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Castle Denies GPL Breach

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the right-back-at-cha dept.

GNU is Not Unix 425

Anonymous Coward writes "Castle Technology, who were accused of breaching the GPL in RISC OS 5, have made a press release denying the allegations. This story has been covered on The Iconbar RISC OS news and resource site." We've given Castle some loving here on slashdot recently. Looks like this one isn't going away quietly.

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425 comments

this is actually a first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272863)

sp

i mean fp

Re:this is actually a first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272922)

Aftenposten!

In other news (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272868)

Slashdot editors deny pedophelia.

Point being, doesn't mean its true.

Not going away quietly (4, Funny)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272870)

At least not until they change their name to GNU/Castle

Re:Not going away quietly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272879)

Mmmm... GNU/beer...

Re:Not going away quietly (5, Funny)

eclectus (209883) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272954)

At least not until they change their name to GNU/Castle

But then I'm sure someone is gonna sue them because they might be confused with a company with a similar [newcastlebrown.com] name.

Re:Not going away quietly (1)

Blimey85 (609949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273074)

Maybe they'll sellout to Microsoft and become MSCastle.

Re:Not going away quietly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273172)

Nah, too phonetically close to PissCastle.. and that could definitely be confused with the beer of the same name..

3rd post! (-1)

thr0d ps1t (641973) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272871)

This thr0d ps1t is brought to you by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's Model Thr00 Thr0d Ps1t Generator.

Share and enjoy!

Will this be the first GPL test case? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward +1 (645038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272880)

From what I understand, the GPL (and most software licenses it seems) has never been tested in court. Perhaps this will be that test. I only hope that the GPL holds up in court.

So it's, one, test the GPL in court, two, pray it holds up???, three, GPL software profits!

Imagine how happy Microsoft would be if the GPL is ruled invalid...

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (1)

98jonesd (633833) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272913)

I bloody well hope not, it would be a disaste rfor the RISC OS market if castle were taken to court, ATM the IYONIX PC is our only new piece of "hot hardware"(not my words).

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (4, Interesting)

LMCBoy (185365) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272972)

From what I understand, the GPL (and most software licenses it seems) has never been tested in court.

Your parenthetic clause is important here. I can't imagine a situation where the GPL could be ruled invalid without basically saying no software licenses are valid. I don't think Microsoft would be very happy about that. :)

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273001)

I don't think Microsoft would be very happy about that.

God knows... you're assuming they actually have some sense up there in Redmond. Given how many big corporations clearly don't know what's good for them (eg record companies, etc), I think that's going out on a limb!

Daniel

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273120)

LOL your post reminded me of a line in MIB.

Kay: We at Microsoft do not have a sense of humor that I am aware of.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (2, Insightful)

dark_panda (177006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273056)

There's a bit of a difference between the GPL and the standard Microsoft EULA, though. You don't have to agree to the terms of the GPL in order to use GPL'd software or even source code for that matter, as the GPL only comes into play when you actually redistribute the binaries and/or source. With a Microsoft EULA, you're forced into agreeing with the terms of the license before you can even use the software.

Don't know what kind of difference that would make. I guess it comes down to whether or not clicking 'next' on an EULA dialong to agree is binding. It's not like you've signed anything.

J

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (5, Insightful)

Shadowlion (18254) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273177)

Don't know what kind of difference that would make.

Not a ton. Assuming the GPL is tossed out, that means Castle gets only the standard set of rights that copyright grants, which still denies them the ability to use this code (since they didn't ask permission of the copyright holder).

So the only way Castle can really win is to prove they didn't use the code in question.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (1)

jpc (33615) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273194)

this case would be in the UK, where click through licenses are not valid anyway, so the difference with the Microsoft EULA is not important.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (1)

Fruit (31966) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273086)

Actually the GPL is more likely to hold in court because of the way it works: it grants you extra rights, unlike a Microsoft(TM) license, which only takes away your rights. The point is that you are free to not agree with the GPL, at which point you are bound by ordinary copyright law and nothing else. But not agreeing to the GPL will get you nowhere.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273257)

Wrong. There's no difference. You have no rights to a Microsoft product until you agree to the license. If you do, then you have the right to use it. This is just as much a matter of "extra rights" as the GPL or any other license.

Public domain code is the only model that really grants you extra rights.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (1)

saforrest (184929) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273273)

Actually the GPL is more likely to hold in court because of the way it works: it grants you extra rights, unlike a Microsoft(TM) license, which only takes away your rights.

