[Fwd: Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre]

jeff moe at blagblagblag.org
Mon Jun 16 01:48:51 UTC 2008

There has been a nice big long thread on fedora-devel started by our very own 
Alexandre Oliva where he has been putting up a good fight to try to get Fedora 
to be a free software distribution instead of just claiming they are. ;)

In the course of not being able to prevent myself from replying to the thread I 
came across a file distributed by Broadcom themselves (not the linux kernel 
folks) of their driver with binary bits and putting the whole thing clearly 
under the GPL.

Would it be worth going after Broadcom to get them to release the source?

See below for my post.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 2008 22:39:41 -0300
From: jeff <moe at blagblagblag.org>
Reply-To: Development discussions related to Fedora	<fedora-devel-list at redhat.com>
To: Development discussions related to Fedora <fedora-devel-list at redhat.com>
References: <1212917892.32207.488.camel at pmac.infradead.org> 
<20080609205528.GB4009 at devserv.devel.redhat.com> 
<1213045893.2534.85.camel at shinybook.infradead.org> 
<20080609213359.GA11775 at devserv.devel.redhat.com> 
<1213090193.32207.722.camel at pmac.infradead.org> 
<20080610093658.GA13339 at devserv.devel.redhat.com> 
<1213104270.32207.770.camel at pmac.infradead.org> 
<20080610144325.GA28121 at devserv.devel.redhat.com> 
<1213111970.32207.835.camel at pmac.infradead.org>	<484EAC68.2020303 at gmail.com> 
<orprqklx4f.fsf at oliva.athome.lsd.ic.unicamp.br>	<4853253B.1040906 at gmail.com> 
<orzlpogjq8.fsf at oliva.athome.lsd.ic.unicamp.br>	<4853F7CF.3050800 at gmail.com> 
<orbq23g77v.fsf at oliva.athome.lsd.ic.unicamp.br>	<48546856.9050900 at gmail.com> 
<1213529734.26255.458.camel at pmac.infradead.org>	<48554FDA.6040006 at gmail.com> 
<1213553260.26255.510.camel at pmac.infradead.org>	<48559401.80503 at gmail.com> 
<4855A1FB.7080205 at blagblagblag.org>	<4855B617.8020509 at gmail.com> 
<4855BB75.50603 at blagblagblag.org>

jeff wrote:
> If RedHat has the source to this driver, I believe they are obligated to 
> turn it over to anyone they have distributed a kernel to--they shouldn't 
> be able to add proprietary bits to the Linux kernel and keep the code to 
> themselves. Same is true for broadcom.

In fact, if you go to Broadcom's site to download the driver[1,2], it says "The
Broadcom Linux Ethernet drivers are licensed under the GNU GPL. The full text
of the license is available in the driver archive." The LICENSE file included
is the GPLv2. The .src.rpm that is included has the LICENSE tag GPL.

To me it appears quite clear that Broadcom is distributing a GPL'd file, and
thus has to turn over the source code.

Now you may argue this exempts them from this (but it probably still doesn't):

   * Firmware is:
  *      Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,
  *      Copyright (C) 2000-2003 Broadcom Corporation.
  *      Permission is hereby granted for the distribution of this firmware
  *      data in hexadecimal or equivalent format, provided this copyright
  *      notice is accompanying it.

But what about in versions distributed for years where that was not included?
That text above is recent addition. To my surprise when I went to download the
driver on their page I found I had an old ~/devel/broadcom directory with a
file linux-7.3.5.zip containing files timestamped from 2004 (the above
copyright was added in 2005).

Here, the bcm5700-7.3.5-1.src.rpm file was tagged "GPL". It also contains
bcm5700-7.3.5 directory with the single LICENSE file of the GPLv2 (making no
mention of "aggregation" and such). The bcm5700-7.3.5-2.4.26.patch included 
with that LICENSE reads:

+/*                                                                            */
+/* Broadcom BCM5700 Linux Network Driver, Copyright (c) 2000 - 2003 Broadcom  */
+/* Corporation.                                                               */
+/* All rights reserved.                                                       */
+/*                                                                            */
+/* This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify       */
+/* it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by       */
+/* the Free Software Foundation, located in the file LICENSE.                 */

and then contains a bunch of:

+0x10000003, 0x0, 0xd, 0xd,
+0x3c1d0800, 0x37bd3ffc, 0x3a0f021, 0x3c100800,
+0x26100000, 0xe000018, 0x0, 0xd,
+0x3c1d0800, 0x37bd3ffc, 0x3a0f021, 0x3c100800,
+0x26100034, 0xe00021c, 0x0, 0xd,

They make *NO* mention of a separate license.

Can someone explain to me why they are *not* now required to distribute the
source code to this? They have themselves clearly placed the file under the GPL
and didn't write any 'exceptions' (which could be invalid anyway).

They clearly state years later that it is "Derived from proprietary unpublished
source code", so there *is* source code to this (as opposed to a bunch of
register settings or whatever).

Gimme the source!  :)


[1] http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethernet_nic/netxtreme_desktop.php
[2] http://www.broadcom.com/docs/driver_download/570x/linux-3.85l.zip

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