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

On 10/17/06 15:06, Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 17, 2006 at 03:49:25PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
>> The answer to the question in the subject is simple: NO.
> Thankyou for your opinion. I note you seemed to neglect to mention that
> you're not a lawyer.

I agree.

Out of curiosity, I asked my corporate consul about rendering advice
on this issue for which he estimated $2500 to start (which would
probably be $5k total). This is a corporate attorney who already has
some understand of Linux. So, that's one ballpark estimate of what it
would cost to get real advice.

Based on my previous experiences with copyright, trademark & corporate
legal issues, my _guess_ would be that the resulting advise would
first be based on the side of the actions of the larger corporations.
Then, secondly, based on the assumption of good faith intentions of
the linux kernel authors & developers.

In other words, because (as far as the kernel developers and authors
can determine) they are acting in good faith by giving the software to
Debian in a legal way, Debian is also acting in good faith. Better
still, since corporations like Redhat, Novell and (with it's behemoth
legal team) IBM also distribute this same software, your legal chances
are outstandingly good.

As I'm not a lawyer, my experience was to be given the legal advice
and then have to decide what to do. One poignant example was when Bill
Gates' corporate attorney for Corbis threatened linux/ppc with
copyright infringement over the use of the "Rosie the Riveter" image.
That was interesting.

In this kernel firmware issue, if the authors of this "sourceless"
firmware threatened Debian (Qlogic, etc), then you would have to
decide what to do. In my case, I chose to not honor Corbis' copyright
claim and refused to pay the the royalties they asked for. It seemed
like there was a good chance that their copyright claim was invalid.
You have to decide if you should fight or fold. In the end, it cost me
nothing to fight. They gave up rather easy after a few entertaining
phone calls.

Realistically, Qlogic (or any of the other companies in question here)
threatening Debian, the whole free software world & the applicable
companies over copyright infringement of a file they knowingly
released is similar to poking yourself in the eye with a fork.

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