Originally Posted by altruizine
Thanks for your comments, rkomar!
IANAL, but according to my understanding of the GPL, if it were true that the missing kernel module is a Linux-derivative work (according to the definition I cited) and therefore falls under the GPL, and moreover if Sony were prohibited from distributing its source code, then Sony could not distribute the module at all (not even in binary form).
I'd love to get a clarification from Sony. Can you suggest a good avenue for having that discussion with Sony?
Unfortunately, the most useful folks in such a discussion are likely in Japan. So you will be dealing with a language barrier, and the service folks for the US won't have a clue as to what you are trying to do. If you can get them to reach out to the engineering department, it might help get something started. Something this complicated will likely wind up including engineers, lawyers, and a few other folks.
And I will note that while Linus may interpret the GPL one way, lawyers and judges may interpret it slightly differently if this went to court. While Linus' interpretation is important from a "I want to do right by the original creator" point of view, it is utterly irrelevant from a legal point of view, unless it is in the license.
If those extensions are indeed in a modified kernel, then that's sloppy on their part either way. The smart thing to do, if the kernel did indeed need to be modified, would have been to extend/modify existing interfaces in a way that it was useful on its own. Then plug the proprietary driver blob they get from eInk into that. This smacks of being lazy, and getting a company lawyer to sign off on it.