[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

[CC'd -legal as well; you probably want to follow up there.]

On Thu, Apr 09, 2009 at 05:46:58PM +0200, Daniel Knabl wrote:
Seems to me that Broadcom Inc. does really allow Debian to
re-distribute the included firmware explicitly.

The GPLv2 requires that distributors provide source code in certain
circumstances.  Source code is defined in the GPLv2 as the preferred
form for modification.  Unless Broadcom uses a hex editor to modify the
firmware, Debian does not have the source code (the preferred form for
modification) and therefore cannot provide it upon request.  Since
Debian cannot comply with the license, it is not permitted to distribute
it at all.  Doing so would be copyright infringement.

If Broadcom were to license the firmware under a revised BSD license or
another license that does not require providing source code, then Debian
would be permitted to distribute it in non-free.

This issue is completely separate from whether the firmware has source
code according to the DFSG.

As a practical matter, only certain very old revisions of the hardware
actually need the firmware at all for basic functionality.  Most
hardware using the tg3 driver (like my laptop) are completely functional
without any firmware at all.  Certain extra features, like TCP Segment
Offloading (TSO), are enabled by the firmware, but these features are
not required for basic functionality.

brian m. carlson / brian with sandals: Houston, Texas, US
+1 713 440 7475 | http://crustytoothpaste.ath.cx/~bmc | My opinion only
troff on top of XML: http://crustytoothpaste.ath.cx/~bmc/code/thwack
OpenPGP: RSA v4 4096b 88AC E9B2 9196 305B A994 7552 F1BA 225C 0223 B187

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: