[Ksummit-2008-discuss] RFC: Moving firmware blobs out of the kernel.

Pavel Machek pavel at suse.cz
Sat Jun 7 02:53:20 PDT 2008


> > > The firmware is an independent and separate work in itself. Section 2 of
> > > the GPL talks about such sections of the work, explicitly. The only way
> > > to excuse what we're doing at the moment is to call it 'mere
> > > aggregation' -- an exception which was intended to handle stuff like the
> > > 'freeware' CDs on the covers of magazines, distributing a bunch of
> > > unrelated software. Not a coherent work combining software from
> > > different sources into a single entity which works closely together as
> > > one, and where one part is useless without the other.
> > 
> > Wait a moment, haven't you just described linux distribution?
> > 
> > I mean, if aggregation clause does not work for firmware in kernel,
> > why would it work for packages in distro?
> >
> > (Actually, seeing some distro EULAs, I wished GPL infected whole
> > distro so that I'd not have to read the stupid EULA.)
> That's an interesting question, which has concerned me in the past. 
> There are certainly those who would claim that the distribution _is_ a
> collective work, and not just 'mere aggregation on a volume of a storage
> or distribution medium'. Which poses interesting questions.
> I think you might _just_ about get away with arguing to the contrary, as
> long as you never refer to the distribution as a collective work which
> is copyrightable in its own right, or try to put a EULA on it or
> anything like that. At least it's _slightly_ more excusable in that case
> than what we were talking about before.

Well, distos I seen, did try to claim whole distro is collective work,
and did have eula in the front :-(.

> > > There are people who own copyright on firmware who refuse to put it into
> > > the Linux source tree, because their lawyers don't believe the 'mere
> > > aggregation' line, and believe that including it in the kernel source in
> > > any form would require them to license it under the GPL.
> > 
> > They can release the firmware under BSD 3-clause, and we can include
> > it in kernel, then.... right? (Or into linux-firmware or into whatever
> > package that comes handy).
> You may only include it in a GPL'd project if you can distribute the
> source code in the preferred form for editing -- unless you claim that

Oops, you are right; I overlooked that.

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