Kernel contributions from organisations and individual privacy

Bjørn Mork bjorn at
Sat Jun 13 11:40:19 EDT 2015

Jeff Haran <Jeff.Haran at> writes:

> What is the downside to a large company for violating GPL?

Losing all rights to the software in question forever is probably the
largest downside.  If we talk about the Linux kernel (as I assume we do
in this forum) then I have a hard time believing any company can survive
that.  Note that loosing the rights to use the Linux kernel will not
only affect the products your company produce, but also your rights to
*use* any  Linux based product. The legal department would also end up
with a limited selection of phones they could legally use.

So, I'd say the downside is infinite.

Why do companies still risk this?  For little or no gain whatsoever?  Or
even negative gain, since we all know that you get many times back for
every contribution you make to open source.

I guess it is the result of tech staff and legal staff not talking
together.  The legal staff will hopefully have some understanding of the
GPL, and know that violating it leaves them without any rights to the
software in question.  But they will probably assume that those rights
are for sale, or that it is possible to buy the rights to an equivalent
software product. The technical staff will know that this is impossible,
but they are probably not aware of the finer details of the GPL.  So
there you go: Noone understand the full consequences.


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