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Expert Says Cisco's iPhone violates GPL

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the take-that dept.

Communications 193

Stony Stevenson writes "Even while Cisco Systems is suing Apple for violating its iPhone trademark, an open-source enthusiast is accusing Cisco itself of infringing copyright in the same product. From the article: "Cisco has not published the source code for some components of the WIP300 iPhone in accordance with its open-source licensing agreement, said Armijn Hemel, a consultant with Loohuis Consulting and half of the team running the GPL Violations Project, an organization that identifies and publicizes misuse of GPL licenses and takes some violators to court."

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193 comments

Richard Stallman... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656486)

Richard Stallman seen stroking his beard amusedly.

Re:Richard Stallman... (5, Insightful)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656766)

Ok, to clarify things - the only thing they HAVE to give people is any modifications to programs licensed under the GPL. If they modified the Linux kernel running on this (which they most likely did) then, yes, they need to release that. If they wrote a custom app for this purpose, that does not need to be released.

Re:Richard Stallman... (0)

Constantine Evans (969815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656970)

It should also be noted that they only need to provide the modifications to people who buy the iPhone, or third parties with a written offer that could be included with the iPhone.

Just because something is licensed under the GPL doesn't mean that the modifications need to be given to everyone.

Re:Richard Stallman... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657040)

and when you say "give people" you mean "give the people they have sold the device to" right? Cause that's the only people to which they have given the binaries and, one hopes, an offer to provide source code upon request. Of course, they probably haven't even given them an offer.. that would expose them to breach of contract lawsuits. In which case, they are in breach of copyright instead, and the copyright holders of this software need to sue them ASAP. If they have any sense, they'll seek damages.

Re:Richard Stallman... (2, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657188)

and when you say "give people" you mean "give the people they have sold the device to" right? Cause that's the only people to which they have given the binaries
What is it about the "any third party" in "Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party" from 3.b of GPL Version 2 that you don't understand?

Re:Richard Stallman... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657294)

What is it about 3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following: that you don't understand?

Re:Richard Stallman... (3, Informative)

Constantine Evans (969815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657322)

In my interpretation, that doesn't mean any third party in general, it means any third party that the party with the written offer chooses. An arbitrary third party wouldn't have the written offer, and so wouldn't be eligible.

The idea behind that section is that someone who has a binary under the GPL but hasn't requested the source shouldn't be required to acquire the source before distributing the binary. With that section, they can distribute the binary and rely on the original provider to provide the source directly.

Nevertheless, this has come up a few times before on Slashdot. For example, see
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=212978&cid=173 29266 [slashdot.org] - as can be seen, the interpretation of that particular point is quite difficult. I am considering asking the FSF directly about the section.

Re:Richard Stallman... (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 6 years ago | (#17659138)

Sorry, you're wrong.

They only have an obligation to give source to those whom they already gave the binaries *IF they ship binaries and source together.* If they ship binaries without source, then they do indeed have to give source to anyone that requests it.

Sorry, wrong: (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658252)

... the only thing they HAVE to give people is any modifications to programs licensed under the GPL. If they modified the Linux kernel running on this (which they most likely did) then, yes, they need to release that. If they wrote a custom app for this purpose, that does not need to be released.

Sorry, not true.

If they have a stand-alone part that is unchanged they still have to distribute the source of it.

If they have stand-alone part they modified they have to license their modifications under the GPL and distribute the whole part's source (not just the deltas).

The only thing they can avoid *GPLing and distributing source for is a stand-alone part that they wrote from scratch - and then (since it's a single software load rather than a distribution containing clearly separable components) only if the underlying code was licensed under the LGPL rather than the full-blown GPL.

Big Company (0, Redundant)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656512)

Big Company violates other's IP whilst complaining about its own IP being violated.

News at 11.

Re:Big Company (0, Troll)

glomph (2644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656556)

Bill and Steve have spoken. Open Source software is bad for America, it is tantamount to Communism. From there it is a short step to terrorism. And you can't question such rules, unless you want a very long free vacation.

Re:Big Company (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657340)

I'm declaring war on stupid repetitive hyperbole. You'll be the first against the wall.

Re:Big Company (-1, Offtopic)

dan828 (753380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656570)

What? The iPhone trademark is what is at issue between Cisco and Apple. That has nothing to do with IP or Copyright, and certainly nothing to do with the GPL. The summary is pretty horrible for trying to tie the two together, but I guess past summaries haven't set an increadibly high standard.

Re:Big Company (2, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656716)

I know this might be a radical concept, but if you RTFA, you will see that TFA attempts to make the tie. Essentially, the point is that Cisco is being hypocritical in accusing Apple over iPhone trademarks, while violating copyights on the Cisco's iPhone.

Smokescreen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17659040)

I know what the Apple Cisco deal is
and I know what the Cisco GPL thing is.
Now stop trying to divert attention to Apple's problem.

It never misses.

A ton of bull excrement is thrown in the air and through it all
we get the Pavlovian chant: "See, Apple isnt so bad after all!".

