Change of license of Nvidia drivers

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Change of license of Nvidia drivers

Jerome Kieffer
Hi all,

Maybe I am not asking to the right people but you may redirect me to
the appropriate list within the debian community.

Some facts: Nvidia changed the license agreement on the 21st of
december 2017 for their driver making it illegal to use these drivers
inside a datacenter except for crypto-currency mining, unless you use
them on tesla-class hardware.

I doubt this is legal in most countries as it was common to purchase
servers with Titan-cards and those servers can no-more be used since
the beginning of the year (even if purchased under the former EULA).

Debian registers all licenses and the "nvidia license" is referenced
for the non-free repository. I would be interested in debian's official
point of view as the new EULA clearly looks incompatible with
open-source software.

Thanks for your thought
--
Jérôme Kieffer

PS: debian science may be interested as it comes down to computing on GPU...

This is the official statement I got from an nvidia representative:
"""
GeForce and TITAN GPUs were never designed for datacenter deployments with the complex hardware, software, and
thermal requirements for 24x7 operation, where there are often multi-stack racks. To clarify this, we recently added
a provision to our GeForce-specific EULA to discourage potential misuse of our GeForce and TITAN products in
demanding, large-scale enterprise environments.
"""

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Re: Change of license of Nvidia drivers

lumin
Hi Jerome,

Thank you for putting forward this issue.

I guess the maintainers have noticed this problem, as per changelog of
this upload:

  nvidia-graphics-drivers (387.34-1) experimental; urgency=medium

Anyway I'm pinging the driver maintainer.

> Hi all,
>
> Maybe I am not asking to the right people but you may redirect me to
> the appropriate list within the debian community.
>
> Some facts: Nvidia changed the license agreement on the 21st of
> december 2017 for their driver making it illegal to use these drivers
> inside a datacenter except for crypto-currency mining, unless you use
> them on tesla-class hardware.
>
> I doubt this is legal in most countries as it was common to purchase
> servers with Titan-cards and those servers can no-more be used since
> the beginning of the year (even if purchased under the former EULA).
>
> Debian registers all licenses and the "nvidia license" is referenced
> for the non-free repository. I would be interested in debian's official
> point of view as the new EULA clearly looks incompatible with
> open-source software.
>
> Thanks for your thought
> --
> Jérôme Kieffer
>
> PS: debian science may be interested as it comes down to computing on GPU...
>
> This is the official statement I got from an nvidia representative:
> """
> GeForce and TITAN GPUs were never designed for datacenter deployments with the complex hardware, software, and
> thermal requirements for 24x7 operation, where there are often multi-stack racks. To clarify this, we recently added
> a provision to our GeForce-specific EULA to discourage potential misuse of our GeForce and TITAN products in
> demanding, large-scale enterprise environments.
> """
>

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Re: Change of license of Nvidia drivers

Drew Parsons
In reply to this post by Jerome Kieffer
On Wed, 2018-05-16 at 14:42 +0200, Jerome Kieffer wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> Maybe I am not asking to the right people but you may redirect me to
> the appropriate list within the debian community.
>
> Some facts: Nvidia changed the license agreement on the 21st of
> december 2017 for their driver making it illegal to use these drivers
> inside a datacenter except for crypto-currency mining, unless you use
> them on tesla-class hardware.
>
> I doubt this is legal in most countries as it was common to purchase
> servers with Titan-cards and those servers can no-more be used since
> the beginning of the year (even if purchased under the former EULA).
>
> Debian registers all licenses and the "nvidia license" is referenced
> for the non-free repository. I would be interested in debian's
> official
> point of view as the new EULA clearly looks incompatible with
> open-source software.
>
> Thanks for your thought

Hi Jerome, Debian-Science can't give an "official" Debian point of view
as such, but we can discuss questions like this.  We also have the
debian-legal mailing list to ask licence questions (though again,
that's more for discussion than official pronouncement).

My own opinion is that this change in licence agreement is not
appropriate or necessary. It's none of nVidia's business in what
configuration users install their video cards.  Evidently they feel
differently. My interpretation is that their legal advice is worried
they might get sued if a datacentre using Titan cards were to catch
fire and burn down.  Though if that were the case then you'd think the
sensible action would be to ban the use of those hardware cards in a
datacentre, not the use of the software.  Maybe they figure it too late
the ban the hardware, its already there.  The new versions of the
software are the only thing they can control now.

But as far as Debian goes, we already judged the nVidia licence to be
non-free (though permitting distribution). This change in licence terms
does not change that.

Drew