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Australian Telco Telstra Complies With GPL

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the man-pays-utility-bill dept.

Australia 90

An anonymous reader writes "Late last year, Australia's biggest telco Telstra was sharply criticised for using GPL'd code in several of its new products — but not publicly distributing changes it made to the code when doing so. However, it looks as though the company has now come clean, publishing a source code CD of the files changed in its development effort and acknowledging the GPL and Lesser GPL. It's good to see companies responding to the open source community this way and engaging — makes a change from the past!"

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Wow. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265366)

And it's Telstra of all companies deciding to do the right thing. I find that amazing.

Re:Wow. (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265402)

*sips coffee*

Indeed.

Re:Wow. (1)

ytaews (1837554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265858)

To be fair, Telstra under Thodey have given us every possible indication that they're not going to be the Telstra to which we've become accustomed.

Re:Wow. (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35271374)

they haven't fixed the false positives in their billing system yet... i still get called at work by them, asked if i'm someone else, hassled for money and when i ask to see a bill, they say i'm not such-and-such and thus am not entitled to know. when i ask why my number is connected to that account, they hang up.

pricks.

Re:Wow. (1)

Meski (774546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35275496)

If they expect you to pay it, then you're entitled to see it.

Re:Wow. (1)

Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266352)

agreed. almost can't believe it myself - and I've worked for them. I'm surprised that a) they went to the trouble of finding out what the GPL was, and b) actually did something positive about it.

When it comes to litigation, Telstra is like Microsoft and will quite happily keep something in the courts for as long as required, in order to maintain some sort of market advantage... this is quite a change !

Having said that Telstra -

WHERE THE HELL IS FROYO FOR MY WILDFIRE !?!?!? YOU'VE BEEN PROMISING IT FOR MONTHS NOW!

Re:Wow. (1)

Enigma23 (460910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266486)

When it comes to litigation, Telstra is like Microsoft and will quite happily keep something in the courts for as long as required, in order to maintain some sort of market advantage... this is quite a change !

Telstra probably realised pretty quickly - well, 10 months is relatively quick for a monolithic company - that they had no market advantage to maintain by dragging this through the courts.

Re:Wow. (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35270182)

WHERE THE HELL IS FROYO FOR MY WILDFIRE !?!?!?

Right here. [xda-developers.com]

Wow. I'm having to add a line of no-value text because quoting your yelling and providing a link in response is "lameness". Thanks, Slashdot. You're the best!

Re:Wow. (1)

Meski (774546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35275512)

If you'd got a NexusOne, it would have been auto-deployed months ago. Relying on ISP/Carriers to do this is bound to end in tears.

"Engaging"? (2)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265384)

How is this anything but an eventual response to an internal snafu which could've resulted in (much more expensive) litigious actions?

The GPL violations, and the resulting denial of compliance (for years, wasn't it?) was nothing but bad press. In contrast, had they admitted to the snafu right off the bat and addressed it promptly (a couple months? 6 on the outside?) it'd have been another thing entirely - the press would've been positive. GNU 'compliance' types just want the (free to the violators) adherence to the GPL - they don't care about the money or licensing aspect of it.

In my mind, this almost says less than doing nothing about it at all - "oh, we've got another release, let's include those license files and source code this time".

(What do you want to bet the code is significantly aged and with numerous vulnerabilities known for a long time?)

Re:"Engaging"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265552)

How is this anything but an eventual response to an internal snafu which could've resulted in (much more expensive) litigious actions?

People like you and RMS are never happy, there is simply no pleasing you.

And by the way, the only "bad press" this company got was with "haters" like you who are never happy anyway. NO ONE ELSE GAVE A SHIT.

And yet they released a CD in compliance with the GPL...

Frankly, it's people like you who discourage the commercial use of GPL.

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265570)

They didn't just violate a license, they committed an act of copyright infringement and sat on their asses. What's so hard to understand?

Re:"Engaging"? (4, Insightful)

cheese_wallet (88279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265682)

If they complied from the start, there wouldn't have been any press at all. Now they have it.

Just like at most businesses, it's not the engineers who get it right from the start that get credit. It's the ones who screw things up and then heroically fix it later that get all the kudos.

Re:"Engaging"? (5, Informative)

williamhb (758070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265862)

How is this anything but an eventual response to an internal snafu which could've resulted in (much more expensive) litigious actions?

The GPL violations, and the resulting denial of compliance (for years, wasn't it?) was nothing but bad press. In contrast, had they admitted to the snafu right off the bat and addressed it promptly (a couple months? 6 on the outside?) it'd have been another thing entirely - the press would've been positive. GNU 'compliance' types just want the (free to the violators) adherence to the GPL - they don't care about the money or licensing aspect of it.

In my mind, this almost says less than doing nothing about it at all - "oh, we've got another release, let's include those license files and source code this time".