Legally, you have no automatic rights to use or redistribute anything. This is how copyright works. So Microsoft is not "taking away your rights", since you never had them in the first place.

Both the MS EULA and the GPL operate on top of copyright. The only sustantial difference is that under the GPL, you get the code and the right to redistribution, which are indeed "extra rights".

If you believe that, morally, software should be distributed something like how GPL'ed software is distributed, then you can indeed say that Microsoft takes away your rights. This is the sense in which Stallman uses the term. But you should make the legal/moral distinction clear in your arguments.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? -OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273219)

parenthetic

I just came across this word today. Is your desk calender 'The Office'?

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272985)

I don't see how the GPL could be invalid. Without the permission granted by the GPL, you can't distribute the software at all. How would that help anyone wanting to "steal" GPL'd code? It's not like the judge can declare that copyright law somehow doesn't apply to GPL'd software and anyone can freely distribute it without permission.

Don't confuse distribution licenses like the GPL, BSD, etc. with EULAs in proprietary software. They are nothing alike. EULAs take away rights you had at the time of purchase while giving you nothing in return and should be declared unenforceable for that reason alone. The GPL gives you rights you would not normally have under standard copyright law. You do not need to accept the GPL merely to install and run software, only to distribute it.

Perfect test Case (1)

bstadil (7110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273031)

This could be the perfect test case for GPL.

You want a company with VERY shallow pockets and when they hopefully loses the case at the trial level, You want to buy the right for appeal from them for peanuts. INclude a few insignificant errors as reason for appeal, and thereby making sure the ruling will be confirmed. Then ask the supreme court to look at this and get denied.

Presto, it is now current law until thrown in doubt by another case that GPL lost. At which point we have two competing interpretations.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (2, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273045)

Except that the GPL gives you rights that you would not have, under normal laws dealing with the code, the copywrite laws.
So if the GPL is ruled invalid the sourcecode would fall under the copywrite and castle or microsoft would have the same rights the that code that you do to microsoft code.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (4, Insightful)

His name cannot be s (16831) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273060)

It's not like the GPL needs to be tested in court. Niether would a court decision "make microsoft happy"

The GPL is a license to software. Plain and simple.

Without a license, you cannot use copyrighted material. If you use copyrighted material, without a license, you are in violation of that copyright. The only matters before the court would be "did you use the software" and "are you licensed to do so".

With the GPL permission is granted to anyone to use the software with those restrictions spelled out in the agreement. If you use the software, and do not follow the terms of the agreement, your license is null and void, and you are in violation of copyright law.

IANAL, but I did stay in a holiday in last night:

Copyrights (and patents) do not have to be vigorously protected, only trademarks do. Without vigorously protecting your trademark, it can be ruled invalid. Your copyright on a work can not be ruled invalid, if it truly is your work, and it is not simply the stating of fact (like a phonebook)

Microsoft would *not* like to see the GPL ruled invalid, because that would be a dent in all copyright law. As a matter of fact, Microsoft could make serious money off of GPL software if they so chose.

Imagine this:

Microsoft decides to throw away sourcesafe, because it blows dog chunks. Instead they grab the source for CVS and compile it up, slap a sticker on the CD, and sell it as MS CVS.

Thousands of developers would start coughing up money for this "new" product. Heck, the package could even put the GPL on the outside, and state that the source code would be included on the CD. I know for a fact a couple of companies who would by enough licenses for all their developers withou batting an eyelash. Heck, MS could even give the same support they give SourceSafe now: NONE.

Microsoft is not *afraid* of the GPL. They are afraid of people who sell software cheaper than them. If that means free, well, that pisses them off, but no more so if the software is BSD Licensed, GPL Licensedor Python Licensed.

HNCBS

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (3, Informative)

Christopher Craig (1394) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273223)

Without a license, you cannot use copyrighted material. If you use copyrighted material, without a license, you are in violation of that copyright. The only matters before the court would be "did you use the software" and "are you licensed to do so".

This isn't technically true. You are allowed to use copyrighted materials without a license, but you aren't allowed to copy, distribute, modify or derive from copyrighted material without a license. The DMCA has restricted this a little more so that now a company can require you give up some of the rights you would have had without a license in order to use their product (which is one of the huge issues with the DMCA), but the GPL doesn't rely on this.

