Redistributability of Qualcomm SBL/RPM/... files


#1

The bootloader files in http://builds.96boards.org/releases/dragonboard410c/linaro/rescue/latest/dragonboard410c_bootloader_emmc_linux-72.zip are accompanied in by a license which has several requirements which are not very clear:


1.2 Redistribution Restrictions.

Distribution of the Redistributable Binary Code is subject to the following
restrictions: (i) Redistributable Binary Code may only be distributed in binary
format and may not be distributed in source code format: (ii) Redistributable
Binary Code may not be distributed on a stand alone basis but may be
redistributed in conjunction with and as a part of a software application
created by you; (iii) the Redistributable Binary Code may only operate in
conjunction with platforms incorporating Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. chipsets;
(iv) redistribution of the Redistributable Binary Code must include the .txt
file setting forth the terms and condition of this Agreement; (v) you may not
use Qualcomm Technologies’ or its affiliates or subsidiaries name, logo or
trademarks; and (vi) copyright, trademark, patent and any other notices that
appear on the Materials may not be removed or obscured.

Of these, only (i) [distribution in binary form] and (iv) [inclusion of the license.txt] are obvious and straight forward to abide by.

(ii): What constitutes a “software”? The zip file above contains the bootloaders, license file (which are the distributables itself), and a mere 10 line shell script to copy these to the flash. Does this satisfy the “software application” requirement, or was this zip file created under a special grant? If I create a disk image constituting of the bootloaders, linux kernel and userland, does this qualify, although I may have not created anything of the above myself but merely aggregate it? If during the image creation process a deb or rpm package is created which contains nothing but the bootloaders and license, is it legal to grant access to this package?

(iii) How can I satisfy the requirement? As soon as I have passed on the files to someone else, I can no further control their actions.

(v) what accounts for usage of Qualcomms name etc.? For one, I have to refer to Qualcomm to link the license text and the files the license applies to, on the other hand I am not allowed to do this?

(vi) There are no “notices” on the Materials, as these have no physical form. Can I just ignore this requirement?

Kind regards,

Stefan


#2

So firstly, I am not the licencor or a their representative. Secondly, I have no formal legal training. I do have enough intellectual curiosity to study the records of various US lawsuits that could impact my career but my knowledge is patchy. If you have doubts, you need legal advice.

(ii): What constitutes a “software”? The zip file above contains the bootloaders, license file (which are the distributables itself), and a mere 10 line shell script to copy these to the flash. Does this satisfy the “software application” requirement, or was this zip file created under a special grant? If I create a disk image constituting of the bootloaders, linux kernel and userland, does this qualify, although I may have not created anything of the above myself but merely aggregate it? If during the image creation process a deb or rpm package is created which contains nothing but the bootloaders and license, is it legal to grant access to this package?

I’m afraid I have no clue where a court would be likely to draw the line is drawn between distribution on a stand alone basis and distribution as part of a software application.

(iii) How can I satisfy the requirement? As soon as I have passed on the files to someone else, I can no further control their actions.

How do you think this clause seeks to hold you accountable for the actions of others?

(v) what accounts for usage of Qualcomms name etc.? For one, I have to refer to Qualcomm to link the license text and the files the license applies to, on the other hand I am not allowed to do this?

(iv) instructs to you include the .txt file, not link to it. You should not need to use any trademarks to state what files the license applies to.

(vi) There are no “notices” *on* the Materials, as these have no physical form. Can I just ignore this requirement?

Legal disputes sometimes result in the different parties arguing for differing interpretations of common words such as “on”. Thus aggressive legal approaches result in people actively looking for loopholes to allow some clauses to be voided, whilst conservative legal strategies involve thinking about whether you can tolerate with a wide interpretation of the clause and behaving accordingly. Thus as a thought experiment I suggest you consider whether a wider interpretation of “on” so that it has a meaning closer to “within” would cause you any problems.

PS The same approach may help you choose how you interpret (ii), (iii) and (v) as well.


#3

First, I am not looking for some laymans interpretation of the license (I can do that myself), but for clarification, best from Qualcomm or any of its representatives, or links to clarifying statements by Qualcomm.

Regarding (iii), I am only allowed to redistribute if I follow the terms. Some shrink-wrap license approval might be sufficient, maybe even passing on the license file, but this needs clarification. If explicit approval by the downloader or end user is required, the linked download from 96boards.org likely violates the license.

(iv) The license only applies to the parts (bootloader) provided by Qualcomm, nothing else. I have to mention which parts are ruled by Qualcomms license and which are governed by other licenses, i.e. I have to “link” software and license. Most other licenses I have seen grant use of names and trademarks for anything but advertising, this license forbids any use.

I don’t want to look for loopholes, I don’t want to go to court to get any clarification. As long as the license remains unclear, I consider the bootloader not redistributable. This is not a real problem for me, I will just use different hardware. Its in the best interest of Qualcomm to get a broad userbase for its product. Other companies provide clear licenses (e.g. TI, ARM, …), even the often blamed chinese chip makers are slowly learning how to do this, why can’t Qualcomm?