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Old 06-09-2008, 09:11 PM
David Woodhouse
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Mon, 2008-06-09 at 16:55 -0400, Alan Cox wrote:
> That block could be
> - residing at an address in ROM
> - residing at an address in RAM used by the BIOS
> - residing at an address attached to the kernel image
> - residing at an address attached to the initrd image
>
> Thats the sole difference - the address it appears at.

You're equivocating.

The _important_ difference, in this context, is how it's distributed.

The GPL clearly states that there can exist sections of which which
_are_ independent and separate works in themselves -- but when you
distribute those _same_ sections as part of a whole which is a work
based on the GPL'd Program...

The _distribution_ of stuff together is what makes the difference, even
when some of that 'stuff' would be considered to be a completely
independent and separate work, when distributed separately.

You obviously disagree, but you haven't really explained why.

Maybe Les' mail is relevant here -- he seems to think that we should
argue based on what we _want_ to be true, rather than what the evidence
actually indicates?

Do you believe that copyright law _prevents_ the GPL from making
requirements about those separate works, in such a way that still lets
you distribute the GPL'd work without complying with the licence?

Or do you believe that the GPL does not actually impose the requirements
it seems to impose in §2? Perhaps you believe that _all_ forms of
aggregation can be labelled "mere aggregation on a volume of a storage
or distribution medium" and thus that the whole of those three
paragraphs in the licence are just a big no-op? Can we submit a
non-GPL'd driver as a .o file, call it 'mere aggregation' and argue that
it's not a GPL violation?

Or is it another example of Les' "we argue what we want to believe,
regardless of the facts"?

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Old 06-09-2008, 09:22 PM
Les Mikesell
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Alexandre Oliva wrote:



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.


What I don't understand is why you think there is some requirement in
terms of page boundaries or storage mechanism involved in copyright
separation. I've never seen any such thing.



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.


No, it screams common storage, particularly when you know that it runs
on separate hardware elements and can't possibly be a single work when
it executes.



To be separate
works, you'd have to start out by being able to point at and obtain
both/all the works separately.


Where is that requirement stated? I've never seen anything explicitly
stating technical details of how separation must appear or be maintained.



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.


I believe there there wouldn't be any difference if the identical
content were already in ROM - or some non-GPL'd pre-execute loader
installed it instead of the kernel.



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?


It is unrelated content that generally executes in an unrelated context.
It could have been in ROM already. It could have been loaded by
something else. Loading those contents some other way doesn't make them
more or less separate, just less convenient. This might be made more
clear if the loader is generalized and the contents separated so that it
is obvious that changes in firmware contents do not need modifications
in the GPL'd mechanism - and in fact are not related to the loader at
all. But that seems obvious anyway, like the code that plays music is
separate from the music content, or an ebook text is separate from the
code that displays it. That would not be changed even if you combined
them in the same medium or file for convenient storage.



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
place?


Yes, and I think copyright law supports that even if it is a bit fuzzy.


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.


I did think about it. It is an aggregation, explicitly permitted by the
GPL, so only the terms of the loaded component could be a problem with
the combination. And I don't see any more reason to question the
compliance of terms on included firmware than on included sources.



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.


I don't think that's a sufficient reason for me to want to remove
something, but OK.



So you remove the firwmare and notice that the kernel won't compile
any more. What now?


Ignore it, consider it a feature in case you get one of the devices in
question, or ask someone with permission to modify to make the change
for you.



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"?


If it mattered that much, I'd try to figure out why the removal affected
compilation and supply a compiler-satisfying substitute.



Is it really still a separate work if
you have to do that?


Yes, unless you can establish that it is impossible to provide a
compiler-satisfying alternative.


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Old 06-09-2008, 09:33 PM
Alan Cox
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Mon, Jun 09, 2008 at 10:11:33PM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
> distribute those _same_ sections as part of a whole which is a work
> based on the GPL'd Program...

I do not believe they are "part of a whole which is a work based on..". In
this case I believe they are independant works that are merely aggregated.
The alternate position would be that a general interface between two
independent works somehow made them one. That would just as equally say that
firefox and the web are one work.

> Do you believe that copyright law _prevents_ the GPL from making
> requirements about those separate works, in such a way that still lets
> you distribute the GPL'd work without complying with the licence?