The GPL specifically provides that you are not required to accept the license, but without accepting it the author gives you no rights above the standard ones provided by copyright law (pretty much reading the source code and running the software)

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (2, Insightful)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273111)

The GPL has never been tested in court because it doesn't need to be; it's pretty much air tight. No one has been stupid enough to try and fight it yet because it's almost guaranteed that they'll lose, the only exception being if they aren't actually using GPL code. If there were any holes in it to be exploited, or any chance of it being struck down, it would have happened by now.

Microsoft would NOT be happy if the GPL were struck down, as doing so would basically invalidate ALL software licenses.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (2, Insightful)

erturs (648661) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273114)

On the whole, it would be extremely difficult to convince a court that it's OK to take someone else's source code and to use it in your own product without permission. The GPL is the "permission" to create and distribute derivates of GPLed work. Arguing that the GPL is invalid would in essence be arguing that there is no permission to copy or create derivative works at all, which would be a singularly ineffective argument for most purposes!

The GPL is in this sense a "fail safe" license, because unlike most software license it extends the rights given by copyright law rather than attempting to restrict those rights. For this reason I strongly doubt that any court case would focus on the validity of the GPL. It's somewhat more plausible that a case might be based around the meanings of terms used in the GPL, such as "derivative work", "source code", or "distribute". But if Castle did in fact use GPL code in a proprietary product, they will have a very uphill battle.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (1)

Q Who (588741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273164)

All of the replies here miss an important point.

They are alike to proving intractability of solving something by assuming a specific algorithm and saying that that is the only algorithm possible.

You just don't know what GPL license could fail on in court. It could be the intricacies of "can be reasonably considered independent and separate", it could be other things.

All this agreement on "GPL doesn't take rights away" and blah blah blah, while both naive and funny, only shows that you don't know how the legal system works.

If you know programming, do so. But better leave legalese to the real lawyers.

Re:Will this be the first GPL test case? (2, Informative)

kyz (225372) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273248)

No, this will be a plain old copyright test case.

Over and above the rights you have to the Linux kernel under copyright law, the GPL offers you further rights (such as the right to make a derived work) provided you agree to and follow the GPL license.

If you do not follow the license, you are not entitled to those further rights, and you may find yourself in breach of copyright law.

Castle's choices in this case are:
  • Castle can argue that they were complying with the GNU GPL, which allowed them to take kernel source code and use it in RISC OS (i.e. create a derived work from the kernel PCI code). This, however, is clearly not true, as they are not distributing their entire derived work (RISC OS) under the GPL. It would be different if the kernel PCI code was packaged by itself and available under the LGPL, or they had secured permission from the copyright owner of the PCI co de to use this code without following the GPL, but they didn't.

  • Castle can argue that they had made "fair use" of the Linux kernel source code, and therefore they are not breaking copyright law. However, if the PCI code in the RISC OS ROMs "substantially" copies from the Linux PCI code, then this is not true.

  • Castle can argue that they did not make "substantial" copying of the kernel PCI source. Given they have admitted that their PCI code is "based on" the kernel PCI source, that makes them look bad. What is "substantial" has to be decided by the court, but in previous cases I've read about, substantial would be anything more than a few lines of code.


Well, denies breach, but... (3, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272903)

...they seem to be saying that they are using GPL code, and that anyone wanting it needs to send 3.5" floppies to them with return postage.

So is it a breach of the GPL to use GPL'ed code in your product, not advertise it or tell anyone, and then when/if caught to say it was always available to anyone willing to do something as arcane as snailmail floppies? How about I just print the code out and thumb-tack it up in the employee breakroom?

Sounds dirty to me.

Re:Well, denies breach, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272952)

well, the GPL says that source has to be distributed if the binaries are distributed, but does it say they have to go to the same people?

*hands CD with binaries to corp for cash, hands printed source to sheep farmer in Abu Dhabi*

Re:Well, denies breach, but... (3, Insightful)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272995)

Doesn't sound much worse to me than selling copies of EMACS source code on magnetic tape (for around $100 a tape. iirc) Once it's out there, anyone else is welcome to host it on an FTP server at their own cost.

Re:Well, denies breach, but... (2, Informative)

Christopher Craig (1394) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273096)

Yes, it is a breach of at least two sections of the license:
  1. The GPL requires that any work derived from GPLed code be released under the GPL.
  2. The GPL requires that any copy of GPLed code must be distributed either with the source code, or with written notice of a system good for three years from the date of distribution of distributing said source code at no cost greater than the distribution cost. (I presume, of course, that they did not in fact distribute such a notice)
I'll readily admit I know nothing about this case, but most people who knowingly choose to release GPL code do so specifically because they intend code release to be the cost of deriving from their work. To the people who will inevitably whine about how the GPL restricts author's rights: The GPL contains a provision that you aren't even required to accept the GPL, but the author only agrees to let you modify, redistribute or derive from his code if you do.

