[Fedora-legal-list] Legal CD/DVD/BD writing software for RedHat and Fedora

Joerg Schilling Joerg.Schilling at fokus.fraunhofer.de
Thu Aug 13 15:43:04 UTC 2009

Mr. Callaway,

in a previous mail you did already admit that you are not a lawyer. In your 
last mail you verified that you do not understand that background of the case 
and that you did not ask a lawyer for help.

I don't know your position in Redhat, but as long as you do net get informed, 
it seems that you are the wrong person to talk to. Would you please be so kind 
to direct the discussion to the right people?

You last mail contains close to no valid claim, let me comment your claims 
anyhow in hope that it helps you to begin to understand the problem.

"Tom \"spot\" Callaway" <tcallawa at redhat.com> wrote:

> You seem to have several concerns here. I will again attempt, for the
> sake of clarity, to separate them and address them individually.
> I) The software "cdrkit" is full of well known bugs, and missing key
> features.
> This point may or may not be correct, however, the presence of bugs and
> the absence of features do not cause any legal concerns, short of
> possible warranty issues, but those are thoroughly disclaimed by the
> license (GPLv2) on cdrkit:

Here you seem to missunderstand the OSS community. Redhat is a OSS 
redistributor. OSS redistributors depend on the work of OSS authors and thus 
should collaborate with them. Redhat also has customers and customers don't 
like to be forced by their distributor to use defective software when they 
know that there is also software without known bugs.

It seems that you still did not yet read: 

as it lists some of the bugs and missing features in the fork. Given the fact 
that redhat installations default to a UTF-8 based locale, it seems to be 
extremely unwise to distribute a fork that does not correctly support UTF-8 
while the original software has no problem with UTF-8 locales. Is this
a result of the unawareness of an US citizen that is only used to use 7 bit 

> II) "...many Linux users have become upset from the results of a
> completely unneeded conflict initiated by the non-cooperative
> "downstream" package maintainer."
> There are 11 open Fedora bugs against cdrkit. None of them reflect this
> claim. Nevertheless, even if it was true, it does not reflect a legal or
> licensing concern.

I don't care about the numbers you give me, I however care about reality
and if you sum up all unfixed bugs from all Linux distributors that distribute
cdrkit, I see a total of more than 100 unfixed bugs.

You should also look at the bugs for cdrkit in redhat, suse, debian, ubuntu and 
mandriva and you of course also need to check the bug lists for brasero on these 
distributions. It is most unlikely that the bugs listed there do not apply to 

> III) There are no licensing incompatibilities in the current "cdrtools"
> software.
> This is patently false, and it was the primary reason why Red Hat/Fedora
> no longer include the "cdrtools" software. "cdrtools" bundles and
> depends upon GPL licensed software components, while the code codebase
> of "cdrtools" is under the CDDL license. The CDDL has been reviewed by
> multiple organizations, including the FSF and Red Hat Legal, and they
> agree in the assessment that dependent combinations of CDDL and GPL code
> result in an incompatible work. In addition, there is ample
> documentation that this was the intention of the CDDL license authors
> (Sun), to prevent code sharing/compatibility with the Linux kernel.

Your claim is obviously false and I mentioned already that the Sun legal 
departement did a full legal review on cdrtools and could not find any 
license or legal problem in the original cdrtools. Your claim that the CDDL
was designed to be incompatible with the GPL is a fairytale that is spread by 
people that like to harm OSS collaboration. Simon Phipps did confirm that this
is not true and you should believe in what the official Sun OSS Evangelist 

Regarding your claims about the FSF: the FSF did not review cdrtools and the 
FSF is even completely irrelevant for this case. The FSF does not own any 
rights on cdrtools and the FSF does not distribute the original software. With
respect to the original cdrtools software, the FSF is no more than an uninvolved 
third party.

BTW: With respect to derived work from cdrtools, the FSF is a Copyright 
violator as the FSF publishes vcdimager and as vcdimager claims that all code 
is under GPL but the Reed Solomon coder implementation in vcdimager is based on 
code that intentionally never has been published under GPL. You can check this
with the Author of the Code Heiko Eißfeldt.

