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Re: non-free firmware: driver in main or contrib?

Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> Marco, it seems to me that there's a parallel case to non-free
> firmware: dongleware.  Perhaps you could explain how this philosophy
> applies to that.  If a piece of software is distributed under the GPL,
> can I add functionality by putting it into firmware on a dongle and
> having GCC call that?

It would obviously be insane to consider that free, since you'd
obviously only be doing it in order to circumvent GPL requirements. On
the other hand, holding the same standards in driver-land would be
equally ridiculous - people use firmware because that's the way it's
always been, not because they're trying to screw us over.

There are drivers we ship that require you to have a specific version of
the firmware in eeprom. In at least one case, it's not possible to
provide this without the user returning the card so that extra flash can
be attached. Would you class this as dongleware or acceptable behaviour?

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.legal@srcf.ucam.org

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