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    SubjectTermination of the Philips Webcam Driver (pwc)
    	As a third party, I issue a plea for mediation.

    Over on the linux-usb-devel mailing list, a spat has arisin
    between the Linux 2.6 USB maintainer, Greg K-H, and Nemosoft, the
    author of the driver (drivers/usb/media/pwc*) for certain
    Philips-based Web cameras. As a result, Nemosoft has asked that his
    driver be removed from the Linux 2.6 kernel.

    The driver is structured as two modules: an open-source
    module, included in the standard Linux kernel for years, which
    controls the basic operations of the camera chip, and a closed-source
    module, distributed in object format independently of the Linux
    kernel, that provides decompression services for proprietary codecs
    that are used for higher-resolution modes in some Web cameras based on
    this chip family. A hook in the open-source driver allows
    decompression modules (codec modules) (which may, after all, be either
    open source or proprietary) to register with the main driver.

    Citing the fact that the only current use of the hook was to
    register a non-open-source module, and citing a policy statement by
    Linux Torvalds (see the discussion on the linux-usb-devel archive for
    details), Greg K-H removed the hook from Nemosoft's in-kernel driver,
    and Nemosoft withdrew his driver from Linux.

    As a not uninterested bystander (I just invested $200 of my
    personal money in Logitech web cameras on the strength of the pwc
    driver, based on Web research only two days old now!), I appeal for
    higher-level arbitration in this issue. I, personally, would prefer a
    pure open-source kernel, and in fact, Nemosoft posted that he has at
    this time the opportunity to discuss with Philips the possibility of
    open-sourcing the codecs involved. However, Greg K-H's unilateral
    decision to excise the pwc codec hook has so infuriated Nemosoft that,
    unless another maintainer for this driver steps forth, we may be left
    with no Linux support at all for this popular family of web cameras.

    Craig Milo Rogers
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