Re: Hardware license (status)
On Wednesday 04 December 2002 06:28 pm, Rich Walker wrote:
> After interesting discussion on and off debian-legal, I'm now down to a
> choice of one hardware license for everything except the firmware which
> will be GPL'd. The hardware license is probably the OHGPL
> <http://www.opencores.org/OIPC/OHGPL.html> with clause 2 modified to
> You may copy, modify, distribute, and/or ...
> The outstanding problem (AFAICT) is the suggestion that hardware under
> the OHGPL might not be compatible with GPL-d hardware or software.
Okay, IANAL, but I believe there's NO WAY you can make hardware that it would
be "incompatible" to run GPL software on, no matter what license or
restrictions it has (unless you have some kind of EULA that specifically
binds the customer not to do it -- which, of course, you don't). The thing
is, running software on a piece of hardware is USING the software, not
"copying", "distributing", "modifying", or "distributing modified copies".
The GPL specifically doesn't address USE at all.
Secondly, the GPL specifically is not affected by the licensing of the
operating system or other basic environment issues. After all, almost all PCs
are proprietary, non-free designs through-and-through, so as a practical
reality, the GPL would have to allow this. As a more extreme case, you are
allowed to run GPL utilities on a Windows system.
Likewise, I do not think the GPL can really address the problem of combining
implementations of GPL'd designs with your implementation. I don't believe
the GPL can be sensibly applied to the actual hardware without changing the
language to specifically map the concepts over (in fact, I feel that's what
the OHGPL attempts to do).
So, IMHO, the only possible conflict is -- "can you combine a GPL'd design
with your design and redistribute the combined design?"
I think you ought to just cover yourself, and say explicitly that the
design's license may be converted to GPL at the user's discretion. The GPL
insists that whenever it is combined with another free license, the resulting
product must be licensed under the GPL -- it does not acknowledge the
possibility of converting to another license instead. So, the only way you
*could* combine with GPL'd designs, is to convert to GPL. (Though pesonally,
I think the idea of applying an unmodified GPL to a hardware design is daft
to begin with, because its terms can't be applied to hardware without
significant amounts of interpretation). As with the LGPL, the OHGPL is
clarifying an edge case, is slightly more permissive than the GPL, and ought
to be convertable to GPL.
Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.anansispaceworks.com
"Python takes the pain out of programming ...
... and Zope puts it back again."