[openbeos] Re: Using GPL-ed sources as the reference

  • From: Norman Robinson <norman_b_robinson@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2004 06:59:43 -0700 (PDT)


You cannot take the code and relicense it without the
original author's permission. You *CAN* ask the author
to grant you a specific license (in your case a  BSD
license) if you get it in writing. They are the
copyright (or copyleft in this instance ;) holder and
can grant as many individual licenses as they want.

I read your post. This isn't a clean-room
implementation. You just want to 'reference' source
code - one of the problems of knowledge, intent, and
purpose in having source code means that any
implementation you create is questionable. Even if
they reverse engineered the code from a closed,
proprietary source it isn't 'open' in the sense that
they own the code. GPL is no different than any
proprietary license (pretend you have Microsoft's code
in hand - treat it the same as that unless you are
producing a GPL version). If you do use the GPL code
and someone gets wind of it, they could force you to
withdraw your code entirely or require you accept
their license/make it GPL.

If they didn't get a license from the vendor and they
did reverse engineer it, they worked hard for their
efforts. The easiest thing would be to ask for
permission for a custom license just-in-case. I'd hate
for your hard work to be brought into question.

Hope this helps,


--- Siarzhuk Zharski <zharik@xxxxxx> wrote:
> Good afternoon, gentlemen,
> I'm not sure, that this is a right place to ask such
> questions but... 
> :-) Well. I'm currently working on USB SCSI
> interface module for mass 
> storage devices. Some standard protocols are already
> implemented, some 
> are partially implemented. Anyway the design of this
> module allows to 
> simply expand it for supporting another protocols
> that use same commands 
> sets and can act as SCSI devices.
> I have seen in sources of the usb storage driver
> from Linux, that there 
> are many vendor-specific devices supported, that use
> non-standard 
> protocols. One from those specific devices is
> FREECOM external USB drive 
> that I have and going to support in my driver. I
> have looking for 
> alternative sources of information about FREECOM
> protocol but there are 
> no ones. People say that FREECOM staff is also not
> friendly to 
> third-part developers. Only Linux source code is
> available for me now.
> The Question: Can I use this source as reference
> information about 
> FREECOM protocol for writing my own implementation
> under BSD license? 
> No, I'm not going to copy-paste any info from
> original sources. Work 
> with USB in Linux and BeOS is different - no chance
> to re-use. Only 
> ideas. I need just information how to initialize
> device, read/write 
> data, handle errors etc.
> I'm afraid that such kind of using GPL-ed
> information can make my work 
> GPL-ed too. I cannot accept this because I hope that
> my work can be 
> useful in the future for implementing such
> mass-storages support in OBOS 
> and the GPL will be a problem in this case.
> What do you think?
> As variant I can support two versions of my module:
> basic with support 
> of only standard protocols under BSD license and
> "extended" with such 
> vendor-specific support under GPL.
> Thank you for your Attention.
> Kind Regards,
>         S.Zharski

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