[Asterisk-Dev] GPL Violation alert.. (Actually, isn't)

David Woodhouse dwmw2 at infradead.org
Sun Jun 26 23:08:42 MST 2005

On Sun, 2005-06-26 at 16:29 -0500, MvPhone wrote:
> I don't know if my response made it to the group ... 
> But anyways you're finally right :) The package doesn't violate GPL.
> The driver is open sourced and links directly to zaptel & kernel.
> The closed part goes into kernel which is 100% ok.

You should be careful here. If you're selling a product which contains
_both_ an embedded Linux kernel and a loadable module, and your product
would be inoperational if either the kernel or your module were removed,
then you'd find it _extremely_ hard to argue in court that it's anything
less than a collective work; a work based in part on the Linux kernel.
The GPL applies to collective works too; not just derived works:

	These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole.  If
	identifiable sections of that work [your module] are not derived
	from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent
	and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its
	terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them
	as separate works.  But when you distribute the same sections as
	part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the
	distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License,
	whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire
	whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote

	Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or
	contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the
	intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of
	derivative or collective works based on the Program.

Distributing separate binary-only modules which have a life of their own
outside Linux (like AFS client code) is something you can possibly get
away with (although Linus isn't the only copyright holder of Linux, so
his opinion is meaningless. Other kernel developers disagree with him.)

However, distributing binary-only modules as part of a product _with_
the kernel, where both kernel and module are a fundamental requirement
for the product to operate, would be a fairly clear violation of the


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