the right to make a difference

Sam Bull sam.hacking at
Thu Jun 2 11:36:01 UTC 2016

On Thu, 2016-06-02 at 12:31 +0200, Xen wrote:
> > So I think the unfairness is very much there now. Spengler is now
> > actually getting something for nothing, where before he was not,
> > and
> > the whole intention of many of the contributors to linux has been
> > subverted.
> Untrue. There was no before. Linux was already available to him. It
> was given away for free.

You seem to repeatedly suggest that nothing is owed to the kernel
developers and that it was given away with no requirements. But, the
kernel is not simply given away, it is distributed under the GPL, and
as already mentioned the intention of the GPL is that changes to the
project by other developers are shared under the same conditions, so
that the changes might be incorporated back into the original project
or used by others. If somebody does not want to agree to these terms,
then they are welcome to find an alternative (e.g. Apple used the BSD

Saying that nothing is owed and that there is no agreement, would
suggest that after buying a proprietary piece of software, I can now
modify it and resell it to other people, despite this being against the
intention of the author.

The main question appears to be about a legal loophole, in whether the
work is considered a derivative when it can be distributed as a
separate patch. I don't know what these patches are, but I imagine if
they are mostly a set of self-contained files (like a module) it would
not be considered a derivative, whereas if it involves significant
changes to the kernel, then it would be considered a derivative, and
the GPL should be enforced.

Another question, nobody has asked: It sounds to me, like the developer
is possibly accepting that the patches they are selling are licensed
under the GPL, but saying that if they use their rights to redistribute
them, they will not continue to sell them updates.

So, if you consider the developer is allowing anybody to exercise their
rights for the piece of software they have received and that the
developer can choose not to sell a new version of software for any
reason; is the threat enough to break the conditions of the GPL?
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