Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Apr 2007 13:14 UTC, submitted by detonator
OpenBSD "I, Michael Buesch, am one of the maintainers of the GPL'd Linux wireless LAN driver for the Broadcom chip (bcm43xx). The Copyright holders of bcm43xx (which includes me) want to talk to you, OpenBSD bcw developers, about possible GPL license and therefore copyright violations in your bcw driver. We believe that you might have directly copied code out of bcm43xx (licensed under GPL v2), without our explicit permission, into bcw (licensed under BSD license)." The entire thread can be found here.
Thread beginning with comment 228136
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE[2]: re
by DonQ on Fri 6th Apr 2007 14:53 UTC in reply to "RE: re"
DonQ
Member since:
2005-06-29

He doesn't want Broadcom, who aren't cooperating with the OSS community at all, to profit from their work. If OpenBSD were allowed to re-release the code under a BSD license, Broadcom could use the work to improve their own drivers for Windows and OS X, while still not cooperating with the OSS community.

Rewording this sentence as I see it:

We, GPL people, won't allow Broadcom to make better drivers for Windows and OSX.

This is the nastiest philosophical difference between BSD and GPL style licenses. BSD code is written to be benfitting anyone (including users of propieritary products); GPL code is meant for GPL camp only.
I understand (and respect) GPL ideology and I'm not against using it for standalone applications, but for drivers it is not the best license. Like noted above by someone - drivers need to be in public domain.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: re
by tsuraan on Fri 6th Apr 2007 15:09 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
tsuraan Member since:
2006-01-16

We, GPL people, won't allow Broadcom to make better drivers for Windows and OSX.

That's exactly their intention. Broadcom is not a company that gives anything to anybody. For a public project to improve their drivers (allowing them to take and integrate at will) only helps to strengthen their position in the market, which hurts all of open source software. The biggest rip on Linux, and all the open kernels, is driver support. Why should any open project help a company that won't help any open projects, and indeed furthers the fact that open kernels have poor driver support?

The ideal situation (outside of Broadcom actually cooperating with outsiders) would be for demand for Broadcom products to fall to such a degree that Linux's poor support for their cards is a non-issue. GPL'd drivers aren't going to accomplish that, but at least they're not helping an entity that makes open kernels look bad.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: re
by tony on Fri 6th Apr 2007 15:14 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
tony Member since:
2005-07-06

We, GPL people, won't allow Broadcom to make better drivers for Windows and OSX.

That would be true, if the GPL authors somehow obtained the authority to prevent broadcom and others from writing better drivers. The GPL nor the authors have that authority, nor are they attempting in this case to obtain or perpetrate such authority.

A better translation might be:

We, GPL people, won't allow Broadcom to make better drivers based on our work.

That's a far more accurate assessment, and something within their rights as copyright holders who are free to license the code in whatever manner they feel is appropriate.

This is the nastiest philosophical difference between BSD and GPL style licenses. BSD code is written to be benfitting anyone (including users of propieritary products); GPL code is meant for GPL camp only. I understand (and respect) GPL ideology and I'm not against using it for standalone applications, but for drivers it is not the best license. Like noted above by someone - drivers need to be in public domain.

The way I see it, I'm glad there are both GPL and BSD licenses. That is the true freedom. Freedom to license the code and have it used in the manner you think best is appropriate.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: re
by segedunum on Fri 6th Apr 2007 15:20 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

We, GPL people, won't allow Broadcom to make better drivers for Windows and OSX.

This is the nastiest philosophical difference between BSD and GPL style licenses.


No, not at all. If Broadcom were to make GPLed drivers for Windows and OS X and share the code back, then no problems. That's how things move forwards, and how the Linux kernel works as well as it does. That's the primary concern of the developers in this - not making better drivers for Windows or OS X.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: re
by DonQ on Fri 6th Apr 2007 16:16 in reply to "RE[3]: re"
DonQ Member since:
2005-06-29

We, GPL people, won't allow Broadcom to make better drivers for Windows and OSX.

This is the nastiest philosophical difference between BSD and GPL style licenses.


No, not at all. If Broadcom were to make GPLed drivers for Windows and OS X and share the code back, then no problems. That's how things move forwards, and how the Linux kernel works as well as it does. That's the primary concern of the developers in this - not making better drivers for Windows or OS X.

Yes and no.

From (GPL) developers standpoint I can agree - they did the dirty work, but hardware maker won't give anything back - why then allow it to use this code?

But from users standpoint this is nonsense. User wants well working hardware and that's all. In current case it's clear that GPL actually goes against the normal users, it doesn't make them any good.

Or if Broadcom propieritary drivers are good enough, then initially cited claim (we don't want Broadcom to take our code) is unreasoned, because Broadcom wouldn't want their code anyway.

