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Re: Kernel Firmware issue: are GPLed sourceless firmwares legal to distribute ?

On Wed, Oct 04, 2006 at 09:31:27PM +0200, Frank Küster wrote:
> Walter Landry <wlandry@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> > Sven Luther <sven.luther@wanadoo.fr> wrote:
> >> So, the RMs are making claims that those sourceless GPLed drivers
> >> don't cause any kind of distribution problem, while i strongly
> >> believe that the GPL clause saying that all the distribution rights
> >> under the GPL are lost if you cannot abide by all points, including
> >> the requirement for sources.
> >
> > When Debian distributes kernel binaries, Debian makes use of clause 3a
> > (accompany with source code), not 3b (written offer) or 3c (pass on
> > written offer).  So source has to accompany everything, even if no one
> > is asking.
> Well, I think Sven didn't make the point of disagreement clear.  It is
> whether what in the course of the GR's has been called "sourceless
> firmware" is in fact sourceless.  If I understood Anthony Towns
> correctly, the ftpmasters and many others want to give those drives the
> benefit of doubt and assume that they aren't sourceless, but are, e.g.,
> just dumps of unnamed registers and therefore "the preferred form for
> modification".  After all, they were what was given to the kernel people
> when the driver was released as .c and .h files under the GPL.

Indeed, but even in the case of pure register dumps, there is no way the
actual firmware blob in the current kernel constitutes "the preferred form of
modification". That said, it is my experience that more often than not, those
firmware blobs are indeed code, especially when one talks about a device with
an embedded mips core for example.

We could try to do a determination firmware by firmware, depending on its size
and stuff like that, but we are particularly trying to postpone this work

> So the real question is whether we want to do that, whether in the
> particular cases there's in fact any doubt, etc.

The ftp-master position has always been one of erring on the side of caution


Sven Luther

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