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Re: Lost Trust

On Tue, 01 Jun 2004, Ed wrote:
> I thought .orig was suppose to be the upstream source untouched by
> Debian?

It typically is. However, in the case where there are portions of
upstream source which are not DFSG Free or which Debian is not able to
distribute legally, we remove them from the .orig.tar.gz so they can
be distributed in main or at all.
> So, is it Debian's position that the GPL license is not valid for
> this piece of work because we suspect the hex representation of the
> firmware patch is not "the preferred form of the work for making
> modifications to it."?

Not that the GPL is not valid, but that this work cannot be combined
with other works under the GPL. In fact, we're almost certain that the
hex representation is not the prefered form for modification. [Even if
this firmware is some sort of FPGA file, it still wouldn't be in a hex
format with commas separating the characters.]

> If so, this seems fraught with problems.  Has the Debian Developer
> taken it upon themselves to second guess an upstream copyright
> holder's ability to release code under GPL?

The copyright holder is more than welcome to release code onder
whatever license they wish. In this particular case, the code is being
incorporated with works copyrighted by other people, namely the linux
kernel. In order for Debian to legally distribute it, even in
non-free, we would need the permision of every single contributor to
the linux kernel.

> Thanks for all the feedback.  It is helping alittle, but this
> attitude (policy?) that the user comes second still scares me.

I[1] generally feel that the user is best served by Debian providing only
free software works for which the user and Debian's mirror operators
will not be sued by copyright holders for copyright infringement.

Beyond that, I feel that the user is best served by being provided
with works that they can modify freely and redistribute their
modifications. However, I won't knowingly inhibit the use of works
that don't meet Debian's strict guidelines with Debian, even though
Debian doesn't distribute those works itself.

Finally, I imagine that the situation with the tg3 driver was a legal
problem that was dealt with rapidly to protect our mirror operators
with an understanding that a more appropriate lasting solution would
be found and applied. The fact that it took (is taking?) so long might
be a bug in it's own right, but unfortunatly, these things happen.

Don Armstrong

1: I imagine that these sentiments, while not universal, are shared by
many people involved with Debian.
"It's not Hollywood. War is real, war is primarily not about defeat or
victory, it is about death. I've seen thousands and thousands of dead
bodies. Do you think I want to have an academic debate on this
 -- Robert Fisk


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