(What do you want to bet the code is significantly aged and with numerous vulnerabilities known for a long time?)

Actually, it wasn't Telstra who was doing the wrong thing in the first place. The company that makes the T-Hub device, that included the GPL code, and that hadn't released their code is Sagemcom. Telstra just re-sell the device with their sticker on it. (Very much like how iiNet sell Belkin-made modems under the brandname "BoB".) Is a shop selling physical objects a GPL licensee if the manufacturer of one of its physical object happened to include some GPL code? Would Wal-Mart be in breach if they'd stuck one of these on their shelves? In this story, Telstra has put pressure on Sagemcom to make the code available and comply with the GPL. I think that's a good outcome, and I can see why it would take some time for Telstra to comply -- they didn't have the code to be able to release it.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

romiz (757548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265968)

While most of the devices provided by Sagemcom are sold to operators rather than end customers, they do offer the source for the Linux products they sell to the public. At least for some of them, as you can see here [sagemcom.com] .

Re:"Engaging"? (2)

bug1 (96678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266240)

"Would Wal-Mart be in breach if they'd stuck one of these on their shelves?"

Yes, distributing hardware with software in it, is still distributing software.

If Telstra sold re-badged devices with unlicensed copies of windows on it would you expect them to get away with it ?

Interesting you mention iiNet, they have some issues as well.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269876)

If WalMart were to sell 3rd shift Cisco gear, you don't think Cisco would have all the units pulled and someone's head would roll?

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 3 years ago | (#35272800)

Yes, distributing hardware with software in it, is still distributing software.

I don't think this is right. Copyright doesn't protect distribution, it protects reproduction. The software would be reproduced onto the device before it ever arrived at Walmart. It just so happens in the internet age that distribution equates to copying since servers don't typically delete their source copy when someone downloads, but the minute you revert to transferring something in meat space you're back to distribution being different from copying.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35273012)

To arent allowed to "reproduce" GPL'ed works unless you conform to the license, the license places obligations on distribution.

This has been to court before, companies involved where Best Buy, Samsung and Westinghouse. Walmart would be no different

http://linux.slashdot.org/story/09/12/14/210207/SFLC-Sues-14-Companies-For-BusyBox-GPL-Violations [slashdot.org]

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266270)

> Is a shop selling physical objects a GPL licensee if the manufacturer of one of its physical object happened to include some GPL code?

You seem to be implying that a reseller is not governed by the licence! Actually, resellers/redistributors are the one of the addressees of the GPL licence, otherwise copyright law would prevent resale of the software. The licence is granting a right, not removing it, which is why it is called a licence!

If I sell physical CDs with copies of Microsoft Windows on them, I can only do so if Microsoft allows (licenses) me to do so. The beauty of the GPL is that the GPL explicitly licenses both the free use and the redistribution of the software, so you don't need to negotiate separate licenses (as you would with proprietary software). And all the redistributors have to do is provide the source and not remove any freedoms! I can't believe that Telstra would be unaware that a network device would have software on it, so the onus was always on them to negotiate relicensing of that software.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

eladts (1712916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268900)

Your theory completely ignores the First Sale Doctrine. You do not need a license from Microsoft to sell a Windows CD, as you are not making a new copy. You do not need permission from Microsoft to sell your Windows PC. The same applies to GPL software and hardware with embedded GPL software.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269910)

But it seems you forget the court ruling that was posted here on slashdot (although it was a while ago).. the guy who purchased some Adobe suite, and then sold the parts he never used on Ebay. IIRC they ruled you were only licensing the "product" and therefor the First Sale Doctrine did not apply. Search and I'm sure you'll find it.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35273214)

The 'First Sale Doctrine' is a US specific thing; while there is similar "exhaustion of rights" law elsewhere, these laws are not general principles that allow arbitrary copying of software. These decisions and laws treat software as a 'product' rather than as information, which is a legal fiction; it is not a very strong protection for the consumer and soon or or later will be challenged.

My actual words were "physical CDs with copies of Microsoft Windows"; I used the word 'copies' deliberately to make the point clearer. In the Telstra example, they are distributing copies of GPL software; just because someone else installed the firmware for them does not clear them of all obligations. I cannot sell pirate software just because someone else burned it for me!

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266794)

The same happened with the T-box which is produced by another French company Netgem. Netgem released their latest source only after pressure from Telstra.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35271742)

I would have thought someone at Telstra would actually look at one of the devices and see that there could be a problem.

T: "What does it run?"
S: "Some form of magic. Its ok, just leave it up to us."

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265916)

How is this anything but an eventual response to an internal snafu which could've resulted in (much more expensive) litigious actions?

That's probably all it is. I'm not involved in this case, but I have worked at an OEM on a digital PVR product where most of the same issues apply. As an OEM we wrote the user-facing application and coordinated all the messy business of herding software / hardware vendors to make a final product that was delivered to the customer. So customer spoke with us and we mostly spoke with the vendors.

