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

On Thu, Apr 09, 2009 at 10:06:55PM +0100, Neil Williams wrote:
On Thu, 9 Apr 2009 20:41:12 +0000
"brian m. carlson" <sandals@crustytoothpaste.ath.cx> wrote:

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

I don't need to be CC'd, thanks.  M-F-T set accordingly.

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.

That wasn't the result of the GR:

Option 5 "Assume blobs comply with GPL unless proven otherwise"

I'm going to ignore for the moment the fact that this title has a
negligible relation to the proposal's content and that the actual
proposal supports my point.

There are two issues here:

* Broadcom says that the entire driver (presumably including firmware) is
  GPLv2.  Because we know that it is not shipped with source code (see
  below), we know that this is insufficient to make the firmware
  legally distributable.
* The firmware actually has a separate license that reads as follows:

   * Firmware is:
   *	Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,
   *	Copyright (C) 2000-2003 Broadcom Corporation.
   *	Permission is hereby granted for the distribution of this firmware
   *	data in hexadecimal or equivalent format, provided this copyright
   *	notice is accompanying it.

  This license does not allow for modification.  Therefore, Debian can
  legally distribute the firmware, but only in non-free.  I have no
  objection to Debian distributing this firmware in non-free;
  nevertheless, as I stated in my original post, whether Debian
  distributes this firmware is mostly irrelevant with regard to having a
  functioning tg3 driver.

Do we know if there is "source code" for this firmware. There is no
proof that the firmware does not comply with the GPLv2 AFAICT,
therefore the GR requires that we assume that the firmware does
comply, whatever that means with regard to the "preferred form for
modification". Why assume that using a hex editor is impossible?

I'm not saying that using a hex editor is impossible.  I'm saying that
there's source code:

   * Firmware is:
   *	Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,
   *	Copyright (C) 2000-2003 Broadcom Corporation.

I don't know about you, but I'd much prefer to modify any sort of
program, firmware or not, using C or assembly rather than editing the
binary directly.  I suspect that this is the case for any reasonable
programmer.  Thus, we do not have the preferred form for modification,
and thus, we cannot distribute it under the GPLv2.

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

How can it be separate? The assertion from your reply was that there
was source code behind the hex. Is there *evidence* and *proof* that
this is the case?

Yes.  Why would Broadcom lie about there being source code?

brian m. carlson / brian with sandals: Houston, Texas, US
+1 713 440 7475 | http://crustytoothpaste.ath.cx/~bmc | My opinion only
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