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Re: GPL-ed code in a driver for a proprietary OS

From: John Hasler
Subject: Re: GPL-ed code in a driver for a proprietary OS
Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2007 20:01:56 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1 (gnu/linux)

Richard writes:
> Think of the example of Microsoft or another proprietary OS vendor taking
> some GPL-ed device driver code written for linux, putting a wrapper
> around it in order to use it as a driver DLL and incorporating it into
> their OS without needing to open source anything but the driver itself.

You evidently didn't read the entire quotation:

  However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not
  include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary
  form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the
  operating system on which the executable runs, _unless that component
  itself accompanies the executable_.

Read the underlined part.  It is specifically intended to prevent
closed-source OS vendors from doing as you suggest.  When the GPL was
written Linux did not exist.  Free Software had to run on closed-source
operating systems: that's all there were.  The GPL was written with that
situation in mind.

> I'd think that would be clearly against the spirit of the full GPL
> licence as the Free Software Foundation see it, and as they drafted the
> license I'd think that their opinion carries the weight legally and
> morally.

Their opinion carries no legal weight whatsoever with respect to software
in which they own no copyright.  The GPL is a model license, not a law and
the FSF is a private foundation, not a court.
John Hasler
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI USA

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