Re:Big Company (4, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656986)

The iPhone trademark is what is at issue between Cisco and Apple. That has nothing to do with IP or Copyright,

Meh, Large companies would have you believe that Trademark, Trade Secrets, Copyright & Patents (along with other intangible or government granted monoopolies) all fall into the 'Intellectual Property' basket.

Oh, and I could have been referring to either Cisco or Apple with my comment. Apple's complained about people violating it's copyright/look'n'feel/whatever countless times. But seems to have absolutely no problem violating some small guy's copyright [virtuelvis.com]

Re:Big Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17658408)

Large companies would have you believe that Trademark, Trade Secrets, Copyright & Patents (along with other intangible or government granted monoopolies) all fall into the 'Intellectual Property' basket.

Well, they do. They are all intellectual property. That doesn't mean the same rules apply to each - they are all in different legal categories, with very different rules. A Schwinn bike, a harley-davidson, a honda civic, and a Mack truck are all vehicles, but they are all in different legal categories, with different rules & regulations.

Apple's complained about people violating it's copyright/look'n'feel/whatever countless times.

Generally speaking, look & feel is not copyrightable.

Re:Big Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17658896)

I love your example of Apple being "bad". Particularly, the part where the guy proves to be a total pussy and unwilling to take on Apple. This only goes to feed the problem and shows that people are fucking stupid.

Re:Big Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17659002)

I love your example of Apple being "bad".

Read more like hypocricy then "bad" to me. Apple happily violates copyrights, whilst suing others for doing the same.

Re:Big Company (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656620)

how can the first post be tagged as redundant?

Re:Big Company (0, Redundant)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656772)

Because it states something redundant.

In this case, it restates what TFS already said without adding anything useful.

Re:Big Company (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656982)

They must also understand that it states something unnecessary, and it has been reiterated with no extra valuable information.

Re:Big Company (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17659076)

Yes, yes, but how can the first post be modded redundant?

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656596)

I seem to hear words like 'Pot', 'Kettle' and 'Black'... Strange.

it bears repeating (-1, Redundant)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656618)

Even while Cisco Systems is suing Apple for violating its iPhone trademark, an open-source enthusiast is accusing Cisco itself of infringing copyright in the same product.

iPhowned!

What an effing minefield (5, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656642)

Business and innovation are getting completely strangled by all this IP rights cr^H^H stuff. Is it actually possible to produce anything without setting yourself up to be sued by someone who better understands how the law "works" than you? It's gotten to the point where any business needs a lawyer first, and accountant second and a functional business model an optional third. Can anyone identify the date that making products ceased to be about how good your product was and became more like a poker game where you win if you can raise the stakes higher than the other players can afford?

Re:What an effing minefield (4, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656944)

While I basically agree with your comment, I don't really think this is the time to make it.

I haven't RTFA but, in general, if someone gives you something with conditions then it's reasonable to expect you to understand and honour those conditions - otherwise, don't take it in the first place!*

In this case, Cicso has (according to the summary) used GPL code, and hasn't fulfilled it's share of the bargain. It doesn't sound like a business "getting completely strangled by ... IP rights" to me!

*I think the GPL is different to an EULA... (my personal bias shining through)

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

It's a thing (968713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657380)

I think the GPL is different to an EULA... (my personal bias shining through)
Bias has nothing to do with it. The GNU General Public License is a copyright license, not an agreement.

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657480)

I think the GPL is different to an EULA... (my personal bias shining through)

It is. It's just a plain old L, it's the EU and "A" that make EULAs bullshit.

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

PzyCrow (560903) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657748)

Well, it could be general affection for GPL and FOSS that clouds your judgement too. I usually go for the GPL side of things, but latley I've been asking myself, would everything be a lot better if we just abolished IP-law alltogether?

If you search around you begin to find some good and sound economic arguments for that too.

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 6 years ago | (#17659122)

No, I think we really just need to reign in patents and copyrights. The privileges granted with them have gotten to be too expansive and long-lasting to really support their original purpose.
I haven't really seen anything all that wrong with trade secret law, and I can't come up with any good reason to eliminate trademark law.

Re:What an effing minefield (5, Insightful)

rnapier (607622) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658888)

Note all the parts of the article, however:

* The article misrepresents the GPL by stating: "The GPL license requires the company to publish the code that it develops for the phone." This is not true; GPL requires that modifications to GPL code be released, not that code developed for a GPL platform be released. Such confusions are exactly why it is a minefield out there. Even if you're in compliance, you get accused of not being so.

* Hemel has not actually identified any code that is in violation (according to the article, though it also says he's identified the MTD as being in violation). As he says, "I'm not going to do their work for them." But without some clear identification, this becomes a fishing expedition. He says "you're not in compliance" and /. expects the company to prove the negative. Minefield #2.

