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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: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Thursday July 06 2017, @08:59PM (1 child)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday July 06 2017, @08:59PM (#535867)

    Wow, that sure sounds like a lousy way to lead your life, not just because of the basic morality issue of ripping people off, but the sheer pain-in-the-ass factor of spending all your mental energy figuring out how to game the system like that. This guy sounds like someone who likely has no friends and is forever single.

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  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday July 07 2017, @12:08AM

    by Immerman (3985) on Friday July 07 2017, @12:08AM (#535936)

    Personally I agree. But how much effort is it, really, compared to the amount of effort required to do the work to actually pay for the same lifestyle?