That would seem to be a "how often do you beat your wife" question. The
underlying falsehood being that the GPL licence is not being complied with

I don't need your permission to copy the firmware for the tg3 driver I need
the permission of Broadcom.

Alan

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Old 06-09-2008, 09:51 PM
max
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

David Woodhouse wrote:

On Mon, 2008-06-09 at 16:55 -0400, Alan Cox wrote:

That block could be
- residing at an address in ROM
- residing at an address in RAM used by the BIOS
- residing at an address attached to the kernel image
- residing at an address attached to the initrd image

Thats the sole difference - the address it appears at.


You're equivocating.

The _important_ difference, in this context, is how it's distributed.


The GPL clearly states that there can exist sections of which which
_are_ independent and separate works in themselves -- but when you
distribute those _same_ sections as part of a whole which is a work
based on the GPL'd Program...

The _distribution_ of stuff together is what makes the difference, even
when some of that 'stuff' would be considered to be a completely
independent and separate work, when distributed separately.

You obviously disagree, but you haven't really explained why.

Maybe Les' mail is relevant here -- he seems to think that we should
argue based on what we _want_ to be true, rather than what the evidence
actually indicates?

Do you believe that copyright law _prevents_ the GPL from making
requirements about those separate works, in such a way that still lets
you distribute the GPL'd work without complying with the licence?

Or do you believe that the GPL does not actually impose the requirements
it seems to impose in §2? Perhaps you believe that _all_ forms of
aggregation can be labelled "mere aggregation on a volume of a storage
or distribution medium" and thus that the whole of those three
paragraphs in the licence are just a big no-op? Can we submit a
non-GPL'd driver as a .o file, call it 'mere aggregation' and argue that
it's not a GPL violation?

Or is it another example of Les' "we argue what we want to believe,
regardless of the facts"?

This is the sort of comment, whether intentional or no that leads to
flame wars. I enjoy reading a civil discussion but let's not bait
people. Things can be phrased better, certainly I know that from
experience as I have the same tendency to walk the razor's edge with
regards to my language choice from time to time. Let's keep it civil
shall we? I'd like to learn something but it's going to be difficult if
we make it personal. Argue your point on its merits not on the short
comings of the other person's argument.


Thank You

Max

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Old 06-09-2008, 10:34 PM
Les Mikesell
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

David Woodhouse wrote:


You're equivocating.

The _important_ difference, in this context, is how it's distributed.


No, it's all about the content.


The GPL clearly states that there can exist sections of which which
_are_ independent and separate works in themselves -- but when you
distribute those _same_ sections as part of a whole which is a work
based on the GPL'd Program...


And you'll note that there are no technical details about putting things
in the same box or on the same media or in the same file that define an
aggregation as a 'whole'.



The _distribution_ of stuff together is what makes the difference, even
when some of that 'stuff' would be considered to be a completely
independent and separate work, when distributed separately.


No, the distribution packaging or method is really unrelated to the
content. For example, the FSF considers it a GPL infringement to ship
non-GPL'd content (even in source form) that an end user must link to a
GPL'd library to function. Personally I disagree with that and would be
shocked to see a court uphold it, but you never know...



You obviously disagree, but you haven't really explained why.

Maybe Les' mail is relevant here -- he seems to think that we should
argue based on what we _want_ to be true, rather than what the evidence
actually indicates?


I didn't say you 'should' do that. I just don't see the point of
arguing for something you don't want.



Do you believe that copyright law _prevents_ the GPL from making
requirements about those separate works, in such a way that still lets
you distribute the GPL'd work without complying with the licence?


The license is the only thing that lets you distribute at all. I don't
think anyone argues with that.



Or do you believe that the GPL does not actually impose the requirements
it seems to impose in §2?


Aggregation is permitted.


Perhaps you believe that _all_ forms of
aggregation can be labelled "mere aggregation on a volume of a storage
or distribution medium" and thus that the whole of those three
paragraphs in the licence are just a big no-op?


Do you see something in there that defines how aggregation can and can't
be done? At one level, on unix-like systems a disk, a filesystem, and
and archive are really all files. So you are just quibbling over
irrelevant file formatting details until you look at the content.



