Github ToS and Open Source

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Github ToS and Open Source

Colin Law
Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
relatively uninitiated can understand?
https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm

Colin

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Xen
Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
> Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
> relatively uninitiated can understand?
> https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm

What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be forked
on Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and attribution-style
licenses are forbidden.

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Colin Law
On 3 March 2017 at 15:35, Xen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
>>
>> Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
>> relatively uninitiated can understand?
>> https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm
>
>
> What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be forked on
> Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and attribution-style licenses
> are forbidden.

What I really meant was what is the significance for those that do not
understand the ins and outs of licensing. The author seems to be
suggesting that one cannot host GPL code there.

Colin

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Xen
On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 16:35:31 +0100, Xen wrote:
>Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
>> Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
>> relatively uninitiated can understand?
>> https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm 
>
>What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be
>forked on Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and
>attribution-style licenses are forbidden.

Wouldn't this be a discrepancy? If something is GPL'ed and provided at
Github, why should somebody forking it, provide it via Github, too?
This would be an addition to the GPL. The GPL allows to fork a project
and to distribute it, without the restriction of being forced to
distribute it using Github. Right?


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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Paul Smith-2
On Fri, 2017-03-03 at 16:57 +0100, Ralf Mardorf wrote:

> On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 16:35:31 +0100, Xen wrote:
> > Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
> > > Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
> > > relatively uninitiated can understand?
> > > https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm  
> >
> > What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be
> > forked on Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and
> > attribution-style licenses are forbidden.
>
> Wouldn't this be a discrepancy? If something is GPL'ed and provided
> at Github, why should somebody forking it, provide it via Github,
> too? This would be an addition to the GPL. The GPL allows to fork a
> project and to distribute it, without the restriction of being forced
> to distribute it using Github. Right?

I agree that blog post is unfortunate in that it has a "scare" headline
but doesn't provide a clear, understandable statement of the problem.

If you have a subscription to LWN there's a good discussion there (if
you don't then you should get one, assuming you have a bit of
disposable income--it's important to support good journalism!)  Or you
can wait for a week or two for the content to become free for all.

It's not the forking that's the problem: clearly if the code is under a
free software license you _expect_ it to be forked.  I'll quote a bit
of a particularly useful comment from user dunlapg
(link https://lwn.net/Articles/716200/ for those who have a
subscription):

> So, this clause attempts to address the issue, by saying that you, as
> a submitter, agree to give every other user on GitHub a license to
> "perform, display, and reproduce" your code "as permitted through
> GitHub's functionality". This is a separate and additional license to
> whatever license might already be in the repository. In the post
> above, I call this the "GitHub Hosting License".
>
> What the clause actually says is that if you submit code to GitHub
> under the GPL, you are actually dual-licensing the code: You're
> putting it under both the GPL, and the GHL. 

That's potentially very bad, because the GHL actually can be argued to
work around the copyleft nature of the GPL (e.g., if you obtain the
code under the auspices of the GHL not the GPL, you may not need to
follow the requirements that you publish the source for binaries that
you distribute).

That's the concern.

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Gene Heskett-2
In reply to this post by Xen
On Friday 03 March 2017 10:35:31 Xen wrote:

> Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
> > Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
> > relatively uninitiated can understand?
> > https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm
>
> What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be
> forked on Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and
> attribution-style licenses are forbidden.

Humm, I can smell the lawyers trying to wiggle out of that when they get
sued. Nothing open source about it according to my interp of the gpl.

Cheers, Gene Heskett
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-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Gene Heskett-2
In reply to this post by Colin Law
On Friday 03 March 2017 10:43:26 Colin Law wrote:

> On 3 March 2017 at 15:35, Xen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
> >> Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
> >> relatively uninitiated can understand?
> >> https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm
> >
> > What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be
> > forked on Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and
> > attribution-style licenses are forbidden.
>
> What I really meant was what is the significance for those that do not
> understand the ins and outs of licensing. The author seems to be
> suggesting that one cannot host GPL code there.
>
> Colin

IMO, correct. But since git itself is gpl, are they not in violation of
the gpl with that restriction?  Sure smells like its actionable to me.

