OpenBSD bcw driver and GPL stolen code / violation issue

last updated in Categories GNU/Open source, Linux, News, OpenBSD

I don’t wanna get into BSD vs GPL war here. If I were GPL guy (Michael) I’d prefer to talk other BSD guy in private first regarding this issue. Following is email posted by Michael Buesch:

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).

My question is very simple – why not put all drivers in public domain? This will solve almost all problems. Theo removed the driver from OpenBSD CVS tree and problem solved:

Yes, this driver has other problems though. To begin with, it does not even run yet, in any sense. Since it is not actual using code, there will be those who argue that the full impact of the GPL does not come to bear yet — noone is “using” the code yet. But beyond that, these types of problem should not exist in our tree. It will be resolved.

The whole thing is childish and unnecessary. It gives open source community a bad name.

The OpenBSD Community has more reactions.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

3 comment

  1. OpenBSD is good project. But *theo* is an a$$hole. He always has been and always will be. He makes fight and issue out of anything (see IPv6 remote hole).

  2. Yes, the public CC’ing was needed. It would not have been needed had the code not been relicensed under the BSD. Because it was licensed under the BSD, anyone could have taken that code and added it to their codebase. What if FreeBSD had taken the code and been working on it for their next release? Even though the issue with OpenBSD might have been resolved, a public announcement makes *sure* that everyone knows that the OpenBSD code is suspect. Besides, all of this hand-wringing over whether Michael was correct in his actions masks the real problem: OpenBSD had GPL’d code relicensed under the BSD license by a developer who should have known better. And it sucks that we won’t get an OpenBSD driver now even though Michael was willing to work with Marcus to get the issues resolved.

  3. GPL is evil. I would call this license a golden cuffs. Its creator should respond for the crime against the mankind.

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