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Re: The bigger issue is badly licensed blobs (was Re: Firmware poll

Goswin von Brederlow wrote:

> md@Linux.IT (Marco d'Itri) writes:
>> On Aug 31, Nathanael Nerode <neroden@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>> Marco trolled again.  FYI, no serious person disagrees with this
>>> interpretation.
>> Except every other distribution, which usually retain real lawyers
>> to advise them about potential problems like this instead of relying
>> on mailing lists posts.
>> It's pathetic that you dismiss dissenting opinions as "trolling".
>> --
>> ciao,
>> Marco
> Every other distribution does not concern itself with the question
> wether it is legal to distribute this. They are only concerned with
> "Will anybody sue us?" and "Do we loose more profit by risking a
> lawsuite or by dropping support?".
> MfG
>         Goswin

And we all agree that it is very unlikely that anyone will sue us if we
distribute these firmware blobs.  I did specify that, didn't I?

Now, "Is anyone likely to sue us?" *is* the standard Debian generally uses
for patents.  I presume this is because most software patents are in fact 
issued illegally at this point (in the US see the statutes and pre-Federal 
Circuit caselaw, in the EU see the European Copyright Convention and non-EPO 
caselaw), and DDs generally consider these illegitimate and unworthy of 

If we use the "Is anyone likely to sue us?" standard, then definitely these 
mislicensed lumps should be distributed.

However, traditionally Debian has used a higher standard for copyright. 
(Perhaps because Debian developers generally respect copyright law and think 
it deserves better treatment than "can we get away with this"?  Perhaps for 
some other reason?)  The higher standard has been more like "If the 
copyright was bought up by EvilCorp and they sued us, would we probably win
anyway because we behaved impeccably?"  In the case of the
mislicensed lumps, we would probably *not* win; we would probably be 
enjoined from any further distribution at least.

Perhaps this is a mistake and Debian should use the "Is anyone likely to sue 
us?" standard for copyrights as well.  Discussion is welcome.  Perhaps 
discussion will clarify why the different standards are used.

Discussion on debian-legal please.

Nathanael Nerode  <neroden@fastmail.fm>

Bush admitted to violating FISA and said he was proud of it.
So why isn't he in prison yet?...

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