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Microsoft GNU is Not Unix

SFLC Says Microsoft Violated the GPL 237

Posted by kdawson
from the only-haggling-over-the-price dept.
After Microsoft donated driver code to the Linux kernel under the GPLv2, stories surfaced that they had done so under duress of already being in violation of the GPL. Microsoft quickly denied that any GPL violation was a driver for their decision to donate the code; the company's senior director of platform strategy, Sam Ramji, said at the time: "Microsoft's decision was not based on any perceived obligations tied to the GPLv2 license." Now the Software Freedom Law Center confirms that Microsoft was indeed in violation of the GPLv2 when it distributed its Hyper-V Linux Integration Components without providing source code. Community members led by Greg Kroah-Hartman contacted the company and coached them through the process of getting compliant. Microsoft now says that they had already been on the path for several months toward releasing the software under GPLv2 before Kroah-Hartman got in touch.
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SFLC Says Microsoft Violated the GPL

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  • by ComputerDruid (1499317) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @08:40AM (#28850337)

    It's easy to find. It is posted on the linux kernel mailing list as well as in several git trees from kernel.org. Where all kernel patches belong. See http://lkml.org/lkml/2009/7/20/167 [lkml.org] .

  • by Repossessed (1117929) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @08:59AM (#28850573)

    You can put any license you want on the binaries and still comply with the gpl as long as the sourcecode is available, compilable, and has no such restriction.

  • Re:does it matter? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @09:09AM (#28850677)

    You're confusing Lenin with Stalin you ignorant fuck.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @09:11AM (#28850699)

    That's not true. The GPL only permits you to redistribute binaries under the terms of the GPL. It does not grant permission to distribute binaries under a different license, doing so would be a violation of MS had to follow the GPL.

    However, Microsoft cannot be in violation of the GPL with regards to their own binary drivers, unless they included GPL code in them.

    If Microsoft developed the drivers / integration components themselves, then they own the copyright.

    The only issue some people may want to claim is that the binaries dynamically link against code in the Linux kernel.

    Meaning when a user loads the code into their kernel, the user will be modifying the kernel, thus creating what some free software developers call a 'derivative work' subject to the GPL. And (therefore) the theory goes, the binary driver is subject to the Linux kernel's copyright, even when distributed on its own.

    This is by no means a proven or generally accepted legal theory, but it is one held by the Free Software Foundation, and at least some Linux kernel programmers.

    If you subscribe to this Legal theory, then MS distributing drivers except under the GPL would be a violation of the GPL with respect to the Linux kernel.

    If you don't subscribe to this Legal theory, you may hold that when the 'user does linking', this doesn't count as the author of the driver distributing a derivative work. In that case, drivers could be issued under any license the developer so desires, and they could use any binary trickery needed whatsoever to allow it to be loaded into the kernel, without needing to GPL the driver.

  • by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @09:25AM (#28850877) Homepage

    Uh, no, you can't.

    Binaries are governed by the terms of the GPL just as the source is- unless you're the sole rights holder for the source code (Microsoft ISN'T...), they can't license under anything other than the GPL, no matter what they might say. Adding additional terms or taking them away is only allowed for the original rights holder- and you're bound to the terms they set aside for you. Since this is the Linux kernel they cribbed from- GPLv2 is the only license they can really use at that point.

  • Re:does it matter? (Score:2, Informative)

    by CrimsonKnight13 (1388125) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @10:00AM (#28851355) Homepage

    Hell no, and did we surrender to Germans at Perl Harbor? Hell no! No surrender to M$. That's what I say.

    I greet you, traveler from some unknown alternate universe. Where I come from, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor & the US survived it.

  • by DMalic (1118167) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @10:14AM (#28851653)
    It's interesting to see a company which so violently protects their own code against violation treating their own copyright infringement so frivolously.

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