FP2: License for binary blobs

@Johann doesn’t this sentence from the license, if interpreted strictly:

Fairphone grants you a free of charge, non-exclusive, non-sublicensable, non-transferable, limited copyright license to download, install and use the Software for non commercial purposes only on a Fairphone 2 device in machine-readable (i.e., object code) environment

that one is only allowed to build the OS on the FP2 itself? I have to download the blob on my build machine…



Hmmm, good question. I doubt that is what they would intend, but it would be one way of interpreting that. I would guess that @keesj is the best bet for getting a clarification from Fairphone themselves, otherwise @Douwe might be able to ask someone at Fairphone HQ.

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@Douwe or @keesj can possibly shed some light on this. it might be a little bit over the top. for the agreement to make sense, the only on a Fairphone 2 device is probably meant to restrict install and use, obviously not download.

Sorry, but this is really ridiculous. If I interpret this right, this would even mean that if you put the blobs on your fairphone, you can’t use the FP2 for any commercial purposes meaning I wouldn’t be even allowed to call my boss.

Since it also limits redistribution, people producing custom ROMs will have to distribute the ROMs without the blobs, making the installation process much more complicated and error-prone.

Hi all,

Let’s wait until after the weekend when everyone’s back in the office to answer this one. Thanks for your patience-


That’s not what ‘commercial purposes’ means. If you call your boss you’re still using the FP2 as a private user. A commercial purpose would apply if you sell the software, sell a device running the software, or are using the software in a professional environment. There’s a bit of a foggy line if you’re your own boss running a business though…

That’s really a very interesting point you’re raising there and it sounds a bit too restrictive. However, I don’t see Fairphone as the kind of company that’s vigorously hunting down wannabe infringements from bs small print. It’s probably one of those cases where they’re trying to protect their rights, thought of a specific case and accidentally excluded something that was not meant to be excluded.

I have got to admit that I haven’t read the entire small-print, but I’m sure there’ll be some clarification soon next week when people are back in the office. After all, it is one of the goals that the software is open and that people can freely use it! :slight_smile:

Edit: [quote=“joe, post:5, topic:11426, full:true”]
Hi all,

Let’s wait until after the weekend when everyone’s back in the office to answer this one. Thanks for your patience-
[/quote]I guess I was a tiny bit too slow with writing, because that’s basically what I was trying to say! :grin:


I don’t agree on this one (except the last part) but yeah, let’s wait for the answer from the office. :smile:

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Hi all,

Just a follow-up that I am looking into this question with team members. I’m not sure I will have an answer today but in the next few days I’ll write back here with info.


Hi all,

Internally, we were gathering information and I think I can answer most of your questions. Note: I am not a tech or legal expert, so if you have more specific questions, please write our support team.

  • Users can only use the blobs for software that goes on their Fairphone 2.

  • The personal use (no commercial use) means that users cannot be remunerated for economic activities with this software or derivatives - e.g. selling the software.

  • The terms do not require users to compile the FP2 code on the FP2 device.

  • @kuleszdl, what counts as “for any commercial purposes” is explained above - if you’re compensated for economic activities. You can still call your boss! :smile:


Edit by @Stefan: This post and the following 3 were moved from here.

Hi Arvil,
thank you for your question.Yes, at the moment, it uses the proprietary blobs provided by Fairphone. This is the license http://code.fairphone.com/projects/fp-osos/dev/fp2-blobs-download-page.html

The second item says:
Fairphone grants you a free of charge, non-exclusive, non-sublicensable, non-transferable, limited copyright license to download, install and use the Software for non commercial purposes only on a Fairphone 2 device in machine-readable (i.e., object code) environment

So cannot I build the code and share such build?

My (and other people’s) understanding of this item is that you should be able to build your own ROM on your computer (which is still borderline not the case given the “only on a Fairphone 2 device” clause) with it, but can’t share it (since the license is non-sublicenseable and non-transferable). I’ve had confirmation from @keesj that this is restricted here two weeks ago, along with the promise that they are working on a way to circumvent this issue.

We have had no news of this since, as far as I know.

I agree with everything but this sentence:

Here is a quote from @anon90052001:

(Click the small down-arrow to expand the whole post.)

Thanks Stefan for this clarification. While I’m glad this is the case (I was not aware of this post from Joe) I wonder whether this would hold into court.

However there is no reason to play police about this issue. Please, go ahead and share your hard work. Us other enthusiasts are happy. The worst thing I can imagine is that at one point Fairphone asks you to stop sharing the builds. However I think this is really unlikely if you only do it on a small scale in this community context.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.

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It would probably be good, to not offer download links to the public, but only in PMs, for example: “Send me a PM and I’ll post you the download link”. This way it shouldn’t be a problem.

Disclaimer (do we really have to do this? ;)): This also is no legal advice.


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!