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Tightening symbol exports

Tightening symbol exports

Posted Dec 1, 2007 21:13 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954)
In reply to: Tightening symbol exports by simlo
Parent article: Tightening symbol exports

Restrict access for non-GPL symbols. This is legally nonsense.

It isn't meant to make sense legally. It's a way to stick it to creators of non-GPL code technically, by making your work unavailable for their use. Like if you threw a party and admitted only people who had never written a non-GPL piece of kernel code.

I've never been entirely sure what's to stop those people from simply putting a MODULE_LICENSE("GPL") in their non-GPL code. Either it's the hope that that line of code legally effects a copyright license or it's reliance on the author's honor.


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Tightening symbol exports

Posted Dec 7, 2007 12:07 UTC (Fri) by Randakar (guest, #27808) [Link]


Err, that's some pretty good nonsense you're spouting there.

Legal stuff isn't black and white. Intent matters. EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL is a declaration of
intent stating that whoever uses that symbol will be assumed to be making a derived work of
the linux kernel. 

Claiming your work is GPL (by putting a MODULE_LICENCE() statement in) when it clearly isn't
is bound to get you hip deep in the muck in the courtroom if there were to be a GPL
infringement case against you. You just deliberately ignored a statement that certain symbols
were only available to GPL modules, so any infringement was willful making you liable for
triple damages. You just either a) fraudulently claimed your module was GPL or b) fraudulently
claimed it was not when it clearly is licensed GPL according to your own code! 

Of course IANAL - but I've read enough groklaw to understand that courts don't take kindly to
attempts to circumvent other people's rights, regardless of how smart they may sound to you.


Tightening symbol exports

Posted Dec 7, 2007 20:10 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Legal stuff isn't black and white. Intent matters. EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL is a declaration of intent stating that whoever uses that symbol will be assumed to be making a derived work of the linux kernel.

Intent matters in some things, such as what the parties to a contract intended, or whether a person intended to kill another person. It's meaningless in others, such as whether you intended for your grandfather to leave you money in his will. The intent you describe is in the latter category. An author does not have any say in whether something is a derived work of his work. That's up to legislators.

You just deliberately ignored a statement that certain symbols were only available to GPL modules, so any infringement was willful

Sure, but is there any copyright infringement? Unless the LKM is a derived work, which is by no means a settled question, there isn't any. And if it is, it's an infringement with or without linking to GPL_ONLY symbols, because GPL does not give you the right to distribute an object-only derived work, regardless of what symbols you use.

fraudulently claimed your module was GPL
Merely lying is not fraud. You have to induce someone to do something, to his detriment and your gain. Whom are you defrauding? The linker?

fraudulently claimed it was not when it clearly is licensed GPL according to your own code!
The "fraudulently" part suffers from the same misuse of the word "fraud" as above. The "clearly is licensed" is of course related to the 2nd main point from my post above: it's possible, but certainly not clear, that MODULE_LICENSE() effects a copyright license.
courts don't take kindly to attempts to circumvent other people's rights, regardless of how smart they may sound to you
But that's not a useful statement, since the question in all these cases is what are those other people's rights?

Tightening symbol exports

Posted Dec 7, 2007 20:19 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

I've never been entirely sure what's to stop those people from simply putting a MODULE_LICENSE("GPL") in their non-GPL code. Either it's the hope that that line of code legally effects a copyright license or it's reliance on the author's honor.

I just realized, upon further reflection, that even if we assume that MODULE_LICENSE("GPL") is an actual copyright license -- i.e. the same as writing someone a letter that says, "I license you to copy my code under GPL" -- you can still get a way with an object-only LKM. A copyright license is not an offer of source code, it's just permission to copy.

Tightening symbol exports

Posted Dec 10, 2007 14:36 UTC (Mon) by robbe (subscriber, #16131) [Link]

> I've never been entirely sure what's to stop those people from simply putting
MODULE_LICENSE("GPL") in their non-GPL code.

It's been done: http://lwn.net/Articles/82306/

(Version 1.14 of Linuxant's hfpcimodem still contains the GPL\0not-really BS.)


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