A recent disagreement on the linux-usb-devel mailing list ultimately led to the removal of the Philips webcam driver known as 'pwc'. The driver contains two modules, an open source module that has long been part of the mainline Linux kernel, and a closed source module which ships separately. Craig Rogers explained on the lkml that the closed source module ships in object format and "provides decompression services for proprietary codecs that are used for higher-resolution modes in some Web cameras based on this chip family." A hook in the open-source module allows the compression module to register with the kernel.
The actual disagreement was from the removal of this hook which was only used by the closed source module. Greg KH explained, "see
Linus's comments about 'if a change is needed to be made to the kernel in order to get a closed source module to work, that module must be made opensource' or something close to that." In response, the pwc maintainer requested that his GPL'd code be removed from the kernel, explaining why here in his own words. Greg KH offers his own explanation here.
Separate from the above debate around the removal of the hook, following the request for the driver's removal by its author it was pointed out that the driver is GPL'd, so the source code should legally be able to stay in the kernel regarldess of its author's requests. Linux creator Linus Torvalds replied, "yes and no. From a legal standpoint you're right. However, we should also be polite. If he's the sole author, and he asks for it, I think it's reasonable to honor his wishes. Of course if some new maintainer shows up and decides to infer how the device worked by looking at the original open-source code, that's also clearly fine. I don't want people to play lawyer. Honoring peoples rights to the code they write is more important than just the law."