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Re: Licence for Kernel modules



On Fri, Oct 04, 2002 at 04:02:01PM +0200, cgb@debian.org wrote:

> today I came across an article in the German magazine "Elektronik"
> (20/2002, p. 82) which states that in contrary to user space apps a
> kernel module must always be GPLed (refering to Linux). The argument
> goes that way that a hardware driver is to be interpreted as a
> modification/enhancement of the kernel and thus has to be GPLed.

> Despite I don't like closed source I thought that it would be possible
> to publish a closed source kernel module (as nVidia did/does).

> Could I get comments on that. I would like to write to the editor of
> that magazine as this statement may keep (embedded) hardware developers
> away from Linux.

In and of itself, the GPL would seem to require that any code loaded into
the kernel must also be GPLed.  However, the standing (AFAIK uncontested)
interpretation of the GPL as it applies to the kernel is that it does not
extend to drivers that use the kernel's module interface, thereby
allowing binary-only modules.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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