Isn't Atheros HAL/OpenHAL something that runs on the host CPU?
The folks at prism54.org are developing FreeMAC, free (GPLed with source code) firmware for
Conexant wireless chips. Seems they have it easy though, since the Prism54 wireless cards have
an ARM CPU on them.
So, as long as wireless devices don't require firmware images to be signed before running them
(like bitfrost), we'll likely be able to try to write free firmware - and violate the
Anyways, I don't see how one firmware image can know which country it is in and which
regulations to comply with, nor if the user has a special licence to do software
radio/hamradio or the like. Even a kernel driver probably wouldn't be able to know that
without some kind of configuration info passed to it.