VMware Sued Over Unlicensed Use of Linux Kernel Code



  • In Germany, a Linux kernel author and the Software Freedom Conservancy have sued hypervisor giant VMware over allegations that VMware has used copyrighted and GPL licensed Linux code belonging to Christoph Hellwig without securing a proper license nor meeting its obligations under the GPL (Gnu Public License v2.) This is an extremely serious lawsuit as the players involved are very large and the codebase in question is very valuable. In question is the VMware vmkernel, the company's likely most valuable technological asset. VMware asserts that it has done nothing wrong.

    Under the terms of the GPL, if GPL code has been used in another product, that other product is, in turn, automatically licensed under the GPL. That means that VMware faces the potential scenario where the vmkernel, and therefore the majority of ESXi itself, is GPL'd making it open and free to the world and no longer under VMware's control. Linux, KVM and Xen, for example, would have unfettered access to use the code and merge projects.

    The question will likely come down to whether or not the two parties can provide that code truly was or was not misappropriated. It is a common statement made about VMware that they have used Linux code in their products, but that claim is based on the misconception that the shell used on ESXi, which has no relationship to Linux, is Linux and therefore ESXi is Linux. That misconception is nothing more than that and is completely unrelated to this question of whether or not VMware has accidentally or intentionally used copyrighted, GPL'd code in their products.



  • Woah! What happened to we make our own from scratch kernel



  • Maybe they do. They've only been sued, not found guilty or liable or whatever. Could be that they are totally innocent and wrongfully accused. Although the developer must feel that he has a really compelling case to take on someone like VMware. That is not a trivial suit.



  • Oh, well this, potentially, could change the IT World as we know it.
    This will be a long, drawn out case.



  • So whatever came of this? This just silently went away. I'm guessing that it was like thrown out or something. It seemed like a ridiculous claim at the time.



  • @scottalanmiller said in VMware Sued Over Unlicensed Use of Linux Kernel Code:

    So whatever came of this? This just silently went away. I'm guessing that it was like thrown out or something. It seemed like a ridiculous claim at the time.

    http://laforge.gnumonks.org/blog/20160225-vmware-gpl/



  • Wow, so that sounds like VMware have openly admitted to software theft, but are safe as only one contributor rather than the Linux project itself is suing them. Basically they are trying to get away with theft based on the complexities of the German courts requiring every programmer to sue individually so that theft of a "whole" is permissible as long as the "parts" are small. Basically robbing a grocery store would be okay as long as all of the stuff stolen was not significant from any one vendor 😞



  • @scottalanmiller said in VMware Sued Over Unlicensed Use of Linux Kernel Code:

    Wow, so that sounds like VMware have openly admitted to software theft, but are safe as only one contributor rather than the Linux project itself is suing them. Basically they are trying to get away with theft based on the complexities of the German courts requiring every programmer to sue individually so that theft of a "whole" is permissible as long as the "parts" are small. Basically robbing a grocery store would be okay as long as all of the stuff stolen was not significant from any one vendor 😞

    It looks a little bit like that. Anyway, we don't have anything like your fines and settlement deals here.



  • @thwr said in VMware Sued Over Unlicensed Use of Linux Kernel Code:

    It looks a little bit like that. Anyway, we don't have anything like your fines and settlement deals here.

    VMware seems pretty unconcerned about having used Linux code and violating the GPL in Germany, though.



  • https://opensource.com/law/16/8/gpl-enforcement-action-hellwig-v-vmware

    A decision in the GPL enforcement case in Germany between Christoph Hellwig (supported by the Software Freedom Conservancy) and VMware recently became public. The court dismissed the case after concluding that Hellwig failed to identify in the VMware product the specific lines of code for which he owned copyright. The GPL interpretation question was not addressed. Hellwig has indicated that he will appeal the court’s decision.

    The case has attracted particular attention because the allegations involve interpretation of the scope of the copyleft feature of the GPL. This differs from prior GPL enforcement cases, which have involved relatively straightforward failures to meet the license requirements, such as failure to provide source code for software that was clearly licensed under the GPL......


  • Banned

    @scottalanmiller said in VMware Sued Over Unlicensed Use of Linux Kernel Code:

    @thwr said in VMware Sued Over Unlicensed Use of Linux Kernel Code:

    It looks a little bit like that. Anyway, we don't have anything like your fines and settlement deals here.

    VMware seems pretty unconcerned about having used Linux code and violating the GPL in Germany, though.

    Too big to care.