[TriLUG] This date in history...
clubjuggler at gmail.com
Wed May 2 13:24:12 EDT 2007
On 5/2/07, Ian Meyer <ianmeyer at gmail.com> wrote:
> Here's food for thought:
> Part of what makes Ubuntu attractive is what it includes. The problem
> is this also meant is includes software that violates the DMCA,
> patent law, that infringes on multiple, enforced patents, and through
> its inclusion of binary-only kernel drivers, violates the GPL.
> Does Dell really want to open themselves up to this kind of legal
> Methinks someone at Dell just hasn't realized all this yet.
> ps: I stole my information from spot, whom I trust, so plz2not flame
> me asking for references for the allegations.
And, as I responded to spot's blog posting.
1. DMCA - His example here was DVD playing. While I do agree that DeCSS
was ruled to be in violation of the DMCA, there has never been a case involving
libdvdcss. As such, it is unknown whether or not it violates the
DMCA. It could
be that a judge or jury would look at it, see that it's only function
is to facilitate playback of DVDs that you already own. IANAL but
seems like fair use to me and that's how I would vote if I was on a jury.
2. Patent law - MP3 of course. This is an unresolved issue and the most
thorny of the lot, I think.
3. Do binary only kernel drivers violate the GPL? - I believe this question
is poorly phrased. I do not believe you can make a blanket statement
one way or another. It all hinges upon whether or not a driver is a "derived
work". The nvidia driver uses the same code for both it's linux and windows
driver. Can that be considered a "derived work" of the Linux kernel? Seems
a bit of a stretch. Let's take that one bit further. How about NDISWrapper?
It lets you use *unmodified* windows drivers as Linux drivers. Are the
windows drivers now "derived works" of the Linux kernel? If you say yes,
then I have a very nice bridge I'd like to sell you. :-)
This last point, I think, is by far the most interesting and luckily enough
it looks like our June speaker may be uniquely qualified to talk about it.
I would highly recommend reading her recently published paper about
Enforcing the GPL (available here: http://www.sapnakumar.org/EnfGPL.pdf ).
It's very eye opening. I did not realize that the GPL, which the FSF
purports to be a "pure license" was based upon an English Common Law
theory. Unfortunately for the FSF, if that is the case, then it means the
license is revocable. Their answer to that is a theory called promissory
estoppel, but that's something to do with contracts, which they say the
GPL isn't! So, whatever the GPL says, the law may say something different.
clubjuggler at gmail dot com
(fieldless) In fess two roundels in pale, a billet fesswise and an
increscent, all sable.
More information about the TriLUG