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Red Hat Developer Demands Competitor's Source Code

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the let-the-drama-begin dept.

Data Storage 394

sfcrazy writes "A very serious argument erupted on the Linux kernel mailing list when Andy Grover, a Red Hat SCSI target engineer, requested that Nicholas A. Bellinger, the Linux SCSI target maintainer, provide proof of non-infringement of the GPL. Nick is developer at Rising Tide Systems, a Red Hat competitor, and a maker of advanced SCSI storage systems. Nick's company recently produced a groundbreaking technology involving advanced SCSI commands which will give Rising Tide Systems a lead in producing SCSI storage systems. Now, RTS is blocking Red Hat from getting access to that code as it's proprietary. What's uncertain is whether RTS' code is covered by GPL or not — if it is then Red Hat has all the rights to get access to it and it's a serious GPL violation."

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first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986413)

First post

Let's not be so un thankfull (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986415)

Thanks to Microsoft for much of what we have today. If it was up to IBM we still would be using PC3279 and COBOL.

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986471)

What the heck is wrong with COBOL? ;-)

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986487)

You know what, thanks to Microsoft as well for the three button mouse with wheel. How did people ever live with just one button?

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986513)

Also, cheers to Microsoft for bringing multitasking to the PC. Now I can play a game, AND listen to music.

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986569)

Thank you Microsoft for the modern monitor and keyboard interface. Having a computer that doesn't go "junka junka junka" when you type or "junka junka junka" when it's showing you text is something we can all feel a little better about.

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (4, Informative)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987063)

Ummm, no. Wasn't Microsoft, it was Quarterdeck (DESQview, DESQview/X).

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (4, Informative)

rduke15 (721841) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987141)

Wasn't Amiga multitasking even before Windows? I mean for a comparable price. SGI Irix and other Unix machines of that time were not "Personal" computers if price is considered.

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987161)

Amiga per-emptivly multi-tasked, but didn't have protected memory.

Better then pre-X mac OS, about equal to windows 3.

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (4, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987247)

UNIX preemptively multitasked in 1969. Kinda predates Amiga.

The earliest example of a protected memory model using separated memory paging I can think of is OS/2 (1987).

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987317)

The earliest example of a protected memory model using separated memory paging I can think of is OS/2 (1987).

So +1 for Microsoft?

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (1, Insightful)

Ziggitz (2637281) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986785)

No we would just be using something else. Very rarely are someone or something's inventions non obvious that wouldn't soon be developed by someone else in a slightly different form.

Re:Let's not be so un thankfull (2)

AaronLS (1804210) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987045)

I agree somewhat. I believe many things are patented which shouldn't be, because usually they are violated not by someone copying an inovation, but by someone putting the obvious puzzle pieces together. On the other hand, I don't think we should easily dismiss something so successful on the basis of it being obvious. I think there's something to be said about putting a polish on something, offering it on a fairly open hardware platform(while Windows is not open, you are not walled into one single hardware provider), and making it intuitive enough for the average person. Computers are extremely complex, yet people on the completely opposite end of that spectrum can leverage them. There's something to be said for that.

There is an art to getting all the pieces to fit together, be polished, and be intuitive. I don't think I'd want any of my less tech savvy relatives/friends have to deal with people who do nothing but flame them and tell them to go read the man page whenever something is not intuitive. Some people take pride in being able to use something that isn't inherently difficult, except the fact that it is difficult only because it is non-intuitive. As such they berate anyone who isn't willing to go through the same painful learning curves they have, and have little interest in making it more intuitive. Praise be those in the Linux community who are a little more humble and strive to ease people into Linux adoption.

is it shipping to customers ? (2, Insightful)

johnjones (14274) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986431)

thats what makes the difference...

if its just something he is developing at the moment AFAIK then he does not have to release it until he gives it to others...

   

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (5, Informative)

johnjones (14274) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986497)

ok reading the list nick had this to say :

"
Accusing us of violating GPL is a serious legal claim.

In fact, we are not violating GPL. In short, this is because we wrote
the code you are referring to (the SCSI target core in our commercial
RTS OS product), we have exclusive copyright ownership of it, and this
code contains no GPL code from the community. GPL obligations only
apply downstream to licensees, and not to the author of the code. Those
who use the code under GPL are subject to its conditions; we are not.

As you know, we contributed the Linux SCSI target core, including the
relevant interfaces, to the Linux kernel. To be clear, we wrote that
code entirely ourselves, so we have the right to use it as we please.
The version we use in RTS OS is a different, proprietary version, which
we also wrote ourselves. However, the fact that we contributed a
version of the code to the Linux kernel does not require us to provide
our proprietary version to anyone.