Can we submit a
non-GPL'd driver as a .o file, call it 'mere aggregation' and argue that
it's not a GPL violation?


Linus was once widely quoted as saying that that it was not a violation
even if he won't stand behind that statement today. I probably would
never have used it for any work had binary drivers been prohibited from
the start. Note the exception to the stock GPL in regard to the use of
interfaces in the Linux license.



Or is it another example of Les' "we argue what we want to believe,
regardless of the facts"?


The facts are that aggregation is permitted and the techniques of
aggregation aren't enumerated to some limited set. If it were otherwise
the current aggregation wouldn't exist.


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Old 06-10-2008, 09:29 AM
David Woodhouse
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Mon, 2008-06-09 at 17:33 -0400, Alan Cox wrote:
> I do not believe they are "part of a whole which is a work based on..". In
> this case I believe they are independant works that are merely aggregated.

To be clear, I also believe them to be independent works -- I don't
think there's any debate about that.

But they are independent works which are being combined into a larger,
coherent whole and distributed that way. I do not believe that they are
"merely aggregated on a volume of a storage or distribution medium" like
a magazine cover CD. And thus, I believe that the GPL extends "to each
and every part, regardless of who wrote it".

_That_ is the 'alternate position'; not this:
> The alternate position would be that a general interface between two
> independent works somehow made them one.

Not at all. That would be silly, and is clearly _not_ my position.

The general interface between the firmware and the kernel exists even
when you distribute the firmware as a separate work. And the GPL clearly
doesn't apply to it when you distribute it as a separate work.

It is the _distribution_ of a collective whole based on both firmware
and kernel together, which makes the difference under the GPL.

> That would just as equally say that firefox and the web are one work.

That's a complete non-sequitur -- nobody would ever attempt to
_distribute_ an aggregation of "firefox" and "the web" together as a
single collective whole. You really do seem to have missed the point
that it's about _distribution_, of both derived and _collective_ works.

I believe that if we follow your logic, we should also be able to
distribute GPL'd code linked against proprietary libraries. Yes, we've
combined them together into one executable -- but evidently we can call
it "merely aggregation" and get away with anything. There's a general
interface between the independent parts, which you seem to believe
excuses the combination, yes?

We should be able to distribute binary-only drivers actually linked into
the kernel too. If we accept that they are independent works in the
first place¹, then 'merely aggregating' them into the vmlinux should be
fine, right?

Now admittedly, there _is_ a grey area here -- it's not particularly
clear-cut where "collective works based on the Program" ends, and where
"mere aggregation on a volume of a storage or distribution medium"
starts.

But even though there's a grey area, I don't think it's at all realistic
to stretch that boundary as far as you seem to be claiming we should.

You seem to be arguing as if you believe that incorporation of any
'independent' work automatically means that we should consider the
combined whole to be 'mere aggregation on a volume of a storage or
distribution medium', rather than a collective work with associated
requirements under the GPL.

Yet the GPL _explicitly_ states that it refers to such collective works
-- with explicit reference to sections of that whole which, when
distributed separately, would be considered independent and separate
works in themselves. Your viewpoint would render the latter half of §2 a
verbose no-op, and is clearly at odds with the intent, as well as the
letter, of the GPL.

But as ever, there is no definitive answer to that until/unless it's
ruled in court.

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¹ which admittedly is disputed by some, but not the point here.

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Old 06-10-2008, 09:36 AM
Alan Cox
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 10:29:53AM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
> It is the _distribution_ of a collective whole based on both firmware
> and kernel together, which makes the difference under the GPL.

Are you claiming they are a database. I don't understand your "collective work"
here. What sort of a work do you claim it is, and why does the collective work
acquire some kind of extra rights ?

> I believe that if we follow your logic, we should also be able to
> distribute GPL'd code linked against proprietary libraries. Yes, we've
> combined them together into one executable -- but evidently we can call
> it "merely aggregation" and get away with anything. There's a general
> interface between the independent parts, which you seem to believe
> excuses the combination, yes?

In some cases the answer is probably yes, not because the GPL likes the idea
but because the rights in copyright probably don't extend to that.

