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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.

 - Ted

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 comments?".

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. :-)



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