Re: Binary Drivers

From: Scott Preece
Date: Tue Dec 26 2006 - 14:21:11 EST

On 12/26/06, David Schwartz <davids@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

It's really common sense. Imagine if you buy the right to use my car, but I
don't give you the key. Can I say, "yes, you have the right to use my car,
you bought that, but that doesn't mean I have to tell you how to use my

I have to agree with Martin, that the car analogies really bear little
relationship with the question of closed-source drivers...

My point was that you buy what you buy, under the terms that you agree
to. For a house, or a car, the "normal" terms would include any
associated accessories, including keys. Keys also have a certain
common-law "specialness", because they historically corresponded to
the right to access. If you were buying a house or car and the seller
was retaining keys (perhaps because they have some historical or
personal significance), that would have to be disclosed and it would
have to be clear that no rights were associated with the retained

... Skipping the rest of the house/car analogies...

When you buy a video car, you are *not* buying the right to use that video
card with Windows. You are buying all the rights to the video card, to use
it any way you please. The manufacturer has no right (because it sold that
right when it sold the video card) to interfere or obstruct your right to
use it as you please.

There is a notion of "fitness for purpose" that sometimes applies - if
the seller describes the object as fit for a particular purpose, then
the seller has an obligation to make sure the object is, in fact, fit
for that purpose. However, that's a very limited requirement - it's
not required to be fit for any other purpose and being fit for that
purpose would not require documentation unless that purpose normally
required it. Note that selling a card as suitable for use with Windows
would not suggest, in any way, that it was offered as suitable for use
with Linux. Again, you buy the right to do anything you like with the
object, but the seller has no obligation beyond the agreed terms.

If you retain some rights over something, then you are not selling it in the
normal sense. You are selling a subset of the rights to it, and the buy must
be told what rights he is getting and what rights he is not getting.

Again, while some of the car/house analogies may describe situations
where the seller has not conveyed all the rights, the video card
situation is completely different. You have the right to do what you
like with it and the seller retains no rights. Lack of documentation
is not an imposition on your rights, unless you had a specific promise
of documentation from the seller.

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