* Cisco, as noted by the article, was "very open to his report, [Hemel] said. The company subsequently fixed omissions on a few products that Hemel identified." Every indication is given in the article that Cisco has worked with Hemel in good faith to ensure GPL compliance. This is very different from Apple's announcement of an apparently violating trademark while literally in the middle of negotiations over whether they could use it. Regardless of the merits of either, comparing the two is absurd. They have nothing in common except a vague "IP violation" umbrella.

* As Hemel notes in the way of a hunch, large companies often acquire code from partners, acquisitions, and contractors. Ensuring that none of these sub-parties has violated GPL is a significant burden, and in most cases impossible to do 100%. Minefield #3. Companies should be judged for their good faith in these situations and particularly how they react when problems are discovered. Nothing in this article indicates that Cisco has behaved except in good faith.

The original poster was quite correct that the GPL is a minefield. The fact that you often know when you're entering it (unlike software patents) does not remove the minefield. The only way to avoid the minefield is to completely avoid GPL platforms and code, or to GPL absolutely everything you produce. If you wish to work somewhere between those two poles (which Linux seems to encourage), then there are going to be some legal issues to watch out for, and legal issues that don't have really clear answers because the GPL is unlike any other "license agreement" that came before.

The good news is that the GPL creates exactly the kinds of problems for propriety-software companies that RMS wanted it to cause. The bad news is the the GPL can be a bit of a minefield for proprietary-software companies.

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#17659098)

I haven't RTFA but....

Quick mod him up insightful! He hasn't read the article up for discussion but has an opinion that meshes well with /. group think! Man I wish I had mod point but I used them all yesterday. /. has reached rock bottom and is starting to dig. (no pun intended).

Re:What an effing minefield (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657212)

You're right in a way, but this case is different:

Yes, it's a minefield. There's tons of lawyer firms sitting on large patent portfolios with the sole intent of profit through litigation. There's also countless companies with very large portfolios (like IBM) which are getting scarier by the day. In that case it's half protection against being sued (sue and counter-sue each other into oblivion), and often to crush potential competitors. You come up with something new and innovative, and one of those sends you a cease and desist letter over "infringing" over "IP" -- usually something *totally* trivial, but since you don't have the money to fight them in court...

But in this case it's a GPL violation - they just need to release the source for the offending parts. Mind you they're right, they're all over Apple (over IP stuff), but they're not clean either.

I'm not surprised to see companies infringe on the GPL anymore... Everybody seems to be doing it lately - which is half the reason I don't open source my work (don't want others getting rich off my back and get nothing in return)

Re:What an effing minefield (3, Interesting)

robotninja (866362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657298)

The answer to this question depends on whether you choose the date the law was passed (October 19, 1976 ) or the date that it went into effect (January 1, 1978): US Copyright Act of 1976 [wikipedia.org].

Yes, I realize Cisco's suit is about trademark, and not copyright; however, Larry Lessig goes into great detail in most of his writings to explain why the complete redirection in copyright law in 1976 laid the groundwork for such backwards and insane laws as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org] and of course, the notorious DMCA [wikipedia.org], among others.

Interestingly enough, as a law professor and lawyer, one of Lessig's proposed solutions is to "fire all the lawyers"...

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657634)

Can anyone identify the date that making products ceased to be about how good your product was and became more like a poker game where you win if you can raise the stakes higher than the other players can afford?
January 27th, 1880. [wikipedia.org]

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657772)

Patents are a minefield. Copyrights are not. You can accidentally implement something that someone has patented without realizing it. But copyrights are clearly displayed at the top of every source file you use. They are usually on the download page, and generally, developers and managers know the licenses of what they are using. It is a part of the daily life of a developer, and part of the decision to use a particular tool or not. This isn't a minefield. Nobody violates the GPL without knowing it.

From the article:
Hemel downloaded the firmware for the WIP300 phone and reverse-engineered it, first checking with a lawyer that such a process is legal, he said.
Now there is a minefield: DMCA like crud that makes researchers fear doing research. But not copyrights.

Re:What an effing minefield (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17658048)

Actually it is real simple with source code.

If you are going to take someone else's source code you must abide by their license. Nothing more, nothing less. Heck, not much to even get a lawyer over.

If you are not prepared to do that, write your own damn code.

Now if you are referring to software patents, I'm with you.

Finkployd

no suprise (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656656)

It was like pulling teeth to get the wifi accesspoint/routers GPL code released a few years ago, this is standard operating proceedure by Cisco. I remember the foaming at the mouth all over slashdot about that.

Anyways the WIP300 sucks bad.

Re:no suprise (1)

rindeee (530084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656880)

"Anyways the WIP300 sucks bad." Hah! Not half as bad as the $300+ WIP-330. What an absolute piece of garbage. Both of them (the 300 and 330) are absolute crap! We bought a dozen of each for T&E for a large project. Of the twelve, not a single one is even remotely stable (all patches applied) and none will stay connected to any of the 4 commercial SIP providers we tested with for more than about half a day. Phones costing far less from other vendors worked swimmingly. To heck with the source code...who'd want the crap?!

Re:no suprise (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#17659088)

We bought a dozen of each for T&E for a large project.

