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

On Wed, Aug 30, 2006 at 08:18:28PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> Sven Luther wrote:
> > Since the firmware blobs are not derivative works of the kernel, but
> > constitute mere agregation in the same binary format, the authors of other
> > pieces of GPLed code fo the linux kernel cannot even sue us for
> > distributing the kernel code with those GPL-violating binary BLOBs.
> This is not clear in the cases where the blobs are embedded directly into

Please reread the discussion on debian-legal about this, where consensus was
mostly found to support this idea, and also remember that we contacted
broadcom with this analysis, who contacted their legal team, and i also mailed
the FSF lawyers with it, and got no counter-claim to it.

> the kernel, particularly when they're embedded in the same source files. 
> There's a case to be made that this is *not* mere aggregation, but creation
> of an enhanced combination work which is derivative of both the firmware
> and the other parts of the kernel.  Simply putting files side by side is
> mere aggregation -- what's happening with the drivers and firmware might be
> mere aggregation, but nobody can be sure until a court case happens.

Well, in the debian-legal discussion i gave plenty of counter examples,
ranging from a firmware flasher (little C program with embedded firmware,
exact same case as the kernel situation), to compressed binaries with
uncompressing software embedded, passing by filesystem binaries containing
both GPLed content as well as non-free content.

So, all in all, unless you bring new evidence, there is really very little
doubt about this, unless you want to consider your hardware a derived work of
the linux kernel, but i doubt a judge will follow you on this one.

IANAL, but there is a part of common sense and simple logic in most legal


Sven Luther

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