Re: Binary-only firmware covered by the GPL?
From: David Woodhouse
Date: Thu Mar 25 2004 - 19:47:12 EST
On Thu, 2004-03-25 at 17:31 -0500, Jeff Garzik wrote:
> Firmware is a program that executes on another processor, so no linking
> is taking place at all. It is analagous to shipping a binary-only
> program in your initrd, IMO.
You seem to be thinking of this:
These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If
identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program,
and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in
themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those
But you seem to ignore the fact that the sentence ends thus:
...WHEN YOU DISTRIBUTE THEM AS SEPARATE WORKS.
And indeed that the subsequent sentence reads as follows:
But when you
distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based
on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of
this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the
entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote
You also seem to be ignoring the next paragraph where it mentions
Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest
your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to
exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative OR
COLLECTIVE WORKS based on the Program.
The firmware blob in question can be reasonably considered to be an
independent and separate work in itself. The GPL doesn't apply to it
when it is distributed as a SEPARATE work. But when you distribute it as
part of a whole which is a work based on other parts of the kernel, by
including it in the kernel source in such a manner, the distribution of
the whole must be on the terms of the GPL, whose permissions for other
licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part.
It's not the intent of the GPL to claim rights to firmware written
independently for such hardware; rather, the intent is to exercise the
right to control the distribution of _COLLECTIVE_ works based on the
indisputably GPL'd parts of the kernel.
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