Apparently you have a different definition of the word "large" when it involves two dozen handsets.

Re:no suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657156)

Anyways the WIP300 sucks bad.

Ooooh! You just said the iPhone sucks. Prepare to be hounded ad nauseum by uninformed Mac fanbois... ; )

Re:no suprise (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657352)

And the WIP300 is not an iPhone. Cisco's WIP300 is a product they have been shipping that on December 18, 2006 they decided to re-badge online (including uploading doctored pictures to Amzon.com) as being their "iPhone". The reason Cisco did this was to be able to point to this product as proof of using the iPhone trademark. Unfortunately for Cisco, they did not use the registered trademark for 5 years after having bought the trademark registration by buying NetGear. Cisco then missed the deadline for extending the trademark registration. The required by law extension application was finally submitted at the end of the 6 month grace period. Cisco's application falsely stated Cisco had been continuously using the trademark during the 5 years they were required to. Cisco also did not include a picture with the application, even though pictorial proof is required. Cisco finally, out of time, submitted a picture of an already-shipping product. The picture showed the back of the product box. The box had shrink wrap. Outside the shrinkwrap someone had affixed a single sticker with the word iPhone on it to the outside of the box. This was Cisco's proof of having used the trademark continuously. Since Cisco has not used the trademark continuously and continuous use is required by law to maintain a trademark, Cisco has lost its right to the iPhone trademark. Since Cisco falsified its extension application, thereby preventing those other entities wishing to use the mark from doing so, Cisco is no longer entitled to use the mark.

Apple's iPhone is the real iPhone. Cisco can go to hell.

Re:no suprise (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657598)

It was like pulling teeth to get the wifi accesspoint/routers GPL code released a few years ago, this is standard operating proceedure by Cisco. I remember the foaming at the mouth all over slashdot about that.

That was Linksys at the time when the code was released. The only reason Cisco does this today is that it was out of the bag before they bought Linksys. Cisco release source code...ha.. steal or lift it now that I can believe. Software shops do this all the time and it is routine, even between companies. Management willfully turns a blind eye and does not want to know the truth.

Half the reason proprietary products don't like to release source code as the commercial products are usually embarrassing and unsightly messes loaded with all sorts of holes and "lifted code". Rare exceptions exist, but they were GPL to start with.

I/T isn't any different. I will never forget one twit I didn't trust nor care for. Before the presentation, I suggested he take the code and put it on the slide to wazzo the management - he took the bait. I let him grandstand in front of senior management on how good this code was for 1/2 hour. When the make the statement he wrote just for us and near the end he put the code slides up to say this is what makes it happen...

I stood up, with email prints in my hand predating his employment and passed them out, it was posted on a not so public board predating his employment by 2 years! And not of his authorship. Quietly management fired him 3 months later.

Then there was the case of someone who stole my code and had the gaul to ask me to update it... na.. this could go on for hours.

Code is ripped off all the time, only the GLP is honest about it.

Re:no suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17658328)

Why would anyone buy a product called "WIP300"? The product name alone tells you it's a Work In Progress.

Of course (1)

hypermanng (155858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656682)

At the end of the day, the only way in which different cases of infringement are fungible is if opposed parties agree to trade suit cancellations. They could hammer Cisco as hard as they want and Cisco's position vis-a-vis Apple would (probably) not be affected at all.

On the other hand, it's a nice bit of karma. Er, but not in the /. sense of the word.

Re:Of course (3, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657270)

'' At the end of the day, the only way in which different cases of infringement are fungible is if opposed parties agree to trade suit cancellations. They could hammer Cisco as hard as they want and Cisco's position vis-a-vis Apple would (probably) not be affected at all. ''

The copyright holders could sell lets say 50 percent of their copyrights to Apple, which might be happy to pay a generous amount of money for them to have some ammunition against Cisco. The original copyright holders get a nice amount of money, they can still sue Cisco for copyright infringement, and Apple can do the same. The GPL status of the software wouldn't be affected. (If they sold _all_ copyrights to Apple, the software would be just as free, but only Apple could sue any GPL abusers, and of course Apple could build a non-free version itself).

Re:Of course (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657668)

I understand that the alleged GPL infringement has nothing to do with the iPhone trademark, but what does any of it have to do with the ability to grow fungus?

Re:Of course (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658822)

One is an implied license to use the item in quesrtion in the first place. The other is an asertion of not being able to use an item after the fact. Somewhat different in several ways. With one, You have to know about the license and/or resrictions before even using it. The other, you intend to use it and someone lays a claim to it. You investigate the claim then proceede if it is a valid claim or not. Unlike the other, the validiy is in question with the other.

Now you see if you could see why someone might be more upset over one then the other. Then I will tell you how one grows fungus better then the other.

Single page version of the article (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656688)

Can be found here [computerworld.com.au]. No ads, pleasant to read, all on one page! (Posting AC to avoid karma whore accusations).

Re:Single page version of the article (5, Funny)

debilo (612116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656928)

(Posting AC to avoid karma whore accusations).

