NEW YORK, July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Development of OpenHAL, a wireless
network component for Linux, can now resume unfettered after months of
legal uncertainty. OpenHAL allows people with wireless cards based on
technology from Atheros Communications, Inc. to connect to networks using
solely free and open source software.
Earlier this year, allegations were made that OpenHAL might include
material that infringed the copyright of Atheros' proprietary HAL software.
The Linux Wireless developers asked the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC)
to investigate these rumors, and SFLC agreed to help on a pro-bono basis.
SFLC subsequently conducted a confidential audit, carefully comparing
OpenHAL to Atheros' proprietary HAL code.
After performing the audit, SFLC concluded that OpenHAL does not
infringe copyrights held by Atheros. As a result, OpenHAL development can
now continue safely, unencumbered by legal uncertainty so long as the
OpenHAL developers continue their work in isolation from Atheros'
"Our ultimate goal is to have full support for Atheros devices included
in the Linux kernel," said Luis Rodriguez, a Linux Wireless developer. "By
providing legal clearance, the Software Freedom Law Center has helped us
get one step closer to making this a reality."
"We believe that this outcome will clear the way for eventual
acceptance of a new wireless driver into the Linux kernel," said John
Linville, the Linux kernel maintainer for wireless networking.
"The OpenHAL developers can now continue development with legal
clarity," said Karen Sandler, an attorney at SFLC. "We thank Atheros for
granting us confidential access to its proprietary HAL source code for
purposes of the review. We join Atheros in encouraging developers to avoid
proprietary code in their work, using clean room approaches like the
techniques used in the development of OpenHAL."
About the Software Freedom Law Center
The Software Freedom Law Center -- directed by Eben Moglen, one of the
world's leading experts on copyright law as applied to software -- provides
legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance
Free and Open Source Software. The Law Center is dedicated to assisting
non- profit open source developers and projects. Visit SFLC at
OpenHAL is low-level interface software for Atheros 802.11 wireless
cards. Previously, Linux-based systems needed a proprietary Hardware
Abstraction Layer (HAL) plus a wrapper driver to make use of these wireless
cards. OpenHAL is a free and open source replacement for the proprietary
HAL. OpenHAL was initially based on ar5k, which was used as the basis for a
proprietary HAL replacement for the OpenBSD project. Support for Atheros
cards is important for Linux, as Atheros wireless chipsets are commonly
used by many device manufacturers.
SOURCE Software Freedom Law Center