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Re: kernel firmwares: GR proposal

Diverting to -legal.

Sven Luther wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 31, 2006 at 12:48:35AM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
>> Sven Luther wrote:
>> > Yeah, that is something which is needed. We need someone to go over
>> > larry's list, which i have copiedto the debian wiki, and find out who
>> > the copyright holder of those problematic firmwares are, and then we
>> > can contact them, taking the broadcom original letter i wrote as a
>> > sample.
>> How optimistic you are.  :-)  After four or five attempts to find a
>> contact address at Broadcom which would reply, I gave up; I'm glad
>> someone else found one eventually.
> Actually, it was quite easy, i just wrote the linux driver support page,
Hell, I did the same thing earlier.

> and got a reply,
....but didn't get a reply.  Which is why I was so impressed....

> it was fully CCed to debian-kernel, so you can look how i 
> did it.
Hmm, maybe I will.  Perhaps you used the "magic words" and I didn't.  Let's
try to figure out what the magic words are....  Or maybe it was simply
a result of getting a *second* mail saying the same thing.

> The reply was quite fast, altough the driver folk needed some time to
> escalate it to the right people, and then find their legal team reply, it
> took a couple of month or so. Compare that to all those who where shouting
> that it was stupid, only lost time, and that broadcom, with their
> anti-linux stance would never reply and stuff, so i have reasons to be
> quite optimistic.

> The arsenic case was more problematic, since the copyright seems to have
> landed at broadcom too, but they don't care since they don't sell it
> anymore,

Given this, we actually should have a decent chance of getting them to
license it under a free software license (after all, what do they care
about it?) provided we can talk to the right people.

> and they probably are not even aware of the fact that they are 
> actually copyright holders.

FYI, there is a way to deal with a copyright of unknown ownership.

Get a license from everyone who *might* have the copyright.  Of the
form "*If* Broadcom holds any copyrights in this code, and we don't know
whether we do, *then* Broadcom licenses its copyrights under license X. 
Broadcom does not license any copyrights which it does not hold as of

Repeat with all other companies which might have some of the rights.  Once
you've gone through all of them, you have a proper license, even though you
don't know who holds the copyright.

This is essentially similar to getting "quitclaims" for contested land.

> I had a similar problem with some ocaml library, which was developed
> together byt the ocaml team and the digital labs, which ended up at HP,
> and even asking bdale about it, did not help free that code, which is now
> lost forever and upstream reimplemented it.

At least we actually have the source for the acenic code, even though we
don't have a free license for it.

> I think the quote from bdale 
> was "i think i know in which set of boxes it may possibly be".
>> I think that throwing Debian's name around with 'offical' status may
>> be helpful to get responses from some of these companies; I didn't do
>> that, since I couldn't!
> Well, assuredly, but i think that another difference may have been the
> more reasonable and well though-out mail with some legal analysis, and the
> fact that what we demanded was quite easy for them to do. Also, the
> timeline was maybe one of more maturity and sensibility on this subject,
> and we had a rather huge thread on LKML when it happened. From your past
> posts on the subject, i believe that maybe the wordings you chose where
> not the best ones, but as i have not seen said mails ...

Probably not the best words.  I was very polite to them, since I really
figured it was just an honest mistake (which it was), but I probably came
across as an "unimportant nobody" and they figured it wasn't worth wasting
their time.

> Friendly,
> Sven Luther

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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