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Re: Firmware files - GPL compliant?

> I am going to package the DVB driver for Siemens-based cards.
> Unfortunately, this cards does not have a ROM onboard so the firmware
> must be loaded using the driver.
> The company which created the firmware has released their Linux drivers
> under the GPL and included the binary firmware files in the package.
> During the build, the a hexdump of the binaries is stored in a structure
> and compiled into the the driver.
> But how does this comply with the GPL? As far as I can see, the kernel
> guys have been doing this for a while (see below) and the kernel is
> still GPLed.

This was a point of some contention a few months ago.  Look at the
discussions in April on debian-legal under

  Copyright infringement in linux/drivers/usb/serial/keyspan*fw.h


  Keyspan Firmware fun

I believe that the consensus for that case was that it wasn't allowed,
but that license was particularly egregious.  I don't know about the
other cases you listed.  For the license here

> The files Root and Dpram are distributed with the source package. Even if
> they contain binary code, it cannot be executed as part of any other GPLed
> code. GPL covers these files as prepared data accompanying the GPL program.
> Their content is to be treated as source code. You may use, distribute and
> modify it UNDER THE TERMS OF GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE. Contact 'convergence
> integrated media GmbH' <http://www.convergence.de> for any further questions
> about the creation of these files.

the phrase "it cannot be executed as part of any other GPLed code"
certainly makes it GPL incompatible.  This means we can't distribute
an executable, since the other parts of the code are GPL'd.  The
license is actually contradictory.

There is also the question about whether the firmware is in the
"preferred form for modification", as required by the GPL.  You may
want to contact the copyright holders to ask what is their preferred

Walter Landry

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