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Re: How long is it acceptable to leave *undistributable* files in the kernel package?

[Moving to -kernel and -legal instead of -kernel and -devel.]

On Wed, 2004-06-16 at 12:56, Humberto Massa wrote:
> @ 16/06/2004 14:31 : wrote Joe Wreschnig :
> >  On Wed, 2004-06-16 at 09:41, Matthew Wilcox wrote:
> >
> > > On Tue, Jun 15, 2004 at 09:01:52PM -0500, Joe Wreschnig wrote:
> > >
> > >> At best that solves a third of the problem.
> > >
> > > It solves the problem at hand -- that Debian has no permission to
> > > distribute the file. You can now go back to wanking about firmware
> > > all you like. I shan't bother with that.
> >
> >
> >  Debian now has permission to distribute the firmware. But in the
> >  process, it has lost permission to distribute other parts of the
> >  kernel.
> No, no, and no.
> Firmware with _any_ distributable license + kernel (GPL) = distributable 
> even if non-free.
> Firmware and Kernel are agregating only, not derived works. They don't 
> link together; firmware is not a derived work of the kernel nor 
> /vice-versa/.

Kernel copyright holders think otherwise, as do many other people.

When you compile a kernel, the firmware is included in it. When you
distribute that compiled binary, you're distributing a work derived from
the kernel and the firmware. This is not a claim that the firmware is a
derivative of the Linux kernel, or vice versa. Rather, the compiled
binary is a derivative of both.

For someone to claim that data compiled into a program but not executed
is "mere aggregation" is nonsense. Is a program that prints the source
code to GNU ls (stored as a string constant in the program, not an
external file) a derivative of GNU ls? Of course it is. This is
*exactly* analogous to the situation with firmware.

(I agree that there is another problem, that this does not meet the SC.
But Debian can suspend the SC to speed a release, and several GRs are in
the process of doing that. Debian cannot suspend copyright law, and this
is a much more serious issue.)
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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