Re:Well, denies breach, but... (5, Insightful)

jd678 (577145) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273127)

Did you actually /read/ the press release?

They are currently not saying they are using GPL code, and are offering the source code for anyone to do any further analysis - this is actually more than they have to do at this stage. I'm pretty sure Justin Fletcher (who first discovered the possibility of the ROS5 sharing linux code in Nov 2002), and Russell King (who made the posting to the lkml) will be doing this.

The PCI allocation and bus setup, derived from the linux headers, could have just as easily (technically) been obtained from PCI datasheets, but for a small company as Castle is, practically it is easier to get this information from another source. Castle are not admitting to ripping the linux kernel for the actual underlying code - besides there are probably only a few ways of going about this, and the code in assembler (which is how Justin did his analysis), would be similar in this case.

Wait till the relevant people, with an understanding of the ARM hardware involved get a chance to check over the code before jumping on this bandwagon again.

Confusion (3, Insightful)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272906)

It sounds like they don't understand the GPL, and think that they can comply by offering the affected routines on floppies, by mail.

They need a new lawyer.

Re:Confusion (1)

Rojo^ (78973) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273035)

Even if they are found to be in compliance with the GPL on their stolen code in court, wouldn't there *still* be an issue of copyright? AFAIK, publishing your code under the GPL doesn't give up your copyright on that code does it? From the GNU website: [gnu.org]
Who has the power to enforce the GPL?

Since the GPL is a copyright license, the copyright holders of the software are the ones who have the power to enforce the GPL. If you see a violation of the GPL, you should inform the developers of the GPL-covered software involved. They either are the copyright holders, or are connected with the copyright holders.
An overturning of the GPL is not going to announce free reign of software pirates claiming GPL'd code as their own and making a buttload of money on it. Personally, I don't see it ever coming down to this detail though.

Re:Confusion (4, Funny)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273038)

The guy who originally wrote EMACS clearly didn't understand the GPL either. No FTP server; mailing out the source on Magnetic Tape for $100 a copy? Someone ought to be hassling him a bit more too!!

Oh wait.. that was Richard Stallman.

Re:Confusion (2, Informative)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273232)

It's the second part that's important...from their press release, they seem to think that they can just give you the source for the routines they copied. You can't even link to GPL'd code without GPLing your code. (The LGPL is a different story, though the Linux kernel isn't LGPLed, so that's moot.)

Re:Confusion (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273039)

Why? Who is going to sue them? RMS??

RMS: Your honor, I move that the courts force Castle to open up their source code under the GPL provisions

Judge: Who the hell is this long haired freek in my courtroom? Go home and shower, when you come back we can talk.

Re:Confusion (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273055)

Actually, that is perfectly alright and compliant with section


b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
customarily used for software interchange; or,


The problem is not that they would use floppy disks (which are pretty much the most frequent medium for software interchange, still), but that they apparently conveniently forgot to include that written offer!

In addition, it would seem that we have forgotten another few phrases:

a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.

b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
parties under the terms of this License.

c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively
when run, you must cause it, when started running for such
interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an
announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a
notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide
a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under
these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this
License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but
does not normally print such an announcement, your work based on
the Program is not required to print an announcement.)

Re: Confusion (4, Informative)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273073)

Read the press release more closely: "based in part on the following functions" could mean that they just looked at Linux code and then wrote their own from scratch.

Re: Confusion (1)

RoyBoy (20792) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273138)

Um, actually you're NOT allowed to do that. I think you need to look up the meaning of "clean room development" or perhaps "chinese wall" if you're gonna try tricks like this. Otherwise, it's pretty clear that lookign at someone else's code, and they "rollign your own" absed on that knowledge, is infringing on their copywritten work.

Sorry, but plagurism ist verboten, nien just for verbatim copyin!

Re:Confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273079)

Um, ICBW but AFAIK the GPL just states that you have to make source available, and at that only to people who have the binary... It doesn't say anything at all about making it downloadable from your site, freely available to the whole world. In other words, if the "cost of admission" to getting source from them is buying their product, well... Guess what, that's OK. The point of the GPL is to avoid completely "dark" binaries with no source at all for anyone. Heck, a top-secret spy agency could use the GPL if they felt like it, becuase only top-secret spies would have the binaries...

