Getting grubby with ZFS
Posted Dec 8, 2010 0:30 UTC (Wed) by JoeBuck
Parent article: Getting grubby with ZFS
I don't see anything in the Grub announcement suggesting that the Grub maintainers or the FSF believe that Oracle is bound by GPLv3 because they released code under a GPLv2-or-later license. GPLv2 contains language pertaining to patents. The preamble states
"We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all."
Clause 6 reads: "Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein." An attempt to restrict distribution of code that Sun already distributed by a patent action would appear to violate this: they would be adding an extra condition.
I think you're making a dangerous and incorrect argument in the article, suggesting that anyone using "or later" language is taking a serious risk. In fact, "or later" licensing can only add permissions to downstream users or developers: anything GPLv2 permits but GPLv3 forbids is permitted by a GPLv2-or-later license and vice versa.
IANAL so I can't say under what conditions a distributor can renege on the implicit promise made by extending someone else's GPLv2 work and distributing the result. But I think that the Grub distributors are on safe ground just based on GPLv2.
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