[linux-audio-user] Interesting Tidbit: The Midas XL8 uses Linux

Paul Davis paul at linuxaudiosystems.com
Mon Jun 12 22:24:41 EDT 2006

On Mon, 2006-06-12 at 19:12 -0400, Lee Revell wrote:
> On Mon, 2006-06-12 at 17:51 -0500, Jan Depner wrote:
> > On Sun, 2006-06-11 at 13:34 -0400, Lee Revell wrote:
> > > On Sun, 2006-06-11 at 01:29 -0500, Jan Depner wrote:
> > > > That's the consensus among kernel people.  Not lawyers.  Take it to
> > > > court first.  It has zero chance in that venue. 
> > > 
> > > Can you cite any precedents?
> > > 
> > > The kernel people I am referring to have talked to their lawyers about
> > > it and the consensus is that a driver is a derived work of the OS that
> > > it is developed for.
> > > 
> > 
> >     If the driver is part of the kernel then that is true.  If it is a
> > module then it isn't.  The whole thing is moot though until someone
> > takes it to court.  I seriously doubt that anyone will be willing to try
> > to win that battle when they face the possibility of losing and being
> > counter sued for court and legal costs.
> > 
> Built-in vs. module is irrelevant - modules are linked into the kernel
> at runtime.

although i agree with almost everything lee has said here, i have to
admit that the GPL leaves a gray (or grey) zone here. i think it likely
that because drivers inevitably end up utilizing significant chunks of
kernel infrastructure, they will be considered "derivative works" by a
court, and this is the legal consensus so far across the GPL community.

but the GPL does appear to leave room for run-time linkage against
shared objects whose functionality is not "central" to the operation of
the program. i've talked to RMS several times about this, and
regrettably, GPL 3.0 so far does not appear to be clarifying the intent
in this area. it is important that this be clarified, because it matters
a great deal to any apps using media plugins in closed-sourced formats.
for things like VST etc, Lee's point that the binary blob was written
for a different platform is relevant, but consider the example of
someone who wanted to write a non-GPL'ed backend for JACK, or if a VJ
app provided a plugin API and someone want to write a non-GPL'ed plugin
using it.

in the case of the kernel, the number of copyright holders pretty much
requires that any legal decision on the issue falls on the conservative
side - much easier to say "drivers are derivative works" than say
"drivers are not" and run into further legislation from specific
copyright holders who object to the decision.


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