Has Bionic stepped over the GPL line?
Posted Mar 21, 2011 2:50 UTC (Mon) by rgmoore
(✭ supporter ✭
In reply to: Has Bionic stepped over the GPL line?
Parent article: Has Bionic stepped over the GPL line?
I think your response is reasonable, but if I recall correctly, the Linux kernel does not have any form of copyright assignment and therefore all contributors per se are copyright holders.
But copyright holders in what? The assumption that everyone seems to make is that Linux would be treated as a compilation, where individual authors hold copyright on their specific contributions. So somebody who only worked on network drivers wouldn't be able to claim that their copyright had been violated by Google using kernel headers. Somebody could claim, though, that Linux is actually a collaboration, where everyone who worked on it would have a share in the copyright on the whole. That makes some sense, since the whole thing can be compiled into a single binary.
Nobody knows for sure which theory of copyright would hold in practice, since the issue has never been litigated. I doubt that anything with a copyright situation anywhere close to as complicated as Linux's has ever been completely litigated. Even if the collaboration theory held, a judge might rule that a specific author's contributions were small enough that the violation was de minimus and dismiss a suit for that reason. I'd certainly expect standing to be a big issue in any copyright violation suit involving Linux.
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