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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Jun  9, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:

> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>> On Jun  9, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:
>>> Firmware that happens to be aggregated for convenient delivery and
>>> installation is no more a part of the GPL'd work than firmware that is
>>> already in your machine
>> That's missing the point.

> No, it _is_ the point.

No, you're focusing only on the firmware.  I'm focusing on the whole
work distributed under the name Linux and allegedly (and falsely)
under GPLv2, in spite of containing these firmwares so intertwined
that you can't just rip off the "pages" of the book corresponding to
the firmwares and expect the rest of make sense (to a compiler).
Although a number of the firmwares are indeed printed in "separate
pages" (files), some are actually interspersed with GPLed code.  Even
if you were to believe the theory that separate files bound together
say at link are covered by the "mere aggregation in the same media"
exception, I don't see how it could possibly fly when it's hard even
to pinpoint the separate works within a single file, and that
modifying that file so as to remove the offending portions might even
be argued as a violation of the license of the offending portions.
This all *screams* SINGLE WORK, not separate works.  To be separate
works, you'd have to start out by being able to point at and obtain
both/all the works separately.

> The GPL'd part doesn't depend any more or less on it whether it is
> loaded on the fly or already there in ROM

Please tell me you don't honestly believe you wouldn't have to modify
the GPLed part to be able to load the tg3 firmwares on the fly or use
them straight from ROM.

> You do have access to all of the parts and the freedom to split them
> up any way you want.  What's stopping you?

Nothing.  In fact, I'm doing just that.

However, this doesn't mean I didn't have to modify any of the
allegedly separate works in order to accomplish that.  I did.  So how
are they separate works in the first place?

If you have to rephrase a chapter of a book for it to make sense if
you print the book after removing another chapter, could you honestly
defend the claim that the chapters were separate works in the first

> Exactly.  If such aggregations weren't permitted and perfectly normal
> when you meet the terms of each component separately, we probably
> wouldn't have had any anthologies to read for homework in school.

Read again what you wrote.  "when you meet the terms of each component
separately".  Think about it.  That some authors don't object to
anthologies derived from their works doesn't make all anthologies
permissible by copyright law.  You still have to get permission from
the copyright holders of each individual work and comply with their

Think about it this way: If you want to publish a sequel of a novel
along with its predecessor, and the license you have doesn't grant you
permission to modify the work, then no matter how odd it looks to have
the end of the predecessor repeated (with changes) in the first
chapter of the sequel, that's how you gotta publish them.

Now, consider this: you got a copy this fictitious kernel with source
code and firmware embedded in it, but you don't have permission to
modify the kernel at all, even though you have source code and
permission to study it, recompile it and distribute it.  So you look
at the sources and you notice that you don't want this firmware in
your kernel image, because you don't have the device that requires it.
So you remove the firwmare and notice that the kernel won't compile
any more.  What now?  Do you get permission to modify the kernel
(creating a derived work thereof) just because it won't compile after
you rip off a "separate work"?  Is it really still a separate work if
you have to do that?

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva {lsd ic unicamp br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva {redhat com, gcc.gnu.org}

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