or not publish said book at all.
All that matters is derivation (without derivation there is no way to enforce) and the content of the license.
Right. So we need to check if Android or Ubuntu are derived work of kernel and if the license of kernel cover the whole "work". First part is simple: of course Android and Ubuntu are derived works! They quite literally include millions of bytes of code from kernel! Second part is equally clear (if you ignore "mere aggregation" clause): you can only ever redistribute "any work based on the Program" if you'll distribute the whole compilation under GPL terms.
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