There is open source code at the bottom of the PVR and we communicated this to the customer, but they haven't put up the source code as far as I know. If a user discovers this I'm sure there will be a big flap about "non compliance" blah blah but it won't get fixed over night. If / when this happens I suspect it won't be enough to release the source code we offered all along. No, we'd have to do an audit / inventory of all the libs, getting signed statements from all the vendors about their liabilities, get lawyers involved, figure out who foots the bill etc.

To illustrate how messy this could be, consider in our case there were 6 other vendors involved with the process:

  1. The SoC manufacturer who made the CPU with hardware assistance for video / audio decoding, crypto etc. They provide the kernel, busybox, uclibc source in their SDK.
  2. The hardware manufacturers who build the actual box with HDD, SoC, flash, ports. They provide a kernel driver for the tuners which might flag the kernel taint state but is probably not tainted itself.
  3. The crypto providers who supplied precompiled libs (crypto companies won't give you source) that did the magic of key management, revocation etc. Probably built on uclibc with some hooks into the SoC's APIs to load keys into hardware.
  4. Runtime providers who wrote an application runtime that our app executed within (think JVM). Probably safe, just using uclibc.
  5. Video software vendors. They do the low level APIs our app uses and also build the kernel, tuner drivers, graphics backend from the source and link their lib with the crypto lib.
  6. Flash updater / bootloader providers whose code sits in its own partition monitoring an update flag. The updater takes care of updating the firmware but they probably use their own kernel / libs and would have to be put out too.

And our stuff that sits on top of all of this. Our app uses the runtime so doesn't link with anything.

If any user can be bothered to complain it would take several months to sort it all out. I doubt it would do users much good even when they eventually did get the source code though. Most of the stuff that makes the box useful for something is still proprietary and the bits we would release at the same tarballs which undoubtedly can be obtained from dozens of other places just by googling the SoC's chipset #.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266382)

Since the OEM is distributing the software to the vendor customer, the OEM should already be aware of the licence issues surrounding that redistribution. If the software had all been proprietary, you would have been making sure you didn't break the licence agreements. Why would the free licences be treated differently - just because the OEM can't be bothered with an audit?

If the OEM was following the licences, then it would already have supplied (or made available) the GPL portions of the code to the vendor customer. And it would be simplicity itself for the customer to redistribute those; there would be no need to go back through the OEM.

You talk about things that are 'probably built on uclibc'. You make it sound like the OEM doesn't even know the licences of the software it is using.

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266974)

I just stated above that we told the customer that there was GPL code and we could supply the source if they wanted them. Just as in turn we received the source from the SoC vendor. We fulfilled our obligations to the customer and to the GPL. It is now the customer's responsibility to fulfill the GPL especially since they are commercially distributing software. Not us. Doesn't mean it would be as easy plonking up some tarballs on a website to sort it out if if turned into some high profile "GPL violation" brouhaha though.

As for the probably, yes probably. I don't work there any more and don't have access to the docs or files to see exactly what they link to. I certainly can't think of any sane reason that a broadcast crypto outfit would link to any GPL code because they wouldn't be in business very long if they did. Look through all the DVB-CSA vendors and you won't find a single one who'll divulge how their code works. They really do work through security = obscurity, partly because in the case of DRM, the secret keys have to be stored at least temporarily on the box.

I do agree that the OEM should have made it explicitly in all contracts / licences that GPL software should be forthcoming with every code drop. In this case it wouldn't make much difference, but it wouldn't hurt at all to have a transparent process and have everyone aware of their responsibilities.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268780)

I think you and everybody here are missing the "Oh boy did we fuck up" part of the above poster's story and it is this: The TiVo trick is here to stay and anybody releasing under GPL V2 might as well just go PD or BSD because GPL V2 is now worthless thanks to the TiVo trick.

Anybody who has read any of my postings knows I have NO problem with proprietary software as long as it serves my purpose but one thing I DO have a problem with is weasel worded legal BS which is EXACTLY what the "TiVo trick" is in a nutshell. As much as I don't agree with RMS on...well pretty much anything, I do respect what the man is trying to accomplish and respect the right to write HIS license HIS way along with the right of developers to choose the license that best fits their wishes, and if someone can't be bothered to respect the license it isn't like there isn't BSD and proprietary code that will do the same job.

Anybody who releases or updates their code under GPL V2 frankly needs their heads examined as you're just giving corps a right to steal your code by ignoring the license thanks to the TiVo trick. WTH is the point of releasing under GPL V2 when the whole point of the GPL is the four freedoms which don't exist anymore under V2 thanks to the TiVo trick?

