Richard Kenner kenner@vlsi1.ultra.nyu.edu
Mon Jul 16 15:03:00 GMT 2007

> > You are assuming here that the patch ITSELF has some license that's applied
> > to it irrespective of the file it was derived from and I don't see the
> > legal basis for such a claim.
> Your patch, once accepted by the FSF, becomes their property, and the
> FSF, not you, determines the license the *patch* will be covered by.
> They can, if they wish, decide that every patch will be covered by
> GPLv3.  They can, if they wish, decide that some patches will be covered
> by GPLv3 and others by GPLv2.  They can use whatever scheme that they
> wish to decide which license to apply to the patch, including schemes
> which ignore the license of the original source.

Yes, they certainly *can*.  But my question is whether they *have* and
if so, who has done it and when.  I've seen no evidence of any assertion
ever of what license applies to a *patch*.

> One person can't develop the same identical patch, as you posit,
> from similar sources, and claim that they were independently
> derived.  A derivative work is clearly covered by the same version
> of GPL which the original was covered by.

Yes, sure, but the independent claim can clearly be made.  Suppose I
write a sed script to do an edit to a file.  I do not look at two
files, one of which is GPLv2 and one is GPLv3, but instead run the
script on both of them and run diff to get a patch.  There's no
question that each of the resulting patches is covered by different
versions of the GPL (by your last sentence).  They are clearly independent
because there was no possible vehicle for "contamination" (I didn't look
at the files).  But if they end up as identical, we now have two identical
patches that have difference licenses.

> This is why there are "clean room" implementations of proprietary software
> -- to prevent just the copyright contamination which you describe.

Yes, but we're talking about *patches* here, where the underlying license
derives from the file being patched, not the patch itself.  There's a big

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