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Re: How long is it acceptable to leave *undistributable* files in the kernel package?

On Wed, 2004-06-16 at 18:48, Thiemo Seufer wrote:
> Joe Wreschnig wrote:
> [snip]
> > When you compile a kernel, the firmware is included in it. When you
> > distribute that compiled binary, you're distributing a work derived from
> > the kernel and the firmware. This is not a claim that the firmware is a
> > derivative of the Linux kernel, or vice versa. Rather, the compiled
> > binary is a derivative of both.
> > 
> > For someone to claim that data compiled into a program but not executed
> > is "mere aggregation" is nonsense. Is a program that prints the source
> > code to GNU ls (stored as a string constant in the program, not an
> > external file) a derivative of GNU ls? Of course it is. This is
> > *exactly* analogous to the situation with firmware.
> Could you please explain how exactly the derivation works in this case?
> And please bring forward some more convincing arguments than "this is
> nonsense", "this is obvious", or some broken analogy.

Step by step, tell me where you start to disagree:

If I write a program that contains the entire ls source code as one
large C string, and then prints it out, that is a derivative work of the
ls source.

If I write a program that contains the entire ls source code in a
similar manner and uploads it to a non-display device, it is still a
derivative of ls; the only thing that has changed is the device I am
printing to.

If I write a program that contains a nontrivially long, copyrightable C
string and uploads it to a non-display device, it is a derivative of
that copyrightable C string. This is a generalization of the last
statement to any copyrightable material. I suspect this is where you
will disagree with me, but I am curious why.

Firmware can be represented as a copyrightable C string, and the
firmware in question is. This is a fact.

That firmware is not released under the GPL. This is a fact.

But the rest of the program source (i.e. everything but the C string) is
licensed under the GPL. Although not all of Linux is, a lot is; this is
also a fact.

So the program is a whole is licensed partly under the GPL, and partly
under GPL-incompatible terms. This follows from the previous two.

Therefore, the program as a whole has an inconsistent license, and
Debian cannot legally distribute it. This follows from the previous
conclusion and copyright law.
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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