What the GP's little story about the PVR should illustrate is now that the TiVo trick is known more and more will use it thanks to the embedded tools in Linux being better than BSD. the ONLY way you are gonna actually have the four freedoms on anything besides an x86 PC is to go GPL V3, and by continuing to support GPL V2 all you are doing is giving corps free work which they will "reward" you in turn by giving you the finger. If all those working on GPL code would switch to GPL V3 it would force the OEMs to spend money keeping the code up to date and adding features which would quickly making TiVo tricking less worthwhile. Supporting GPL V2 at this stage of the game frankly is assisted suicide.

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35270886)

I don't even know what you're talking about to say "tivo trick". The box is locked down because it's a PVR, it plays VOD, it plays encrypted cable TV content, it has to protect the content and resist attacks from people who want to circumvent those controls. It's required by contract to do those things.

The GPL doesn't even register in this, it's a contract thing. Content providers don't like boxes that let people lift content. Even if some embedded apps were to start using GPLv3 it wouldn't change anything. SoCs would would just fork to keep the old version and doubtless most of the embedding world would use the fork. Or use Android with its BSD userland. Or full BSD. Or QNX. Or WinCE. It wouldn't stop STBs doing what they have to do. Besides I expect that even if GPLv3 were considered it would only be the bootloader that would run afoul of the DRM issue. Solution? Use another OS for the bootloader for probably the most isolated and straightforward part of the system. Problem solved.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35271738)

Its called Tivoization [wikipedia.org] and GPL V3 was written specifically to keep guys like you from screwing the GPL by "TiVoing" GPL code. Look it is simple, keep up: GPL was written for protecting four freedoms [gnu.org] and you fuck ALL users out of the second freedom by locking your GPL running device with the "TiVo trick".

Nobody gives a shit about your reasons why, there is BSD and proprietary vendors that will happily give or sell you code for your purpose no matter what you want to do with it. But you are fucking the community by taking their work and locking it down which frankly makes what you are doing no better then any software thief. The ONLY WAY that code is given to you free is if you abide by the GPL, otherwise YOU HAVE NO LICENSE to that code. With the TiVo trick you are using legalese bullshit to get around the license without actually having to abide by it and it is just as sorry and no different than any other corp that uses hot software to get ahead.

So the GPL V3 was written to get rid of guys like you once and for all, and frankly the sooner everyone switches over the better. Then you'll have the choice of opening up your device and respecting the license or paying to write or buying a proprietary solution which will cost you more. But all those coders didn't write those thousands of man years worth of code for free just to enrich your company, they did it to enrich the community and encourage sharing, otherwise they would have went BSD. You want to take advantage of the richer ecosystem that GPL has with regards to embedded but you don't want to actually follow the rules and that is bullshit. Sorry if that gets you butthurt but your excuses are just that.

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35277410)

You're off on some absurd crusade that this is all some evil plot. "Guys like me". So funny. We are presented a list of requirements and we implement those requirements. It's perfectly legitimate and ethical to use open source tools and we have fulfilled our obligations in doing so. Whether the customer does or not is their problem, not ours.

But you are fucking the community by taking their work and locking it down

Hysterical. No we're not. The GPLv2 says nothing about DRM and if the issue bothered busybox / uclibc so much, they are entirely free to go to GPLv3. Let's look at what uclibc says about DRM on it's front page - oops nothing, but it does say "uClibc [...] is licensed under the GNU LESSER GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE . This license allows you to make closed source commercial applications using uClibc. (Please consider sharing some of the money you make ;-). You do not need to give away all your source code just because you use uClibc and/or run on Linux.".

Gosh, no tirades about DRM, just affirmation you can use it for closed source. It's good to see some open source projects are governed by pragmatic real world requirements rather than ideological lunacy. Embedded devices have many legitimate reasons to be locked down - safety, security, premium content, contractual etc. As our STB did. We fulfilled the GPL offering the source upon request and notified of the customer of the requirements to fulfill their end. The issue is theirs to deal with now as the commercial distributors.

Even if tarballs went up on their site, and someone managed to root the box, they'd enjoy little more than a bash prompt. None of the APIs that make the hardware do anything like video decoding are open source. The box was not designed as some hacker's plaything but to deliver and play encrypted content to subscribers of a premium service. I'm not even sure the box is the person's property but belongs to the provider. If you don't accept the terms that the box was designed to service then don't sign up for it.

Re:"it's required by contract" (1)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35273034)

If the DRM contract requires you to protect the code by obscuring all of it, then it is incompatible with the licence contract that has been made with the owners of the GPL code that is in the machine.

You make it sound like there is no alternative other than to break the DRM contract. In fact, there are two alternatives: don't use code that is under a GPL licence; or don't make contracts that you cannot fulfil.

Making a contract does not invalidate all the licence agreements you have entered into; if you are going to make a product, you have obligations to all stakeholders, including those people who put effort into the GPL code that you are using.

Re:"it's required by contract" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35277532)

We haven't obscured, or modified any GPL / LGPL code. The binaries are exactly those spewed out by a standard buildroot and source has been offered to customer in good faith to fulfill GPL obligations. Whether they follow through is their issue now. Security on the box is little different from any secured Linux box - no remote access, strong root password, port knocker to open ssh.

