State a "Freedom Position"?

Warren Togami wtogami at
Wed Mar 21 22:01:38 UTC 2007

Max Spevack wrote:
> On Tue, 20 Mar 2007, Dave Jones wrote:
>> This problem is much bigger than just wireless too. If we decide to go 
>> the crazy debian route of not shipping firmware, we can forget about a 
>> ton of storage hardware, a bunch of ethernet drivers, x86 microcode 
>> updates, some sound cards and probably a bunch of USB gadgets.
> That's not even something we're talking about.
> Fedora's "freedom position" has been pretty consistent for a while now. 
> There will always be people who don't like it, and so we'll have one of 
> these threads from time to time, but that doesn't mean we're making any 
> major new decisions.


We should state unequivocally what this freedom position is, and ordain 
it as "official".

A freedom position would be based on elements something like:
- Binary-only drivers are completely unacceptable, because they violate 
the GPL (and thus copyrights), and are ethically wrong.
- Rarer situations like the ipw3945 driver with a GPL abusing interface 
for a binary-only daemon, is unacceptable.
- Patented software without a perpetual and irrevocable license to FOSS 
is unacceptable.
- Only reproducible FOSS licensed software is acceptable.
- Exception: Binary firmware (narrowly defined, redistributable, not in 
violation of any licenses) is acceptable because it is essentially part 
of the hardware.

This effectively puts Fedora furthest toward "freedom", even beyond 
Debian.  Only we explicitly differ with the FSF's position on (narrowly 
defined specific) binary firmware.

1) Redistributable binary-only firmware that operates only within the 
hardware (perhaps more narrowly defined than this, but the intent is 
understood here) does not violate any FOSS license or copyrights.
2) Furthermore, because it is part of the hardware's operation itself, 
there is no ethical problem.

This seems to be the consensus of past discussions within Fedora.

Perhaps I am just unaware, but are there logical arguments against these 
two assertions?

Warren Togami
wtogami at

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