Re: meeting minutes: Linux kernel enforcement statement / GPL Cooperation Commitment

James Bottomley

On Sat, 2018-12-01 at 14:36 -0500, Michael Dolan wrote:
James thanks for that explanation it helps me understand the angle
you're thinking of using this for much better.

Let me ask one follow-up if I may. Is it broadly the intention to
change the license for new files in the kernel going forward to
require the KES?
I know of no such intention and as I explained we have a fairly
rigorous SPDX tag change process that makes this very difficult in

haven't had a conversation like this with anyone but would like to
get a sense of how broadly the support is for this. I missed plumbers
so maybe it came out of discussions there where there is support.
We've also seen at least 4 new McHardy cases recently and I'm not
sure if that maybe prompted it.
The current enforcement statement is maintained in
Documentation/process/kernel-enforcement-statement.rst and anyone can
submit a patch to add their name to the list.

There were no conversations about it at Plumbers and there's certainly
no requirement to add your name.

I ask because we ran into complications when we previously discussed
the possibility of making the KES a requirement to contribute. We
never went that far and I'm also not sure we've resolved some of
those concerns broadly.
Developers don't like being dictated to, so I think that's wise. Plus
we have no real way of adding something like this without modifying the
DCO which I think we all agree would be a bad idea.

So the current process is per file if someone chooses to add the tag or
by voluntarily adding your name to the enforcement statement in the
kernel Documentation directory.

Finally, in the kernel we have the SysCall exception. Have you
thought about adding a provision like this to that notice?
You mean to the DCO? ... no, definitely not since we don't really want
to modify it.

There may be other options. My concern is this was drafted as an
individual, unilateral additional permission from the copyright owner
and I don't think it works as some are intending.
OK, could you elaborate the problem as you see it? We believe the
system call exception is a very old promise made to (and relied upon
by) users of the Linux Kernel. The current documented process in the
kernel requires this promise to be included as "WITH Linux-syscall-
note" in the header files which are exported to other development
packages like glibc so there's a visible reminder. If you're asking
how we preserve and keep it going forward, firstly as a promise relied
on it's estoppel but secondly it's still explicitly mentioned in the
kernel COPYING file which still documents the overall contract with
users. If the fear is some future copyright troll saying their
contributions in the syscall area were made without the syscall
exception and therefore all userspace binaries are under GPL unless
they get paid to waive it, I really don't see that flying in any
jurisdiction because we have a promise made and notice given in the


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