The commercial application is a C library and frontend code written on a proprietary runtime and is obfuscated. So there are no violations in the deliverable to my knowledge. My original point is that the customer may be violating but we have done our part, Mr Hairyfeet seems to have used that as a springboard into a rant about how evil we are. Or something.

As for DRM there are two main things in the app, though one isn't really DRM. The DRM really applies to the streaming content. i.e. stream contains content encrypted with DVB-CSA and packets that the crypto vendor uses to extract the decryption keys. Nothing to do with GPL code there. The DRM allows a guy in one house to access a subscription movie and prevent the freeloader in the house next door getting it for nothing. Just standard stuff seen in 100 other pay tv boxes.

The other place where DRM might be thought of happening although it's just a public / private key pair is the bootloader. When a firmware update happens, the bootloader uses signatures to validate the image before flashing. OEM produces a firmware update and signs it. Firmware is pushed to the boxes which then reboot to the bootloader which validates & flashes the app partition with the new image. That stops hacked / corrupt / broken firmware from being installed maliciously, deliberately or by accident. I mention malicious because on a cable network some hacker could brick all other boxes remotely if if we didn't pay attention to that threat.

My understanding of GPLv3 is that if it were used in the bootloader it might require that the key used for signing must be offered to individuals to construct their own firmware. I speculated that if that came an issue the bootloader would just use something like BSD or some other OS instead to circumvent it. It's not clear to me that the DRM clauses would affect what was in the app partition at all. And if they did then the vendors of SoCs, boards would just use a fork of the last GPLv2 sources and most of the embedding world would follow because they get their sources from the SoC vendor.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35272082)

Most device makers use ancient versions of software, once they pull it in they rarely touch it.

I encourage people to use the (A)GPLv3, but thats not going to change anything in the short-medium term. We cant force device makers to update their software and commit themselves to a different license.

Busybox on the Telstra T-Box (netgem device) was from October 2004, changes they had made to the source included things such as adding some casts !

The problems isnt with open source coders and the license they choose, a licence cant force a corporation to be nice.

Re:"Engaging"? (1)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35272744)

While I agree with you that the GPLv3 is preferable, the GPLv2 is not completely worthless even when DRM tricks are being used. The GPLv2 still makes the source available, and allows some freedoms - to study and share the code, even when the hardware is locked down. The Tivo legal trick has created the major problem that the user can no longer modify the code and use it on the existing hardware; but even Tivo was still required to make source available.

I did not write my post to support GPLv2 over GPLv3, I wrote it to point out the obligations of the OEM and vendor to make the source and modifications available; the PVR poster appeared to be saying that the end customer was not even getting this much. Only by insisting on this (as limited as the GPLv2 might be in the embedded sphere), wiill we make manufacturers aware of their obligations.

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266696)

The holders of Linux copyrights (i.e. anyone who's contributed to the kernel) should start some hardcore enforcement.

As a rights holder, UK copyright law [legislation.gov.uk] entitles you or your agent to seize unlicensed goods offered for sale without any kind of warrant provided you notify the police first. (It's the use/abuse of similar rights that makes the BSA so feared.) If you know that a particular brand of router, say, isn't complying with the GPL, let the police know, head down to PC World and confiscate the stock.

Re:"Engaging"? (2)

judeancodersfront (1760122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268090)

Funny how I only see calls around here for copyright enforcement when it involves the GPL.

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266778)

The fact you claim they weren't complying for years, and had "bad press" over it, suggests there never would have been any legal recourse. The company didn't lose any customers over it, the bad press was just a few dweebs moaning in forums, and sooner of later these products would be dead and replaced by newer offerings. Probably ones that don't use GPL code. Who's the winner then?

Re:"Engaging"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267090)

The GPL thing is basically a compliance issue on set top boxes. Manufacturers should fulfill their obligations but people are deluding themselves much of the time if they think they can hack the box in magical ways.

Most boxes are very hard to hack with signed firmware files, readonly filesystems (or union filesystems which appear rw but are mounted on tmpfs and disappear on reboot), no ssh access, and strong default passwords or no serial line at all. Well at least the boxes I've had to harden and its usually a sign off requirement from the crypto vendor. Not saying it's uncrackable but it's a tough nut. Even if you do crack it, usually the good things the box does are in proprietary code anyway utilising hardware circuitry in the SoC (e.g. video / audio decoding).

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Re:good post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265514)

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Wow indeed (1)

aor_dreamer (1316927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265412)

Yes lets give Telstra a pat on the back for finally complying with the GPL while this should have been expected from day one. The GPL is yet another licence agreement but not a restrictive one, if you don't like it, don't use it.

Re:Wow indeed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265442)

Is the GPL legally binding in Australia?

