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Re: The bigger issue is badly licensed blobs (was Re: Firmware poll

Steve Langasek wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 29, 2006 at 08:48:00PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
>> Debian needs to make a decision on how it will deal with this legal
>> minefield.  That is higher priority than the entire discussion going on
>> right now, because it determines whether Debian will distribute these 53
>> BLOBs *at all*, in 'main' or in 'non-free'.
>> Oddly enough nobody has proposed a GR addressing this,
> Because voting is an absurd means of settling questions of legal
> liability. It's the domain of the ftp team to determine whether we can
> legally distribute a package on our mirrors.

Actually, letting an overworked team of four with (to my knowledge) zero
legal expertise settle questions of legal liability is pretty absurd too. 
I know this is Debian tradition, but it's worth thinking about whether it
really makes sense.

Debian-legal has very little legal expertise, and as a result the consensus
errs on the side of caution at essentially all times with regard to
copyright.  Probably too much caution, but without getting an actual legal
opinion, that seems like the right thing to do.  Should the ftpmasters, who
have even less legal expertise, ever take the risk of erring on the side of
recklessness?  (This risk is currently being taken with the
mislicensed 'firmware' BLOBs.)  Does this expose anyone but the ftp team to
legal liability?

Now, if the rest of Debian has repeatedly disavowed all responsibility, it
may be that the ftp team and only the ftp team are *personally* liable if
Debian makes an illegal distribution, and in that case it would make sense
for them to determine such things.  I'm not sure the ftpmasters are
actually comfortatble with assuming personal legal liability for every
package in Debian though.  I wouldn't be!

Nathanael Nerode  <neroden@fastmail.fm>

Bush admitted to violating FISA and said he was proud of it.
So why isn't he in prison yet?...

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