Cheers, Gene Heskett
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-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Xen
In reply to this post by Paul Smith-2
Paul Smith schreef op 03-03-2017 17:20:

> On Fri, 2017-03-03 at 16:57 +0100, Ralf Mardorf wrote:
>> On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 16:35:31 +0100, Xen wrote:
>> > Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
>> > > Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
>> > > relatively uninitiated can understand?
>> > > https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm  
>> >
>> > What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be
>> > forked on Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and
>> > attribution-style licenses are forbidden.
>>
>> Wouldn't this be a discrepancy? If something is GPL'ed and provided
>> at Github, why should somebody forking it, provide it via Github,
>> too? This would be an addition to the GPL. The GPL allows to fork a
>> project and to distribute it, without the restriction of being forced
>> to distribute it using Github. Right?
>

> It's not the forking that's the problem: clearly if the code is under a
> free software license you _expect_ it to be forked.

Well not if you can only fork ON Github. There is the word "solely" in
there.

Apple performed a similar act when it designed the licensing for its
ebook software on the iPad. If you chose to publish on that iPad
platform, you could publish nowhere else. So it has a precedent.

For the rest of it, schwa.


>> What the clause actually says is that if you submit code to GitHub
>> under the GPL, you are actually dual-licensing the code: You're
>> putting it under both the GPL, and the GHL. 
>
> That's potentially very bad, because the GHL actually can be argued to
> work around the copyleft nature of the GPL (e.g., if you obtain the
> code under the auspices of the GHL not the GPL, you may not need to
> follow the requirements that you publish the source for binaries that
> you distribute).

I think technically this could be accurate although Github apparently
also obviously only means... that they want their other users to be able
to put it on Github, I am sure it is only for that.

So someone could indeed fork the project on Github, upload a binary, and
then remove the source? Yeah, but... in any case anyone imposing
licenses is bad I think.

I guess, or I think, they should delineate what happens if the source is
moved OFF github again.

If source would always retain a dual nature I would not be too happy
about it and I think they should qualify that.


Different question: is there a directory of legal cases that have
actually been fought in the name of source licensing?

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Paul Smith-2
On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 11:20:55 -0500, Paul Smith wrote:
>That's potentially very bad, because the GHL actually can be argued to
>work around the copyleft nature of the GPL (e.g., if you obtain the
>code under the auspices of the GHL not the GPL, you may not need to
>follow the requirements that you publish the source for binaries that
>you distribute).

This indeed would offend the GPL. resp. the GPL would make the GHL null
and void. However, actually the linuxsampler folks added an addition to
the GPL, which is the reason that some major distros excluded
linuxsampler from official repositories. IOW they don't care that the
addition is null and void, they accept it, but as a result exclude it
from the repositories. One of those major distros is Ubuntu.

Ubuntu provides http://packages.ubuntu.com/yakkety/qsampler a frontend
for linuxsampler, that is completely useless without linuxsampler. They
made the most essential hard dependency a suggested dependency.

I hate this license bullshit and all the discussions about it. Most
likely nothing changed, but it's just another new idea to add fresh
fuel to a quarrel, to spread FUD, just for some idiotic marketing
purpose.

Yes, there were some GPL'ed disputes were an author ask the community
to set people under pressur who legally forked projects, so that the
forks were discontinued, e.g. people who improved
http://packages.ubuntu.com/zesty/aeolus without offending the
license,it were completely free open source forks without
any bad intentions. Theoretically an addition could help those
people, while OTOH an addition isn't needed, since the GPL already
allows to fork GPL'ed code under the terms of the GPL. A soap opera
that happened for GPL'ed code would also happen, if the code would get
additional freedom by another license. An additional license would make
it more hard to decide if the license is or isn't null and void.


