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Re: kernel firmware status

On Tue, Apr 05, 2005 at 06:06:34PM -0400, Andres Salomon wrote:
> I created a wiki page that contains a list of all drivers that are
> currently considered undistributable by Debian, the available license
> information we have for them, and various other comments:
> http://wiki.debian.net/?KernelFirmwareLicensing
> I would appreciate feedback from d-l about the various firmware blobs that
> *do* contain licensing.  Remember that the goal is to distribute the
> firmware in non-free, embedded in the drivers themselves; however,
> separate from the main kernel tree.

Picking on a few at random:

> > Quoth the page: "Look at the source files yourself to understand
> > any licensing restrictions on their use.  Alteon's license may be
> > summarised like this: you may share and develop the firmware, but it
> > is only for use with Alteon NIC products."

That summary is obviously bogus because you can't do that in a
license. I looked at the source files, and I did not find any license
at all. Everything says "All rights reserved" on it. So I think this
is just yet another entirely unlicensed firmware bundle - ironically,
it's one which *does* include source written in C, so there is
absolutely no chance anybody could argue that the hex dump is source.

> > * This firmware is for the Emagic EMI 2|6 Audio Interface
> > *
> > * The firmware contained herein is Copyright (c) 1999-2002 Emagic
> > * as an unpublished work. This notice does not imply unrestricted
> > * or public access to this firmware which is a trade secret of Emagic,
> > * and which may not be reproduced, used, sold or transferred to
> > * any third party without Emagic's written consent. All Rights Reserved.

That's clearly nonsense. It's not unpublished or a trade secret if
it's published in the kernel. Anyway, you need written permission to
distribute it at all.

However, is it the same emagic as here?


If so, it might be worth asking Apple. They'll probably either grant a
license for it or sue everybody who's been distributing it.

> >       The firmware contained herein as keyspan_*.h is
> > 
> >               Copyright (C) 1999-2001
> >               Keyspan, A division of InnoSys Incorporated ("Keyspan")
> > 
> >       as an unpublished work. This notice does not imply unrestricted or
> >       public access to the source code from which this firmware image is
> >       derived.  Except as noted below this firmware image may not be
> >       reproduced, used, sold or transferred to any third party without
> >       Keyspan's prior written consent.  All Rights Reserved.
> > 
> >       Permission is hereby granted for the distribution of this firmware
> >       image as part of a Linux or other Open Source operating system kernel
> >       in text or binary form as required.
> > 
> >       This firmware may not be modified and may only be used with
> >       Keyspan hardware.  Distribution and/or Modification of the
> >       keyspan.c driver which includes this firmware, in whole or in
> >       part, requires the inclusion of this statement."

Finally, one with a real license. It's obviously non-free, but I see
no reason why it can't be distributed in non-free, with the usual
provisos about proprietary drivers being entirely unsupportable.

A few of these are BSD-licensed binaries; those are indeed
distributable, although of course they're proprietary.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
   `-             -><-          |

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