Oh, get out, you're such a sympathy whore.

Re:Single page version of the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657186)

Karma whore.

Re:Single page version of the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657500)

Karma whore.
Where would we be if the AC's karma fell any lower? I mean it's already at 0. It needs all the karma whoring it can get!

Oh Slashdot (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656714)

When Cisco sued Apple, there was no way Apple was guilty. And if they were guilty, it was ok because information wants to be free and we have a "right" to use other people's ideas without paying for them.

When an open-source "expert" announces that Cisco "might" have violated the GPL but has no court proceedings to back up his claim, Cisco needed to be fined trillions in punitive damages and be shut down.

Re:Oh Slashdot (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656940)

When Cisco sued Apple, there was no way Apple was guilty...
When an open-source "expert" announces that Cisco "might" have violated the GPL...


Please note that Slashdot posters are not a homogeneous mass. Different claims are typically posted by different people with different opinions.

Also please note that there are different types of "IP" involved in the differing infringements:
  - In the Apple-Cisco dispute it is a trademark issue. (Last news I saw makes it look like Cisco had let the trademark lapse - which leaves it open to the next claimant.)
  - In the Cisco-GPL dispute it is a matter of whether Cisco failed to abide by copyright licensing terms, along with an attempt by a party to whom those terms grant rights to require performance.

Re:Oh Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657054)

The Cisco-GPL dispute is a matter of whether some Linux zealots can convince some blog drones that corporations are teh evil. If you try reading the actual case instead of just the Slashdot blurbs, you will notice that every assertion by the OSS freaks starts with the word "if."

Re:Oh Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657730)

Please note that Slashdot posters are not a homogeneous mass.

Yes, yes they are.

iEverything (1)

horsedreamer (1026548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656734)

If Jobs & co. had just trademarked the lowercase 'i' we could have bypassed this whole discussion. "a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i(TM)..."

Re:iEverything (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657718)

While we're at it, Microsoft should copyright "windows."

Oh wait, they can't because it's a common word. Hence why it's "Microsoft Windows."

You could argue that "i" is just a letter, but I(tm) beg to differ. Besides, if you think that common words aren't allows, do you really think they'd allow a single letter?

Clear up a point... (1)

SpringRevolt (1046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656770)

It is not clear from the article if they mean "Linux the kernel" or "Linux the GNU/Linux OS", seeing as they talk about "couple of programs". However "Memory Technology Device" is mentioned and this is a Linux subsystem - so they may well mean the former. Of course parts of our userland may have been sucked in too, but that is still opaque...

IMHO, ignorance of the GNU GPL is no defence. We need a 1000 or so litigious lawyers on our side. I'd imagine that that'd sort out the common practice of code theft that the article hints at... Baah.

Re:Clear up a point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657806)

Depending on which distro you're talking about, Linux could be the whole operating system, or just the kernel. RMS, the FSF, and the GNU/Linux chanters have no right to rebrand somebody else's IP. But Linux is a broad enough term to cover all the Linux distributions and the kernel, including the GNU/Linux.

When you build your own distro you're free to call it whatever you want.

Access to source upon request (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656780)

I may have interperated it wrong but are they only in violation if they don't supply the source upon request of it even then they don't have to give it away for nothing but can charge for it ??. If that is the case the article doesn't mention if the source was requested of them and that they denied access to it.

It only makes reference to reverse engineering the firmware and only then did they realise (assume) that it was a GPL violation and only if the source was denied upon request.

Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (0)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656786)

Did anyone who purchased one of these phones ask for the source? They don't have to put the source out there for the general public. The person who is entitled to the source could turn around and do that, but did Armijn even have one of these?

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (0, Flamebait)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17656980)

If I killed you, would I get charged only if you complained? A silly example, perhaps, but you get the point. GPL violations suck.

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657016)

It's not good enough to make the source available on request. If you're not providing the source with the product then you also have to let your customers know that they can request it.
3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

        a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
        source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
        1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

        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,

        c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
        to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is
        allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
        received the program in object code or executable form with such
        an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (4, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657022)

Did anyone who purchased one of these phones ask for the source? They don't have to put the source out there for the general public.

Actually, according to the GPL, if they don't provide the source with every phone then they DO have to give it to anyone in the general public upon request - until they've sold or otherwise "distributed" the last one and for a period of time thereafter.

(You never know who ends up with the black box containing the object code, after all, and writing the GPL so it would require successive box owners to maintain a paper trail of ownership in order to obtain the source code would have subverted its purpose.)

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (1)

Elshar (232380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657564)


With network devices (Or anything actually) it's fairly easy to come up with a system to verify that you do indeed own a piece of hardware without actually keeping a paper trail of ownership. And Cisco already does this, actually.

It's called a serial number. Usually on the backside/bottom of the device, it's a unique number that can 'verify' that you have the device in-hand. Afterall, if you can recite it to them, you must have it right?

Also, MAC addresses are assigned to entities much like IP addresses are, and thus afaik are unique to each device, so that too would be a good way to figure out if you actually own the device.

