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License issues roil Linux developer community

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Linux

Should the Linux kernel be licensed under the new version of the Gnu General Public License, or should it stick with the old version? The question has sparked a heated debate on the mailing list for Linux kernel developers. Hundreds of messages have zapped back and forth across the list debating the merits of the new open-source license, now in the final stages of preparation by the Free Software Foundation.

The copyright owner of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds, has stated that he would prefer to stick with the previous version of the kernel, Version 2. His chief lieutenants, Alan Cox and Andrew Morton, have sided with Torvalds. "I still think GPLv2 is simply the better license," Torvalds wrote.

Complicating the picture is that fact that Torvalds has said that if Sun Microsystems moves its open-source Solaris operating system — another version of Unix — he'd consider dual-licensing Linux so that the two projects could share code. "If we can avoid having two kernels with two different licenses and the friction that causes, I at least see the reason for GPLv3," he wrote.

Whether he could find agreement with the many coders who help write the Linux kernel is another matter.

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Law doesn't work like that

Contract law is fundamental to a functioning society and is one of the oldest parts of the law. However your analysis is overly simplistic because it doesn't acknowledge that as needs evolve, so must the law. If society decides, through the actions of the marketplace, that a new form of contract is needed, then the law will change to accommodate that and ensure that signatories uphold the contractual terms they have agreed to, so long as they are fair and reasonable.

In any event if you were right then all sorts of click-through licensing would be null and void. Yet the courts continue to uphold them.

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