Let's take them up on it (0, Troll)

sydlexic (563791) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273098)

Castle state that "any company or individual wishing to recieve a copy of the source code to this component should apply in writing to:" The Managing Director Castle Technology Ltd Ore Trading Estate Woodbridge Road Framlingham Suffolk IP13 9LL You will also need to enclose a formatted 3.5" floppy diskette and return postage stamps (or international reply coupons if you are outside the UK)

While I agree that this is a shameful tactic, it's also an opportunity to inflict a little pain on them. Since they can't see fit to post the code on the net, let's start sending them tons of floppies. They have to honour the request to send the code back on the floppies (or a real GPL breach) and this will be a devastating work load.

Re:Let's take them up on it (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273175)

Why would you want to inflict pain on them before you even know if they did violate GPL or not?

Re:Let's take them up on it (1)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273254)

actually they only have to honor that to people who have the software they produced in which the gpl'ed software was used to make. so if you dont have a copy of their software, you dont have the right to ask for them to make you a copy. now if you buy a copy of their software, download it off their site (i dont know if they offer free downloads), etc. then you have the right to ask for a copy.

so everyone with a copy of their software that was compiled with source that contained gpled code should feel free to ask for a copy of the source.

Re:Confusion (3, Informative)

Target Drone (546651) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273101)

No, they are saying that they did not use any GPL code.

The RISC OS ... kernel did not contain work taken from or derived from the ARM-Linux or Linux kernel."

If you mail them a floppy you get a copy of components source code that allegedly violates the GPL so that you can see for yourself that it's all-legit. We'll just have to wait and see if anybody gets a copy of the code mailed back to them and if it violates the GPL or not. Personally I find it fishy that they just don't post it on the web right now to clear their name. I suspect the mail in a floppy is a stall tactic.

Re:Confusion (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273251)

The press release is a bit muddled. It also says: ...has it's PCI allocation and bridge setup based in part on the following functions from the Linux kernel sources

Re:Confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273105)

Are they saying "we are using some of linux, so we're sending you floppies to comply with the GPL" (as invalid as that is), or are they saying "we are NOT using linux code, and here's some floppies to prove it"?

I wish I could read the unedited press release.

Where did the accusation come from.. (3, Interesting)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272927)

Its been a few days since I read the original article, but I don't seem to remember where the original allegation that they'd ripped off the Linux kernel came from, other than "the guy". Who is "the guy"? Is he an employee for Castle, possibly disgruntled, or is he just "the guy" sleeping on the couch? If there is a legitimate breach, than whoever holds the license should by all means fight. But I've always been under the impression that borrowing code from a GPL based package was acceptable, as long as credit is given where credit is due. If that's the case, and there was indeed a breach of the GPL, couldn't Castle just put the creators names in the credits, no harm, no foul? Any takes on this?

Re:Where did the accusation come from.. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272986)

It was originally posted on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (lkml) by Russel King, here [theaimsgroup.com] .

Re:Where did the accusation come from.. (2, Informative)

Dr. Ion (169741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272997)

I've always been under the impression that borrowing code from a GPL based package was acceptable, as long as credit is given where credit is due.


Uh, no. You need to go read your license agreement, usually called "COPYING" in the source tree. It's quite readable, and very clear about what you must do to "borrow code". It's more than just giving credit.

After all, that GPL code you're borrowing.. I'll bet you find it handy that you have the entire source code, and not just a useless footnote giving credit to some author. You are expected to pass on the same freedom with your software, not a 'credit'.

Re:Where did the accusation come from.. (2, Informative)

mobiGeek (201274) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273025)

But I've always been under the impression that borrowing code from a GPL based package was acceptable, as long as credit is given where credit is due

Your thinking about another license altogether. With the GPL, you can't "borrow code" and keep it locked up inside of your code base.

GPL "opens" code. It does not allow people to "close up" the code. In a nutshell, if you use GPL code, you must make your source code freely available to whoever receives your binary. (There are a number of subtle points beyond this, but this is the GPL in a nutshell).

If you aren't going to make your source code available, then don't include GPL code with your code. It's simply a matter of choice.

Ask Dr. Fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272933)

Dear Dr. Fuck, I am aroused by the thought of 'violating' the GPL. How does one go about copulating with a software license?

If they want it over with... (2, Insightful)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272938)

why not release the source online, rather than using snail mail and floppies?

