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Re: more evil firmwares found

 --- Chris Cheney <ccheney@cheney.cx> wrote: 
> Wasn't the issue that binary firmware under a GPL type license isn't
> distributable at all? :)

One of the views expressed was that if there is a program provided to
Debian in binary form (supposedly) under the GPL then that program is
not distributable because the GPL permits distribution only along with
source and Debian doesn't have source in that case.  An answer to this
was that companies that "GPL" binaries seemingly intend to allow free
distribution of the binary; so such binaries can seemingly be
distributed in non-free. (There were other answers, of course.)

When binary peripheral software is integrated into Linux then there is
an additional restriction on distribution, namely, the license on Linux.
If the binaries are integrated into the kernel then this creates a work
derived from Linux.  The derived work can only be distributed along with
complete source code, says the Linux license.  Debian doesn't have
complete source code and so can't distribute the derived work.  An answer
to this view might be similar to that above: the authors of Linux don't
seem to object to distribution of Linux kernels with embedded binary
peripheral software.  (I haven't heard any such objections, anyway.)
If it has tacit permission to combine and distribute, Debian isn't doing
anything wrong by doing so.  Of course, according to DFSG2 such works
still have to be relegated to non-free.

In both cases it would be best if Debian could get explicit permission
to distribute from the copyright holders.

In the meantime there is a question about what to do about these
binary blobs.  Herbert Xu has proposed removing them from the kernel
as they are reported.  Macro d'Itri wants equal treatment and so has
begun reporting other drivers that contain binary blobs.

I think that the best plan is to leave all that binary peripheral
software where it is until a complete list is compiled; then it can
be removed all at once unless Debian decides that binary blobs in
drivers are going to be exempted from the DFSG.
Thomas Hood

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