Although the issue may sound trivial/harmless to people on the lkml, it was a frequent cause of confusion for the average person.
This is a good thing. There is a real danger of Linux working too cleanly and easily for the common user with proprietary kernel modules and with hardware that can't be supported by free software. Specifically, the drive to have any open-source supported hardware goes away. We've already basically got this with video cards; as far as I can tell, no video card manufacturer is supplying programming information any more. Rather, any recent video card requires proprietary drivers if you want to use 3d acceleration. (Somebody please prove me wrong.) The fact that so many distributions make it easy to do this means that only the fanatics like me and kernel developers notice any more.
If we can use licensing requirements to at least let the people who otherwise wouldn't notice realize that they're making a compromise, it might help avoid, or at least slow, completely damping out the motivation for there to be open source drivers for hardware.
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