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Re: non-free firmware in kernel modules, aggregation and unclear copyright notice.

David Schwartz writes:

>> On Sun, Apr 10, 2005 at 01:18:11PM -0700, David Schwartz wrote:
>> > Well that's the problem. While copyright law does permit
>> > you to restrict
>> > the right to create derivative works, it doesn't permit you to
>> > restrict the
>> > distribution of lawfully created derivative works to licensees of the
>> > original work. As far as I know, no law has ever granted this right to
>> > copyright holders and no court has ever recognized this right. And I've
>> > looked. Courts have specifically recognized the absence of this right.
>> The GPL is very clear in its implementation: it grants wider permission
>> to create derivative works than to distribute them, implementing its
>> "virality" in terms of restrictions on distribution, not creation.
> 	It doesn't even need to do this. First sale grants the right to use a work
> one lawfully possesses. One cannot "use" the Linux kernel source without
> compiling it. So one doesn't need the GPL to create at least some derivative
> works.

Compiling source code is a mechanical operation, not a creative one,
so copyright law (at least in the US) treats the compiled version as
the original work.  I suspect the law is similar for other countries
that use common law.

There is separate explicit provision (again, in the US) allowing a
user to make de minimis changes necessary to operate software on their
computer, but it is not a broad grant of permission to create
derivative works, and I don't know of any case law that elaborates on
how broad it is.

Because of that, you still need license from the copyright holder to
create a derivative work.

Michael Poole

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