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GPL, GPFS, and exporting kernel symbols

GPL, GPFS, and exporting kernel symbols

Posted Mar 3, 2004 14:42 UTC (Wed) by Duncan (guest, #6647)
In reply to: GPL, GPFS, and exporting kernel symbols by simlo
Parent article: invalidate_mmap_range() again

> Is there anything in the GPL hindering me in distributing a
> Linux kernel with any GPL_EXPORT changed to EXPORT?

Actually, I believe so. You are violating the granted license of the original
authors. You are free to make your own modifications and license them
under the GPL and any other license you choose, but that doesn't give you
the right to change the license of code that is not yours, which modifying the
export provisions of said code would in effect be doing.

IOW, the modification itself can be legally distributed, but you still violate
copyright law by making the calls if you do so yourself, or by being an
accessory to the violation if you do NOT do so yourself.

OTOH, it WOULD be legally possible to provide the mods as a patch or in
other discriptive format, such that the on-site user could make the changes as
desired and under your instructions. Because the GPL doesn't restrict use, or
modification by the end user (because the modified source only has to be
distributed to users, which would mean the end user doing the mod, so it's
already done <g> the reason companies can modify code for their internal
use without distributing their mods), it's perfectly legal for someone to TELL
you how to make the mods, which is effectively what a patch does, and for
you to then USE the mods once made, including with their proprietary
source. However, the mods would have to be distributed in instruction/patch
form, and be applied by the user.

Thus, since the target market for this proprietary file system is presumably
large business customers with which IBM would most likely be working to do
the installation in the first place, it's easy enough for them to get around the
GPL_EXPORT issue, in individual installations. I believe they could even
make the patch part of the installation script, as long as the distributed
sources were kept pure/unmodified, and then modified at installation by the
script or whatever. It's really not a huge problem in practice, then, except
that it would of course be easier not to have to worry about making the mod
during installation, saving that step. However, IBM is playing nice and asking
for the mod, and it DOES prevent them from having to take that extra step at
installation.

Of course, IANAL and all that..

Duncan


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