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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Fri, 3 Mar 2017 17:58:21 +0100, Ralf Mardorf wrote:

>On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 11:20:55 -0500, Paul Smith wrote:
>>That's potentially very bad, because the GHL actually can be argued to
>>work around the copyleft nature of the GPL (e.g., if you obtain the
>>code under the auspices of the GHL not the GPL, you may not need to
>>follow the requirements that you publish the source for binaries that
>>you distribute).  
>
>This indeed would offend the GPL. resp. the GPL would make the GHL null
>and void. However, actually the linuxsampler folks added an addition to
>the GPL, which is the reason that some major distros excluded
>linuxsampler from official repositories. IOW they don't care that the
>addition is null and void, they accept it, but as a result exclude it
>from the repositories. One of those major distros is Ubuntu.
>
>Ubuntu provides http://packages.ubuntu.com/yakkety/qsampler a frontend
>for linuxsampler, that is completely useless without linuxsampler. They
>made the most essential hard dependency a suggested dependency.
>
>I hate this license bullshit and all the discussions about it. Most
>likely nothing changed, but it's just another new idea to add fresh
>fuel to a quarrel, to spread FUD, just for some idiotic marketing
>purpose.
>
>Yes, there were some GPL'ed disputes were an author ask the community
>to set people under pressur who legally forked projects, so that the
>forks were discontinued, e.g. people who improved
>http://packages.ubuntu.com/zesty/aeolus without offending the
>license,it were completely free open source forks without
>any bad intentions. Theoretically an addition could help those
>people, while OTOH an addition isn't needed, since the GPL already
>allows to fork GPL'ed code under the terms of the GPL. A soap opera
>that happened for GPL'ed code would also happen, if the code would get
>additional freedom by another license. An additional license would make
>it more hard to decide if the license is or isn't null and void.

http://lists.linuxaudio.org/pipermail/linux-audio-dev/2013-September/034140.html



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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Xen
On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:37:55 +0100, Xen wrote:
>Different question: is there a directory of legal cases that have
>actually been fought in the name of source licensing?

I don't know, but there were several ludicrous flames about licensing
issues on Linux mailing lists, that resulted in discontinued forks and
all kinds of discord. Without ever becoming a legal case, unfair
pressure easily happens by orthodox Linux communities. This could have
more impact than a legal case by a constitutional court.
IIRC this was such a case:
http://lists.linuxaudio.org/pipermail/linux-audio-dev/2013-September/034140.html


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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Xen
Ralf Mardorf schreef op 03-03-2017 18:24:

> On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:37:55 +0100, Xen wrote:
>> Different question: is there a directory of legal cases that have
>> actually been fought in the name of source licensing?
>
> I don't know, but there were several ludicrous flames about licensing
> issues on Linux mailing lists, that resulted in discontinued forks and
> all kinds of discord. Without ever becoming a legal case, unfair
> pressure easily happens by orthodox Linux communities. This could have
> more impact than a legal case by a constitutional court.
> IIRC this was such a case:
> http://lists.linuxaudio.org/pipermail/linux-audio-dev/2013-September/034140.html

Yes that is the point I was trying to make also later on.

Such licensing terms, or efforts can have a serious impact on the
feeling of people on what they can and cannot do, until a court actually
decides on these matters.

If Github is going to do things they themselves can enforce, such as
close accounts that don't comply, or arbitrage on behalf of other users
you have a problem with (with the result of closing your account)

then they take matters into their own hands until a court has spoken
about the issue which may take a very long time and as a consequence
these licensing terms can have a huge impact on the community.

There are many many terms and conditions in the ordinary world also that
courts will reject when brought to court. Just because a company says so
doesn't make it real. Companies think they can do anything and try to
uphold this in a court of law also, but they are often given the finger
by judges, so to speak.

So I just wonder if there are any actual court cases besides the ones I
can easily find (the ones that are written about) because without a
context of actual results it remains a bit of ... hearsay. It's a lot of
scaremongering by people who have not actually put it to the test.

This goes to the GPL also, but in this case it seems pretty clear that
ordinarily courts will decide that the Github license is only going to
apply to the functioning of the github system and not to the overall
project, because this would simply be ludicrous.

I hate the license stuff as well and Myself I think that the GPL is not
enforcable.

So it makes me nervous to think that not only do we have a GPL that you
*might* be able to fight but you are unsure so you don't want to test it
unless you have a reason to, now also we have a Github License that
tries to wring this around itself, as if it tries to wear the GPL but
the wearer is not very suited for it.

