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Re: please release sarge instead of removing binary firmware

[-release dropped]

On Wed, Apr 14, 2004 at 01:57:22PM -0400, Sam Hartman wrote:
> >>>>> "Anthony" == Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> writes:
>     Anthony> So, there's two issues here. One is that binary firmware
>     Anthony> is non-free as it doesn't include source. The other is
>     Anthony> that it's GPL incompatible, for the same reasonable. The
>     Anthony> first one's not a major issue for the time being,
>     Anthony> blatting firmware to devices isn't as big a deal as
>     Anthony> non-free libc documentation, so it's unlikely we'll worry
>     Anthony> about it 'til the documentation issue's dealt with.
> So it would be reasonable to avoid removing firmware in cases where we
> believe there is not a GPL issue for sarge to give us time to load it
> from userspace in the future?

Possible, yes. Not necessarily desirable though. Basically, you should
expect that the firmware will get kicked into non-free eventually,
and work out how to deal with that; moving the firmware into a separate
file is likely the easiest way to ensure you can split the package into a
non-free component for the firmware, and a main or contrib component for
the rest (depending on how necessary the firmware is for your software).

AFAIK, all the firmware stuff we're worried about is used in loadable
modules, which are almost always covered by the GPL (in this case the
Linux kernel's license, as derivative works). 

Linus has expounded on this at some length, apparently after receiving
legal advice, and the analysis is basically that unless you can
demonstrate that the drivers were developed without looking at the Linux
source code and APIs at all, the presumption is that modules are derived
works. Again, I'm happy to be given different advice by someone with the
apporpriate qualifications to analyse the GPL, but for the time being
that's what we're working with.

Note that for stuff that's not a module/driver, there shouldn't be
any problem separating the firmware out -- it's in userspace already
by definition.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
Don't assume I speak for anyone but myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

Protect Open Source in Australia from over-reaching changes to IP law
http://www.petitiononline.com/auftaip/ & http://www.linux.org.au/fta/

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