Oh and as an Austrailian I would like to say " Fuck Telstra" they are the worst company in this once great country that is rapidly descending into mediocrity.

Re:Wow indeed (0)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265494)

Is the GPL legally binding in Australia?

Don't know. A better question is, would anybody truly care?

Re:Wow indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265566)

Most of the complaints against the GPL argue against its dubious legal and ethical requirements. In a country which doesn't have the insane copyright system the US has, yes I think many people would care.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265710)

Well I'd like to say we don't have an insane copyright system but check the case of Landmark copyright case: DtMS v Telstra [mallesons.com] where Telstra sued a company for compiling names and phone numbers on a CD. Pretty sure a list list of facts is covered a little better by the US copyright legislation?

Re:Wow indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265814)

prepared by DtMS incorporating telephone directory information copied from Telstra’s White Pages and Yellow Pages directories

I believe the main point of this case was that they copied the information directly. This is not a case of two people creating the same research paper because they used the same sources - this is one person copying and selling the other persons work in a new cover. I'm fairly sure US law would cover this as well.

The directory in question may be a list of facts - but it is a list of facts compiled and published by Telstra. If someone compiles the same information by other means and publishes it, there would be no problem. I believe the problem is that there is no alternative means of compiling such information (short of calling up each number and asking who lives there) as telstra controls 95% of all lines, even when you are with another provider.

In the U.S. phone lists aren't copyrightable (1)

Max Hyre (1974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266236)

Exactly this situation arose in the Feist case [wikipedia.org] . Rural Telephone Service compiled a list of its subscribers, Feist incorporated it into their book, and RTS sued. And lost. You can't copyright facts (thank God---imagine a world in which you could). There has to be some creative element, no matter how much ``sweat of the brow'' was expended. An alphabetic list of phone subscribers contains no creativity.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265704)

Is the GPL legally binding in Australia?

Well, for their sake, it better be. Because if it were not binding, default copyright regulation would apply and these companies would not have the right to reuse and redistribute this code from the first place. Arguing GPL does not apply (as SCO claimed in the past) is shooting in its own foot.

Re:Wow indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265750)

That is only if the atributed "copyright" status is the default.

What if the default status is public domain?

Re:Wow indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265990)

That is only if the atributed "copyright" status is the default.

What if the default status is public domain?

The default in Australia is the same as the default almost everywhere ... the original author holds copyrights by default.

However, what does the default matter when the original author has undeniably claimed copyright and spelled out the terms for distribution of the work, as is his/her right to do under the law?

Why should the exact conditions in the author's chosen license rescind the copyrights?

Re:Wow indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266472)

>However, what does the default matter when the original author has undeniably claimed copyright and spelled out the terms for distribution of the work, as is his/her right to do under the law?

>Why should the exact conditions in the author's chosen license rescind the copyrights?

If the GPL isn't legally binding then it is equivalent to not enforcing their copyright, if the default is public domain then not enforcing their copyright makes it public domain.
Though I do believe the author holding a copyright is the default in Australia anyway.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265762)

Is the GPL legally binding in Australia?

Oh and as an Austrailian I would like to say " Fuck Telstra" they are the worst company in this once great country that is rapidly descending into mediocrity.

The thing is: If it is not binding for whatever reason, you cannot distribute the software at all. That is, without GPL giving you a license to use the software, normal copyright applies and you are not allowed to just copy and distribute copyrighted software. I don't believe there is more than a handful or 2 countries in the world who does not have copyright on software, and certainly, Australia is not exempt.

Re:Wow indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265766)

Oh and as an Austrailian I would like to say " Fuck Telstra" they are the worst company in this once great country that is rapidly descending into mediocrity.

I have been saying this for years!

Re:Wow indeed (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266050)

Is the GPL legally binding in Australia?

The usual response to that question is (and I have not legal training so I don't know how valid said response is) to point out that the license gives them the right to use the code, so if they state "we don't accept the terms of that license as it isn't enforceable in our territory" they give up the right to use the code under that license and need to negotiate something else.

Many a commercial entity will scream "no fair, no fair, waa, waa, waaaaa" at this point and claim that OSS is an airborn cancer that will take all our firstborn, but I don't see how it is the fault of people releasing code under the GPL that the commercial entity failed in its due diligence when agreeing to the license by virtue of using the code (which is legally dubious in some interpretations of relevant legislation, but they'll never call a F/OSS project on that as they use the same sort of condition to state we agree to all their terms by breathing in the general direction of their EULAs and shrink-wrap licenses and similar).

Re:Wow indeed (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35271612)

i'm not sure to what extent the GPL has been tested in court anywhere. its legally binding in the sense that nobody has sued over it yet.

