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Re: [TSVN] To GPL or not to GPL

From: Molle Bestefich <molle.bestefich_at_gmail.com>
Date: 2005-08-24 12:00:17 CEST

Simon Large wrote:
> Molle Bestefich wrote:
>> The Linux kernel comes to mind. I don't follow the kernel mailing
>> list closely, but it seems that every one or two months, someone adds
>> proprietary stuff to the kernel, stuffs it in a router or some such
>> and starts selling the product while denying access to the source code
>> additions. Linksys is probably the most prominent example, since they
>> were later bought by Cisco.
>>
>> Another example would be the 'xvid' source code. Sigma Designs stole
>> the source (eg. modified and used it in their proprietary product w/o
>> source). Their main product is a decoder chip used in DVD players, so
>> presumably they modified the source to play nicely in a piece of
>> silicon.
>>
>> I haven't paid for market research, but I know that they have a huge
>> part of the DVD player silicon market. Every DVD player I've ever
>> opened use Sigma Designs chips, and they are thus now a major player
>> on the market - based on source code, research and hard work which
>> they utterly stole from one (or more) open source project(s).
>
> Rather a different sort of product though. Can you see TSVN going into
> routers or DVD players? OK, that's just plain silly, but really, the
> possibilities for commercialisation are a lot more limited for a Windows
> shell extension.

Absolutely. I wasn't trying to be the magic 8-ball that will tell you
what the odds are for sleazeballs abusing TSVN source code. I'll
agree that it's probably less likely than for the above examples.
Just wanted to let you know that this sort of stuff DOES happen..

> Linux is a tricky example. You can add proprietary drivers and apps
> quite legally without making source available. Only if you modify the
> GPL'ed distribution do you have to provide source.

To clarify, I was only referencing the cases where actual GPL'ed
source code had been modified, not tainted kernels and such things.

And.. If you consider the piece of hardware that is distributed as a
"whole work", technically it falls under GPL since non-separable
sub-components fall under GPL. Thus every piece of software in that
box should (if you interpret the GPL to the extreme!) be GPL'd. I
think. (But let's try and steer clear of that indisputably lengthy
discussion if we can, ho-hum..)

> I guess if you make a
> driver based on a GPL skeleton driver you are in a grey area.

Really? I'd say if the skeleton is pure GPL, derivatives must be GPL...

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Received on Wed Aug 24 12:00:54 2005

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