> We should be able to distribute binary-only drivers actually linked into
> the kernel too. If we accept that they are independent works in the
> first place??, then 'merely aggregating' them into the vmlinux should be
> fine, right?

That rather depends upon whether they are derivative which is an area that
seems ot have little clarity and no computing caselaw.

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Old 06-10-2008, 01:24 PM
David Woodhouse
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Tue, 2008-06-10 at 05:36 -0400, Alan Cox wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 10:29:53AM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
> > It is the _distribution_ of a collective whole based on both firmware
> > and kernel together, which makes the difference under the GPL.
>
> Are you claiming they are a database. I don't understand your "collective work"
> here. What sort of a work do you claim it is, and why does the collective work
> acquire some kind of extra rights ?

Under copyright law, a collective work is a work in which a number of
contributions, each constituting separate and independent works in
themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.

To create a collective work, permission must be obtained from the owners
of the copyrights of the constituent parts.

Obviously, there is nothing in copyright law which allows someone to
make claims over an independent work _you_ have written all by yourself.
The GPL operates under copyright law, and as such it only talks about
permissions which you are granted, or denied, in relation to the GPL'd
work itself. That includes the permission, or refusal of permission, to
include that GPL'd work within a collective work.

It so happens that the GPL grants you permission to include the GPL'd
"Program" in a collective work _only_ when the other constituent parts
of that collective work are also available under the terms of the GPL.

No magic "extra rights" over the other, independent sections are
implied, and none are needed. It's just that unless those independent
sections _do_ happen to be available under the terms of the GPL, you are
refused permission to include the original GPL'd "Program" in your
collective work.

That is _entirely_ within the remit of a copyright licence. It operates
purely by restricting your permissions on the original GPL'd work.


Consider an analogy: I write short stories. Copyright law states that
you do not have permission to publish my short stories in an anthology
unless I grant it to you.

I grant blanket permission for _anyone_ to reprint my stories in their
collections, but _only_ if the other stories in each collection are all
stories which have been made available under the same terms.

You publish an anthology with a bunch of my stories and one of your own,
for which you have _not_ granted such permission to others. That is an
offence under copyright law. Not because I have assumed "some kind of
extra rights" over your own independent work, but because you didn't
have permission to use _my_ work in those circumstances.

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Old 06-10-2008, 02:43 PM
Alan Cox
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 02:24:30PM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
> Under copyright law, a collective work is a work in which a number of
> contributions, each constituting separate and independent works in
> themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.

Yes I know that. I'm curious why you think the two independent works are
somehow a collective work.

> work itself. That includes the permission, or refusal of permission, to
> include that GPL'd work within a collective work.

The GPL says:

"In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program
with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of
a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under
the scope of this License."

Last time I checked both disk and RAM are storage media and the two works
appear to be independent.

I can't find a rational way to interpret it otherwise. We get into the world
of 'f the program is GPL then the icons are GPL because they are connected
with it. Or games where you'd argue the music files magically become GPL

Take the cases you think are a collective/derivative and the cases you think are
not and define a test by which this can be ascertained, then perhaps I can
see what you are trying to argue..

> Consider an analogy: I write short stories. Copyright law states that
> you do not have permission to publish my short stories in an anthology
> unless I grant it to you.

Subject to the limits in law yes.

> I grant blanket permission for _anyone_ to reprint my stories in their
> collections, but _only_ if the other stories in each collection are all
> stories which have been made available under the same terms.

And as a publisher I publish your work and a different work under different
covers. The retailer happens to decide to resell them as a bundle.

Now I'd like to get to that state anyway so that firmware is nicely seperate
from the kernel sources and it is clearer about licenses and what is what. I'm
unconvinced it is neccessary, but I am not a lawyer.

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Old 06-10-2008, 03:32 PM
David Woodhouse
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Tue, 2008-06-10 at 10:43 -0400, Alan Cox wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 02:24:30PM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
> > Under copyright law, a collective work is a work in which a number of
> > contributions, each constituting separate and independent works in
> > themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.
>
> Yes I know that. I'm curious why you think the two independent works are
> somehow a collective work.

Because they have been assembled into a collective whole; the bzImage
file which is distributed and used as a single entity, and which makes
use of both the firmware and the GPL'd kernel code.

