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VMware survives GPL breach case, but plaintiff promises appeal

bazza Silver badge

Define "BSD-inspired code" ... very loose term.

Use of some one else's source code to tell one how a device should be driven, rather than plough through some boring over long data sheet or standards document to learn the same information. Of course I'm not suggesting that Hellwig or VMWARE have done that here.

And regardless of that possibility, if both Hellwig and VMWARE based their code on reading the SCSI standards then it's not entirely impossible for the two code bases to end up looking similar, guided as they are by the SCSI standards itself. That's the thing about standards, they are the result of someone else already having done a lot of the thinking on behalf of the software implementer.

I think there'd be something to learn from the SCF repeating their analysis, but for VMWARE's code vs, say, FreeBSD's SCSI code (they did whole kernel vs whole kernel, not just the SCSI code) to see what similarity scores that generates. If they're wildly different then it's possible Hellwig has a point (though as I say above there's still plenty of scope for common solutions arising from separate readings of the SCSI standard). If they're not so different to the scores for VMWARE vs Linux, then Hellwig definitely does not have a point.

We are talking code-lifting here, as in, I copy 1000 lines of code, change a few variable names, change indentation, and claim the lot is my brain-child.

By the SCF's own analysis that's not what's happened here. There's some similarity between some of the functions related to SCSI, whilst others are very different, judging from their stated "ratio of similarity". Not that they're saying what 99% or 14% means: I notice that the SCF haven't put up the two pieces of code side by side for all to see.

At the time, there were copyright disputes for the BSD flavor of UNIX, so they could not lift the code.

By the time FreeBSD came along it was already almost entirely free from AT&T code, most of the work having been done in 1989/1990.

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