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Missing information

Missing information

Posted Apr 12, 2007 3:32 UTC (Thu) by paravoid (subscriber, #32869)
Parent article: How not to handle a licensing violation

There is an important piece of information that is missing from the article.
bcm43xx, unlike most (if not all) drivers, followed the Chinese Wall approach on the reverse engineering; that is, one team of developers looked at the disassemblies of Broadcom's code and wrote specs and another team took the specs and implemented a driver.

As a result, there are actually open specifications on the hardware -- unlike most drivers where the code *is* the specification.
Usually, BSD developers can only read through the GPL code to implement a driver and try(?) hard not to copy actual code (i.e. derive) from Linux.

In this case, there was no reason of reading or copying the code from Linux.
There were open specifications, like those that Theo has been asking from every vendor by *publicly* attacking them (talk about PR...)

The bcm43xx project went through the trouble of having distinct teams, one to read the proprietary code and one to write the GPL one, so their code would not be tainted by any implementation details.
The particular BSD developer had _open specifications_ and instead he preferred *copying* the implementation from Linux.
Not to mention replacing all ocurrences of "bcm43xx" with "bcw", stripping the GPL license, stripping the copyright, adding his name and making numerous CVS commits on the way.

How can this be called "an honest mistake"? It's nothing but honest.
This is a blatant copyright violation and an insult on the excessively time-consuming work of the bcm43xx developers.
IMHO, it should be treated as such. Michael Buesch was too *kind*.

I'm happy this was public and all of we were informed.
The deletion of the bcw driver was an unforunate event but I'm happy for it because the BSD developers (and its benevolent dictator) would not do what was needed, again IMHO, in this case: reverting the driver before the commits of the infringing code and banning the developer who made that commit from further development of this particular code.

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