If you want to understand better how dual licensing works, perhaps we
can talk off list. But we don’t really have a responsibility to respond
to untrue accusations, nor to explain GPL, nor discuss our proprietary
code.

We’re very disappointed that Red Hat would not be more professional in
its communications about licensing compliance matters, particularly to a
company like ours that has been a major contributor to Linux and
therefore also to Red Hat’s own products. So, while I invite you to
talk about this with us directly, I also advise you – respectfully – not
to make public accusations that are not true. That is harmful to our
reputation – and candidly, it doesn’t reflect well on you or your
company.
"
so basically if they developed the code and use a closed source OS that is not linux then redhat don't have a leg to stand on...

if they use a module inserted into linux then it will "taint" the OS then it gets shifty...

have fun

john

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986597)

'course, if even a single commit from a developer outside RTS is in the SCSI code they have chosen to use (we don't know if they are using the first revision put into the kernel or a later revision) there's a problem then.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (3, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986757)

The comment would be purely theoretical problem.

Unless it can be seen in the binary, RTS will tell anyone involved: 'No, you cannot see our source. You've made a serious public accusation. Do you own your house? Any other assets? What was your net worth prior to today?'

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986845)

Two things apply in that case:
1 someone with standing would have to take action. This is normally the copyright holder.
2 the included code would have to be either licensed or removed. There is no obligation for rising tide to provide their source code.

Licensing could, of course, be done under a different license than the GPL, as the copyright holder may unilaterally license their code at will.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987425)

"1... This is normally the copyright holder."

But not necessarily. Anyone who can show damages has standing.

"There is no obligation for rising tide to provide their source code."

Not to the complainant. But a judge could very well issue a subpoena.

The first issue is a bit sticky, because they would have to show they would be damaged if RTS turned out to be in violation. But in this particular situation, that's probably not very hard to show.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (2)

AaronLS (1804210) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987099)

In an earlier post he indicated that they forked the code into the kernal, such that the fork they use in RTS is and has always been their own code, and they maintain the open fork separately of that. From his wording, it sounded like the fork that went into the kernal has never been brought back into RTS. As noted by a later poster, these accusations, as well as any proof that the accusations are wrong, would be very difficult to prove either way. I'm not really sure what outcome Red Hat is expecting.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (3, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986733)

The version we use in RTS OS is a different, proprietary version, which we also wrote ourselves.

This is probably what Red Hat thinks needs to be proven.

Pure hypothetical in contradiction of RTS's statement follows. Entirely fictional. However, I'm betting this is what Red Hat is worried about.

RTS writes Linux SCSI core driver. Contributors improve it. RTS backports Linux SCSI core driver, including contributed improvements, to RTS OS and then closes it off as proprietary.

This scenario would be a GPL infringement. This is probably what Red Hat suspects. This is contrary to RTS' claim, which is: The RTS OS codebase is clean, and is not a derivative product of the GPLed Linux codebase (with other contributions).

But I agree... the burden is on Red Hat to prove it. Demanding a code audit of a proprietary software codebase just because you suspect non-compliant backporting doesn't sound like it would work. In the meanwhile, they've poisoned relationships with a major code contributor. I hope it was worth it.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986829)

In the meanwhile, they've poisoned relationships with a major code contributor. I hope it was worth it.

WTF? I see this all the time. Just because is it your friend who breaks the law, doesn't mean you shouldn't turn him in. Yes, you sour the relationship, but turning a blind eye is only going to encourage him the break the law even more.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987029)

WTF? I see this all the time. Just because is it your friend who breaks the law, doesn't mean you shouldn't turn him in. Yes, you sour the relationship, but turning a blind eye is only going to encourage him the break the law even more.

No, this is more like you see a brand new BMW in your friend's driveway and you call the cops because you're pretty sure he can't afford that, it must be stolen.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987115)

Some laws are worth less than friend, even shady friends...
ex: Let's assume that a friend confess to me that he raped a girl last weekend, I would denounce him without a hint of hesitation. Now imagine that he confessed that last weekend he was snorting cocaine on some prostitutes ass; I would not call the cops, would you ?

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987241)

Red Hat, as far as we know, has no evidence that RTS violated the GPL.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

LordNimon (85072) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986869)

This is probably what Red Hat thinks needs to be proven.

Yes, and RTS has no obligation to comply. Red Hat could sue, but only if they have basis for claiming that they own the copyright of the "stolen" code.

RTS could make Red Hat happy by running a Black Duck analysis on their proprietary code and sharing the result.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987187)

RTS could make Red Hat happy by running a Black Duck analysis on their proprietary code and sharing the result.

That would likely not be reliable, since the wrote the original and forked it into the kernel, and developed the original further into their own product. The analysis would certainly contain many false positives since the kernel source came from proprietary source.

Besides, its only the back-flow of contributed changes that would make the GPL apply to their original code, and perhaps not even that
would be sufficient. Does a contributed two line patch drag the entire original proprietary source into the GPL?

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987169)

This scenario would not be a GPL infringement.

The main point of the GPL is: you give me some binary, my it payed or volunary, you have to give me (on request) also the source.

As Red Hat has no way to get the binaries, without buying them first, talking about GPL infringement is a step to early.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

bug1 (96678) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986747)

"so basically if they developed the code and use a closed source OS that is not linux then redhat don't have a leg to stand on..."

Is RTS OS is a closed source OS, or is at a dressed up Linux kernel ?

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986819)

so basically if they developed the code and use a closed source OS that is not linux then redhat don't have a leg to stand on..

The OS they use is irrelevant. You can very well have closed-source, proprietary software (or even drivers) that run under Linux. That the Linux source falls under the GPL doesn't mean your software has to be GPL, too.

You only need to release your code under the GPL if you use other software that is GPL licensed (and to which you do not own copyright yourself).

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987173)

You cannot, however, then turn around and distribute a Linux kernel with those proprietary modules, which is what RTS is doing. See this [lkml.org] .

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987233)

There's an alternative SCSI target implementation - SCST. I guess somebody was lying when they said the LIO/TCM target was "joining the Linux community". SCST is open and community supported. Looks like the wrong choice was made.

http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.linux.kernel/1078109/focus=1078310 [gmane.org]

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (3, Informative)

saleenS281 (859657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987543)

They use Linux, there is no proprietary OS. From their own description:

RTS OS is a single-node integrated storage operating system based on Linux and the standard Linux Unified Target, developed by RisingTide Systems (RTS), including support for iSCSI, Fibre Channel, FCoE, InfiniBand, SMB2 and NFS3/4.

http://www.linux-iscsi.org/wiki/RTS_OS [linux-iscsi.org]

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986517)

It is most definitely something that's intended to ship to third parties, so this may just be a pre-emptive move by this Red Hat developer to make sure no infringement will take place.

Re:is it shipping to customers ? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987437)

If so, he did it in a rather bone-headed way. A nice, polite letter from an attorney is usually considered the standard way to go about this; not yelling at somebody in a public forum.

Moral: Never look at, much less touch, GPL code. (1, Troll)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986441)

Never touch any code under GPL.

Otherwise some asshole will demand to see your source to prove you didn't lift anything.

Never look at GPL code. If it's not out there under BSD you should develop it yourself.

If you are a professional coder, looking at GPL code can forever compromise you. After that they will demand you 'prove' purity.

Re:Moral: Never look at, much less touch, GPL code (4, Insightful)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986599)

The same issue can occur with commercial code too.

It's basically a risk for any non-completely-free licence, including explicitly non-paid-for ones.

You can be put in exactly the same position by being accused by a commercial vendor of using their code.
And the solution for the vendor is the same - sue for copyright infringement, and it'll come out if the code is infringing or not.

Re:Moral: Never look at, much less touch, GPL code (3, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986675)

Are there companies out there leaving their copyrighted code on the net just trying to get you to fix it for them for free?

It's not exactly the same thing. Also note: This is code they contributed to Linux. They retain rights and can dual license.

With commercial code I sign an explicit non-compete, have no doubt who owns the code and (wait for it) get paid.

Re:Moral: Never look at, much less touch, GPL code (1)

micheas (231635) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986991)

Also note: This is code they contributed to Linux. They retain rights and can dual license.

As long as the code they contributed isn't a derivative work you are right. (Good luck figuring out if it is or is not a derivative work or not.)

Epic grammar fail (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986461)

Now, RTS is blocking Red Hat for getting access to that code as its proprietary.

What is this I don't even

Re:Epic grammar fail (-1)

Ziggitz (2637281) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986849)

Remember to complete your sentences when criticizing other people's grammar.

Re:Epic grammar fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987105)

*whooooosh* No that wasn't a jet crossing overhead.

