On Tuesday 23 October 2007 14:54:54 Dan Williams wrote:
> On Tue, 2007-10-23 at 13:07 -0400, Daniel Hazelton wrote:
> > On Tuesday 23 October 2007 10:05:12 Dan Williams wrote:
> > > On Tue, 2007-10-23 at 00:00 +0200, Pavel Machek wrote:
> > > > Hi!
> > > >
> > > > > > > Yes, I'm quite sure. There's MODULE_LICENCE("GPL"), IIRC.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > That doesn't say much, some manufacturers add that line to their
> > > > > > driver just to prevent the module loader complaining about a
> > > > > > non-GPL driver...
> > > > > >
> > > > > > There should be a copyright notice or a license file accompanied
> > > > > > with the driver that clearly states the license of the driver.
> > > > >
> > > > > Lacking an explicitly stated license it can be argued that, since
> > > > > the MODULE_LICENSE() macro is meant to define the actual license on
> > > > > the code, this code is GPL. No, it isn't an explicit definition,
> > > > > but lacking any other signs of the license, the implicit
> > > > > declaration of it being GPL is (or should be) enough to deflect
> > > > > charges of copyright infringement.
> > > >
> > > > Yep, I believe this driver is GPLed. They published the source and
> > > > there's nothing to suggest otherwise, and there's explicit:
> > > >
> > > > #define DRIVER_AUTHOR "Jeff
> > > > Lee<[email protected]>" #define DRIVER_DESC
> > > > "IS89C35 802.11bg WLAN USB Driver" MODULE_LICENSE("GPL");
> > >
> > > If there isn't an explicit COPYING or LICENSE file or something
> > > distributed with the driver, and if there aren't copyright/license
> > > headers at the top of the files in question, I have a hard time
> > > agreeing that MODULE_LICENSE("GPL") _definitely_ means that the author
> > > has GPL-ed the driver intentionally. Of course that's the way it's
> > > supposed to work, but to me this doesn't pass sufficient muster to be
> > > definitely called GPL without additional clarification.
> > >
> > > Dan
> > Lacking any other indication MODULE_LICENSE is supposed to mark the
> > license that the code is being distributed under. If companies are
> > intentionally
> Step 1: Ask the author.
Agreed. This should have been done before this discussion even started.
> Step 2: if the author doesn't reply, then we can have this discussion
> MODULE_LICENSE is just a random string that could have been added by
> anybody, not necessarily the author. Unless you can determine the
> intent of the author explicitly, a single MODULE_LICENSE is not
> sufficient to concretely determine the license of the code. It's only
> in one file. There is nothing to explicitly state the overall license
> of the whole work unless each file has a header referring to the license
> or unless there is a license document distributed with the code as a
> In the absence of any other indication, MODULE_LICENSE doesn't not
> concretely determine the license of the code. You can assume it does,
> but that's your gun to put to your own head.
The intent of MODULE_LICENSE is to mark the license on the code. This is
clearly stated in several places in Documentation/ (if my memory serves).
> > mis-using this to get around the "internal interfaces" limitations (where
> > some interfaces are not available unless the module is GPL'd) and the
> > warning message printed in the logs when the module is not GPL'd then
> > they are (technically) in violation of the law. (interfaces that are GPL
> > only are considered so internal to the kernel that using them makes your
> > code GPL because of the inclusion of GPL'd code. And no - I am not going
> > to get into that discussion - it's pointless)
> Just because the module may be loading illegally says _nothing_ about
> the license of the code.
No, but it is a mis-use of MODULE_LICENSE, which is supposed to state the
correct license on the code.
> > In the end, using MODULE_LICENSE for any purpose other than declaring the
> > chosen license for the code is deceptive. So it is easily arguable that
> > by
> "deceptive" is also not "this code code is definitely GPL". Doesn't
> matter whether it's deceptive or not. We do not know that the code is
Deception in order to create a situation whereby you can prosecute people for
violation of the law is illegal. Therefore not distributing the code with any
indication as to the license other than MODULE_LICENSE and attempting to
prosecute afterwards is illegal. QED: even if the code is not GPL'd (and such
could be learned by contacting the author), the fact that it ships without
any indication of the license other than MODULE_LICENSE implies that the
license is what is stated and prosecution on the grounds that it isn't
> > not including any license with the code other than the MODULE_LICENSE
> > statement and then trying to prosecute because MODULE_LICENSE doesn't
> > accurately state the license on the code is entrapment and illegal.
> Arguable doesn't mean that it's concrete enough to pass legal muster. I
> am not a lawyer, but this just doesn't pass the bar.
I know several and have asked one that is a very good friend. He agreed with
my interpretation of the presented facts - that since the only indication of
what the license on the code might be is MODULE_LICENSE it can be safely
assumed that the license is what that states. Any attempt to later prosecute
because the license is not what is stated would constitute entrapment - which
PS: note that all legal information contained here-in is only known to be
valid in the US.
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