Also, in the case of the source code, because they are integrated into
the kernel source and into its build system, and distributed as
complementary parts of a coherent whole.

> > work itself. That includes the permission, or refusal of permission, to
> > include that GPL'd work within a collective work.
>
> The GPL says:
>
> "In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program
> with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of
> a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under
> the scope of this License."
>
> Last time I checked both disk and RAM are storage media and the two works
> appear to be independent.
>
> I can't find a rational way to interpret it otherwise.

I do not find it rational to assert that the above-quoted exception
exempts _all_ collective work from the preceding conditions, purely on
the basis that it happens to be stored on a 'storage medium'. Such a
wide-sweeping exemption would effectively render the preceding two
paragraphs entirely redundant.

When it speaks of 'mere aggregation on a volume of a storage or
distribution medium', I take that to mean things like free and shareware
software CDs on the cover of a magazine. Not a blanket exemption for
_any_ work which happens to get stored on something we can call a
'storage medium', which would even cover examples like GPL'd programs
using proprietary libraries.

You effectively seem to be saying "you can do what you like as long as
you store it on disk", which is not a reasonable interpretation of the
intent of those sections of the GPL.

> We get into the world of 'f the program is GPL then the icons are GPL
> because they are connected with it. Or games where you'd argue the
> music files magically become GPL

Again, it would depend on whether the icons, or music files, are
distributed as part of a collective whole which is a work based on the
Program. There is no fundamental problem here.

And nothing "magically becomes GPL". Either it _is_ available under a
GPL-compatible licence and you are permitted to incorporate it into a
collective work under the terms of the GPL, or not, and you may not do
so. There's no magic involved.

> Take the cases you think are a collective/derivative and the cases you think are
> not and define a test by which this can be ascertained, then perhaps I can
> see what you are trying to argue..

As I said, it is a grey area. There is no easy test. We understand what
a collective work is, of course, and we can see that the GPL explicitly
spells out its intention to extend to collective works based on the
Program, and explicitly speaks of its permissions extending to sections
of a collective work which are independent and separate works in
themselves, but distributed as part of a collective work.

The only part which is really subject to interpretation is the part you
quoted above, where it grants an exception for "mere aggregation on a
volume of a storage or distribution medium". You seem to believe that
this exception applies to _anything_ you can store on a hard drive or in
memory -- which I don't consider to be at all reasonable because it
would effectively render the preceding paragraphs of the §2 entirely
pointless, and is obviously not consistent with the stated intent.

I believe that exception is intended for things such as magazine cover
CDs, carrying a bunch of mostly unrelated software. It _might_ even (and
I suspect we should hope that it does) cover Linux distributions with
many programs collected together for convenient installation. But when
it comes to such things as a bzImage file which contains both a driver
for some hardware _and_ the firmware which drives it, and which will not
operate on that hardware unless both of those fundamentally intertwined
parts are present, I do not believe that is covered by the exception.

The test, if a single such test were possible, would probably be
something along the lines of whether the works in question were really
just bundled together on a hard drive or CD as if by coincidence, or
whether they're really interdependent.

It would actually make more sense for me to ask the same question of
_you_, since your interpretation would seem to be rendering that part of
the GPL entirely void. Can you tell us under what circumstances you
believe the GPL _would_ extend to something which is reasonably
considered an 'independent and separate work in itself', and what _your_
'test' would be?

> Now I'd like to get to that state anyway so that firmware is nicely seperate
> from the kernel sources and it is clearer about licenses and what is what. I'm
> unconvinced it is neccessary, but I am not a lawyer.

As I said, there's no real answer to the question of whether it's "mere
aggregation on a volume of a storage or distribution medium"
until/unless a court has ruled on it -- and we each seem to think that
the other's position is irrational.

But I think we can agree that _until_ there's a ruling, including the
firmware in the kernel is just a gratuitous risk. At least, I'm
_working_ on making it gratuitous, by removing the _technical_ obstacles
which have historically made it suboptimal to remove the firmware from
the kernel -- and when that's done, it'll just be silly for us to
continue to include it. With the CONFIG_BUILTIN_FIRMWARE config option,
you _can_ still include arbitrary firmware into your kernel, if you want
to take that legal risk. But it'll no longer be the default.

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