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Re: Binary-only firmware covered by the GPL?


The GPL does not talk about the code to create things, but code to
_modify_ things. If you never have to modify the firmware file, where is
the point?

And if I feel like I _want_ to modify it? Then I should be entitled
to the preferred form to make modifications to it as is my right
under the GPL, regardless of if I a) want to b) have a need to
c) give a rat's ass about what the firmware does or does not do.
A binary blob is extremely seldom the preferred form to make
modifications to, even though some such cases do or might exist.

Same with WAV and PNG files distributed with many GPL packages. It is
widely accepted method to distribute files that do not need modification
without their "source" (whatever source is used to create them).

A WAV file can altered easily using any sound program that will in fact
produce an output that would "work" as would the same apply to a PNG
file. If the result would be pretty or not is a different question
of course :)

To draw a parallel between a WAV or PNG file (a well-known standard)
to a firmware for a specific card (a closed standard) is thin.

Even though I can modify a PNG or WAV file using a hex editor it
is _NOT_ preferred form, and neither is modifying the firmware
using a hex editor, neither to me nor to the people doing the cards.

You do know that certain TV cards (using the ivtv driver) lack a rom
and needs a firmware initialized during startup just like this example.

Why am I taking this up ? Well they have specifically stated that the
firmware _may not be used without the windows driver_ even though
others have written a fully working driver that _only_ needs the
firmware from the windows driver to function under linux.

Write a firmware loader that extracts it from the Windows DLLs. Such
things happened in the past and work AFAIK quite good.

Yes, but the legality of it is questionable.

Surprised? If they put the firmware on the card (rom/flash/eeprom)


this wouldn't have happened but it did.
How exactly do you believe this makes anything more flexible for me
as an end user when it is not LEGAL for me to use the card with
linux due to the firmware issue.

Imagine, there is a bug in the firmware. Normaly, you would have to boot
windows or DOS to run a flash tool to install it into the device. Here
you just replace the DLL.

You mean get a new DLL and decompile it or otherwise gain access
to said firmware.

Yes, some claim there IS a loophole in that the end user MAY extract
the firmware from the windows driver himself and use it together
with the (open) linux driver but IANAL. Ie use but not redistribute.

The user gets the driver CD when he buys the hardware.

Some countries might call it illegal to use the contents to other
uses than  issued but a country like germany for instance would
I believe invalidate the license since it was not accepted before
purchase, so the whole thing is very iffy. Again, IANAL.

// Stefan

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