[openmoko-announce] Crossroads

Martin Lefkowitz lefko at sbcglobal.net
Wed Mar 14 17:51:37 CET 2007

I disagree with that premise that it is a nasty legal area. 

Modules can be proprietary this is a fact. 

Not only have I been directly involved in the development of such, but
have talked to people that did serious research on what is legal and
what isn't. 

If it were not then everybody would have already sued everybody.  So far
it's only linksys that had to disclose their WRT54g code.  I can almost
guarantee you that no chip company is going to open themselves up to
that.  There is just too much money at stake in the development process.

I can understand why you would want to not have hardware built into the
platform that has this issue.  I don't agree with it, but I can
understand it.  But, I can not understand why you wouldn't want an SDIO
slot that would allow the user to make the choice.

Also what was mentioned earlier about the SDIO stack -- this is very
immature software and hardware.  The SDIO hardware market has not shaken
out yet, which is risk, but coming up with a linux based sdio wedge for
a particular piece of HW may go a long way to ensuring that that chip is
one of the winners.

Harald Welte wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 14, 2007 at 08:01:08AM -0700, Martin Lefkowitz wrote:
>> In my opinion, unless there is another company that can meet his
>> requirements, the only real answer is to have an SDIO interface and let
>> the end user/developer decide how to load a binary into the kernel from
>> the chipset vendor.  
> No way.  We will never encourage our users to use legally questionable
> code.  As soon as you opt for proprietary bits in the kernel, you enter
> a _meassy_ and nasty legal grey area.
> Please don't start a GPL / Licensing / binary-only lkm debate here.
> This has been discussed over and over at other times.
> I doubt you will find any reasonably technically and legally skilled
> person who would ever claim tha having proprietary kernel modules is a
> well-defined legal area.
> This kind of decision is what differentiates us from [almost] all the
> other vendors out there.
> If we cannot find a 100% GPL compatible WiFi solution, we will not have
> WiFi at all in our devices.  This is sad, but we're not compromising on
> this.
> Now if some of you ask yourself: But you're having binary-only GPS code!
> My answer is:
> 1) it's in userspace, and thus not a legal issue at all.  Nobody argues
>    that running Oracle on top of a Linux kernel is a GPL violation.  No
>    grey arae. Clear-cut and 100% legal.
> 2) it's not required to make the phone wokr.  GPS is definitely a add-on
>    feature, a gimmick.  Not as important as communication channels like
>    GSM, Bluetooth, WiFi.

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