[linux-elitists] Fwd: Copyright infringement in linux/drivers/usb/serial/keyspan*fw.h

Jay Sulzberger jays@panix.com
Tue Apr 24 10:56:14 PDT 2001

On Mon, 23 Apr 2001, Greg KH wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 23, 2001 at 12:26:53PM -0400, Jay Sulzberger wrote:
> >
> > I think that honesty is the best policy here.  Licenses should be treated
> > as licenses.  Licenses should be clear and those who wish to use the
> > software should abide by the terms of the license.
> I agree totally.
> So what kind of wording should a company put on a chunk of binary
> firmware that they need to get downloaded by a driver into their device,
> and they need this image to be linked into the kernel?  They aren't
> willing to open up the firmware source to the world, but they are
> documenting the interface to their device and the firmware.
> You've seen the mess that happens when I tried to do this in the past :)
> greg k-h

One of the important possible advantages of a free license is reduction of
transaction costs.  But if the license is not one of a very few well
understood and widely used licenses then this advantage is largely lost,
because of the psychic costs of considering what the license means,
estimating the risks, internal friction within your own side over what the
license means, etc., perhaps even the money cost of having your lawyers
look at the license, negotiate with the copyright holder(s), etc..  So my
recommendation is to first find out what license(s) are used by others in
your position, and then to use the most standard and best-thought-of such
license, if such exists, and so long as there are no heavy countervailing

Using a free license is something like being part of the great capital
markets, such as the NYSE and the NASDAQ.  The conditions of entry are
completely standard, and the question "Are this company's shares traded on
this board?" is a binary question: the answer is "Yes." or it is "No.",
and there is no further qualification, nor any other responsive answer.
Using a non-standard, but still formally "free", license is like a company
attempting to gain the advantages of being traded on the NYSE, but without
going through the process of getting listed.  The advantages sought are
unlikely to accrue.


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