Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

jeff moe at blagblagblag.org
Mon Jun 16 01:39:41 UTC 2008

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  *      Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,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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