And, the way to circumvent people from just posting it online is pretty easy too. If sopmeone in russia claims to have that serial number, and then the next day someone in kansas city does, it'd be pretty obvious that one or neither actually own it. :)

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657858)

>it'd be pretty obvious that one or neither actually own it.

Having been bitten by that one before... lemme say... NOPE

We had a service guy using one of our serial numbers for another device to get replacement parts for it under warrantee. When ours needed the same parts, the manufacturer got a tad suspicious, and we had to fight hard in order to be able to get our part.

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#17659118)

Been there, done that. Pain in the ass, but had a really simple solution, for me. I just said "I'll take a photograph of the component and s/n and send it to you. Hell, a video, even. You send us the part, and the next time you get a claim for parts for the same s/n not from us, ask them for the same."

Et voila.

Nope: ANYONE who asks, because they missed a) (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657972)

The issue is NOT whether you can prove ownership. The issue is the TERMS OF THE GPL.

The GPL (v2) REQUIRES that a commercial distribution of the software as object EITHER be accompanied by the source OR by an offer, good for three years, to sell a copy of the source to ANY THIRD PARTY for no more than a nominal copying fee. (Non-commercial distributions, under some circumstances, have a third option of just forwarding the offer they got from upstream.)

Since they didn't distribute the source, in machine-readable form, with every iPhone, they must make (and live up to) the offer to EVERYBODY - not just their customers, not just to repurchasers of their customers' equipment:

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

        a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
        source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
        1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

        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,

        c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
        to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is
        allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
        received the program in object code or executable form with such
        an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)


Since they didn't distribute the source, in machine-readable form, with every iPhone, they must make (and live up to) the offer to EVERYBODY - not just their customers, not just to repurchasers of their customers' equipment.

Got it now?

Since they ALSO didn't make the offer they're already in violation, and have thus have no right to distribute the software and are liable for violation of the underlying copyrights. However, when someone is caught in violation by not making the offer, those enforcing the GPL will generally settle for letting them clean up their act by making the offer retroactively and providing source code under it.

Re:Nope: ANYONE who asks, because they missed a) (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658258)

Since they didn't distribute the source, in machine-readable form, with every iPhone, they must make (and live up to) the offer to EVERYBODY - not just their customers, not just to repurchasers of their customers' equipment.

Got it now?


Hmmm.... I'm not sure I agree with your optimistic, yet unlikely interpretation. I am not aware of a requirement that the written offer can be exercised by anyone other than an actual recipient of the binary. Furthermore, "any third party" is not the same as "every third party".

Oh, and as this post [slashdot.org] in this thread already pointed out, the Free Software Foundation's information about the GPL doesn't seem to support your position.

Re:Nope: ANYONE who asks, because they missed a) (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658396)

If you look at the second link in that post you'll see that the FSF agrees with MY interpretation. The requirement is to give (sell at nominal copying fee) the source to anyone who asks.

The stated REASON for the requirement is to let anyone who got the binaries to get the source. But the requirement itself isn't dependent on the requester having the binaries.

It's like the militia clause of the second amendment: It states an important reason for the right. But it doesn't limit the right to those who are exercising it for that reason, or even to those who are QUALIFIED to exercise it for that reason. B-)

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (5, Informative)

hp48 (145151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657840)

Did anyone who purchased one of these phones ask for the source? They don't have to put the source out there for the general public.

Actually, according to the GPL, if they don't provide the source with every phone then they DO have to give it to anyone in the general public upon request - until they've sold or otherwise "distributed" the last one and for a period of time thereafter.


Actually, according the the GPL, they don't. They just have to give it to anyone who uses the binary. However, most of the time anyone in the general public could be a user, but that's not assured.

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html #GPLRequireSourcePostedPublic [fsf.org]>
and
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html #WhatDoesWrittenOfferValid [fsf.org]>

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658418)

If you'll follow your own second link you'll see that the FSF agrees with my position. If the source wasn't included with the distribution, anyone can request it and it must be supplied.

The FSF goes on to state that the REASON for the right is for people who obtained the binaries to be able to obtain the source. But the right itself is not dependent on the requester having the binaries.

The vendor has the choice of distributing the source with the binaries or providing it (at no more than a nominal copying fee) to anyone who asks.

Re:Anyone who owns one of these phones ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17658244)

Insightful? He didn't even RTFA.

If he had, he would know that the guy reverse engineered the device and determined that there was a GPL violation.

It didn't say weather he even attempted to acquire it from Linkysys directly.

I would prefer more than one guy's opinion before drawing any conclusions, but I think he risks credibility if he is wrong. This would obviously affect his job, as that is the sole responsibility of the GPL Violations Project.

Side note:
Isn't there a fuse one can blow in the processor to prevent anything but boot-loads?

Like anyone gives a shit about copyright bitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17656906)

Like anyone gives a shit about copyright here - we da mofo torrent bitches, bitch !

