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Re: ltmodem (was: Variable in Depends: ??)

cc'd to debian-legal...

On Sun, Feb 25, 2001 at 09:31:35PM +0100, Russell Coker wrote:
> On Sunday 25 February 2001 18:23, David Schleef wrote:
> > On Sun, Feb 25, 2001 at 06:03:25PM +0100, Russell Coker wrote:
> > > The ltmodem package copies files from the main Linux source tree, patches
> > > them, and compiles them with it's own source and links with the
> > > proprietary .o file.  Calling gcc with the same arguements is probably
> > > more pain than anyone would want.
> >
> > The way you worded this strongly suggests GPL violation.  I hope
> > that is not the case; could you clarify?
> Binary-only modules are allowed to be linked into the kernel (Linus).

Yes, of course.

> Linking a binary-only .o file with GPL source to form a non-free kernel 
> module is OK by my interpretation of the GPL.  But IANAL.

This is what I wanted the clarification about.  It appears that
ltmodem statically links a modification of serial.c (originally
from the kernel, GPL only) with a binary-only module.  Fortunately,
the GPL is very clear that statically linking GPL code with non-GPL
code is not allowed.  Unless I am horribly mistaken, this is what
is going on.

This could be fixed by compiling the GPL code as a separate kernel
module, and loading the GPL and proprietary modules separately, or
rewriting the necessary GPL code.

It should be noted, also, that the binary kernel module exception
is merely a clarification/interpretation of the GPL by Linus.  As
part of the clarification, it was noted that there was implicit
assumption that no GPL code had to be modified to run the binary
module -- in other words, that it would run on standard kernels.
I think that modifying GPL code, even as a module, is going against
this policy.

We can't distribute this as part of debian, and IMO, it shouldn't
be distributed at all.


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