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posted by n1 on Thursday July 06 2017, @11:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the to-hell-with-gpl dept.

Bruce Perens warns of potential contributory infringement and breach of contract risk for customers of GRSecurity:

Grsecurity is a patch for the Linux kernel which, it is claimed, improves its security. It is a derivative work of the Linux kernel which touches the kernel internals in many different places. It is inseparable from Linux and can not work without it. it would fail a fair-use test (obviously, ask offline if you don’t understand). Because of its strongly derivative nature of the kernel, it must be under the GPL version 2 license, or a license compatible with the GPL and with terms no more restrictive than the GPL. Earlier versions were distributed under GPL version 2.

Currently, Grsecurity is a commercial product and is distributed only to paying customers. My understanding from several reliable sources is that customers are verbally or otherwise warned that if they redistribute the Grsecurity patch, as would be their right under the GPL, that they will be assessed a penalty: they will no longer be allowed to be customers, and will not be granted access to any further versions of Grsecurity. GPL version 2 section 6 explicitly prohibits the addition of terms such as this redistribution prohibition.

By operating under their policy of terminating customer relations upon distribution of their GPL-licensed software, Open Source Security Inc., the owner of Grsecurity, creates an expectation that the customer’s business will be damaged by losing access to support and later versions of the product, if that customer exercises their re-distribution right under the GPL license. This is tantamount to the addition of a term to the GPL prohibiting distribution or creating a penalty for distribution. GPL section 6 specifically prohibits any addition of terms. Thus, the GPL license, which allows Grsecurity to create its derivative work of the Linux kernel, terminates, and the copyright of the Linux Kernel is infringed. The contract from the Linux kernel developers to both Grsecurity and the customer which is inherent in the GPL is breached.


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Fnord666 on Thursday July 06 2017, @11:56AM (2 children)

    by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 06 2017, @11:56AM (#535676) Homepage

    In case you're wondering what this is about, here are Grsecurity's Stable Patch Agreement [grsecurity.net] and the announcement [grsecurity.net] detailing their reasons for going to this model.

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  • (Score: 2) by Arik on Thursday July 06 2017, @10:04PM (1 child)

    by Arik (4543) on Thursday July 06 2017, @10:04PM (#535903) Journal
    Sounds like they're having some genuine problems.

    Unfortunately their 'fix' is not only not likely to solve the problem, it's going to create a whole bunch more.

    Such as the fact that they no longer have any right to distribute any of this at all, due to termination of the copyright license they built their work on.

    Ooops!?
    --
    If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
    • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Friday July 07 2017, @08:52AM

      by Wootery (2341) on Friday July 07 2017, @08:52AM (#536047)

      The fact that it's the Linux kernel makes it particularly significant. If this is goes unchallenged, or if it's challenged and the bastards get away with it, it would send the message that the GPL is toothless to protect even the Linux kernel -- essentially the GPL's flagship product.