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Re: Proposal: The DFSG do not require source code for data, including firmware

On Thu, Aug 24, 2006 at 01:16:42AM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > Point 3 then seems to go the other way around and say we don't need
> > sources for of few types of works.  My main problem with this is that
> > still a little vague about which types of works don't require source.
> What problems do you consider this vagueness to cause?  What changes would
> you suggest to make this less vague?

It lists "images, video, and fonts".  And I'm assume it's going to cover
more than just that.  I'm also not sure that this is something we want
for all types of data.

For instance when they're raster images or fonts, I'd rather have the
source, if there ever was a vector based format of it.  But I don't care
if there never was a vector based format, so nothing that would be a
more prefered way of changing it.

The only thing I currently can think of that we don't need source for
is some audio that was recorded and is compressed with lossy compression,
althought I would prefer some lossless compression.

> > I guess point 4 is saying the firmware should be considered the same as
> > the other works in point 3 and the source isn't needed for firmware.
> > However, it doesn't say anything about other points of the DFSG.
> Nope, nor was it my intention that it do so.
> > So we should still need a license that allows atleast derived works.
> Correct.
> > And I don't see how we're going to make derived works of firmware without
> > the source for it.
> That seems to be orthogonal to the licensing question, though?
> Anyway, the answer I had in mind was a hex editor or a decompiler.  If the
> firmware in question *is* code, and we know what the chip in question is
> that the code is running on, both options seem within the realm of
> plausibility to me.  No, of course they're not the *ideal* means of editing
> such a work, but AFAIK most firmware is on the order of what programmers
> used to program directly in assembly, so it's also not totally *insane* to
> try to edit such a binary directly as it would be for most modern userspace
> apps, for instance.)

I don't see a hex editor useful for much, and a decompiler only slightly
better.  If a decompiled version was useful to do derived work, it
would be the same as source, so not requiring source doesn't make sense
to me.

The difference with source is that you actually have names of functions
and variables, you have comments with it.  Those things make it easy to
understand what it's trying to do.  So it's easier to make changes too.

Anyway, most firmware I've seen have large portions written in a higher
language, ussually C, and only parts written in assembler.

So, I really don't see the usefulness of having a license allowing us to
make derived works but not having the source for it.

It would also be useful to have a list of firmwares we're currently are
talking about, and what license they have.  Are there any that only fail
DFSG 2, or will this part of GR have no effect at all?


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