[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: kernel driver module with proprietary closed source piece.

On Wed, Nov 06, 2002 at 09:12:59PM +0000, Edmund GRIMLEY EVANS wrote:
> Sven Luther <luther@dpt-info.u-strasbg.fr>:
> > > I think there is general consensus that splitting stuff into separate
> > > components, distributed separately, is not a valid way of bypassing
> > > the GPL. If you distribute stuff whose only plausible purpose is to
> > 
> > Well, if it is separated and there is a public api that the proprietary
> > part uses, then i guess everyone could write their own free replacement,
> > could they not ? it is just that nobody has done so yet.
> I'm not sure whether that would be enough if the GPL part is no good
> on its own and there is only one piece of software in existence that
> can connect throught the API and that software is not GPL-compatible.
> Perhaps you would get away with it if you carefully told people that
> they should definitely not use the GPL-incompatible code and that you
> are only releasing the stuff in order to encourage people to complete
> the program by implementing the missing bit, but this sounds like the
> sort of question you could consult a very expensive lawyer about and
> still not get a straight answer.

Well, but who will sue me ? Bewan who did write the driver code and are
releasing it under the GPL ? I sincerly doubt they will ever do it.

On the other hand, there are the people who are contributing code to the
linux kernel, but they already accept the nvidia closed source drivers.

> > Also, if the proprietary part was separated, then i guess the it would
> > be easier for the GPLed part to go into the kernel, and only ship the
> > userland part with the board or something such.
> You don't want that, becase the kernel would then depend on non-free
> code so Debian would have to put the kernel in contrib!

Why would it depend on non-free stuff ? If you don't want to use it, you
don't use it, it is not as if the kernel would not work without it, or
if i am forcing you at gun's point to use the driver.

> (However, I think Linus's edition of the kernel already contains some
> binary-only code that is loaded into periferals, so the kernel should
> already be in non-free, so maybe the usual rules don't apply to the
> kernel ...)

Sure, there was even some discution about loading non-free firmware into
the kernel, i heard mention of it, but could never find what was trully
going on about this. Not that i had much time for searching though.

> > > The distribution of GPL-incompatible kernel modules is possible
> > > because modules that communicate via the standard module interface are
> > > not considered to be part of the kernel, I think.
> > 
> > Erm, so it would be ok for Bewan to distribute the free part under the
> > GPL together with the proprietary part ? I think they still need an
> > exception or something such.
> I think they still need an exception if Debian is to distribute
> binaries. If Debian is to distribute only a source package, as someone
> has already suggested, then any licence that permits redistribution is
> enough, I think, and it would go into non-free.

Erm, ...

I am not subscribed to debian-legal, maybe i missed some part of the
responses, will be looking. That said, i already only distribute a
source package (except for the proprietary part, where i only ship a
prebuilt .o).

> > Would a BSD style licence be better in this case ?
> I think it would be, because it would allow distribution of a binary
> module (in non-free).
> To summarise, as I see it, this stuff cannot go into main as it
> depends on the non-free stuff. You could split off the free bit into

Ok, i am very much aware of that, no problem.

> contrib, but there's not much benefit; you might as well leave it all
> in non-free for simplicity. Having the bits that are free available
> under a GPL-compatible licence is a definite advantage, as people can
> fix bugs and borrow code for writing other drivers, but having any
> part available only under the GPL is not so good as it would prevent
> the distribution of binaries. Writing GPL exceptions is a pain, so a
> BSD-style licence might be best. Comments?

Ok, will go read the rest of the thread.


Sven Luther

Reply to: