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Re: non-free firmware in the linux kernel

On Tue, Jan 10, 2006 at 10:00:53AM -0500, Kyle McMartin wrote:
> > >   3) an effort seems to be happening inside the upstream kernel to use the
> > >   request_firmware infrastructure which allows to load firmware code from
> > >   userland through an hotplug mechanism. There seem to be more and more
> > >   drivers going this way, since there aare more in current git than in 2.6.15
> > >   which was released a week ago, qla2xxx being among them.
> > 
> > And this seems like a good thing; for starters it makes it easier to test
> > different firmware versions without having to do irrelevant recompiles of
> > kernel code.
> > 
> The question is: when you remove the firmware from the driver, and all
> it is, is a file sitting in /lib/firmware/; and it's contents are just
> non-executable hex, with no C-code structure, is it just a BSD-licensed 
> (in the qla2xxx case) data file, or is it still regarded as a piece of code.

Kyle, i think you know the answer of this one, or you would not have asked. It
is irrelevant the form the code takes, or any legal hoops you may try to take
around this, code remains code.

> This, to me, is no different from a BSD licensed JPEG.

Well, except, as Bill pointed out, it is no BSD licence at all :)

> I would argue it's the former. I can see the argument when it's a part of
> the source code, but not when it's a completely seperate entity.

So just because you but a cat in a box, it is no more a cat ? 

> Of course, firmwares where the license has not been clarified by
> the copyright holder/IP owner would still be a problem; or where
> something is clearly unredistributable (ie: Intel IPW firmwares.)

Indeed ? 


Sven Luther

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