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Re: How aggressively should non-distributability bugs be dealt with?

On Tue, 2004-06-15 at 13:21, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> I ask because of #242895.  In the Linux kernel, drivers/usb/misc/emi26_fw.h
> has a specific proprietary rights statement which does not give permission
> to distribute.  The previous kernel maintainer merged it with other bugs
> (IMO incorrectly) and proceeded to ignore it for at least four uploads.  The
> new kernel uploaders appear to be ignoring it as well.
> Personally, I would think that anything which exposes Debian to lawsuits for
> wilful copyright infrignement should be removed as soon as humanly possible.
> However, I'm not willing to do the necessary badgering of the kernel
> maintainers alone this week, so I'm asking what other people think, and if
> anyone else (perhaps a DD) would like to take point on this.

I have been responding to people on -kernel and -devel about this, but I
don't know enough about kernel programming to actually help replace the
drivers, which would go a long way to convincing people. I also don't
think replacements are necessary (nor should we wait for them if they
will take a long time), because IMO Debian is very clearly infringing
upon copyright here (the copyright of the owners of undistributable
firmware on one hand, and the copyright of people who submitted code to
the Linux kernel under the terms of the GNU GPL on the other).

Notable relevant URLs are
http://seclists.org/lists/linux-kernel/2003/May/2077.html where Adam
Richter (whose company holds some copyrights on kernel code) says he
does believe proprietary firmware infringes upon those copyrights; and
http://lists.debian.org/debian-kernel/2004/06/msg00064.html where AJ
straightforwardly says that currently these firmwares need to be
removed; and even after the results of the GR (if it ever actually gets
to a vote...) it will *still* need to be separated from the kernel,
because a GR can only suspend the DFSG, not copyright law. Though,
neither of these should come as as surprise to -legal regulars.

The FSF also holds some Linux kernel copyrights, and from what I've read
they share Adam's interpretation. So, that's at least two copyright
holders who believe we're violating their license. I'm also not in favor
of this tacit "assume we aren't violating the intent of the license when
we're clearly violating the letter of it, unless we find out otherwise"
precedent that's being set by this; we didn't accept it for KDE, so why
is it okay for the kernel?
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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