Linux kernel complete licence check, Q.0 - Q.10
I'm doing the complete check of linux kernel licences.
I noticed that it doesn't exist any FAQ of our list, althrouth
often I saw the same questions! (sometime my stupid questions!)
So if nobody else volunters to this task, I whould write one.
Thus in this mail I write some simple/stupid questions to have some
more technical explications. So please if you have something
interesting for the future FAQ please write it down!.
Ok, now to the linux kernel sources:
Linux main COPYING:
: NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
: services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
: of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".
: Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software
: Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the Linux
: kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it.
: Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel
: is concerned is _this_ particular version of the license (ie v2, not
: v2.2 or v3.x or whatever), unless explicitly otherwise stated.
: Linus Torvalds
: GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
: Version 2, June 1991
it follow the usual (complete) GNU GPL COPYING file
Here the extract of paragraph 9 (GNU GPL v.2):
: 9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions
:of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will
:be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to
:address new problems or concerns.
:Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program
:specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any
:later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions
:either of that version or of any later version published by the Free
:Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of
:this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free
And now the first part of questions (the simpler one).
Q.1: No copyright, no author name, no license notice!
[Frequent in "Makefile", header files and simple source files]
The licence will be the license in COPYING at the main dir?
thus default GNU GPL and only GPL version 2, right?
Q.2: No licence notice, but a copyright notice or an author name,...
the same as above? GPL v2 only?
Q.3: License but no copyright/author name, the license is still valid?
Q.4: In the code I find the macro (i.e. in
but no more GPL references.
GNU GPL code? But this time according paragraph 9, valid with all
versions of GPL?
* (C) Copyright Foo Bar 2000, 2001
* Released under GPL v2.
: GPL (c) 1999 Foo Bar
In linux kernel can we intepret always the string "GPL" as GNU GPL?
No need to write extra text?
All GPL version are valid for license b), according GPL v.2 par. 9?
Minimun text allowed?
: /* inflate.c -- Not copyrighted 1992 by Mark Adler
: version c10p1, 10 January 1993 */
"Not copyrighted" == public domain?
* Charset cp1250 translation tables.
* Generated automatically from the Unicode and charset
* tables from the Unicode Organization (www.unicode.org).
* The Unicode to charset table has only exact mappings.
a- no original sources, AFAIK
b- I don't know the tools (no tools, no references in kernel)
What should I do?
/* Copyright (C) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 Free Software
This file is part of the GNU C Library.
Contributed by Paul Eggert (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The GNU C Library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU Library General Public License as
published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the
License, or (at your option) any later version.
The GNU C Library is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU
Library General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU Library General Public
License along with the GNU C Library; see the file COPYING.LIB. If not,
write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite
Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA. */
linux kernel is not "GNU C Library". There are license problems because
the text is "GNU C Library is ..."
* Copyright (C) 1995-1997 Paul H. Hargrove
* This file may be distributed under the terms of the GNU General
* This file contains the string comparison function for the
* Macintosh character set.
* The code in this file is derived from code which is copyright
* 1986, 1989, 1990 by Abacus Research and Development, Inc. (ARDI)
* It is used here by the permission of ARDI's president Cliff Matthews.
* If you discover bugs in this code please notify both the author of the
* Linux HFS file system: email@example.com (Paul H. Hargrove)
* and the author of ARDI's HFS code: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clifford T. Matthews)
All the derived code is is GPL? It seems that original code was not GPL.
The second paragraph means that we have all GPL right of the derived
code from ARDI?
* Cache operations for Coda.
* For Linux 2.1: (C) 1997 Carnegie Mellon University
* For Linux 2.3: (C) 2000 Carnegie Mellon University
* Carnegie Mellon encourages users of this code to contribute improvements
* to the Coda project http://www.coda.cs.cmu.edu/ <email@example.com>.
Linux v.X.Y where X.Y not 2.1 and not 2.3 ? :-)
Q.0: (meta question)
Do you have some tips, additional note that I should care,... for
the big kernel licence checking?