Unless there is skullduggery afoot... hmmmm.

/rubs chin, cues "Scooby Doo" intro music

Re:If they want it over with... (3, Interesting)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272971)

why not release the source online, rather than using snail mail and floppies?

Obviously, they're trying to create a high level of hassle to get the code. They assume people won't want to go through the PITA that mailing a floppy represents.

I propose we kick their ass at this game. Here's the procedure:

Everyone reading this, go grab a 3.5" floppy from your old disk box or the supply room or whatever. Mail it to the address below along with a note requesting a copy of their GPL'ed source code:

The Managing Director
Castle Technology Ltd
Ore Trading Estate
Woodbridge Road
Framlingham
Suffolk
IP13 9LL

Let's see how they like making 50,000 copies onto floppies...

Re:If they want it over with... (1)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273016)

Let's see how they like making 50,000 copies onto floppies...And only old 800k Single sided AOL floppies with errors on the last track... ;)

That'll never work (1)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273091)

I can't imagine even one out of 50,000 floppies will make that round trip both with the data and error-free...this method has pretty much ensured that they'll NEVER have to give up the source.

Re:If they want it over with... (2, Insightful)

will_die (586523) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273102)

This does strike me like they are getting PR information from the person who told Intel not to offer replacements CPUs when they had that math problem.
The first person who gets thier disk back is going to post it to the internet however people are still going to send them floppies just because the company is acting stupid. They could of just posted the code, taken a hit on thier server from the few who would actually download it, and be done. I would guess the actual reason for the disc request is that they don't have the code ready and are using the mail and processing time as a delay tactic.

Re:If they want it over with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273080)

uh, why is this modded troll?

Seems reasonable (5, Interesting)

Alan Cox (27532) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272947)

They say its not used GPL code in some old editions, and they wont be doing so in future. Its not clear if there is some release they did. They don't say they havem't done it with current code. Since they are making a floppy of the relevant code available that is a good step and means someone can check nicely and settle the question for good.

Re:Seems reasonable (1)

robbo (4388) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273140)

No, the press release says there's no "Linux" code and "Linux-ARM" code in older releases. They have yet to indicate whether there's any GPL'ed code in older releases.

Re:Seems reasonable (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273142)

"They say its not used GPL code in some old editions" - They say GPL code has not been used in RISC OS 5.00, 5.01 or 5.02. Those are the only versions of RISC OS where this GPL code could possibly have been used because there are no other versions of RISC OS which include the PCI manager (and it is the PCI manager which was alleged to contain GPL code).

"Its not clear if there is some release they did." Yes it is. They mention all the releases in question and clearly state that GPL code has been used in none of them.

"They don't say they havem't done it with current code." Yes they do. RISC OS 5.02 is the current code and they say they have not used GPL code in it.

Derived work (4, Insightful)

YoJ (20860) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272967)

If they used GPL code in some of the files of their project, then their project is a derived work. As a derived work, they must obtain permission from the copyright holder to release it. The GPL grants them permission to do so, IF THEY RELEASE THEIR DERIVED WORK UNDER THE GPL. They have not done this, since they only offer to release source code to the GPL files which they used.

They only way they are not violating the GPL is if they did not use GPL code, but used "ideas" from the GPL code. In this case their work might not be a derived work.

Only 5.0, 5.01, 5.02 and beyond mentioned (5, Interesting)

Big Toe (112240) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272969)

When he could have easily of said that GPL code has never and will never be used in RISC OS. Clever choice of words.

So maybe they used to use GPL code, and then they "sufficiently" changed it to not be the GPL code. Like appending "// this is sufficiently changed to be our code now" to each line of offending code.

Re:Only 5.0, 5.01, 5.02 and beyond mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273124)

"could have easily of"

???

WTF.. moron.. not only did you get make the ever-increasingly common mistake of replacing 'have' with 'of', but you GOT IT RIGHT JUST BEFORE THAT.

Re:Only 5.0, 5.01, 5.02 and beyond mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273171)

Previous version of RISC OS did not have a PCI manager. Why mention that RISC OS 4 did not contain GPL code in its PCI manager if it *didn't even have* a PCI manager.

Re:Only 5.0, 5.01, 5.02 and beyond mentioned (1)

jd678 (577145) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273193)

They only mention these version is because this is all Castle have ever released.

RISCOS >3.71 were released by Acorn, Pace then brought the license. RISCOS Ltd then released ver. 4.x under license from Pace. Castle have released version 5.x under license from PACE. Version 5 is the only one with PCIManager module, and the only version where the code is currently under question.

