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

On Tue, 15 Jun 2004 14:21:08 -0400 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.

I will not enter in the discussion about the nature of those firmwares
as part of the Linux kernel (is the kernel a derivative work of these
firmwares and of the rest? a compilation or collective work?) as I don't
understand exactly how those firmwares *can* technically be part of the

Anyway, IIUC, this one is undistributable even as a separate work.
I mean: not (only?) because of license incompatibility, but by the very
nature of the license itself (it does not give permission to

This is serious, correct me if I'm wrong: Debian is distributing some
copyrighted thing without any permission to do so.
Even www.kernel.org is doing so, isn't it?
This is copyright law violation and it would be so even if Linux were
under the 2-clause BSD license.

I think that this situation should fixed ASAP.

IMHO the best solution would be to contact the firmware copyright holder
and persuade her to rilicense it under a GPL-compatible license (so that
every doubt would go away immediately).

A suboptimal solution is to remove the offending parts of the kernel (or
possibly replace them with GPL-compatible substitutes...) and suggest
upstream (kernel maintainers) to do the same thing with the official
Linux kernel.

> Personally, I would think that anything which exposes Debian to
> lawsuits for wilful copyright infrignement should be removed as soon
> as humanly possible.

I agree.
This situation should be dealt with quickly.

[1] I thought that firmware was a `microprogram' resident in the
hardware in order to implement some non-elementary operations by
exploiting elementary ones (that are performed directly by the hardware)
[I apologize for this gross definition]: so I don't quite understand how
a firmware can be shipped with an operating system kernel; I thought it
was shipped in the hardware (CPU, board, ...).
Perhaps someone knowledgeable will explain me (in private e-mail)...

             |  GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4 | You're compiling a program
  Francesco  |        Key fingerprint = | and, all of a sudden, boom!
     Poli    | C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12 |         -- from APT HOWTO,
             | 31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4 |             version 1.8.0

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