Re: LCC and blobs
On Thu, Dec 16, 2004 at 02:23:54PM +0100, Martin Waitz wrote:
> I have a PCMCIA card that lost its flash memory.
> So suddenly its driver became non-free?
Only if all such cards have lost their flash memory, which is improbable.
As long as some cards exist with a working flash, the driver is useful
without having to lug along non-free firmware.
(There's a corner case: hardware which always ships with a firmware
which does not work with the driver, and can be flashed by the user
with firmware that does. This doesn't seem any less a dependency than
when the driver itself has to load it; the only people the driver
works for is those who have already manually installed the non-free
data. I havn't thought too much about this case.)
> What about all those drivers for hardware that I don't own?
> They don't work for me, yet I won't flag them as non-free.
The question is whether it works for somebody, not whether it works
> Sending firmware to the device is not that different to sending some
> magic initialization commands. Firmware should be treated as exactly
> that: magic initialization data for the device.
"Magic initialization commands" are probably not copyrightable, so they're
free; they're part of the driver, and cause no problems for anyone.
Firmware is (generally) copyrightable, and the license on the firmware
affects the usability of the device and its driver to users.
 there are some corner cases (of what seems to me to be copyright abuse),
eg. in the AIM client case, but that's a very different scenario and
should be treated independently.