I think the reason people don't complain about the BIOS (more than they do; see LinuxBIOS) is that the BIOS could be considered part of the hardware. So could microcode in the processor.
If hardware manufacturers put the "sensitive" portions of their drivers in firmware, using Forth or something else compact to provide a programmable interface to the hardware, then they could release free drivers that just sent the necessary commands to the firmware. I don't think that would be objectionable, since, again, the firmware could be considered part of the hardware.
Maybe. I'm not a lawyer. (I would like to see free firmware, mind you, but I think free software is more important.)
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