Did Microsoft Violate the GPL and Were They Forced To Make Linux Hyper-V Drivers GPL?

There may be more to Microsoft contributing the Hyper-V drivers to Linux than we first thought.

If what ComputerWorld is reporting and this blog post is saying, Microsoft may have effectively GPL'd the Linux Hyper-V drivers, whether intentional or not. If you link your code to GPL licensed code, your code is then considered to fall under the GPL license also, provided you distribute the combined code to any third parties. It looks like that could have happened in this case.If this situation occurred by an accident, then Microsoft did the right thing by releasing their code under the GPL license. The situation described in the blog post says that someone at Vyatta googled and found the drivers, downloaded them (that's a clear case of the code being "distributed"), and discovered the linked code. One way to tell if Microsoft intentionally comingled their driver code with GPL licensed code would be to see if Microsoft included or claimed their code under a different license in the download or web page. If only the GPL license was distributed with the drivers, then Microsoft would have been following the GPL process -- You don't have to formally or publically declare code to be under the GPL, you just distributed your code with the GPL license and other GPL'd code.It's possibly this situation slipped through the cracks and Microsoft didn't intend to link their code with GPL licensed code, or didn't intend to distribute the comingle code outside of Microsoft (doesn't seem very likely in this case), but I've got to believe that Microsoft has a pretty strict and effective process for examining licensing requirements for any 3rd party code used in Microsoft's software products. I've had GPL and licensing review processes in development organizations I've managed, and that was done with only a tiny fraction of the resources Microsoft has to make sure their software is in compliance with licensing requirements and that third party code doesn't sneak in.Link code to GPL'd code is very clear way of making your code also fall under the GPL license. It would have to be a pretty big foul up for this to, 1) happen, and 2) the code be distributed outside Microsoft. Unless there was a separate Microsoft included with the code, it very likely Microsoft intended to license their code under the GPL, and all of this is more smoke than fire. It looks like Microsoft is planning to make a response to the blogger's claims so we'll know more probably in a few days or the coming weeks.

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