Kernel contributions from organisations and individual privacy

Jeff Haran Jeff.Haran at
Fri Jun 12 19:29:51 EDT 2015

>-----Original Message-----
>From: kernelnewbies-bounces at [mailto:kernelnewbies-
>bounces at] On Behalf Of Rik van Riel
>Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2015 6:28 PM
>To: Jeff Haran; kernelnewbies at
>Subject: Re: Kernel contributions from organisations and individual privacy
>On 06/11/2015 08:13 PM, Jeff Haran wrote:
>>> On 06/11/2015 07:26 PM, Ruben Safir wrote:
>>>> Not at all.  You have a good point there are definitely legal
>>>> situations other than relicensing which are problematic.
>>>> Lets say Apple decides that are going to take the Linux Kernel and
>>>> alter it extensively, in order for it to work with a new hardware
>>>> platform that they created. And lets say don't return the code base
>>>> to the
>>> public.
>>>> Now who is going to protect the license and sue them?  You have
>>>> literaly thousands of partiticpants who have standing now in this case.
>>> That means a thousand possible plaintiffs.
>>> s/Apple/VMware/ and you get this:
>> I don't see in that web site the amount of damages they are asking for.
>Maybe I missed it.
>They are not asking for damages, but for license compliance.
>> Might get more money coming in for the plaintiff's lawyers if instead
>> of asking for contributions that yield a tee shirt, it was constructed
>> more like an investment, as in X% of total "contributions" gets the
>> investor X% of (damages - legal fees) should they win.
>I suspect that is not possible, since not every Linux kernel copyright holder will
>want to be part of a lawsuit (of any kind).
>The Conservancy is a non-profit. The defendants usually end up paying the
>legal costs (and sometimes a contribution for help with GPL compliance), but
>starting new actions is something that is funded by people like us, who care
>about preserving the GPL license.

All sounds very noble, but it would not seem to create much of a deterrence for violators.

What is the downside to a large company for violating GPL? They are likely to not get sued in the first place. If they are they can delay using court procedures until they've changed their code to not violate or GPL'ed it. Worst for them is paying legal fees and a contribution. I am guessing those aren't huge, not for a big company. Seems like unless there is some monetary sting like a piece of the proceeds on the sale of violating products, there is no deterrence and you guys will be in court for the rest of time chasing a never ending stream of new violators.

As for every copyright holder not wanting to be a part of the suit, I thought that was what class action suits were for.

Good luck to you but it sounds futile to me.

Jeff Haran

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