Majority of Android OEM's lose Linux distribution rights

Over at Google HQ, the company is rejoicing over its purchase of Motorola Mobility, a move that shocked many, and isn't as simple as meets the eye. The company is after the patents that Motorola is sitting on. Thousands of them. They see this as the battle being won, but now, Android may be in bigger trouble than ever before.

A post over on the Free, Open Source Software blog details how the majority of Android device manufacturers have lost or are about to lose all licenses to distribute Android on handsets. Most interestingly, the post points out that;

Rampant non-compliance with the source code disclosure requirement of the GPLv2 (the license under which Linux is published) -- especially but not only in connection with Honeycomb -- has technically resulted in a loss of most vendors' right to distribute Linux

This is huge. Honeycomb itself is especially an issue, considering Google has decided not to release the source for the update citing "issues with Smartphones" as the main reason. The company is also withholding other source code, getting them even deeper into the non-compliance pit. In brief, the GPL states that;

4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.

Because of this, this is the "Situation in which virtually every Android OEM is [in] now: almost everyone was out of compliance at some point, and it doesn't matter whether someone did the right thing 99% of the time -- non-compliance at just one point in time "will automatically terminate" the license." If this happens, every contributor to the Linux Kernel must give Google a new license before they can continue distribution.

This leaves Google (and its Android manufacturers) wide open to lawsuits, with thousands of people worldwide being able to "Threaten to obtain Apple-style injunctions unless their demands for a new license grant are met."

If you're interested in how bad it really is, Matthew Garrett, a GPL "activist" did a survey on tablet manufacturers that comply with the GPL which is readable here. The survey shows that a large chunk of manufacturers haven't complied at all.

Google has opened a can of worms and isn't addressing the problem at all. Over the coming months, we'll likely see a lot more lawsuits headed their way.

Update: We'd like to clarify that there is yet to be a court case about this matter, and that Google is yet to comment about releasing the source (However, the company appears to be staying silent about it). For further reading about why Android isn't at risk, head here.

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Well ACtually this is once more FUD from Microsoft adherents. See this article on Groklaw which completely dissects this so-called complaint:
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110815131443415

Mark Webbink
Attorney Edward Naughton of Brown Rudnick has written more misinformation about the GPL in yet another false prediction of Android's doom. Once again Mr. Naughton takes a non-story and blows it out of proportion, and of course, FOSSPatents does its part to blow hot air into the story as well.

If the idea is to scare off potential Android OEM's or purchasers of Android-powered phones, this sort of scare tactic is just rubbish. It has failed in the past, and it will fail this time.

People who don't understand the GPL probably shouldn't write about it, including lawyers. I'll show you the mistakes in the article, and please note that while I am a member of the board of directors of Software Freedom Law Center, which will factor into this story, I speak only for myself and Groklaw, not for SFLC in this article.

Now we have run into Mr. Naughton before as he has advanced what many of us see as a pro-Microsoft, anti-FOSS position. The fact that he has ties to Microsoft is already established (see Lawyer behind Android infringement claim has Microsoft ties by Joe Brockmeier on NetworkWorld).

Everyone please read my comment. This article is actually 100% wrong, and a bit of quick research will verify that it is wrong. You can even see it in the right column of quick information in Android's wikipedia article.

The Linux kernel that Android uses is GPL'ed, and yes, requires its source code to be released. Google already addressed this in an open statement some time ago, and the kernel patch source code they slightly modify the kernel with is -ALREADY AVAILABLE ON AN FTP-.

ALMOST THE ENTIRE REST OF ANDROID IS BSD LICENSED AND DOES NOT REQUIRE GOOGLE TO RELEASE THE SOURCE CODE. AT ALL. THEY CAN WITHHOLD THE SOURCE FOREVER.

Folks, I'd like to clear up a few things here. I have plenty of experience with GPL software so I'm pretty familiar with the requirements.

a) Android, as a whole, could be counted as a "distribution", just like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc. Those distributions contain the Linux kernel (which is GPLv2 licensed) as well as many other bits of software under their own license. Being just another distribution, Android is exactly like this. This Neowin article, is referring to the Linux kernel (as well as any other GPL'ed stuff inside Android) *only*. Forget all the other bits that make up Android when reading this article.

b) The GPLv2 is a very easy license to understand. It doesn't matter who you are, or what you are doing with the software (making millions or making nothing), there is really only a few main terms:

If you give the compiled program to someone, you must either give them the source code as well, or offer to give the source code. You must also not stop people from distributing the binaries or source code.

So all the posts above that say that Google doesn't need to comply because they "didn't make hardware", or that the manufacturers don't need to comply because they "didn't make Android", forget all that. The GPL doesn't care. Just refer to the simple terms above.

Also, you do not need to actually give the source code. You just have to offer it (And of course if someone asks, you have to give it).

c) I'm not up to date on the whole Android thing, but if Google has modified the Linux kernel, and have passed the binaries onto anyone, then they must offer the source. One can only assume that Google has given the source to HTC, Motorola, etc, as they needed to get the thing working on their phones. However, if Google has signed a contract with those companies preventing them from releasing the source code to their customers, then indeed, Google and the manufacturers are very much in violation.

d) Likewise, if the Phone manufacturers don't offer the source code, or give it away with their phones, they are in violation.

