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    SubjectBinary firmware in the kernel - licensing issues.
    I'm currently working on the drivers for Atmel PCMCIA and PCI wireless
    adaptors with the aim of getting up to snuff for inclusion in
    the mainline kernel.

    I'm working from source drivers released by Atmel themselves last
    year under the GPL so there are no problems with the code - each
    source file from Atmel has a GPL notice at the top.

    BUT. These things need firmware loaded, at least the ones without
    built-in flash. The Atmel drivers come with binary firmware
    as header files full of hex, with the following notice.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copyright (c) 1999-2000 by Atmel Corporation

    This software is copyrighted by and is the sole property of Atmel
    Corporation. All rights, title, ownership, or other interests
    in the software remain the property of Atmel Corporation. This
    software may only be used in accordance with the corresponding
    license agreement. Any un-authorized use, duplication, transmission,
    distribution, or disclosure of this software is expressly forbidden.


    This Copyright notice may not be removed or modified without prior
    written consent of Atmel Corporation.


    Atmel Corporation, Inc. reserves the right to modify this software
    without notice.

    Atmel Corporation.
    2325 Orchard Parkway literature@atmel.com
    San Jose, CA 95131 http://www.atmel.com
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    It isn't clear what the license agreement referred to in the above
    actually is, but I don't think it's reasonable to just assume it's the
    GPL and shove these files into the kernel as-is.

    I shall contact Atmel for advice and clarification but my question for
    the list is, what should I ask them to do? It's unlikely that they will
    release the source to the firmware and even if they did I wouldn't want
    firmware source in the kernel tree since the kernel-build toolchain
    won't be enough to build the firmware. What permissions do they have to
    give to make including this stuff legal and compatible with the rest of
    the kernel?

    Given the current SCO-IBM situation I don't want to be responsible for
    introducing any legally questionable IP into the kernel tree.

    This situation must have come up before, how was it solved then?

    Cheers,

    Simon.

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