The same reason people didn't like the "do no evil" license. People just
get nervous from all these uncertainties that are untested.

So I think Github should really just clarify that the Github license
only is meant to guarantee the forking that already happens on Github
and nothing else. It should confirm or validate the existing forming
techniques that are used.

They should clearly delineate the limits and become as small as possible
in that sense, or this is not going to go well I think.

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Ralf Mardorf-2
On 03 Mar 2017, at 18:41, Xen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Yes that is the point I was trying to make also later on.
>
> Such licensing terms, or efforts can have a serious impact on the feeling of people on what they can and cannot do, until a court actually decides on these matters.

FWIW this Github thingy isn't discussed on any other mailing list I read, so at the moment it seems to be no issue.


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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Oliver Grawert
hi,
Am Freitag, den 03.03.2017, 18:50 +0100 schrieb Ralf Mardorf:

> On 03 Mar 2017, at 18:41, Xen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > Yes that is the point I was trying to make also later on.
> >
> > Such licensing terms, or efforts can have a serious impact on the
> > feeling of people on what they can and cannot do, until a court
> > actually decides on these matters.
> FWIW this Github thingy isn't discussed on any other mailing list I
> read, so at the moment it seems to be no issue.
>
not to mention that it is pretty off-topic for this specific list :)

ciao
        oli
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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Paul Smith-2
In reply to this post by Ralf Mardorf-2
On Fri, 2017-03-03 at 17:58 +0100, Ralf Mardorf wrote:
> On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 11:20:55 -0500, Paul Smith wrote:
> >That's potentially very bad, because the GHL actually can be argued to
> >work around the copyleft nature of the GPL (e.g., if you obtain the
> >code under the auspices of the GHL not the GPL, you may not need to
> >follow the requirements that you publish the source for binaries that
> >you distribute).
>
> This indeed would offend the GPL. resp. the GPL would make the GHL
> null and void.

I'm not sure I understood that sentence ("resp."?) but if I did then
this is not true.  If someone decides to distribute code they hold
copyright to under two different licenses they can do so; the receiver
can choose which one they want to obey.  The two licenses can be in
conflict, that's fine because you only have to obey one of them not
both.


Xen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I hate the license stuff as well and Myself I think that the GPL is
> not enforcable.

We'd better hope that's not the case, because if it is then almost the
entire internet / computing industry is constructed from illegal
copyright infringement.

Clearly those who are just doing things at home and for fun have the
luxury of saying "I hate the license stuff" and ignoring it all... and
I definitely recommend they do so because it's a quagmire for sure,
with very few absolute answers.

Unfortunately it's not something those that are basing their business
model and personal livelihoods on FOSS-licensed code are able to ignore
so blithely: they _have_ to deal with it, and we should let them do it
without scoffing, IMO.

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Xen
Paul Smith schreef op 03-03-2017 19:32:

> We'd better hope that's not the case, because if it is then almost the
> entire internet / computing industry is constructed from illegal
> copyright infringement.

I mean that the restrictive terms are probably not enforceable. So what
I mean is that although the "free use" cannot be contracted (or
contradicted) "non-free" use can possibly not be punished.

I mean that there is a chance that GPL will be read as:

- you cannot sue those who use your own code according to the GPL (you
are protected for such use)

- you cannot force others to redistribute your code after you have made
it available to them with the intent of it being used.

So what you mean is infringement which would be the first part.

What I meant was the "applies to all derivative works" nature in that it
is a _strong_ copyleft license, ie. you cannot enforce that every
software using any part of GPL'd code must also be GPL.

But until it is put the to test there is no legal precedent that clearly
denotes what's what here.

In any case I believe Colin just meant to give attention to the issue so
let's stop here.


> Unfortunately it's not something those that are basing their business
> model and personal livelihoods on FOSS-licensed code are able to ignore
> so blithely: they _have_ to deal with it, and we should let them do it
> without scoffing, IMO.

Of course, but corporate businesses (that use proprietary code) also
have to deal with it, and in the negative way in this sense: they avoid
it.

But I do not oppose businesses depending on the freedom of GPL and their
right to use the GPL code for their products being defended in law
against lawsuits for their use of the code.

