[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
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