Combining GPL and Proprietary Software

Bruce Perens has written an interesting article about combining GPL with proprietary software the main point of discussion concerns the problem of combining software under different licenses in embedded devices. The article ends with a paragraph on what not to do:

Don’t assume that you can put proprietary kernel drivers in a run-time loadable kernel module. The legality of such a practice is dubious, and there have not been sufficient cases to say reliably what would happen if you were to get sued.

Also, don’t look for, and use loopholes in the Open Source licenses. Nothing makes your company look worse than taking unfair advantage of people who provided their work to you without charge, expecting in good faith that you’d honor their license. It also tends to make Open Source folks reluctant to cooperate with your company, the next time you need help with their software. And it looks bad to judges, too.

Don’t try to do what I’ve discussed without legal counsel to advise and review your actions.

This is a particularly tricky subject and every time a writer tackles it we slowly move towards a better understanding – but there is still a long way to go. In fact that shortest answer to the problem of combining GPL & proprietary software in one device may be “don’t do it if you are not sure” but not many are going to follow that advice since free and open source software is too much of a competitive advantage for developers to ignore.

(via Slashdot)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.