Re:Wow indeed (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265572)

This is Telstra we're talking about. In case you're unfamiliar with them, anything less bad than them playing a quick game of puppy soccer before a meal of fresh baby's brains and an after-dinner act of fellatio of the busts of Mammon they keep behind their office cupboards, should be considered a miracle and reported as such.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265726)

Careful there son thats the Post Master General you are messing with there. If it wasn't for the PMG inventing the telephone in 1961 none of you twitterers would be able to send your meaningless messages to each other.

Oh any by the way, 2400 bps should be enough for anybody.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265752)

Pffh. Telstra is the Vizzini to the PMG's Fezzik.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265830)

Apart from the fact that my wife has shares in them, I will be glad to see Telstra finally fold. Back when the Optus long distance service was new I used call forwarding from my telstra land line to my optus mobile. The telstra bill was in 25 cent units with no more detail than that so I called the telstra service line and asked them how much it actually cost to enable and disable forwarding. They put me on hold for five minutes and came back eventually: we are unable to answer your query because you have selected optus for long distance calls. In other words STFU.

Re:Wow indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265956)

The worst offense is that they prey on the elderly and those that have no other choice due to location.

When the mobile service was new in Australia my father was one of the first to sign up. He had one of those big suitcase phones attached to his car. Over the years he upgraded his phone but.....

2 years ago I heard him complaining about his bill , it was about $360 for the month.

This was the conversation.
Me :What plan are you on?
Dad: Same one I have always been on, but it's usually only about $250.
Me:... ummm let me see your bill.

Yep, he was still on the old grandfathered bussiness plan he first signed up with.
Because he was on it so long they never sent him any upgrade offers or info about newer plans, he is in his late 60's now - still working - and Telstra was really the only phone company he had ever known , it was the only phone service avilable in Aus when we first immegrated from England.

Complete bastards.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

Enigma23 (460910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266528)

If it wasn't for the PMG inventing the telephone in 1961...

You're only off by 85 years... Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be awarded a patent for the electric telephone by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in March 1876.

Re:Wow indeed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35276264)

Knowing a few "Telstra People" I am poking fun at their somewhat one dimensional view of the world.

Just for clarity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265488)

They're only distributing the files they changed? Then that's not complying with the GPL. The GPL very clearly requires "complete corresponding machine-readable source code". Basically, if you get a product with binaries of GPL licensed code, then you must be able to recreate those binaries from just the files that the vendor made available. Just pointing to someone else's distribution of the source is not allowed (there's only one exception: you got the code in binary form yourself and redistribute it non-commercially).

Re:Just for clarity (4, Informative)

williamhb (758070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265822)

They're only distributing the files they changed? Then that's not complying with the GPL. The GPL very clearly requires "complete corresponding machine-readable source code". Basically, if you get a product with binaries of GPL licensed code, then you must be able to recreate those binaries from just the files that the vendor made available. Just pointing to someone else's distribution of the source is not allowed (there's only one exception: you got the code in binary form yourself and redistribute it non-commercially).

Can I suggest reading the article next time? It would have been quicker than typing up your post. From the article:

Gratton last week said he had requested and received a copy of the CD. “It looks like a complete GPL source release, all of the GPL components I identified seem to be there and there are build tools covering the BSP (board support package) for the SoC (system-on-a-chip) in the T-Hub,” he said.

Re:Just for clarity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266222)

Well, then the summary is wrong: "publishing a source code CD of the files changed in its development effort"

GPL:... (2)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265530)

GPL: You need to comply only if you get caught! (And even in this case, you can wait for a year or two)

Yeah, lets encourage this behavior further...

I LOVE MY CAPS! (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265580)

GPL: You need to comply only if you get caught!

On the other hand, are US Copyrights relevant and legally binding in Australia? Probably they are by virtue of treaties and such.

Seriously, not a troll, but what's the beef? We're lucky to see the CD at all...

Rather than raking Telstra over the coals for complying (albeit late) , maybe the more constructive thing would be to use it as an illustration to other companies as to how harmless it was to Telstra to comply - it did not hurt them competitively at all.

By giving Telstra POSITIVE FEEDBACK for complying, perhaps it will ENCOURAGE others to comply as well?

Of course you all can SHIT ALL OVER THEM and see how that works, as well...

Re:I LOVE MY CAPS! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265626)

What does hurt mean even? I mean seriously. If you use GPL code you are gaining advantage. if you have to release code that is the cost of your advantage. If you think your additions are more valuable than the base you are using it on only then should you write it from scratch or use a non-free solution. Lets be honest for a moment. Nothing any company is going to add is worth more than the base of just about any GPL application. If Disney can use and contribute to GPL code and lots of other companies which they compete with certainly you can too.

Re:I LOVE MY CAPS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265856)

You have a point about encouraging companies to comply. The problem as I see it, is that too many companies do not see any benefit in doing stuff that gets them feedback. They want to do stuff that sells more items to more people for less cost, i.e. gets them profit.

