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More DTrace envy

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 15:48 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
In reply to: More DTrace envy by tzafrir
Parent article: More DTrace envy

No, you're still missing the point. For the sake of argument, we'll assume that using the
CDDLed dtrace code in Linux is a violation of the GPL[1]. Let's also assume that none of the
Linux copyright holders are going to sue anyone who distributes this infringing combined work.
Now let's imagine that Microsoft buy a small Linux contracting company that holds the
copyright for part of the Linux kernel. Microsoft now get to enforce the GPL against anyone
shipping Linux in a way that violates it, and so file takedown notices against Red Hat and
Novell. The only defence these companies would have is "It's not a derivative work of the
kernel", which runs counter to arguments that they've made in the past. Do you really think
anyone wants to be open to that situation?

[1] As Bryan points out, this is a grey area. But I don't see any of the major Linux vendors
being keen on being the first to have that tested in court.

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More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 16:04 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

You have completely ignored the "if the Linux copyright holders agree" condition repeated
several times across, at least, my comments.

It is entirely within the power of the copyright holders to define the licence used, including
adding their exceptions to the GPL, such as "incorporating CDDL code is ok". My understanding
is that the Linux licence has even been modified in the past, and unilaterally at that!

We could imagine otherwise, sure. We could also imagine Jonathan Schwartz as He-Man battling
it out with Linus as Skeletor over who is master of Greyskull*... (feel free to mentally
reverse the roles according to preference).

* NB: humour..

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 16:13 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Some of the Linux copyright holders are dead. Some have merely vanished. One of them's a
company that tried to kill Linux a few years ago. In some cases we probably don't even have a
solid idea who the copyright holder is. Changing the license isn't a real possibility.

(The last time the license changed was in 1992, when it probably was possible to identify
everyone who'd contributed any code to Linux using a single person's fingers. Since then Linus
has clarified what his interpretation of the license is at various points, but these
clarifications aren't binding)

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 18:02 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

ISTR some kind of brouha, discussed on LWN I think, not so long ago about Linus changing the
Linux copyright to exclude the possibility of upgrading its GPLv2 to GPLv3 (it was claimed he
hadn't actually changed the licence, but that wasn't accepted all? I dont quite remember).

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 18:11 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Huh, nm. You covered the GPLv2 clarification. My bad for not reading.

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 18:04 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Oh.. dead copyright holders either have successors in interest, or else they don't matter, is
what I suspect a lawyer would tell me.

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 18:31 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Indeed, my understanding is that the copyright will generally end up with whoever holds the
estate. That doesn't make it easy to track them down.

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 19:18 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

I bet there are ways to solve this problem, such as publicising a proposed change and asking
for objections. Perhaps the law has already dealt with cases where some minority of copyright
holders in a collective work can't be found and/or don't take an interest...

It's not Suns' problem though..

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 19:33 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

I agree - it's unfortunate for Linux that Sun chose a license that the GPL is incompatible
with, but they were entirely within their rights to do so. My only objection is to the
repeatedly raised "Linux people hate dtrace for irrational reasons" type claims. Linux vendors
feel they can't ship dtrace for justifiable legal reasons, which means that there's little
incentive to work on the technical details. Whatever NIH tendencies the Linux community may
have, they're not the reason for ignoring dtrace.

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 21:32 UTC (Thu) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

No, it's not Sun's problem.  Unfortunately, it's not Linux's problem either -- the GPLv2 was
written 15 years before the CDDL.

It's a mutual problem.

The Linux team is unable to modify the Linux Kernel's license, and the DTrace team sounds
quite unwilling to amend/modify/dual license DTrace, so I guess we're at an impasse.  Can
anything be done?

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 21:51 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

I'm sure we could find licences which predate the GPL which also would *not* have served
OpenSolaris. E.g. Solaris engineering has a fairly strong BSD background and you can bet that
licence was at least mentioned..

So, sorry, that's just a daft argument.

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 22:55 UTC (Thu) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Hm, I don't understand.  What is a daft argument?  That it's a mutual problem?  That combining
CDDL and GPL code appears to be at an impasse?

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 18:35 UTC (Thu) by smoogen (subscriber, #97) [Link]

There are probably over 1000 Linux copyright holders. Getting 100% agreement out of 1000
people is rare if not impossible. One of the bonuses Sun can say as a business argument is
that OpenSolaris is 100% theirs and they can do whatever they want when they want without
having to get such agreement. 

More DTrace envy

Posted Jul 3, 2008 19:06 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Getting 100% agreement out of 1000 people is rare if not impossible.

Asked a lawyer whether 100% of 1000+ is required? It's very tempting for programmers to try interpret law almost programmatically, yet incorrectly. There surely must be case law from the music industry..

This still isn't Suns' problem though. It's not reasonable to expect Sun to open-source Solaris under any licence but one that suits the needs of Solaris users and Suns' business (see Bryan's post, and ealier post of mine).

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