Re: non-free firmware in kernel modules, aggregation and unclear copyright notice.
Theodore Ts'o wrote:
You know, the fact that Red Hat, SuSE, Ubuntu, and pretty much all
other commercial distributions have not been worried about getting
sued for this alleged GPL'ed violation makes it a lot harder for me
(and others, I'm sure) take Debian's concerns seriously.
I said in other e-mail, and I will repeat: it's not their (Debian's)
fault. Their responsibility is greater. Why? Because when RedHat puts
something it shouldn't in their distro it's *their* assets that will
answer for some copyright violation damages. In Debian's case, it's the
assets of: some DDs, the mirror network, derived-distro distributors, CD
vendors, etc... This is just a case of Debian being "fiscally
responsible", i.e., not treating other people's money as trash.
The problem may be that because Debian is purely a non-profit, and so
it can't clearly balance the costs and benefits of trying trying to
avoid every single possible risks where someone might decide to file
a lawsuit. Anytime you do *anything* you risk the possibility of a
lawsuit, and if you allow the laywers to take over your business
decisions, the natural avoid-risks-all-costs bias of lawyers are such
that it will either drive a company out of business, or drive a
non-profit distribution into irrelevance.....
If Debian wants to be this fanatical, then let those Debian
developers who care do all of the work to make this happen, and stop
bothering LKML. And if it continues to remain the case that a user
will have to manually edit /etc/apt/sources.lists (using vi!) to
include a reference to non-free in order to install Debian on a
system that requires the tg3 device driver, then I will have to tell
users who ask me that they would be better off using some other
distribution which actually cares about their needs.
In this I agree with you, and Greg KH was singing approximately the same
tune, if I understood correctly: this is a matter to be resolved by
distributors and, if someone solves this in a practical and good way, it
will eventually end in the pristine-blessed-Linus-kernel-tree, to the
benefit of others.
But, the question made here was a subtler one and you are all biting
around the bush: there *are* some misrepresentations of licenses to the
firmware blobs in the kernel (-- ok, *if* you consider that hex dumps
are not source code). What Sven asked was: "Hey, can I state explicitly
the distribution state in the source files, by means of adding some
Maybe he should contact each file's maintainer individually, but it
seems (IMHO) that he thought "hey, they all hang around lkml anyway"...
I think even a clarification "this firmware hexdump is considered to be
the source code, and it's GPL'd" would do, but I must put my asbestos
suit everytime I say it. :-)