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

On Fri, 2004-06-18 at 13:00, William Lee Irwin III wrote:
> William Lee Irwin III writes:
> >> I'm getting a different story from every single person I talk to, so
> >> something resembling an authoritative answer would be very helpful.
> On Fri, Jun 18, 2004 at 01:55:34PM -0400, Michael Poole wrote:
> > For Debian's purposes, I believe that Joe's summary is correct: DFSG
> > requires that anything without source be removed.  As far as I know,
> > that covers all the firmware under discussion.  I don't have a list of
> > affected files/drivers.
> > I believe that chunks with licenses that appear GPL-incompatible are
> > being worked on upstream (Greg K-H made a posting to linux-kernel
> > earlier this week mentioning the particular case that spawned this
> > thread), so I hope his first set becomes empty.
> > The broader discussion is not whether Debian should remove binary
> > firmware, but whether the upstream kernel has to remove it too.
> Now can I get more than 1 person to agree on this? The trouble is not
> what the conclusion is, but rather, that everyone has their own personal
> conclusion they communicate to me, and none of them resemble each other.

I agree with Michael Poole insofar as this message. Here's an attempt at
an unbiased summary:

There are four classes of firmware:

1. Firmware which no one has any permission to distribute. These have to
go right away, or be relicensed. Thankfully, there are few of these, and
the kernel team seems to be willing to help pursue the relicensing.

2. Firmware which is released under GPL-compatible terms, with source.
Everyone loves these, they can stay (e.g. the Adaptec drivers), and we
encourage other manufacturers to do the same.

3. Firmware which is released under GPL-compatible terms but with no
source available.

4. Firmware which is released under GPL-incompatible terms with no
source available.

(There is potentially a fifth class, firmware released under
GPL-incompatible terms with source available. I don't believe anyone has
found such a beast yet.)

The debate is over 3) and 4). Specifically,

3a) What is firmware "source"?
3b) If the firmware has source, does the DFSG apply to it (i.e. do we
need it)? Unequivocally yes with the new DFSG, but some of the GRs (not
voted on yet) may revert sarge to the "old" DFSG, and the RM's
interpretation of that lets us release such firmware.
3c) If the firmware has source but the source is not available to us, is
it a GPL violation for us to distribute it?

4a) All the problems above, and,
4b) Is there some relationship between firmware and the rest of the
kernel that makes this amount to a GPL violation? This is related to,
but not the same as, the answer to 3c).

Current policy is that firmware types 1, 3, and 4 have to go. We cannot
change our policy such that 1 can stay; that is illegal. If 3) and 4)
are not copyright infringement (I and others believe they are, Michael
and others believe they are not, that is what this debate is about), we
*could* potentially suspend the SC/DFSG and release with them. I think
this is also a bad idea, but it's feasible. If 3) and 4) are copyright
infringement, then we must remove them as well.
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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