What companies care about: money
What companies don't care about: peoples opinions

A person has a problem with us = we have no problem!
The media has a problem with us = we could have a problem, check with legal
The court has a problem with us = we have a problem, how do we fix it?

On a final note:
How many ads do you see congratulating or thanking people for NOT pirating movies/music/games/programs/books/etc.?
Could it be that such things are proven not to work when the reward is just a pat on the back?

Re:I LOVE MY CAPS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265972)

How many ads do you see congratulating or thanking people for NOT pirating movies/music/games/programs/books/etc.?
Could it be that such things are proven not to work when the reward is just a pat on the back?

I think it more likely that the people making the traditional piracy ads are sociopathic scum who would rather just lie to people until they get their own way. The way these companies act sometimes makes me think they deserve to have people pirate their wares.

Re:I LOVE MY CAPS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266022)

> On the other hand, are US Copyrights relevant and legally binding in Australia?

If it was a copy of James Cameron's Avatar movie involved, would you even need to ask this question? Of course they apply.

BTW, Australian original authors have copyrights over their material in the US also. As does every other nation in every other nation. Why is this even a question?

Re:I LOVE MY CAPS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35269068)

You are a cunt.

Re:I LOVE MY CAPS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35287606)

As much as I want to thank Telstra for complying, they are a scourge on this country that needs to be exterminated. One right does not undo soooo many wrongs... but it is a step in the right direction (I will concede that).

At least Sol Trujillo is no longer at the helm. What a money grubbing whore he was.

Re:GPL:... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266642)

GPL: You need to comply only if you get caught!

Oh, good point. Let's force offenders to comply with the GPL before they're caught! Capital idea!

While we're at it, shouldn't we also make it illegal to break the law?

Re:GPL:... (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267172)

GPL: You need to comply only if you get caught! (And even in this case, you can wait for a year or two)

Yeah, lets encourage this behavior further...

I think there would be less violations if the FSF offered some useful targeted advice to the vendors. It is the vendor who is distributing the boxes, so they're the ones on the hook to supply the source code but they're often not the ones doing the firmware. Usually they'll subcontract that out and there could be subcontractors underneath them. Everyone in the chain needs to know their obligations during requirements gathering, contract negotiation phase, deliverables and in support. The FSF should produce a document which can be handed out with the contract that says in simple terms what the obligations of a subcontractor are with regard to his customer and the deliverable. Given the proper level of education the source would find its way up the chain and there would be less violations all around.

I think I hear a dingo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265562)

...eating your GPL

Adhering to standards. (4, Insightful)

Jarryd98 (1677746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265586)

I'd have to agree with the above comments. Telstra doesn't deserve any credit for compliance alone. It's expected. Many people seem far too willing to forgive/forget within a short period of time. They delivered what was expected of them after an extended period of inaction. That is all.

Re:Adhering to standards. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35265768)

I'd have to agree with the above comments. Telstra doesn't deserve any credit for compliance alone. It's expected.

I expect my dog to come if I call him, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't praise him when he does.

Correct title: (4, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35265872)

"Telstra profits off software piracy for half a year without repercussions"

Telstra's Intentions (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266184)

Im a local copyright holder and am following this (There are still things that need to be done)

The impression i have is that Telstra just didnt realise what they where getting into, but since then they have made a genuine effort to fix the problem.

I give Telstra credit for accepting their mistake and trying to fix it, which is lot more than happens in other cases. They certainly could have made it more difficult.

Device manufacturers are the biggest problems, they never talk to developers, they already have our stuff... But if we get a distributor like Telstra on our side they have to respond to them because there are ongoing sales at stake.

Snailmail distribution? (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266324)

i'm not sure why they have chosen to distribute via snail mail but it going to cost them a lot more to do so than just posting a download link. i'm a bit curious so i requested a CD which will make it an international delivery.

with enough requests, i think they may switch to electronic distribution means.

Has anyone seen the source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35266332)

Have they made any interesting modifications that might benefit other users?

Upstream changes? (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266596)

What upstream changes are likely to come of this? Will we see support for new chipsets as a result of this code release? New Drivers? New interfaces?

Beautiful Title (0)

John22 (2000662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35266792)

I am totally agree with your post. Thanks for the great and interesting post. http://www.bipolardisorderliving.com/ [bipolardis...living.com]

Spring Ahead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267790)

Autumn Behind ?

At least slashdot should know the difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268314)

GPL pertains to "Free Software Community" NOT "Open Source Community". I was hoping nerds would know the difference.

Cisco wireless gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35271744)

It would nice to see Cisco comply too and give back also sometime. Not just with Linksys and small business line, but the Enterprise class wireless gear (Access points, Wireless Controllers (WLC), etc.) are all littered up with GPL stuff. WLC AireOS is pretty much just Linux kernel, busybox and Cisco proprietary stuff bundlered and renamed. Crypto stuff contains GPL (not LGPL!) libraries like bnlib etc.

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