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Open Source coders caught stealing Open Source code

Penguins tell OpenBSD to make its own driver
Thu Apr 05 2007, 14:50
DEVELOPERS OF OpenBSD took code from their brethren at Linux, violating the code's licence, the GPL. To the horror of the Linux folk, the OpenBSD licence allows proprietary use.

The Linux coders went to great pains to reverse engineer Broadcom's wireless chipset. The company's hardware is found in many wireless devices, but Broadcom shuns open source.

To avoid all legal difficulties, the Linux developers split themselves in two strictly independent teams. One group studied Broadcom's Windows driver and compiled a nearly perfect technical specification. This was used by the second team to develop a GPL'ed Linux driver, the bcm43xx.

Far less scrupulous, the OpenBSD developers seem to have simply copied bits of that GPL code into their own driver, bcw, published under the BSD licence.

Michael Buesch, lead developer for the Linux driver, stumbled across the copied code in the bcw earlier this week. Yesterday he sent a stern email to the developers at OpenBSD, copying in the bcm43xx developers mailing list here.

Buesch writes there are details in the OpenBSD driver that are clearly taken from the Linux version. "We made great efforts to keep our code clean of any copyright issues. Please make sure you also do."

According to Buesch, the Linux driver was published under the GPL specifically to avoid proprietary vendors from using their work to publish closed source drivers.

Theo de Raadt, OpenBSD's project leader, told Buesch he should stop doing Broadcom's work.

"Because of a few GPL issues you are willing to use very strong words, disrupting the efforts of one guy who is trying to do things for the BSD community. You did not privately mail that developer. You basically went public with it."

That'll be our job, Theo. µ


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