Guilty until proven innocent? (4, Insightful)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986465)

That's what it seems like from the summary. If not can anyone explain why? I'm not about to read a kernel mailing list.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986495)

Because fat bearded jackoffs want to have pictures of child rape but you're a fucking asshole if you don't share your source.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? (0)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986753)

Agreed. And I'm also not about to read the kernel mailing list, but I have some other considerations about this and finding/dealing with GPL infringements in general.

A large part of code shipped is closed source. Proprietary operating systems, drivers, applications, whatever. That makes it, by nature, hard to check whether your GPLed source code's copyright is infringed upon: how can one check whether a closed source software program uses parts of published open source code? This is hard, really hard. If it can be proven, at all, without looking at the source of the suspected software.

What I know is that people generally look for various pointers: unique variable names and function names, specific API calls that they developed, and that have no equivalent in other code. Or even specific functionality that you developed and that had never been developed before. Find a lot of those names in the suspected compiled code, and there is reason to believe that their source code is being used there. Maybe they could even find the name of their own code in the suspected code: very often function names use the program's name itself for name space.

And in this case, assuming there is a reasonable suspicion of infringement, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the potential infringing party to defend themselves by giving insight in the code - and from what I heard about e.g. the SCO court cases is that often the judges demand parties to come up with certain information that the other party needs as evidence. This doesn't necessarily mean publishing the code: it means having the complainant and/or an independent party look at the potentially offending code, and verifying whether it's infringing. Looking at the suspected software's source is, after all, the only way to prove with certainty whether or not the GPL code is used in there.

A potential issue is of course the revelation of trade secrets. I can imagine that this RTS company has come up with e.g. a very clever way to massively improve performance, and that just by reading the code, the Red Hat developer may learn enough to use a similar technique in his own work. That's probably why RTS doesn't want third parties to look at their code.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? (4, Insightful)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986809)

This is a no lose political play by RedHat; they never expected there was a real licensing violation. Consider the two outcomes here:

-Rising Tide Systems says that it developed their EXTENDED_COPY and COMPARE_AND_WRITE commands under a different license, walled off from the main code they contributed to the kernel under the GPL. (That's what they've done now). Then RedHat's sales position is that people who buy Rising Tide's Linux are getting a licensed closed-source product. It is guaranteed not to integrate smoothly with the *real* Linux kernel because of the architecture needed to keep it licensed differently, it's not getting community review for features and security issues, and if Rising Tide goes out of business their customers are screwed--good old fashioned vendor lock-in.

-Rising Tide rolls over and releases their code into the mainline kernel. Now RedHat benefits from it being available too.

RedHat makes much of its money from companies that are moving to open-source because they are sick of the downsides of commercial software, which go from quality issues to vendor lock-in. They're compelling Rising Tide to either give away somethings they're trying to keep closed, or to shame themselves by admitting they're not really an open-source team player. RedHat can launch that sort of acusation safely because they are operating very transparently. We know that companies are not locked in to RedHat from how many clones of it exist. When CentOS and Scientific Linux work, clearly RedHat is sharing all the important parts. And if you've made that part of your competing position, preaching down to people who are not sharing as being sellers of inferior products is very easy to do.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987249)

I think the more interesting concern isn't so much RH v. RTS, it's what happened to SCST not long ago. Vladislav Bolkhovitin has a nice, solid option in SCST (http://scst.sourceforge.net/index.html) that was skipped over in the upstream kernel in favor of the LIO stuff from Rising Tide Systems. We moved away from SCST to LIO at work even though we didn't think it was quite as good simply because being embraced by the community usually means that you win long term. Andy basically makes this point:

"But let's forget licenses and talk community. Looking back, can anyone say that your push to get LIO accepted into mainline as the kernel target was in good faith? Back before LIO was merged, James chose LIO over SCST saying to the SCST devs:

'Look, let me try to make it simple: It's not about the community you bring to the table, it's about the community you have to join when you
become part of the linux kernel.'

RTS behaved long enough to get LIO merged, and then forget community. James is right, community is more important than code, and licenses enforce community expectations. RTS has appeared just community-focused enough to prevent someone else's code from being adopted, so it can extract the benefits and still maintain its proprietary advantage."

Guilty by confusion. (1, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986817)

If you read the list, it is clear that no one is disputing the facts of what happened; no one is making unfounded assumptions. Rising Tide Systems has a SCSI module that they have written entirely from scratch. In the process of writing this they pushed much of it into the kernel, so much in fact that one of their employees became the Linux SCSI targets maintainer. They have kept some of it back and are shipping a modified kernel containing their code to customers without providing the source code.

