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Kernel Firmware issue: are GPLed sourceless firmwares legal to distribute ?

Hi debian-legal, ...

It seems the firmware kernel issue has reached a deadpoint, as there is some
widely different interpretation of the meaning of the GPL over sourceless

For some background, the kernel/firmware wiki page includes both a proposed
GR, the draft position statement by the kernel team, as well as an analysis of
how we stand : http://wiki.debian.org/KernelFirmwareLicensing.

But this is beside the point. The real problem is that there are a certain
amount of firmware in the kernel, embedded in the drivers, which have no
license notice whatsoever, and as thus fall implicitly under the common GPL
license of the linux kernel. The audit from Larry lists some 40+ such firmware

There is some claims that some of those blobs represent just register dumps,
but even then one could argue that the hex blobs doesn't in any way represent
the prefered form of modification, but rather some kind of register
name/number and value pair.

So, the RMs are making claims that those sourceless GPLed drivers don't cause
any kind of distribution problem, while i strongly believe that the GPL clause
saying that all the distribution rights under the GPL are lost if you cannot
abide by all points, including the requirement for sources.

Since i am seen as not trusthy to analyze such problems, i think to deblock
this situation, it would be best to have a statement from debian-legal to back
those claims (or to claim i am wrong in the above). 


Sven Luther

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