Potential nonfree code in Linux-libre

Alexandre Oliva lxoliva at fsfla.org
Sat Aug 28 12:03:19 UTC 2021

On Aug 27, 2021, Jason Self <jself at gnu.org> wrote:

> On Fri, 27 Aug 2021 01:13:33 -0300
> Alexandre Oliva <lxoliva at fsfla.org> wrote:

>> Opinions on arch/parisc/kernel/perf_images.h, anyone?
>> These fragments have a regularity to them that doesn't suggest code,
>> but despite the GPL applied to the file, there's a claim that it was
>> all borrowed from HP-UX, which might be a reason to remove it.

> I think to  remove it because of the questionable provenance,

I've been thinking further about this possibility.

I don't think we have a history of challenging licensing information
provided by Linux developers.

If we start doing that, where do we draw the line?

If we don't, what are the risks?

ISTM that the copyright holder of the questionably-licensed bits might
challenge us (as well as our upstream), but our believing upstream's
believable claim about copyright holder and the license would hopefully
protect us from liability: if justice prevails, it would fall upon those
who've induced us to error.

Other copyright holders of Linux would likely not be entitled to revoke
our license, if they made the same mistake.  Their unclean hands offers
us an estoppel defense.

OTOH, if we challenge the license information provided by upstream, we
undermine the trust relationship that helps enable the sharing of
software that the Free Software movement wishes to promote, and we are
likely to end up depriving ourselves of useful features our of unfounded
fears.  It feels similar to self-censorship.  I don't like that.
I'm thus leaning towards keeping on retaining perf_images.h.

Given these arguments, would you still prefer to remove it?

Thanks for helping think it through,

Alexandre Oliva, happy hacker                https://FSFLA.org/blogs/lxo/
   Free Software Activist                       GNU Toolchain Engineer
Disinformation flourishes because many people care deeply about injustice
but very few check the facts.  Ask me about <https://stallmansupport.org>

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