Recently, Somebody Somewhere wrote these words
> On Tue, Feb 07, 2006 at 08:38:33PM +0000 or so it is rumoured
> hereabouts, Declan Moriarty thought:
> > 3. patent the interface software (much like the gif
> > patent), and demand royalties or set license conditions,
> > and close the whole thing down.
>> for which they grant a worldwide royalty-free license if they're
> using GPL v.3 code...
>I evidently explained myself poorly.
They could hide as much gpl code as they chose inside the fpga,
and nobody could ever find it! They can then construct a narrow
set of commands (much like the numbers on your telephone) to
interface with the GPL DRM code; Then patent the _interface_ and
they will have pirated the gpl protected software, short circuited
any protective license, and the part of their code explained in
the patent need only be the interface to their cpu, from which
they would profit. It's the perfect crime. They could insist that
all code is proprietary, and who could argue when you hadn't seen
it? Fpga, incidentally stands for Field Programmable Gate Array.
Like PALs, you buy them blank and program them to be anything you
want. Unlike Eproms, they can not be read.
The only way such a manouvre could be found out is if a worker
released full details of their fpga design. Even in that case,
they only become liable for loss of profits and minor punitive
costs. Loss of profits to the gpl would be zero, as the gpl
ensures free code.
The size of today's fpgas allows significant numbers of chips to
be fabricated into one major block. There is no hardwrare or
software technique to detect what is in a compiled fpga.
Microsoft's X box could, for example, be running on linux and none
of us would be any wiser. It's just big black chips.
With best Regards,
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