They believe that this is allowed, and that their code is not a derivative work of the kernel. Basically RTS is saying: If NVIDIA can have proprietary drivers, why can't we have proprietary kernel subsystems? The other side believes that what NVIDIA is doing likely is a GPL violation, and furthermore some of the technicalities that NVIDIA claims make it legal don't apply to what RTS is doing.

This issue has been ticking time bomb ready to go off. It is entirely possible that some, all, or none of the proprietary drivers written are a violation of the GPL. It all depends on the courts interpretation of derivative work, and no one knows for certain (although some arguments have stronger precedent than others). Furthermore, it is too late to add GPL linking exception [wikipedia.org] to Linux's license to clarify this (one way or the other), because there are too contributors at this point to come to an agreement. So it will remain murky as mud until someone finally sues someone over the issue. Sounds like this may actually be happening. But even then, the ruling may end up depending on the nature of the proprietary extension, and thus remain fuzzy.

Re:Guilty by confusion. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987223)

Not so. The key issue is that NVIDIA does not ship a kernel with their driver, and that the driver is very obviously not based off the Linux kernel. But don't take my word for it. [lkml.org]

Re:Guilty by confusion. (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987253)

A driver called from linux to do something, is by definition, not a derived work of linux.

If I write something, and cut out pieces and gift them to the linux developers under the GPL, my work is not a derived work of those pieces. It is the opposite around: the thing, into which I contributed those pieces, is the derived work.

Re:Guilty by confusion. (2)

Raenex (947668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987479)

If you read the list, it is clear that no one is disputing the facts of what happened

Actually, the Red Hat guy supposes some of the GPL code made it's way into RTS:

"Second, you claim you hold exclusive copyright for the code. Not true. One example: on http://www.risingtidesystems.com/storage.html [risingtidesystems.com] you claim support for FCoE. You didn't build tcm_fc, Intel did. Under the GPLv2. Furthermore, SRP support came from SCST, iirc. None of these contributors gave RTS any right to use their copyrighted code except under the conditions of the GPLv2."

Another issue is if RTS distributes a product that combines their "standalone" module with the Linux kernel. It's unclear to me just what RTS distributes and in what fashion.

It is entirely possible that some, all, or none of the proprietary drivers written are a violation of the GPL. It all depends on the courts interpretation of derivative work, and no one knows for certain (although some arguments have stronger precedent than others).

The RTS lawyer says:

"I hope that we can tone down the arguments about whether the use of Linux APIs and headers automatically turns a program into a derivative work of Linux. I think that argument has been largely debunked in the U.S. in the recent decision in Oracle v. Google, and in Europe in SAS v. World Programming. Does anyone here question whether the original work that RTS contributed to Linux (and that *is* under the GPL) is an original work of authorship of RTS despite the fact that it links to other GPL code using headers and APIs?"

Re:Guilty until proven innocent? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987265)

The LKML thread isn't long, and it's entirely on-topic, unlike most.

RTS (the accused) engineer and lawyer have asserted they are not violating the GPL, but things they've said to justify that don't hold up to scrutiny, and at least imply license violation. They may well be correct, but they're completely failing to explain their position and answer questions.

Bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986473)

Don't waste your time.

J'accuse! (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986475)

Someone ought to tell the fucking idiot that the onus is on the ACCUSER to prove his case, not the other way round!

Unlikely request (2)

mnooning (759721) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986477)

Proof of evil always has to be shown by the accuser. Not the other way around. Otherwise all companies could get the family jewels of all other companies.

So if you write GPL code... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986499)

So if you write GPL code you can never again write proprietary code?

Red Hat can surely do better than speculate... (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986501)

From the LKML [lkml.org]

Your company appears to be shipping kernel features in RTS OS that are
not made available under the GPL...

I've heard such statements before. They remind me of SCO and their lawyers back in the last decade, when they accused Linux of containing copyrighted source code.

Result: Not good. I hope it isn't the case for Red Hat.

Re:Red Hat can surely do better than speculate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986739)

Red Hat needs to show the exact lines of code and binaries they think are infringing. No, they don't get all the code for a general inspection. I am thinking they might want a peek at another company's intellectual property, but that is just my non-lawyer opinion.

Re:Red Hat can surely do better than speculate... (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986879)

Yep, features aren't in the scope of copyright, specific implementations are.

