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SubjectRe: non-free firmware in kernel modules, aggregation and unclear copyright notice.
Richard B. Johnson wrote:

> Well it doesn't make any difference. If GPL has degenerated to where
> one can't upload microcode to a device as part of its initialization,
> without having the "source" that generated that microcode, we are in
> a lot of hurt. Intel isn't going to give their designs away.

I don't recall anyone asking Intel to give theirs designs away. This
thread is about:

1. (mainly) some firmware hexdumps present in the kernel source tree are
either expicitly marked as being GPL'd or unmarked, in which case one
would assume that they would be GPL'd;

1a. this means that those firmware hexdumps are not legally
distributable by any person besides the firmware copyright holder,
because any other person could not comply with the terms of the Section
3 of the GPL (IOW, a third party cannot give you a source code they
don't have);

1b. [1a], for its turn, means that the current pristine kernel tree is
not legally distributable and that any distributor is an easy prey for
lawyer attacks.

2. (collaterally) some firmware hexdumps present in the kernel source
tree are marked with "(C) Holder All Rights Reserved";

2a. copyright law FORBIDS anyone to distribute such pieces of
information without proper authorization.

3. (corolary) for each of the problematic hexdumps, the following steps
should be taken:

3a. the copyright holder should be asked for the source code to the
firmware -- if they do this, it would be great for a lot of Free
Software reasons;

3b. if the copyright holder declines, it should be asked for a license
to freely redistribute the firmware; and

3c. if the copyright holder declines, the firmware *must* be yanked from
the pristine kernel tree;

3d. furthermore, all of this *should* be properly documented, IMHO, both
in a centralized file, and in the file where the firmware hexdump appears.


> Last time I checked, GPL was about SOFTware, not FIRMware, and not
> MICROcode. If somebody has decided to rename FIRMware to SOFTware,
> then they need to complete the task and call it DORKware, named after
> themselves.

Last time I checked, the GPL was a COPYRIGHT LICENSE and, as such, not
"about" anything in particular. Yes, it was idealized to be used for the
licensing of computer programs and libraries. OTOH, many works of many
other kinds (music, literary works, etc) were licensed under the GPL.

> This whole thread and gotten truly bizarre.

Nah, it has a good reason to exist... With the passing of time, Debian,
that is supposed to be a Free Software OS, is depending more and more of
non-Free components. And yes, as it is today, the pristine kernel tree
is non-free.

Regards,
Massa

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