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Support for drivers in user space

Support for drivers in user space

Posted Sep 15, 2006 4:37 UTC (Fri) by gwg (guest, #20811)
In reply to: Support for drivers in user space by zlynx
Parent article: Support for drivers in user space

Linus's explanation in the Linux "COPYING" file is unclear. In the relevant
sentence he states that "this copyright does *not* cover user programs that
use kernel services by normal system calls", which might be construed as
meaning that the Kernel copyright does not regard user programs as ever
being part of a "work based on the Program", or it could mean that no
copyright is claimed over user programs just because they make system
calls, or both, (these being two different things, one being the scope of
a collective work, the other being the copyright on the user program).

But then he goes on to say " - this is merely considered normal use of the
kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".", thereby
suggesting that the disclaimer is intended to have the narrower second meaning,
not the first. If this is the case, then my argument would apply to Kernel
code and user code, if they are presented as a collective work, supplied by
a single party.


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Support for drivers in user space

Posted Sep 15, 2006 16:42 UTC (Fri) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285) [Link]

One more point. Your argument is clearly not the intent of Linus' exception.

For example, if you are correct, a Linux LiveCD with Unreal Tournament included is violating the GPL.

Unreal Tournament communicates with the GPU directly (well, through OpenGL direct rendering libraries), just as a user-space driver would.

So if one is violating the GPL by your argument, so is the other, and that is clearly ridiculous.

Support for drivers in user space

Posted Sep 16, 2006 2:32 UTC (Sat) by gwg (guest, #20811) [Link]

It's hard to say from Linus's statement in the COPYING file alone, what his intention was.
From common usage, you may regard such an interpretation as ridiculous, but that doesn't
somehow invalidate the interpretation of the licence. If a different contributor to the
Linux kernel wanted to make the interpretation I've made, then they could well take someone
distributing something like Unreal Tournament on a LiveCD to court, and see if the court
agrees that it's a collective work, and falls under the requirements of the GPL, as being a
"work based on the Program", and that Linus's disclaimer only applies to derived works.
I certainly regard anyone making use of my GPL licences code as being in violation of the
licence, if they release a collective work that does not itself comply with the GPL licence
(but then I don't have a Linus like disclaimer in my copy of the GPL).


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