What do RTS customers say? (3, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986537)

Seems like RTS customers are the ones who would have a right to demand the source to whatever GPLed software they bought or been given. And any of them could legally "leak" to Grover. Not sure how RTS currently has any obligations to Grover, though. Why would they?

Remember that GPL is about protecting users. As handy as it usually is for developers, that's incidental; it's not for developers.

Copyright owners are what matters legally (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986805)

Seems like RTS customers are the ones who would have a right to demand the source to whatever GPLed software they bought or been given. And any of them could legally "leak" to Grover. Not sure how RTS currently has any obligations to Grover, though. Why would they?

Presumably because Grover as the Red Hat SCSI target maintainer (or, more likely, Red Hat as his employer) contributed, under the GPL, code (patches, etc.) to the piece of Linux he accuses RTS of infringing, thus what Grover is doing is accusing RTS of infringing the copyright on his (or Red Hat's) code by not complying with the GPL with regard to that code.

Remember that GPL is about protecting users. As handy as it usually is for developers, that's incidental; it's not for developers.

The GPL, like all copyright licenses written or chosen by the licensor with a take-it-or-leave-it choice for the licensee is used by copyright owners to protect the interests of the copyright owner; its not a contract, so users don't even have the arguable enforcement rights they might have as intended third-party beneficiaries of a contract. Now, it may be that the FSF, as the original authors and users (as licensors) of the GPL had, as their interests in mind for it to protect, what they perceived to be the general public interest or the interests of end-users. But it would be a mistake to forget that its for copyright owners, first, last, and only.

Re:What do RTS customers say? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986843)

Seems like RTS customers are the ones who would have a right to demand the source to whatever GPLed software they bought or been given.

Which, according to RTS, is none at all. No GPL software included in their offerings, so no source needs to be given to anyone.

Re:What do RTS customers say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986927)

Seems like RTS customers are the ones who would have a right to demand the source to whatever GPLed software they bought or been given. And any of them could legally "leak" to Grover. Not sure how RTS currently has any obligations to Grover, though. Why would they?

Remember that GPL is about protecting users. As handy as it usually is for developers, that's incidental; it's not for developers.

The GPL isn't about protecting users, it's about protecting programs.

From the GPL (v2):

2.b You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

Re:What do RTS customers say? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987401)

legally, "must" is freely interchangeable with "may". There is the choice of not complying with this clause. This does not complicate matters, as it is perfectly legitimate to discard portions of an adhesion.

"If the term was outside of the reasonable expectations of the person who did not write the contract, and if the parties were contracting on an unequal basis, then it will not be enforceable." Patterson, 1919.

There is precedent either way. Klocek -v- Gateway, Inc. finds boilerplate contracts unenforceable, while ProCD -v- Zeidenberg finds them enforceable. In the UK this is specifically prohibited by Statute: Section 3 of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 limits the ability of the drafter of consumer or standard form contracts to draft clauses which would allow him to perform in a substantially or totally different manner than would be reasonably expected. In my humble opinion, a GPL claim in the UK would fail because of clause 2.b and the Doctrine of First Sale which allows that the owner of an item, whatever it is, has no further obligation to the person who sold it to him once the Contract of Sale is fulfilled.

Wait, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986543)

So a Red Hat Developer is trying to get companies to stop allowing their devs time to work on GPL projects? Because firing allegations around and even the possibility of lawsuits is exactly the FUD that companies need to say, "oh hell no - we are staying well out of that; no more contributions to that Linux thing".

What their lawyer had to say (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986577)

Hi Alan and others,

I've been advising Rising Tide Systems (RTS) in this matter. Please let me reassure you that RTS is acting on advice of counsel.

RTS (and specifically Nicholas Bellinger) wrote the scsi target code and owns its copyright. We registered that copyright at the Library of Congress. RTS contributed a version of the scsi target to Linux for distribution under the GPL. On behalf of Marc Fleischmann, CEO of RTS, I can reassure you that RTS remains committed to the Linux project and will continue to contribute to it. We are pleased that RTS software is a part of the Linux distribution under the GPL.

RTS also has a commercial software business. It distributes versions of its scsi target code that support features and functions not officially in Linux (or at least, not yet). That commercial RTS business includes the licensing of those derivative works of its own code to its own customers. Nothing whatsoever in the GPL or in the policies of the Linux Foundation prohibits that.

I would also like to address some comments made on these lists by Andy Grover and Bradley Kuhn.

