Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Jul 2009 09:43 UTC
Microsoft Sometimes, some things are just too good to be true. Earlier this week, Microsoft made a relatively stunning announcement that it would contribute some 20000 lines of code to the Linux kernel, licensed under the GPL. Microsoft isn't particularly fond of either Linux or the GPL, so this was pretty big news. As it turns out, the code drop was brought on by... A GPL violation.
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RE: Didn't require release
by Ford Prefect on Thu 23rd Jul 2009 10:38 UTC in reply to "Didn't require release"
Ford Prefect
Member since:
2006-01-16

That is not correct.

What Microsoft did was a copyright violation and it doesn't get away by just stopping further violations.
Typically, the copyright holders of GPL code settle with the condition that the source code is released, a "late fix" of the violation.
If MS would not follow that path, the copyright holders would probably sue MS (with a lot of media coverage) and eventually get damages paid.

Edited 2009-07-23 10:39 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE[2]: Didn't require release
by Karitku on Thu 23rd Jul 2009 12:40 in reply to "RE: Didn't require release"
Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

That is not correct. What Microsoft did was a copyright violation and it doesn't get away by just stopping further violations. Typically, the copyright holders of GPL code settle with the condition that the source code is released, a "late fix" of the violation. If MS would not follow that path, the copyright holders would probably sue MS (with a lot of media coverage) and eventually get damages paid.

I think you get it wrong. Firstly whole code part is done by Microsoft so they can just change license. Secondly code was disqualified as being GPL licensed because it breaks it own rules, so it must be removed. Thirdly the closed source is most likely protected by some other license agreement.

What you think is that this is standard GPL violation where some GPL code is taken and then turned to something other without permission from authors, which this isn't. Like I said Microsoft is author of code, code itself can't be GPL because it links to closed source, so only reasonable solution is to remove that piece from kernel.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

Thank you for pointing out that the GPL code in question is owned by Microsoft.

However, you need to note that Microsoft still violated the rights of others, particularly of the Linux kernel developers.

The GPL code in question was a glue between the Linux kernel and non-GPL code. That's why it was distributed under the GPL (so it is allowed to be linked to the kernel) and why it needs to be considered as derived work from the Linux kernel source. You see the 'viral' effect of the GPL here. MS is not allowed to breach the GPL on their own code just because it is linked to GPL code owned by others.


The case is obviously not as clear as I thought. So MS would probably have gotten away with just stopping the release-while very much unpleasing their customers, however.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Yeah, you're right. I wish there were more explanation of the particular kind of violation they were guilty of.

They essentially wrote a driver that was only partially GPL. Which you can't do. They tried using a gpl ed section of code to bridge the gap between the kernel and their own binary blob. I'm guessing that the driver didn't fall into the gray area that some binary kernel modules are allowed to fall into. Either that or by previously releasing it as partial GPL, they violated the GPL ( of the kernel code) and the easiest resolution with the copyright holders ( of the kernel) was to release all of the driver GPL.

Please, feel free to correct anything I wrote. I'm not really sure I'm right.

Reply Parent Score: 3