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Re: Broadcom XLP support

> On Aug 4, 2016, at 2:12 PM, ANDY KENNEDY <> wrote:
>> From: Maciej W. Rozycki []
>> On Thu, 4 Aug 2016, wrote:
>>>> That might be questionable, I advise enquiring with FSF.  It might be
>>>> easier if XLP instruction set documentation was available, but it's NDA'd
>>>> I believe.  Granted, with that in hand and using XLR as a template it
>>>> would be hard to come up with code substantially different from any
>>>> previously proposed.
>>> Then again, Broadcom (or its predecessors) distributed their modified
>>> GPL-licensed tool chains, never to my knowledge claiming that the GPL
>>> didn't apply to those modified versions.
>> True, that allows you to use and redistribute such modified software as
>> per the licence terms of GNU GPL (which is why people can use Broadcom's
>> changes at all), however it does not make anyone but Broadcom a copyright
>> holder.  For you to become a copyright holder you'd need a separate
>> agreement between you and Broadcom, assigning their copyright to you, and
>> otherwise you are merely licensed to use their modifications to software
>> according to the terms set out in the licence.
>> And you need to be a copyright holder in the first place to be able to
>> assign your copyright to FSF (or anyone else), or at least disclaim it,
>> which is a prerequisite for changes to be included with FSF sources.  I
>> think it is obvious that you cannot assign or disclaim (or otherwise
>> control) someone else's copyright.
> Wait a second here.  In times past, when we distributed code
> on HW, we were counseled that we had to have the source code
> available to whomever wanted to reproduce the OSS code we had
> on the box.  That would include, but not limit to, 3rd party code
> that was stuck into OSS code.  In fact, there was a big stink about
> this several years back in which a HW vendor got zapped due to NOT
> releasing code directly to a customer that requested it (though it
> was not their copyrighted code to begin with.
> What you've said confuses me.

Maciej is pointing out the difference between (a) having the right to modify and distribute code, and (b) being the code copyright holder.

GPL gives you rights to do stuff with the code, but it doesn't change the rules of copyright.  By default, the copyright holder of any "work" is the work's author.  So, for example, if I make changes to binutils components, those changes are mine.  If I distribute the changed version, I have to make the changed sources available (GPL says so).  That lets others take what I did and modify it further, or do whatever else GPL says they can do.

But FSF requires that submissions to projects such as binutils have the code copyright assigned to FSF.  So, in the example I just mentioned, you couldn't take the changes I made and submit them to the binutils project.  Or rather, you could submit them, but they would not be accepted.  For them to be accepted, I and my company would have to assign the copyright to FSF.  And for the sake of making the picture clear, it would probably be best for those changes then to be submitted by their author (who has an FSF assignment in place), not by a third party.


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