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It would be hard to argue the inverse hypothetical outcome, but I do think that licensing (GPLv2) had a significant role in where Linux is today. It is precisely because the license obligates the distributors to share the code that made the whole a better software and a more attractive platform to contribute to. In fact, most contributors, big and small, work with the upstream to streamline their contributions. Having to share the source has worked out well for both programmers (individuals, companies) and end users in the long run.

Stating that there are some number of cases of GPL violations that haven't been enforced or are in the gray area is not a logical base for the argument that the idea of having to share the source code should be abandoned. In fact, history shows otherwise - that Linux has had more success (as measured by uptake globally) than any other non-GPL open source kernel ecosystem.

Similarly, just because there may be people who can find loopholes in certain well-intended laws and regulations is not a good reason to abandon their intents. Instead, the questions should be - can we keep these intents and fix the loopholes or make the enforcement more straightforward? I think Google could, but maybe it's not in their immediate interests, one of which may be closer to - how do I upgrade the kernel without recompiling that other stuff.






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