Do they want to score points or Cisco to fix it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657472)

From TFA: "Hemel didn't actually identify for Cisco the specific code that hasn't been published. 'I'm not going to do their work for them,' he said."

If they intend to sue, they'll have to specify the infringing code eventually. Failure to do so now will probably prevent triple damage. It's going to be hard to show bad faith or willful infringement if they tried to fix it and were stymied by an activist who admittedly looked into this in order to make a political point and wouldn't provide details of the infringement.

Maybe true, but irrelevant (3, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657710)

The article implies a linkage that isn't there.

iPhone is a trademark dispute between Apple and Cisco.

The other appears to be a vague accusation the Cisco didn't abide by a usage restriction (not related to apple in the least) on source code....

I mean, perhaps this could be considered ironic, but irony is not a legal challenge and in any case, even if the GPL has been violated, it has no bearing at all on the case between Apple and Cisco.

I'm not a big fan of the way either of these companies use their legal teams, but you don't have to be a lawyer to realize that Apple is wrong here. They gave away their entire negotiating position when they announced iPhone before securing the rights to the name. They either pony up what Cisco wants, or choose a new name. It's not that difficult.

Re:Maybe true, but irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657984)

Just because you state that the "article implies a linkage", doesn't mean that you've read it. I know this is /. and all but geeze, don't make me read it to call you out on it. The article says:

"He decided to talk about his findings now because "the timing is just perfect," he said. "For someone talking about Apple using Cisco's property, actually they're infringing on copyright themselves. So it's just a double standard."

The article really makes no other reference to Apple so you sir are trying to form a linkage.

I'm not a big fan of the way either of these companies use their legal teams, but you don't have to be a lawyer to realize that Apple is wrong here. They gave away their entire negotiating position when they announced iPhone before securing the rights to the name. They either pony up what Cisco wants, or choose a new name. It's not that difficult.

Hold on there trigger. Although IANAL I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. I am going to leave the searching as an exercise for you. Yes, at face value it may appear that Apple has thumbed their nose at Cisco, but, several other telephony companies have used iphone in reference to their products. If Cisco has allowed this to happen and not filed trademark infringments on those companies then, the trademark has been diluted and is no longer enoforcable (think Kleenex, Xerox, etc.). So, it may be that Cisco gave up their negotiating position for not previously defending "their" trademark.

Re:Maybe true, but irrelevant (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658300)

"If Cisco has allowed this to happen and not filed trademark infringments on those companies then, the trademark has been diluted and is no longer enoforcable"

Perhaps true, but ultimately irrelevant to Apple's desire to launch the phone in 5+ months. The wheels of justice grind slowly, and Cisco will surely get an injunction against Apple's iPhone if it goes on sale. You may be right about everything, and it won't mean a thing, because the burden will be on Apple to prove the trademark is unenforceable.

And while you and I may be so excited that by iPhone that June seems like it's a long way away, in fact, June is right around the corner for a product launch. With this trademark suit hanging over Apple, the chances of releasing iPhone in June are pretty close to zero, unless they settle or change the name.

So even if Apple is right, they'll lose. Apple jumped the gun on the announcement and they're going to pay the price if they insist on sticking with the iPhone name.

And again, this has nothing to do with the Cisco allegedly not abiding by the GPL.

(and if you want irony, take a look in Cisco's site where they point out that Steve Jobs made a point of saying they would protect the IP in the iPhone, all the while not respecting Cisco's IP on the actual name).

Again, I'm not bashing Apple in the sense you seem to think. But I think if I'm on the board of directors, I'd ask a few pointed questions about announcing a major new product without securing the rights to the name first. At best, it smacks of poor judgment.

"Hold on there trigger."

The phrase is "Hold on there TIGER".

You're welcome!

Corporate slap session (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17657828)

Cisco slaps Apple with infringement of the name and GPL slaps Cisco with infringement of source code. Shameless how corporations act.

GPL is NOT an agreement (4, Informative)

SLi (132609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17657982)

Argh. When will people learn this? The GNU GPL is not a "licensing agreement", it's a license. It's a one-sided declaration that gives to the licensee rights they would not otherwise under the copyright law have (ie. the right to redistribute the software under some conditions, spelled out by the GPL). It doesn't demand anything at all in exchange, and the licensee does not need to "agree" to it or "accept" it for it to have effect (and not accepting it wouldn't make much sense, since it only gives additional rights).

Re:GPL is NOT an agreement (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658344)

You give your acceptance. And not accepting it means you have no legal right to use the code or have a copy of it on your machine at all barring some other agreement. Yes, the GPL is a license, but accepting it turns that into an agreement.

Re:GPL is NOT an agreement (1, Informative)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658412)

Way, way, way wrong...the GPL is a license to redistribute the source code under certain conditions. It says nothing and has nothing to do with the use of the code.

