Open Source Question - Joseph Irvine
Posted on 2011-10-10
I donwloaded a major SDK that is open source for a project I am working on for embedded hardware. There are 100,000+ source files comprising these packages. It is all GPL.
I write software that includes code protected under patent. It is extraordinarily proprietary and its revealing could jeopardize our business. Some of this code, for example, deals with encryption and other technologies we can't afford to have broken.
I recognize the simplest option is to use no open-source code. However, much of the 100,000+ files are critical, and that is a lot of work to redo.
I am trying to get someone to better explain the GPL ramifications. I understand there are some issues with what constitutes derivative works. We will be making modifications and improvements to the existing GPL code which we are happy to share.
For the core "secret sauce" code, however, we would put it in separate source code files in isolation outside the purview of GPL. If we compile these as libraries or modules and simply include calls in the GPL to the libraries, would that work? I believe we would still want to refrain sharing the libraries, even though the source would no longer be available, we don't want a competitor to integrate them into a competing product.
I would appreciate any guidance on what is and isn't permissible, and how I can combine private code with GPL code while maintaining privacy on important code we have. We are happy to contribute general code to the GPL and redistribute it.