Re:Only 5.0, 5.01, 5.02 and beyond mentioned (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273214)

Just to clear something up. RISC OS has been around since 1988 (long before Linux). It runs on ARM/StrongARM and (now) xScale hardware.

There was no version 1 (the original OS was called Arthur - but was not anywhere near as polished as RISC OS, Arthur came out in 1987)

Version 2.X, 3.X and 4.X do not use ANY GPL code at all. The part in dispute in RISC OS 5.XX is because up until version 5 all previous versions used hardware considerably different from PC's (they used a Podule Bus (expansion with Plug & Play - about 8 years before the PC !), their OWN video controller and memory system).

With version 5 a new machine was introduced and with it a Hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and it's in the PCI part that is "suspect".

In their press release Castle seem to suggest that the HAL was also needed to allow the porting of Linux to the platform.

RISC OS is largely ARM assembly code, some C and some BASIC. The bulk of it predates Linux, so you could argue that RISC OS 5.XX (even if GPL code HAD been used in the HAL) predates Linux and therefore can't have been "derived" from GPL code.

The only code that ANY reasonable person could describe as being in dispute about is the HAL, and that's going to be available on DISC so what's the problem ????

It should also be borne in mind that Castle only License RISC OS, and that other companies have licensed it too (but use earlier versions about which there IS NO DISPUTE).

Hope that makes some sense !

Linux? (2, Insightful)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272984)

How could you use GPL products without even knowing the GPL!?

This isn't some weekend hobby hacker project, this is a *business*?!

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273087)

This isn't some weekend hobby hacker project, this is a *business*?!

With a business model using hacking projects ;-)

Breach me, harder ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5272987)

Dear Apple,

I am a homosexual. I bought an Apple computer because of its well earned reputation for being "the" gay computer. Since I have become an Apple owner, I have been exposed to a whole new world of gay friends. It is really a pleasure to meet and compute with other homos such as myself. I plan on using my new Apple computer as a way to entice and recruit young schoolboys into the homosexual lifestyle; it would be so helpful if you could produce more software which would appeal to young boys. Thanks in advance.

with much gayness,

Father Randy "Pudge" O'Day, S.J.

GPL (1, Interesting)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 11 years ago | (#5272991)

Why don't they just encrypt it, and print out the encrypted source in hex. Then anyone who wants it can send a SASE to get it. :-) Does the GPL have any provision against encrypting the source before distributing it?

Re:GPL (5, Insightful)

Second_Derivative (257815) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273015)

GPL defines the source code as "the preferred form for making modifications to the work". So unless their engineers are way way way way better at doing hex arithmetic and mental cryptography than most of us are, yes the GPL does have a provision against it.

Re:GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273027)

> Does the GPL have any provision against encrypting the source before distributing it?

Yes, it has to be in a commonly used, readable format.

Re:GPL (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273082)

If I remember correctly, the GPL stipulates that
the source must be distributed in the form that
is was developed in.

Can anybody back this up with more specific information?

Confusing release (5, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273005)

At one point they say:

"The RISC OS 5.00 kernel did not contain work taken from or derived from the ARM-Linux or Linux kernel

then they say:

has it's PCI allocation and bridge setup based in part on the following functions from the Linux kernel sources:

So they say "based in part on the following functions", so are they saying that they have literally taken no CODE but were BASING their code on some Linux kernel code? So are they then saying that perhaps they just took the api from the LK but the code itself is new? If this is the case, then I could see how there would be a lot of confusion and that they have done nothing wrong. If not, then I'm not sure what they're trying to say?

Check for yourselves (-1)

GPL Troll (586731) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273007)

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GPL means free - other can do as they please (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273042)

Like VD, GPL is for everybody. If you don't want them to make big paychecks off it don't do it. Open source means open, free, and if you don't want to make money on it, I and others will. Mmmwwwwwwaaaa.

horny women (-1)

macksav (602217) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273061)

will do anything to get laid. the best way is to eat her pussie til she comes then start fingering her good. she'll get hot and THEN yoou can ask her to piss on you - tell it gets you rock hard. then, have her straddle your face and watch the fun flow. then you can fuck her good, but don't cum yet. get her hot again and THEN ask if you can fuck her in the ass - tell her it's the only way you can cum. pump her sphincter nice and smooth and then tell her that if she shit a little, you can cum buckets! she'll do this, and yoou can jerk off while she's shitting. THEN you can ask her if you can cum in her mouth after you stick your cock in her asshole again. it's great fun. don't forget to ask her for some money, too!

