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

On Fri, Oct 20, 2006 at 02:10:37PM +0200, Arnoud Engelfriet wrote:
> MJ Ray wrote:
> > While fairly simple, it is totally incorrect, as public distribution in
> > breach of copyright carries criminal liability in England, as I previously
> > posted.  See the Copyright Designs and Patents Act as amended, under
> > the criminal liability heading. http://www.jenkins-ip.com/patlaw/cdpa1.htm
> > I suspect most of the EU has similar law these days, although I cannot
> > name them.
> You're correct, there is criminal liability in most of Europe
> for "intentional infringement" of copyright. Many countries do
> however require the copyright holder to file charges against
> the infringer first. The police won't act by itself (how could
> they, they have no evidence of an illegal act unless the
> copyright holder files the accusation of distribution without
> a license).
> I do wonder, are the copyright holders of the firmware the only
> people with standing to sue? If the combination of firmware and
> GPL-licensed kernel is a derivative of the kernel, then anyone
> with a copyright interest in the kernel can sue for not obeying
> the GPL.

Please check past debian-legal discussion about this.

IANAL and everything, but all times we discussed the issue the opinion that
prevaled, was that the firmware do not constitute a derivative work of the
kernel, in the same way that if the firmware is contained in a flash on the
card, it does not constitute a derivative work of the kernel, and in the same
way a free compressor which can generate compressed archive with builtin
uncompressor binaries, is not a derivative work of the compressed files it

More arguments on this can be found in the list archive.


Sven Luther

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