Note that all of this only refers to the Linux Kernel (and any other GPL'ed stuff inside Android)

rtire said,
Folks, I'd like to clear up a few things here. I have plenty of experience with GPL software so I'm pretty familiar with the requirements.

a) Android, as a whole, could be counted as a "distribution", just like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc. Those distributions contain the Linux kernel (which is GPLv2 licensed) as well as many other bits of software under their own license. Being just another distribution, Android is exactly like this. This Neowin article, is referring to the Linux kernel (as well as any other GPL'ed stuff inside Android) *only*. Forget all the other bits that make up Android when reading this article.

b) The GPLv2 is a very easy license to understand. It doesn't matter who you are, or what you are doing with the software (making millions or making nothing), there is really only a few main terms:

If you give the compiled program to someone, you must either give them the source code as well, or offer to give the source code. You must also not stop people from distributing the binaries or source code.

So all the posts above that say that Google doesn't need to comply because they "didn't make hardware", or that the manufacturers don't need to comply because they "didn't make Android", forget all that. The GPL doesn't care. Just refer to the simple terms above.

Also, you do not need to actually give the source code. You just have to offer it (And of course if someone asks, you have to give it).

c) I'm not up to date on the whole Android thing, but if Google has modified the Linux kernel, and have passed the binaries onto anyone, then they must offer the source. One can only assume that Google has given the source to HTC, Motorola, etc, as they needed to get the thing working on their phones. However, if Google has signed a contract with those companies preventing them from releasing the source code to their customers, then indeed, Google and the manufacturers are very much in violation.

d) Likewise, if the Phone manufacturers don't offer the source code, or give it away with their phones, they are in violation.

Note that all of this only refers to the Linux Kernel (and any other GPL'ed stuff inside Android)

Well explained :-D

rtire said,
Folks, I'd like to clear up a few things here. I have plenty of experience with GPL software so I'm pretty familiar with the requirements.

a) Android, as a whole, could be counted as a "distribution", just like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc. Those distributions contain the Linux kernel (which is GPLv2 licensed) as well as many other bits of software under their own license. Being just another distribution, Android is exactly like this. This Neowin article, is referring to the Linux kernel (as well as any other GPL'ed stuff inside Android) *only*. Forget all the other bits that make up Android when reading this article.

b) The GPLv2 is a very easy license to understand. It doesn't matter who you are, or what you are doing with the software (making millions or making nothing), there is really only a few main terms:

If you give the compiled program to someone, you must either give them the source code as well, or offer to give the source code. You must also not stop people from distributing the binaries or source code.

So all the posts above that say that Google doesn't need to comply because they "didn't make hardware", or that the manufacturers don't need to comply because they "didn't make Android", forget all that. The GPL doesn't care. Just refer to the simple terms above.

Also, you do not need to actually give the source code. You just have to offer it (And of course if someone asks, you have to give it).

c) I'm not up to date on the whole Android thing, but if Google has modified the Linux kernel, and have passed the binaries onto anyone, then they must offer the source. One can only assume that Google has given the source to HTC, Motorola, etc, as they needed to get the thing working on their phones. However, if Google has signed a contract with those companies preventing them from releasing the source code to their customers, then indeed, Google and the manufacturers are very much in violation.

d) Likewise, if the Phone manufacturers don't offer the source code, or give it away with their phones, they are in violation.

Note that all of this only refers to the Linux Kernel (and any other GPL'ed stuff inside Android)


Thank you for the explanation. Looks like all we need to do is write a letter to Google asking for the Honeycomb source code and when they refuse they will be in violation of GPLv2. This is going to be easy.

xpxp2002 said,

Thank you for the explanation. Looks like all we need to do is write a letter to Google asking for the Honeycomb source code and when they refuse they will be in violation of GPLv2. This is going to be easy.

you can't ask for the honeycomb source, only the linux kernel source that powers honeycomb.

people thinking this a problem are delusional. First off, I don't think google has ever released a modified linux kernel without sharing the code. If somebody can prove me wrong, please do. Secondly, it's highly unlikely the FOSS community would raise a stink about it anyway, android is one of their flag ships.

From the article: "Last week I read about an Android licensing issue that I wasn't previously aware of..." Clearly he has in-depth knowledge about it then! So hmmm Google Lawyers or a blogger with 1 week knowledge of the issue...

Google release the Linux/Android Kernel over at: http://android.git.kernel.org/. Last updated 4 days ago, by Linus himself.

As far as I'm aware they are only holding back the userspace tools and interface until "Icecream", to prevent people putting the Honeycomb interface onto phones. These tools come (mostly) under the Apache License.

Pretty sensationalist article.

I'm pretty sure the GPLv2'ed kernel code is just freely available as a git repository, check out http://android.git.kernel.org/?p=kernel/common.git;a=summary at the bottom. It clearly states there's a android-3.0 branch.

