Virally licensed code in FreeBSD kernel

Chad Perrin perrin at
Mon Apr 16 18:51:01 UTC 2007

On Mon, Apr 16, 2007 at 11:50:22AM -0500, Erik Osterholm wrote:                                                                               
> On Sun, Apr 15, 2007 at 11:52:04AM -0600, Chad Perrin wrote:                                                                                
> > On Sat, Apr 14, 2007 at 03:46:31PM -0500, Erik Osterholm wrote:                                                                           
> If your goal is to prevent lawsuits, stop now.  You've already lost.                                                                        
> You can be sued (in the US, at least) for just about anything or for                                                                        
> any reason.                                                                                                                                 
> If your goal is to win, should someone file a frivolous lawsuit, your                                                                       
> above statement is irrelevant.  My beliefs on the subject will not win                                                                      
> it for me.                                                                                                                                  
Okay . . . so what's the point of arguing with me about it, if you think                                                                      
it's all irrelevant?  Aren't the legal ramifications of these licenses                                                                        
sorta the point of discussing whether one license is "more free" than                                                                         
another?  I mean, sure, there's an ethical component -- but, frankly,                                                                         
ethicality is not dependent on licensing.  The purpose of licensing is                                                                        
to manifest either ethics or personal desire for how copyrighted                                                                              
material can be used *in law*.                                                                                                                
> > Look at it this way: including GPLed code in a larger codebase,                                                                           
> > compiled as a single binary, renders the entire thing "code . . .                                                                         
> > governed by the terms of this license", where "this license" in this                                                                      
> > case would mean the GPL.  The very fact of inclusion of the source                                                                        
> > code changes the necessary licensing of the entire codebase.  Thus,                                                                       
> > the question of whether the larger project is "code (not) goverened                                                                       
> > by the terms of this license" must be decided *outside of the                                                                             
> > statement* "code not governed by the terms of this license".                                                                              
> The GPL differs due to the wording.  I think someone else already                                                                           
> pointed this out.                                                                                                                           
Yes, it does.  I've pointed it out as well.  Thank you for the news                                                                           
> > > But 3.6 only requires that the "requirements of the License are                                                                         
> > > fulfilled for the Covered Software."  It doesn't say that the                                                                           
> > > requirements of the License must be fulfilled for the Larger Work.                                                                      
> >                                                                                                                                           
> > The term "Covered Software" is another one of those statements like                                                                       
> > "code not goverened by the terms of this license" which, in and of                                                                        
> > itself, does not tell you whether or not the code in question is                                                                          
> > govered by the terms of the license.  In other words, a statement                                                                         
> > within the license telling you what you may or may not do with                                                                            
> > "Covered Software" doesn't, in and of itself, tell you whether a                                                                          
> > given block of code is considered "Covered Software".  It just tells                                                                      
> > you what you may or may not do with it *if it is* "Covered                                                                                
> > Software".                                                                                                                                
> >                                                                                                                                           
> >                                                                                                                                           
> > > Covered Software is clearly defined, and the other parts of                                                                             
> > > FreeBSD do not fall under this definition.                                                                                              
> >                                                                                                                                           
> > Please quote for me the relevant definitive passage.                                                                                      
> 1.3. "Covered Software" means (a) the Original Software, or                                                                                 
> (b) Modifications, or (c) the combination of files containing Original                                                                      
> Software with files containing Modifications, in each case including                                                                        
> portions thereof.                                                                                                                           
Now relate it back to what I said in a way that disputes what I've said                                                                       
about it.  That passage does not, in and of itself, mean anything about                                                                       
whether a given piece of software is "Covered Software".  To determine                                                                        
whether or not some piece of originally foreign code is "Covered                                                                              
Software", you have to determine whether it has become "Modifications"                                                                        
or comprises part of "the combination of files containing Original                                                                            
Software with files containing Modifications" et cetera.
No single clause in the CDDL exists in a vacuum.                                                                                              
> The source files for FreeBSD are not Original Software, Modifications,                                                                      
> and therefore cannot be the combination of files containing Original                                                                        
> Software with files containing Modifications (as it is neither).                                                                            
> If you need the definitions of any of the rest of the terms, feel free                                                                      
> to visit                                                                                                  
I've been reading and quoting the CDDL quite a bit in this discussion,                                                                        
and I've read it before.  Thanks for the link, but I can find it via                                                                          
Google when I need it.                                                                                                                        
CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ ]                                                                                         
Brian K. Reid: "In computer science, we stand on each other's feet."

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