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Bruce Perens Warns Grsecurity Breaches the Linux Kernel’s GPL License

Bruce Perens co-founded the Open Source Initiative with Eric Raymond. Now he’s sharing a “strong opinion” that companies should avoid the Grsecurity security patch for the Linux kernel “because it presents a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk.” Slashdot reader NewGnu shared Bruce’s comments:
[I]t would fail a fair-use test… 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… 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…
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.

Perens advises companies to discuss his position with their attorneys, adding “In the public interest, I am willing to discuss this issue with companies and their legal counsel, under NDA, without charge.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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