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

On Fri, 2004-06-18 at 19:39, Michael Poole wrote: 
> Raul Miller writes:
> > Because the linux kernel does not represent mere aggregation of one part
> > of the kernel with some other part on some storage volume.
> >
> > It's not a coincidence that the parts of the kernel are there together.
> The usual contention is that having some helper function load the
> firmware is sufficient to resolve the concern.  That suggests to me
> that the parts being together -- at least in that case -- is a matter
> of convenience, not of necessity.  That is what I would use to test
> for "mere aggregation" (when one is not a derivative work of the
> other).

In such discussions it is often useful to go back to the actual basis of
the text in question. The "mere aggregation" statement in the GPL is:

"In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program
with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a
storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the
scope of this License."

The "mere aggregation" is specified here as being on a volume of a
storage or distribution medium. It seems to me that the intended scope
of the exception is to allow one to give a tape or CD to others and
fully utilise the space on the medium by also putting other stuff on the
same medium.
This surely includes putting several works on the same medium because
they complement each other (like, say, a distribuiton like Debian).

The question is if the Linux kernel itself can be interpreted as being a
"storage or distribution medium". Storage or distribution of binary
blobs is at least not the primary purpose of the Linux kernel as it
would be much easier to just store or distribute them on tape.
Also, the Linux kernel is, unlike a tape or a CD, not really suitable
for storing or distributing binary blobs as it is (in that sense)
intangible and needs to be attached to a medium to be stored or

In my opinion it takes some serious word-bending to apply the "mere
aggregation" clause to things contained in the Linux kernel.


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