Of course GPL is a message from the author to the user that says: go
ahead and use it, and that should not be retracted at a later date.


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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Tom H-4
In reply to this post by Ralf Mardorf-2
On Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 10:57 AM, Ralf Mardorf <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Fri, 03 Mar 2017 16:35:31 +0100, Xen wrote:
>>Colin Law schreef op 03-03-2017 15:24:
>>>
>>> Can anyone explain the significance of this in words that the
>>> relatively uninitiated can understand?
>>> https://www.mirbsd.org/permalinks/wlog-10_e20170301-tg.htm
>>
>> What it appears to say is that Github hosted projects can only be
>> forked on Github, all projects must allow to be forked, and
>> attribution-style licenses are forbidden.
>
> Wouldn't this be a discrepancy? If something is GPL'ed and provided at
> Github, why should somebody forking it, provide it via Github, too?

One of things that the blogger mentions is that there's a "solely" in a
paragraph of the ToS [1] that might mean that gpl'd content on GitHub
can only be shared via GitHub.

I'm not a lawyer so I'm just an English speaker parsing
legal/pseudo-legal text:

I suspect that he's misinterpreting [1]. I suspect that GitHub's trying
to protect itself from user A uploading something, deleting it after
user B's cloned it to his account, and complaining to GitHub that that
content should be deleted from user B's account too.

I don't see how [1] prevents, for example, a distribution from running
"git clone github_hosted_content" - most likely as an anonymous user but
not necessarily - creating a tarball of that content, and distributing
it as a source deb or rpm.

[1] If you set your pages and repositories to be viewed publicly, you
grant each User of GitHub a nonexclusive, worldwide license to access
your Content through the GitHub Service, and to use, display and perform
your Content, and to reproduce your Content solely on GitHub as
permitted through GitHub's functionality.

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Tom H-4
In reply to this post by Ralf Mardorf-2
On Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 12:04 PM, Ralf Mardorf <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> http://lists.linuxaudio.org/pipermail/linux-audio-dev/2013-September/034140.html

So the guy's whining about an open source project being forked. Really?!

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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Xen
An issue could be, if somebody does use license X for her code and
assuming license X demands that a fork needs to continue using the same
license X, somebody forking this code under this license could not add
an additional license to the code. If license X + Y were used in the
first place it's another situation, than forking code published under
license X and adding license Y. This could offend license X.


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Re: Github ToS and Open Source

Paul Smith-2
In reply to this post by Xen
On Fri, 2017-03-03 at 20:05 +0100, Xen wrote:

> Paul Smith schreef op 03-03-2017 19:32:
>
> > We'd better hope that's not the case, because if it is then almost the
> > entire internet / computing industry is constructed from illegal
> > copyright infringement.
>
> I mean that the restrictive terms are probably not enforceable. So
> what I mean is that although the "free use" cannot be contracted (or 
> contradicted) "non-free" use can possibly not be punished.
>
> [...]
>
> What I meant was the "applies to all derivative works" nature in that
> it is a _strong_ copyleft license, ie. you cannot enforce that every 
> software using any part of GPL'd code must also be GPL.


I (believe I) understood what you meant.

However, the only rights you have to the software are those granted you via the license.  So you either agree to the license in its entirety, including the "strong copyleft" aspect, or you don't get to use the software at all.  Clause 7 of the GPLv2 (there's a similar clause in v3) makes very clear that if you don't meet your obligations under the GPL for any reason (including court order) then you cannot distribute at all.

The GPL is actually in a very strong position and I disagree that it can't be enforced.

The area which is NOT so well-defined is what constitutes a "derived work" in the first place; the GPL certainly won't apply to things which are not derived works of GPL-covered software.

If you modify the code itself then distribute it, that's a derived work: there's no question about that.  And since this is mostly what GitHub does there's not much argument there.

But if you just use some code via its defined API (even if it's statically linked into your program) is that a derived work?
Is a kernel module a derived work of the Linux kernel?  Is a program a derived work of any (or all) of the shared libraries it links?  This is where the grey areas are in GPL enforcement these days.


Anyway, cheers!

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