Somehow seems that GPL people are afraid that their code may not be so good as they think after all...

Of course this is speculative opinion, I don't know about neither (GPL nor propieritary) drivers quality.

BTW, differently from Linux kernel development, in current case GPL does not move driver development forward.
Neither Broadcom nor OpenBSD people will give anything back to GPL team, so are there no other commercial parties, who would be interested in developing these drivers. Single developers - yes, but they would contribute back to BSDL code either.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: re
by cjcoats on Fri 6th Apr 2007 16:41 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
cjcoats Member since:
2006-04-16

We, GPL people, won't allow Broadcom to steal our work to make better closed/proprietary drivers for Windows and OSX.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: re
by Duffman on Fri 6th Apr 2007 16:51 in reply to "RE[4]: re"
Duffman Member since:
2005-11-23

I never saw such arrogant words.
Just as broadcom need them to make the driver for THEIR OWN hardware.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: re
by stephanem on Fri 6th Apr 2007 18:50 in reply to "RE[4]: re"
stephanem Member since:
2006-01-11

That's just egotistical to think that ONLY open source developers develop quality drivers.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: re
by gsyoungblood on Fri 6th Apr 2007 17:13 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
gsyoungblood Member since:
2007-01-09

THey have no problem with Broadcom making better drivers. What they have a problem with is Broadcom appropriating THEIR work without appropriate compensation to use for whatever purpose, whether that be better drivers or not.

The key phrase, "appropriate compensation," is what matters. In their case, that compensation might simply be the release of the new driver source code back to the community, it does not have to be monetary in nature.

I don't follow this particular vendor, but some hardware manufacturer's are notoriously closed about their hardware and the specs needed to write good drivers. Assuming Broadcom is one of those companies, why should they be permitted to take the hard work of another group that wants their code open, use it for Broadcom's benefit without complying with the terms of the original authors and closing the code?

Suppose the reverse engineered driver doesn't take advantage of something in the chipset because Broadcom didn't release the specs. Broadcom takes the bcm43xx code, adds support for that special chipset, making the driver work a little better. Only now, instead of releasing that change back to the community under the terms of the GPL, they keep it closed. Broadcom benefits at the expense of the original developer's work.

To me, it doesn't matter what license you work with, GPL, LGPL, BSD, Artistic, whatever. If you are using code, respect the license that code was created under. If the license won't work for what you want to do with it, contact the license holders and ask to license it differently.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: re
by antik on Fri 6th Apr 2007 17:20 in reply to "RE[3]: re"
antik Member since:
2006-05-19

Broadcom takes the bcm43xx code, adds support for that special chipset, making the driver work a little better. Only now, instead of releasing that change back to the community under the terms of the GPL, they keep it closed.

Do they(Broadcom) care at all if it is GPL or BSD licensed code? How can you tell if they actually used/embraced FREE code or not?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: re
by Oliver on Fri 6th Apr 2007 17:26 in reply to "RE[3]: re"
Oliver Member since:
2006-07-15

The can steal "ideas" from the code, whenever they want to. So it's nonsense to talk about protecting the code. It's one mistake on the OpenBSD side and hate on the other side. Man to man would be the right way, not this childish behaviour!

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: re
by rayiner on Fri 6th Apr 2007 18:15 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
rayiner Member since:
2005-07-06

The phrase offset by commas, though not gramatically required for correctness, is essential to the meaning of this sentence. It means the difference between denying someone help out of being petty, and denying someone help because they are being belligerent.

It's the difference between:

We don't wish to provide aid to Iran.

And:

We don't wish to provide aid to Iran, which is threatening to blow us up.

If Broadcom doesn't want to be nice to the OSS community, we don't need to be nice to them. Simple, pure playground rules, unsullied by nonsense about "helping everyone".

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: re
by pepa on Fri 6th Apr 2007 20:41 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
pepa Member since:
2005-07-08

Broadcom can use the GPL'ed driver, but they can't close it, and they will have to share improvements they make to the GPL'ed code. That would all be great. Under a BSD license, there would be little incentive for companies to share their improvements.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: re
by Oliver on Fri 6th Apr 2007 20:42 in reply to "RE[3]: re"
Oliver Member since:
2006-07-15

They can steal it and nobody will know it - that's the problem with closed-source ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: re
by archiesteel on Sat 7th Apr 2007 20:27 in reply to "RE[2]: re"
archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

Like noted above by someone - drivers need to be in public domain.


...so, you think that Broadcom should release their drivers in the public domain, then?

I don't understand how you can both say that GPL is bad because it prevents Broadcom from using the GPLed drivers and make closed-source versions of them afterwards, while saying that drivers should be public domain. You don't seem to fully understand this issue, at least that's the impression your contradictory arguments leave me.

Reply Parent Score: 4