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

Joe Wreschnig wrote:
> 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.

I would argue that while the new Social Contract makes it unambiguously
clear that the DFSG applies to non-programs (such as documentation,
etc), both the old and new Social Contracts clearly apply to "software".
 While it has been disputed that non-programs such as documentation are
software, firmware seems to be a program and therefore software, which
is covered under both Socal Contracts.

> 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.

Agreed.  For what it's worth, I also believe that cases 3 and 4 are
copyright infringement.

- Josh Triplett

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