[linux-elitists] Re: Silly SCO Scenarios

Nick Popoff cryptic-elitists@bloodletting.com
Sun Aug 10 13:02:00 PDT 2003

On 10 Aug 2003, Phil Gengler wrote:
> To allow SCO exclusive distribution is to give SCO effective ownership
> of the code written by every other kernel developer.

The whole issue of copyright ownership of kernel code is almost a "poison
pill" defence for Linux.  Who do you take to court?  Who do you talk to?
If you succeed in voiding the GPL in your case, you've lost the ability to
distribute Linux, because that was the only context in which the thousands
of contributors had licensed you to use their code.

It's interesting to contrast this with some GNU software where all code
must have copyright assigned to the FSF.  I can imagine a judge seeing
copyright as something that can be transfered from one party to another if
the FSF somehow lost a case regarding proprietary code being
misappropriated into an FSF project.  But if one party is actually
thousands of contributors from around the world, many of them outside of
her jurisdiction, what can the judge do but void the license?  You can
only win if your goal was to destroy the project.

This chaos can also be really annoying when it means nobody can legally
make decisions about the project.  I've had to write closed source kernel
modules as part of my job, and I wish someone had the power to
definitively say whether this was acceptable or not.

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