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Re: non-free firmware in kernel modules, aggregation and unclear copyright notice.

[MFT set to -legal, as this is becoming legal arcana probably not
particularly interesting to any other list.]

On Tue, 05 Apr 2005, Sven Luther wrote:
> There are two solutions to this issue, either you abide by the GPL
> and provide also the source code of those firmware binaries (the
> prefered solution :), or you modify the copyright statement of these
> files, to indicate that even thought the file per se is under the
> GPL, the firmware binary code is not, and give us a licence to
> distribute it. Something akin to :
> /* This program, except the firmware binary code,  is free software; you can  */
> /* redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public */
> /* License as published by the Free Software Foundation, located in the file  */
> /* LICENSE.                                                                   */
> /* Distribution, either as is or modified syntactically to adapt to the       */
> /* layout of the surrounding GPLed code is allowed, provided this copyright   */
> /* notice is acompanying it                                                   */

Just a word of warning: The wording above fails to make it clear what
the second clause is applying to. Additionally it has the following
restrictions that are probably not intended:

   1) Does not specifically allow this firware to be sold as part of an

   2) The range of modifications allowed is rather vague, and implies
      that the firmware can't be extracted

I'd instead suggest applying a pre-existing license like MIT[1] to the
firmware portion of the code file, rather than inventing your own
licensing text that only partially deals with the problem(s) at issue.
(Inventing licensing text is quite often very hazardous to your

Don Armstrong

1: http://www.opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php
Build a fire for a man, an he'll be warm for a day.  Set a man on   
fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
 -- Jules Bean

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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