> I personally spoke to Simon Phipps on this subject, and he feels that it
> may be possible to avoid the CDDL/GPL license compatibility concerns by
> using the Sun Studio toolchain rather than GCC. In discussing this
> possibility with Red Hat Legal, we disagree with Simon's assessments, so
> even if Fedora/Red Hat included the Sun Studio toolchain (we do not
> currently do so), we do not agree that its use resolves the licensing
> concerns here.

Let me asume that you do not _intentionally_ spread FUD....

.... you then at least confirm that you did miss everything that is important 
for our case. It should be obvious that you cannot use a different GPL 
interpretation depending on which project you are talking about. Iff redhat 
believes in the strange claims from Eduard Bloch, then it should be obvious 
that you would need to apply his claim to all software redhat distributes. 
This would make it impossible to distribute redhat and this would in addition
make the GPL a clearly non-free license. Note that the FSF insists that the 
GPL has to interpreted in a way that would make it compatible to the OSS 
definition at: http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

Using SunStudio to compile your code could help to avoid some of the problems 
you only have if you believe in the claims from Eduard Bloch as SunStudio may 
help to avoid having code from the GNU libc inside the binaries that have been 
created from GPLd sources, even in case of dynamic linking. In short, this 
assumption would force you to convert your master libc source to GPL and in 
return forbid you to distribute any X based GUI binaries.

If you don't understand this, ask your lawyers or read the GPL explanation from 
Lawrence Rosen at: http://www.rosenlaw.com/Rosen_Ch06.pdf

> IV) Some of the changes in "cdrkit" introduced Copyright law violations
> and even GPL violations.
> To date, you have never provided anyone with any evidence of specific
> examples of code in "cdrkit" which violates Copyright law or the terms
> of the GPL. In our previous private discussions, I repeatedly requested
> specific examples, but you were entirely unable or unwilling to present
> these. Therefore, I am forced to assume that they do not exist.

As mentioned before, the facts have been presented to the people who are 
responsible for the Copyright violation. I provided the information to the 
Debian BTS and some people at Debian preferred to hide the related bug entry 
instead of discussing it. These people reject to fix the legal problems they 
introduced and as the fork is full of bugs, it is not apropritate
to put any effort in the illegal fork. 

I am not willing to give the bug id to a public mailing list as the thread is 
full of personal insults. I am however willing to discuss things in private 

The easy fix for your problem is to start distributing the legal original 
software instead of the illegal fork. I am willing to discuss with you a path 
that leads within some time in the near future, to redhat distributing again 
the legal original software instead of the illegal fork.

> ****
> So, in summary, you have failed to raise any valid concerns about Red
> Hat/Fedora's inclusion of "cdrkit". In addition, the situation which
> prevents Red Hat/Fedora from including "cdrtools" remains unchanged.

In Summary, you did not ask a real informed lawyer.

If you don't like to be seen as a OSS hostile person, you should stop spreading 
FUD on the original software and if you really believe that there is a problem
I would of course be happy to discuss your arguments. Up to now, you 
unfortunately did not send any new arguments, the old ones have already been 

You currently really have a legal problem that you need to fix. I recommend you 
to do this in a gentlemen like way - so please present facts if you see things 
different to me.

In my opinion, in the opinion of my lawyer and in the opinion of the Sun legal 
department there is no need to dual license cdrtools as there is no legal problem 
in cdrtools.

Note that the copyright violation in the fork was introduced by Germans in 
Germany on code that was written by Germans in Germany. You are distributing 
cdrkit in Germany so it is obvious that you need to read the German Copyright 
law at: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/urhg/index.html

As mentioned several times already, I recommend you to consult a lawyer in 
order to get help to understand your situation.

I am OSS oriented, so I am interested in fostering OSS against attacks and I 
hope that you finally are OSS oriented too.

Best regards


 EMail:joerg at schily.isdn.cs.tu-berlin.de (home) Jörg Schilling D-13353 Berlin
       js at cs.tu-berlin.de                (uni)  
       joerg.schilling at fokus.fraunhofer.de (work) Blog: http://schily.blogspot.com/
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