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Re: DFSG violations: non-free but no contrib

Robert Collins wrote:
> I wish I understood the reasoning here - putting aside the fact that
> most of the software in Debian is under a copyleft licence and so we
> *must* provide the source. Why is the source for the radio on my wifi
> card any *less* critical than the source for the driver for my wifi
> card?

One potential reason is that in most jurisdictions you are legally *not
allowed* to use custom wifi firmware. Consider that most wifi systems
are software radios and that the software is entirely capable of
exceeding all regulators' transmissions strength limits or subverting
the carefully tuned frequency-hopping algorithms, etc. And of course,
it's the *hardware vendors* who'll be liable if someone does subvert
their wifi card to do this --- they'll be violating their FCC (or other)
license --- so there'll be pretty hefty signature validation to ensure
that only official firmware can be used.

So having the source doesn't actually gain you anything --- you would
neither be able nor allowed to do anything with it, apart from printing
it on T-shirts.

(Incidentally, this is one reason why mobile phone handset vendors are
so paranoid about reflashing phones. A phone with a maliciously
programmed GSM stack would turn into a rather efficient cellphone jammer.)

David Given

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