Re:GPL is NOT an agreement (1)

bhsx (458600) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658460)

And not accepting it means you have no legal right to use the code or have a copy of it on your machine at all

Hate to be nit-picky; but you have every right to have a copy of it on your machine without accepting into agreement with the GPL. The GPL only applies if you distribute derivative works. On a side note, that's a weird issue when it comes to GUI installers. Especially win32 installers that make you click "Accept" on the GPL posting. Seems strange that the people using the GPL, who generally hate EULAs, basically implement the same sort of thing in their own installers.
Maybe I'm way off, but I think that practice should be changed.

Re:GPL is NOT an agreement (1)

SLi (132609) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658884)

Yes, that's horrible.

By the way, I believe at least Debian has removed some of those (which they, arguably, have the right to do under the terms of the GPL). I don't remember from which specific pieces of software, though.

Re:GPL is NOT an agreement (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658938)

You need to understand the difference between the GPL and most licences. Most licences impose additional restrictions on top of what is already provided for by copyright law. Eg some Database management software prohibits you from running benchmarks on their software. This is an additional restriction imposed by the licence on top of copyright law.

GPL doesn't add any restrictions that copyright law doesn't already have. It grants additional privileges to the licensee that otherwise would not be legal - like the right to distribute the software in its original or modified form - with the sole caveat being that you have to ensure that the source code for any changes you make available to anyone who asks.

If you don't accept the terms of the licence, standard copyright law applies and you can't distribute the software to anyone or modify it in any way.

So, using the standard click through mechanism designed to restrict a persons use of software that Windows Installers provide, the author grants you additional privileges on top of those normally granted by copyright law. your usage is not restricted and you are now allowed to give away copies and modify yours in whatever way you want - provided that if you give away a modified copy you need to give away the source code.

If the click through mechanism is unenforceable, then, no problem. Standard copyright law still applies and you aren't allowed to give away copies or modify the original.

Doesn't demand anything NOT (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658352)

How can requiring that additional source code added by the licensee must be distributed along with the original source not be considered a demand? A GPL licensee is giving up their rights to keep their source code secret in exchange for being able to incorporate GPL'd code in their application.

You can argue about legal definitions all you want, but as a practical matter the GPL is indistinguishable in effect from a "licensing agreement" to those that intending to distribute derivative code.

Re:Doesn't demand anything NOT (1)

SLi (132609) | more than 6 years ago | (#17659016)

Well, there are some very important differences. http://lwn.net/Articles/61292/ [lwn.net] explains them well:


Similarly, when you hear that the GPL is viral and can force proprietary code to become GPL, which a couple of lawyers have been saying, you'll know that isn't true. If you steal GPL code, you can expect an enforcement action. But this action can only be enforcement of a license, not a contract, and a forced release under the GPL can't be imposed on you under copyright law. It's not one of the choices, as Professor Moglen has explained. You do have a choice under the GPL: you can stop using the stolen code and write your own, or you can decide you'd rather release under the GPL. But the choice is yours. If you say "I choose neither," the court can impose an injunction to stop you from further distribution, but it won't order your code released under the GPL. Your code remains yours, as you can see, even in a worst case scenario.

Of course, you could avoid all such troubles in the first place by not stealing GPL code to begin with. But if something happens inadvertently and some rogue employee sneaks some GPL code into your proprietary product, the sky isn't falling. It's a manageable risk and a solvable problem. No one wants to steal your code in retaliation or force it to be something you don't want it to be. The GPL is unequivocally a license, and that's the truth.


So, if it were a contract, the infringer could be ordered by a court to disclose the code. Now that it's not, the worst that can happen is a court barring them from infringing it further.

Re:GPL is NOT an agreement (1)

Perey (818567) | more than 6 years ago | (#17658378)

Actually I seem to recall reading something from GNU about how you're quite entitled to not accept the GPL, in which case you only have your default rights under copyright law (i.e. you may obtain a copy from a legitimate distributor, which is 'anyone who did agree to the GPL' in this case, and you may use it personally... the exact bounds of your rights to 'use' will vary and IANAL).

True, doing so doesn't make much sense unless you're trying to make some ideological statement about the GPL. But it's still an agreement, because (again, IANAL, but) no private party has the right to make a one-sided declaration of what someone else can or cannot do. Either the law already says they can or cannot, and you're just asserting your legal rights, or you're going beyond what the law says (either more or less permissive), in which case the other party must agree (even implicitly) to your terms.

Putting the I in Team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17658324)

One fellow is half of the team?

Is that the pro-active, politically correct, business-speek way to say one of two?

But I am glad there are two.

The Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17658942)

Is it not a bit ironic that "Open" or "Free" software advocates want to control how people write software?

Re:The Irony (1)

Simetrical (1047518) | more than 6 years ago | (#17659150)

Is it not a bit ironic that "Open" or "Free" software advocates want to control how people write software?

If you're slightly more specific and substitute "control how people write software" with "induce others to release their software freely", then . . . no, not at all. It's not ironic, and statements to the contrary are sophistic wordplay.

gpl is evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17659078)

GPl is just as evil as DRM. GPL is not a public good or a public domain licence its as evil as any other form of DRM. no one should use GPL software when there are real free licences out there.
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