Re:horny women (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273103)

waaaaaaay to complicated. just do the fucking part, then fall asleep. that will do the job.

shove the gpl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273067)

up richard stallmans anus!

Awful News Queen Mum dead at 109 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273090)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio--England's most famous rap artist the Queen Mum was found dead at Buckingham Palace. The wealthy parasite was electrocuted by a plugged in sex toy in her bathtub. Even if you did not appreciate her contributions to hardcore gangsta rap culture there is no denying her importance. Truly an English Icon.

MOD PARENT UP +1 Funny! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273139)

teh-heh. good one

Salem.. no wait, mccarthyism (4, Funny)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273092)

Some day when opensource is big enough, we'll be able to take down companies just by accusing them that they stole open source code. "We won't shut ya down if you tell us where the other Cappie bastards are! Admit it, they're all stealing source!"

Re:Salem.. no wait, mccarthyism (2)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273159)

Some day when opensource is big enough, we'll be able to take down companies just by accusing them that they stole open source code. "We won't shut ya down if you tell us where the other Cappie bastards are! Admit it, they're all stealing source!"

Makes sense, it's the natural evolution of the BSA.

next time we'll strip our binaries.. (4, Insightful)

robbo (4388) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273099)

later issues of the supporting software have had to have function names removed (along with a strategy of tokenising textual messages and compressing binaries)

In other words, that's the last time we're stupid enough to ship unstripped binaries!

The PR also explicitly denies using Linux source, rather than GPL'ed source. Reading between the lines, these guys know full well that they're in breach and they're trying to finesse the situation.

Liars. Google cache proof. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273161)

The Google cache of the (now removed) page http://www.iyonix.com/32bit/PCI_API.shtml
is at http://216.239.53.100/search?q=cache:mf1nlduliL4C: www.iyonix.com/32bit/PCI_API.shtml+&hl=no&ie=UTF-8


Note that the source code for many of the Linux PCI device drivers is publicly available on the Internet and may be useful in developing the corresponding RISC OS device driver.


So, if they had clean conscious, why would they remove that page?

I don't buy into this.

Castle Denies GPL Breach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273178)

Castle Denies GPL Breach!!! more like celda

moron kevin's return to hackdumb (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5273220)

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/030210/hacker_hacked_1.htm l

looks like kevin's fallen victim to evile payper liesense stock markup fraud ?pr? FUDgePackers from upon the pacific crest?

patches, we're deepending on you sun.

look for va.msn.?net? (VAST) [trustworthycomputing.com] ? not likely.

tell 'em robbIE.

What's the punishment here? (-1, Flamebait)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273230)

Do they cut off their ponytails or confiscate their Birkenstocks?

An obvious scam (2, Funny)

dan g (30777) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273234)

Clearly this is just the endgame of a clever get rich scheme. They anticipate that a butt load of /.ers will contact them looking for the source code. In a few weeks they'll stop answering their phones, their website will go defunct, and Castle will for all purposes seem to have disappeared. Coincidentally, in a few days after that the number of ebay auctions for blank floppies will go through the roof.

Calm down... (5, Informative)

zjbs14 (549864) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273239)

They're not releasing that piece of source as part of some GPL requirements, they're releasing to show that it's not covered by the GPL. From the press release (empahsis mine):

For the avoidance of doubt, the hardware abstraction layer (roughly analogous to a PC's BIOS) has it's PCI allocation and bridge setup based in part on the following functions from the Linux kernel sources

I admit that it could probably be worded better, but it sounds like they could have took the function names/possibly signatures and wrote their own code. Get the source and find out. However, if the experts in this matter can still show that the object form is too close to the GPL output, then there may be something to worry about.

Hypothetical Question! (2, Interesting)

vandel405 (609163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5273246)

I know this is a complete what if, but here it goes.

What if i was the owner of a company like Castle. A small shop of 30 or so people writing a commercial OS. Now say it was the task of three of the programmers to write some part of some IOKit. Now say they were under deadline and feared being fired, and couldn't keep up and stole a couple of pages of source from a GPL OS of your choice. Now say no one realizes this for 18 months and then the door is suddenly blow open and the execs of the small company are totally against this violation, and fire the employees in question and remove the code in question from the OS. Should the rest of the OS have to be GPLed? I would hope not!

Jon Hess
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