First, I hope that we can tone down the arguments about whether the use of Linux APIs and headers automatically turns a program into a derivative work
of Linux. I think that argument has been largely debunked in the U.S. in the recent decision in Oracle v. Google, and in Europe in SAS v. World
Programming. Does anyone here question whether the original work that RTS contributed to Linux (and that *is* under the GPL) is an original work of
authorship of RTS despite the fact that it links to other GPL code using headers and APIs?

Second, we are grateful for the efforts that Bradley Kuhn and others put in to enforce the GPL. As I said above, RTS owns and has registered the
copyright on its scsi target and will enforce it if necessary. So Brad, we may solicit your assistance if we find any third party who is distributing
an unauthorized non-GPL derivative work of the scsi target now in Linux. RTS, of course, retains the exclusive right to do so, but no third party can
do so without a license from RTS.

Best regards, /Larry

P.S. In accordance with my obligations as an attorney when communicating with a represented person, I am copying attorneys for Red Hat and Linux Foundation on this email. If anyone wishes to respond to me, please copy me directly since I am not subscribed to these lists.

Lawrence Rosen

Re:What their lawyer had to say (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986977)

I'm afraid that seems pretty clear cut.
No developer in their right mind would claim that including APIs induces a derived work (LOL Oracle).
It's actually a shame that this took place in public. Whichever way it goes someone looks bad.
There could be defamation or libel claims.

It isn't clear cut. (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987501)

First off this is nothing like the Oracle case. That was a case about reimplementing APIs, and has nothing to do with linking against someone-else's code that provides APIs. Secondly, it is a stretch to say that the RTS SCSI target is just including APIs. It is using all sorts of internal kernel functions that go far beyond what most reasonable programmers would consider to be an API to the kernel. If you interpret things that liberally, then any proprietary modifications to a GPL application would be allowed by just bundling up the list of functions you happen to use and calling it an API.

Re:What their lawyer had to say (4, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987005)

It's the most interesting part of this whole affair by far, since they are, essentially, arguing that linking with GPL'd code does not make your own code GPL'd, even if you redistribute the result as a single work. If this can, indeed, be successfully argued in court, this would significantly change the nature of GPL - in effect, making it more like LGPL if not weaker (if static linking is fine also).

Re:What their lawyer had to say (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987303)

Your parent talked about linking AND referencing APIs via includes.
The former is considered to be a derived work, the later not.
So the former is relevant for/falling under the GPL, the later not.

Re:What their lawyer had to say (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987357)

Yes, but they are effectively challenging the former here, as well. There is no other way they can claim to have kernel-mode non-GPL'd code here, at least without some kind of shim (though even that was historically treated with skepticism).

Too many things wrong in the summary to count (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986645)

There are so many things wrong with the summary I last count. "Its proprietary"? Its proprietary what? Oh, I'm sorry, you just don't know the difference between "its" and "it's". A competitor to Red Hat does not have to hand over its source code to Red Hat even if its product does use GPLed code. That's not how the GPL works. The GPL states that if source code is GPLed then the distributor must offer to provide the source code to anyone who receives a binary. Unless Red Hat is a customer of this company and have purchased devices with the code, then the GPL does not apply.

Re:Too many things wrong in the summary to count (1)

draconx (1643235) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987465)

The GPL states that if source code is GPLed then the distributor must offer to provide the source code to anyone who receives a binary.

While this is close, it is not quite right. If the "offer for source" option of the GPLv2 section 2(b) is used, the offer must be valid for any third party; not just those who received binaries. Otherwise, the right for recipients of such an offer to pass it on under section 2(c) would not be meaningful.

However, if you accompany binaries with source according to section 2(a), then you have no further obligations to distribute source to third parties.

Re:Too many things wrong in the summary to count (1)

draconx (1643235) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987485)

Gah, all section numbers in my post are off-by-one. They should have been referring to sections 3(b), 3(c) and 3(a), respectively.

How can you "violate" the GPL? (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986825)

If you don't comply with the GPL, than at most, you are violating copyright law.
Following the GPL is optional. It grants you certain rights if you follow it.
You might have those rights anyway, or you might decide it's better to pay the fines for copyright violation, but I don't see how you can be forced to follow the GPL.

Re:How can you "violate" the GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987297)

This is the Internet. Somewhere out there is a picture of a dude shoving his naughty bits through a printed out copy of the GPL.

Hope he doesn't get a paper cut.

I dont understand.. (1)

flyerbri (1519371) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986893)

Why they dont just give it to him. What's he going to do, hack em? Been there done that. What else is he going to do, compete with them? Maybe they need competition...

