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

On Fri, Oct 06, 2006 at 11:18:09AM +0300, Markus Laire wrote:
> On 10/6/06, MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop> wrote:
> >I'd defer to Larry Doolittle on this one, but I think unless we have
> >some reason to think there is another form used as source code, it's
> >fine to consider the only codes our source code - for all we know, it
> >was written that way.  Best of all would be to get clarifications of
> >what type each firmware is, but I doubt that's easy in all cases.
> >
> >However, if we strongly suspect that we don't have a valid permission
> >to modify, distribute and so on, run a mile.
> I'd like to note a message[1] by Frank Küster concerning this on

That message was from Larry, not Frank, since it was Larry who did the
original audit, and listed relevant information on his web site, mirrored at :


> debian-vote which wasn't posted to debian-legal. A quote from that
> message:
> : In making the list, I left off all cases where I had any doubt.
> : I am not perfect, but I have plenty of experience using and writing
> : firmware of many kinds.  I would be very surprised if any of the
> : listed firmware is not derived from a human-legible design file of
> : one form or another.
> :
> : So while it is perhaps a polite excuse that "we don't know for sure
> : if these thousands of bytes of hex code were ever compiled from source",
> : no sane person would bet against it.
> (And my answer[2] was that IMHO it's not "a polite excuse" but "a
> blatant attempt to knowingly violate the copyright law without
> actually admitting the violation".)
> [1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2006/10/msg00090.html
> [2] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2006/10/msg00102.html


Sven Luther

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