FP2: License for binary blobs

Ok, thank you for the information. I have just updated the link. Now the users need a decryption key, which I can share via PM, in order to download the build.
However, I hope that in the future there will not be such license issue.


Isn’t this a bit too much preemptive obedience?

As far as I know it was the main idea to offer more OSes for the FP by opening up the code (porting/fixing). If nobody is able to download and try these other OSes for the FP easily, the less testers/users they will get. But maybe in this case it is useful because these testers can also give feedback here after asking for the key and I don’t want to get @erotavlas in trouble for this work. :smile:

But a non-lawyer explanation what OS porting people can do/can not do would be nice. I always assumed the main idea of protecting the bin blobs is that they are not modified/unbundled to be used in non-FP roms.

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That won’t prevent you from being sued, it would merely make it harder for licensors to prove you have effectively shared the ROM.

Allowing this kind of license agreement to exist and sharing your work is like putting your head under the guillotine for the rest of your life. Yeah, the licensors probably won’t sue you, but they should not expect you to agree to that anyway. Accepting this kind of license is accepting to be ruled by fear, and locks the whole licensing hierarchy. Plus you never know whether the fact they don’t have any incentive to suing you will hold in 10 months, 10 years, 30 years.

That’s why free software was created in the first place. That’s why Android got such success with phone manufacturers : Google terms at least let you do your own modifications to the software, and share them freely. Here, you are totally dependent on the good will of the whole licensing hierarchy to be able to modify and share your phone’s software without being prosecuted.

I’m probably as eager to see what we can do with fpOS as you are, but the licensing matter should be dealt with before any irreversible decisions are made. Or at least that’s my opinion. And I know FP’s official answer to “can we share our ROMs ?” is “no” for a reason.

With that said, I’d like to know whether using blobs extracted from the phone’s factory image (thus bypassing any “license agreement” we didn’t accept for it) could be considered illegal.


I actually had to accept the license agreement when I ordered the Fairphone 2. I had to accept it again when I first started the Fairphone 2. (But I cannot remember the contents of these license agreements.)

But I don’t know if you get these license agreements if you buy an used FP2.

do not worry about this. The guys of Mozilla have a patch to work without proprietary blob https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1139642. Great Mozilla, the only free mobile OS!


Well, the distributed Firefox OS package is blob-free, but it still requires the blobs to work, so it doesn’t really work without the binary blobs. From what I’ve gathered what you’re referring to is just a sort of a workaround that downloads the blobs from the phone and integrates them to the distributed image instead of distributing them. That’s clever but unfortunately doesn’t mean you’re free from the blobs.


Yes, you are right the Fairphone 2 builds will be blob free, but you will still need the proprietary blob in order to make the builds. This depends on the fact that not all Fairphone 2 drivers are free and open source.

This “issue” is really bothering me. How do other custom rom developers circumvent such a license issue? I think this is the same for many other phones out there. Replacing parts with opensource code, but the rest?

Please fix this license:(

The reason is that Fairphone as a company certainly can’t publicly say that we should share the blobs. What private persons do is a different story.

You are right, though, that this issue should be resolved.


As there are so many struggling with selfcompiling here my,question:

Do the builds contain in any way personal data? I guess no. So is there a problem to share a build anonymously?

And directly refering to this question: do the final builds have the same checksum? so can we publish checksums and everybody who cant selfcompile can be sure that there is nothing manipulated?

I guess, this post answers both of your questions:

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The question is also whether other people would want to flash anonymously posted ROMs. I personally wouldn’t unless there are means to verify that the ROM is indeed built from the official source and it has not been tempered with. Otherwise malicious parties could spread malware very easily.

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@tphysm yes, this is answering all my questions. Thanks!

@jftr Very true, indeed. Then i think people have to learn to compile the code by themselves. Maybe with a better tutorial, though i do not know where the difficulties lay, besides maybe installing linux :frowning:

Define a) “personal data”, b) “share a build anonymously”, oh and c) integrity :slight_smile:

a) There are some scripts that add the username/host/timezone/dates to the build (“default.prop”)

b) Depends, eh?

c) Complicated to do, but possible if you set it up correctly and if supported a bit by FP.

Data which might identify me clearly. Clearly enough to get sued by the rightsholders.

Upload it via VPN to an OCH (mega,zippy,etc…)…

No manipulations, changes of the official source code.

I guess that’s a major problem. While it started to sound very interesting, and publishing fposos is indeed a cool idea, IMHO, all that fuss about legalese for the blobs kills this idea, nobody will look for other ROMs, like cm or omnirom or whatever. This leads to the situation you described above, people turn to Samsung et al, even though their hacker friendliness is not that great either… But look at e.g. the Samsung S3, many people still are using it, because it still gets an official cm, for example. So, in terms of sustainability, it’s not that bad either…


Are you saying you don’t need blobs to get CM on Samsung devices? I don’t know whether this is true but have a hard time believing it.

What I have seen so far with (almost?) all devices that get CM is: Binaries are copied from the device itself and then used to build CM. There is no “legalese” which you have to agree to. However, this does not make it better for you. It probably just means that what you do is not covered legally. Having this “legalese” is actually an improvement in my understanding because we get the blobs without having to hunt for them first and we may officially use them.

In most other cases we don’t have this freedom but people are just grabbing and distributing the blobs without asking whether they are allowed to do so. If you think Samsung devices give you enough freedom to distribute CM for their devices, then you can also go forward and distribute builds for Fairphone 2. The only thing stopping you is your conscience which apparently doesn’t stop you in case of Samsung devices :wink:

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No, “of course” cm has to use binary blobs, they way you describe it. But for other devices there is no legalese, so nobody is hindering you putting the blobs on cm. The FP blobs explicitly are forbidden to be distributed that way in a room not provided by Fairphone so, we would need a bare cm where we could install the blobs afterwards. There’s a lengthy discussion wether that’s possible at all, and probably it isn’t. So no ROM not provided by Fairphone, except for something like replicant. But then lots of things probably won’t work…

And that’s exactly my point: This is just not true. When you buy another device (say from Samsung), you implicitly agree to their terms. The thing is, nobody reads those terms, but I’m 99.9% sure they include a clause prohibiting you from extracting the binaries and distributing them to other people. Developers just don’t care.

The difference with Fairphone is that they explicitly allow you to get the binaries and even present them to you. The caveat is that they also shove the terms under which you may use them up your face and that makes people aware of them and … voila, their consciousness kicks in.


Well, I don’t follow you 100%. For me, it’s a grey area. You are normally and also explicitely hindered to reverse engineer the software or otherwise modify it. There’s no writing (with the samsung I had) to prohibit this propagation. Not up to now. Samsung especially goes at great lengths to hinder you unlocking the bootloader, with Knox and Flash counters and all that, but they don’t follow up on the simple copying for all those official and inofficial CMs, OmniROMS, SlimRoms and what else on third party ROMs. There’s virtually no manufacturer I know of that went against this praxis (except for Google and it’s (in)famous action with gapps, so these are not distributed with CM and the likes)