OR maybe they will inspire him and help him learn about how things work behind the scenes, so they have a ready made and well prepared employee who's actually INTERESTED in what they do...

And maybe he shares it with others, and they start to understand too, and make life more entertaining for everyone by developing augmentive features, add ons, different ideas and perspective and spin on the way the company does business....

Perhaps if companies were more interested in community building, sharing, and and teamwork and variety they might actually be MORE successful...

Morpheus like... HMMMMMM

Should be easy to resolve. (2)

hey! (33014) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986985)

Red Hat hires a software development consultant who is not competing with RTS to examine the code (probably a respected academic). After signing an NDA with RTS, they give him access to the source control archive. He pokes around in the commit history and writes his report. If there *is* infringement, it'll show up and RTS pays the consultant's fee and desists from using the GPL'd code. If there is no evidence of infringement, Red Hat pays the consultant's fee and issues an apology.

Note that I said this *should* be easy to resolve. If RTS is deliberately infringing the GPL, they won't go along with this reasonable suggestion. If Red Hat is just trying to stick a thumb in a competitor's eye while scoring some trade secrets, they wouldn't agree with the suggestion. Both conditions might apply at the same time.

Re:Should be easy to resolve. (4, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987093)

Easier to resolve.

RTS issues single fingered fertility gesture. Suggests GPL advocates take it up with brick wall. Resolved.

Re:Should be easy to resolve. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987239)

That's fine as long as litigation doesn't ensue.

RTS would be sued or prosecuted like any other accused pirate.

Re:Should be easy to resolve. (2)

The Rizz (1319) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987531)

RTS would be sued or prosecuted like any other accused pirate.

Told their IP address looks funny, and they need to pay $$$ or have their internet cut off?

This is why GPL is a bad choice in some cases (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986997)

You end up with a suspicious competitor that runs around demanding to see your proprietary code, and you end up in court eventually defending yourself. If everyone used a BSD style license this wouldn't be an issue and wouldn't bog things down. ( much as the patent war is doing in the non-free world )

Personally, if someone came to me demanding to see my internal work, id tell them to f-off and sue me. If they can convince a judge to get involved, after they lose, ill sue for damages and own them.

Re:This is why GPL is a bad choice in some cases (1)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987097)

You end up with a suspicious competitor that runs around demanding to see your proprietary code, and you end up in court eventually defending yourself.

Cause there's nothing worse than people being concerned that you're violating their copyright and not complying with the license terms. They should just switch to a license that allows them to be taken advantage of with no recourse whatsoever.

Re:This is why GPL is a bad choice in some cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987217)

RTFA. This doesn't have anything to do with anything that Redhat owns the copyright of.

Re:This is why GPL is a bad choice in some cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987337)

Except that RTS is the copyright holder on this code. Andy Grover is accusing them of a closed source release of code they are well within their rights to release as closed source.

You could argue that their private copy was tainted if they backported changes from the GPL release of the same code, but no evidence has been proffered that such a backport happened.

Re:This is why GPL is a bad choice in some cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987307)

To be fair you could be using completely BSD licensed code in something and I could still claim you might be using GPL code (or something else you are not entitled too).

It doesn't really matter - if it is their code and their code alone then the license they may have made it public under is irellevant.

Re:This is why GPL is a bad choice in some cases (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987409)

Happened more then once.

BSD code gets incorporated into GPL package. Some twit does a simple minded binary search vs. obj files generated from GPL source. Finds match to BSD code block that was included in GPL package, claims violation, jumps up and down yelling 'evil evil'. Rinse/repeat.

Red Hat has no such right. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987137)

Assuming the code in question falls under GPL that gives no one the right to request it, unless he is a customer.

If you sell me a device, plus binary code like drivers, where the source code is under GPL then I have the right to request the source code.

If I'm just a random nitpicker who has not said binary code, I have no righs to demand the source code.

Re:Red Hat has no such right. (3, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987305)

That would be correct if and only if the vendor is providing the source code along with the device. If they aren't, then GPL v2 section 3b [gnu.org] applies:

Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

Emphasis mine. It doesn't say just customers. It doesn't say just people who have the binaries. It says "any third party". That means any third party, no further restrictions or conditions. The GPL v3 would let you limit your obligation to provide source to only those who have the binaries, but the Linux kernel is under GPL v2 without the clause allowing use of later versions.

Re:Red Hat has no such right. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987351)

Oh that is interesting, the emphasizis, that is. Perhaps licences should be written in a way that they emphasize such important stuff.
For some reason I have difficulties to note such minor but important words.

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