Apparently, as of January 2008, non-GPL Linux kernel modules will no longer be allowed. Technically speaking, however, a computer would have a hard time enforcing a licence. Greg Kroah-Hartman, the author of the aforementioned announcement, offers to help:
Oh, and for those who have asked me how we would enforce this after this date if this decision is made, I'd like to go on record that I will be glad to take whatever legal means necessary to stop people from violating this.
Nice, friendly, good natured community developers threatening to take people to court should they dare to LINK modules into their code that don't conform to the GPL. Good thing they aren't into pumps and tophats (and more importantly, into writing them into licensing agreements), otherwise open source developers would have to make dramatic changes to their wardrobes.
Linus Torvalds, who seems the most pragmatic voice in the community these days and has come out strongly against GPLv3, was predictably incensed.
In other words, you guys know my stance. I'll not fight the combined opinion of other kernel developers, but I sure as hell won't be the first to merge this, and I sure as hell won't have _my_ tree be the one that causes this to happen.
So go get it merged in the Ubuntu, (Open)SuSE and RHEL and Fedora trees first. This is not something where we use my tree as a way to get it to other trees. This is something where the push had better come from the other direction.
Because I think it's stupid. So use somebody else than me to push your political agendas, please.
Well, as a person who not only works for Microsoft, but does so enthusiastically, I just want to say "thank you."
Thank you for creating a policy that will make it less likely that makers of video cards will pay any attention to Linux. Yes, "the community" will beaver away to make these drivers themselves based on published chip specifications, but now you've ruled out the people who actually MAKE the chips from writing these things unless they agree to donate all their hard work for use by the community and competitors alike. Even Eric Raymond was against a policy that forbade proprietary drivers (yes, I realize he is not part of the "free software" movement, as "open source" != "free software").
Placed alongside plans to make it impossible for GPLed product to play in the DRM space, the free software movements actually seems to be making it HARDER for Linux to succeed. All good news for Microsoft, as they face an opponent chopping off body parts to show their devotion to "the cause."
Why bother making an accomodation (something I've advocated in this blog space, simply because, contrary to popular belief, I value highly the contributions of the open source community) when your opponent seems intent on implosion?
If you want to make sure extensions to code are covered by a GPL license as a means to maintain the community aspect of the project, it makes sense to apply that to code that is ACTUALLY an extension. Don't use a legal twist in your license to define code that any sane person knows is not a true "extension" of a GPL base into something that must be covered by the GPL just because you hate proprietary code like the plague.
No, not my problem, as I work for Microsoft. Still, if the opposing soccer team insists on playing with their legs tied together, it does leave one scratching one's head.