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[3]: Didn't require release
by Ford Prefect on Thu 23rd Jul 2009 12:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Didn't require release"
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

TemporalBeing Member since:
2007-08-22

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


Or if they truly owned it all, then they could have just dual-licensed it. The problem is only if they did not own it all themselves.

Therefore it is not 'viral' as:

1) If they owned the could they could dual license and make everyone happy.
2) If they did not own the code, then they have to follow the license, and can (at best) dual license what they brought to the table.

Neither of those are 'viral' effects.

Following the license is following the license.

A viral effect would only happen if using the license caused totally unrelated stuff to have to be under the same license, and the GPL does not do that.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

Apparently you did not read my post thoroughly. They did own 100% of the code. However, as soon as they link it to the kernel, it is "derived work" of the kernel. There is where they loose the right to dual-license: They are not allowed to link Non-GPL licensed code to the kernel.

That is, effectively, what they call the 'viral' effect. I don't mean it negatively. I use GPL for my software myself.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Didn't require release
by lemur2 on Thu 23rd Jul 2009 23:21 in reply to "RE[3]: Didn't require release"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

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.


Not quite. microsoft took some of their own code, and then stactically linked some GPL code in with it, in order to make their product.

Microsoft's distributed product therefore actually contained the GPL code. Included within it. That makes the product as distributed a derived work of the original GPL code, as defined by copyright law.

The definition, in copyright law, of a derived work, is a work containing all or parts of an earlier work.

The GPL isn't viral ... Microsoft were distributing GPL code as part of their product. Someone else's code. The terms of the GPL then applied to the derived work. Microsoft's options then were either:
(1) re-write the parts that were originally GPL code so that the whole product as distributed was Microsoft's own code, or
(2) make the whole product GPL, or
(3) stop distributing the product.

Microsoft chose option 2. That was Microsoft's choice. It was not their only choice.

Reply Parent Score: 3