Rich Freeman on 23 Feb 2016 19:09:38 -0800

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On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 9:51 PM, JP Vossen <> wrote:
> Another follow-up from dinner I just remembered:
> -----
> "We at Canonical have conducted a legal review, including discussion with
> the industry's leading software freedom legal counsel, of the licenses that
> apply to the Linux kernel and to ZFS.
> "And in doing so, we have concluded that we are acting within the rights
> granted and in compliance with their terms of both of those licenses."

This is very interesting.  I'm curious to see how it goes.

I've always personally felt that dynamic linking does not create a
derivative work, and thus the GPL cannot prohibit dynamic linking with
non-GPL software.  I fully realize that this is NOT the opinion of the
FSF or the Linux developers.  However, to my knowledge this has never
been tested in court, and you don't need a license from anybody to do
something which isn't illegal in the first place under copyright law.
If a kernel module isn't a derivative work of the kernel, then the
Linux Foundation doesn't really have any power to tell you how you can
redistribute it.

When you dynamically link something the only part of the original work
that gets incorporated into the new work is symbol names.  To argue
that dynamic linking creates a derivative work is to argue that symbol
names are copyrightable.  It also gets into the whole debate over
hyperlinking.  For example, I think anybody would be hard-pressed to
argue that JP's post was a derivative work of the blog he linked.

Static linking is a different matter of course.

If Ubuntu is distributing the zfs kernel module and the linux together
on the same media that might make for a stronger case against them,
because clearly they're exercising their right to redistribute the
kernel itself under the GPL.  I think you have an even stronger case
to be free of infringement if you link your module against the kernel
and then don't redistribute the kernel itself.  Then you literally are
only redistributing the symbol names, and all your users are doing is
loading the module into RAM and letting the kernel do the linking.

In any case, we'll see how it plays out.

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