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

[Cross posting cut out, because this isn't particularly germane to the
other lists.]

On Fri, 20 Oct 2006, Sven Luther wrote:
> IANAL and everything, but all times we discussed the issue the
> opinion that prevaled, was that the firmware do not constitute a
> derivative work of the kernel,

This is true when they're separate; the question is whether the
kernel+firmware is a derivative work of the kernel, or mere
aggregation. [It's well within the realm of copyright law to prevent
putting the firmware with the kernel in a single package, so you have
to activate the aggregation clause to avoid having the GPL apply as

The arguments for mere aggregation are that it's trivial to separate
out the firmware into a separate file; the arguments against is that
the kernel stops functioning as well when the firmware is no longer
included. While I think this is grey enough not to lose too much sleep
over for those firmware which are not licensed under the GPL, it's
definetly not clear cut at all one way or the other.

> in the same way that if the firmware is contained in a flash on the
> card, it does not constitute a derivative work of the kernel, and in
> the same way a free compressor which can generate compressed archive
> with builtin uncompressor binaries, is not a derivative work of the
> compressed files it contains.

These examples are not similar at all, because you're not distributing
them together.

Don Armstrong

Guns Don't Kill People.
*I* Kill People.

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

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