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

On 4/15/05, Raul Miller <moth@debian.org> wrote:
[snip response to someone else's unattributed comments]
> On Thu, Apr 14, 2005 at 10:56:02PM -0700, Michael K. Edwards wrote:
> > I've engaged in an extended discussion with the person on the other
> > end of licensing@fsf.org, to whom Eben Moglen directed me, on both the
> > "derivative work" and "GPL is a contract" points.  IANAL, and neither
> > is licensing@fsf.org, but I raised many of the US legal precedents
> > which I have previously cited on debian-legal.  Suffice it to say that
> > if the FSF has a leg to stand on, it's not visible through that
> > mechanism of inquiry.
> And there's a significant chance that you were asking questions in a
> way that meant the answers were irrelevant to the points you wished
> to discuss.
> Without knowing the specifics, of course, it's kind of hard to
> say for sure.

I can't very easily extract the "derivative work" discussion from
context in order to quote it for you without FSF permission (which I
haven't sought).  But as regards "GPL is a contract", here is the
relevant section of my original mail to licensing@fsf.org:

] 1)  The (L)GPL is legally an offer of contract, right?
] It was claimed during the debian-devel discussion that the LGPL is
] somehow a unilateral grant of rights under some legal theory other
] than contract, which doesn't make sense to me.

My full message may be found at
http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/12/msg00209.html .  The
person on the other end claimed that copyright law provided a separate
legal mechanism for a "unilateral grant of rights outside contract"
but cited no authority other than an interview with Eben Moglen
containing no references to actual law.  When pressed on this point,
he ceased to correspond.  To my knowledge, this is consistent with
other people's experience with the FSF in recent years, and with their
blanket refusal to discuss the failure of MySQL to obtain relief under
the GPL in the Progress Software case.

- Michael

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