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Re: [RFC]: firmware-ipw2200, acceptable for non-free?



On Fri, 09 Mar 2007 15:27:35 -0500 Benjamin Seidenberg wrote:

[...]
> Remember, the airwaves are a public resource. While I agree with you
> that you should have the right to do with your equipment as you see
> fit in general, this conflict with my rights to enjoy a public
> resource and to use equipment I purchased legally. Since it is illegal
> to boost the power on these devices (or even use a higher-gain
> antenna), I think it's fully reasonable for the FCC to say something
> that is basically "You can't put a switch on there between legal and
> illegal".

Let me (try to) clarify my take on this issue.
I agree that electromagnetic wave frequencies are a public limited
resource and that some regulations are needed to prevent people from
monopolizing them or interfere in a bad way with other resonably
shielded devices (electromagnetic compatibility).

That's why the law should say "you must not exceed these limits" and
this should hold for end-users and device producers, as well.

But the law should *not* say "you must not produce a device that can be
modified in order to exceed these limits".
Firstoff, any device could be modified (more or less easily) so that it
eventually exceed regulatory limits: what the heck!  I could always
reverse engineer the hardware specs and write a brand-new firmware from
scratch!  It can be really hard to do, but it's not impossible!
Moreover, it's not that there's the "exceed limits button": modifying a
DFSG-free firmware qualifies as modifying the device behaviour.  It
should be seen as something that the user is permitted to do: he/she may
fix bugs and improve the firmware without exceeding any regulatory
limits.  If instead he/she does exceed the limits, well, he/she is
breaking the law and should be fined for that; I mean, for exceeding the
limits, not for modifying the firmware!



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