Re: How long is it acceptable to leave *undistributable* files in the kernel package?
Andrew Suffield writes:
> The compiled kernel is almost certainly a derivative of the firmware
> included in it. A good lawyer might be able to get you out of
> this. Debian can *not* afford to assume that it would win such a case,
> not least because of a lack of funding for good lawyers.
Anyone who wanted to go after Debian would have a hard time of it:
They would have to prove not only that the combined kernel is a
derived work, but also that there were no binary blobs in the kernel
when they started contributing and that they still have standing to
make a claim. Estoppel would bar a claim if the plaintiff first
contributed code to a kernel that already had binary blob components.
A merely decent lawyer may be able to invoke laches depending on how
long an author was silent after the first binary blob was added to the
kernel, but merely decent lawyers are not much cheaper than good
By way of example, the DGRS driver firmware was added to Linux
sometime before linux-2.0 was released in June 1996. It stayed more
than seven years. That kind of delay in discovering alleged rights
reminds me more of a certain Lindon, Utah-based company than of
serious developers, and smacks of revisionist history.