Also, claiming that if at any time you don't make the source code freely available is against the GPL might be true. It is never stated it has to be done through a website, and I'm pretty sure it's only applicable if Google denies anyone the source code on request.

Edit: The 3.0 might be a reference to the 3.0 version of the Linux kernel, but then again ... why wouldn't they be sharing the same kernel?

Isn't it where the code just has to be available in some form? Honeycomb is available to anyone upon request. They just don't throw it on the site anymore.

Everyone should read this before making any assumptions:
http://www.itworld.com/mobile-...ing-gpl-non-compliance-drum

It contains history on this author and contains a response from the Software Freedom Conservancy which basically says this author is a known troll who is once again just trying to ruin open source projects. Also states there is no case as the legal copyright holder (GPL does assign) has not acted nor shown any interest to.

People have been predicting that Google is going to dump Linux for a while now. Android already bypasses the core features and functionality of Linux with generic base calls. (i.e. Android does its on Memory Management, etc.)

The problem is, anything Google produces will have to rather original to avoid stepping on any GPLs or patents. And Google just does not have the software engineers to pull this off. Even Apple was not able to do this when they did OS X over 10 years ago, which is why they went back to what they COULD use.

Unless Google has a new kernel or OS model technology, they are kind of running full on into a brick wall.

Motorola even didn't want to play with Microsoft and the Android patent issues, which is why they stuck it out until Google could take it off their hands. Now Google is the target of the lawsuits, which is 'finally' force Google to defend their IP. And Google can't. If even RedHat and every other company using Linux for profit has looked at the Microsoft patents under NDA and instantly buckled to a licensing agreement, Microsoft does have more than the Linux community would like to believe. (Which is a problem with OSS as there is no control on what or who is submitting, and concepts and even reverse engineered code and technologies get used, without the Linux community as a whole knowing where it came from.)

I'm not too concerned. Google will work something out somehow. Nothing has stopped them to this point. I just want my Nokia Windows Phone 7 though.

Enron said,
I'm not too concerned. Google will work something out somehow. Nothing has stopped them to this point. I just want my Nokia Windows Phone 7 though.

Exactly...they may have to pay out the ass, but it will get worked out.

techbeck said,

Exactly...they may have to pay out the ass, but it will get worked out.

No one will pay anything. This is a non issue. One idiot is reading too much into it.

UndergroundWire said,

No one will pay anything. This is a non issue. One idiot is reading too much into it.

Bla-bla.
Too bad you're wrong. Best Buy was hit with a lawsuit when they sold some device that had Linux inside, but didn't share the sources. They managed to settle out of the court though.

What's that got to do with anything? For the parts of Android covered by the GPL (the kernel), Google HAVE released the full source, as have all the reputable manufacturers that made any mods to it. The UI layer or shell, part of Android us under the Apache license and Google don't have to release the source for that.

RealFduch said,

Bla-bla.
Too bad you're wrong. Best Buy was hit with a lawsuit when they sold some device that had Linux inside, but didn't share the sources. They managed to settle out of the court though.

"The SFLC confirmed BusyBox violations in nearly 20 separate products cited in the complaint and gave each defendant ample time to comply with the requirements of the license."

"The SFLC said the companies either failed to respond meaningfully to requests or ignored them altogether. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York."

They were sued only after being given enough time to comply, and them refusing to do so. Considering that manufacturers of Android devices (and Google itself) are releasing the OS kernel source, I don't see how this is going to be an issue.

There's obvious intent of compliance on the manufacturers' side, if there's any violation they'll get notified and it'll be addressed without going anywhere near the courts.

FloatingFatMan said,
What's that got to do with anything? For the parts of Android covered by the GPL (the kernel), Google HAVE released the full source, as have all the reputable manufacturers that made any mods to it. The UI layer or shell, part of Android us under the Apache license and Google don't have to release the source for that.

It doesn't matter whether or not Google released the kernel source! Every manufacturer must share the source!

techbeck said,
Android is to big to be knocked out by something like this. They will be fine.

However big they are doesn't matter at all. they broke copyright laws, so they can't use it. simple as that. the only way Google could do it is if they move onto BSD. other wise you can expect a lawsuit against ever major android phone manufacturer. your response is absolute ****, assuming that big things can't be knocked down

Matthew Thepc said,

However big they are doesn't matter at all. they broke copyright laws, so they can't use it. simple as that. the only way Google could do it is if they move onto BSD. other wise you can expect a lawsuit against ever major android phone manufacturer. your response is absolute ****, assuming that big things can't be knocked down

Oh get over yourself. This kind of **** happens all the time. It will get worked out, changed and it will pass. That was my whole point. So relax. Android isnt going to disappear tomorrow or next week. If so, this would be breaking news and at the top of every news/tech site on the internet. Not to mention the TV.

techbeck said,
Android is to big to be knocked out by something like this. They will be fine.

Best Buy wasn't too big. They were hit with a lawsuit when they sold some device that had Linux inside, but sisn't share the sources.

Patents, patents, patents! All this hand-slapping, paper-pushing lawsuit business is really making me lose respect for these companies. It's really hard to recommend companies like these to others (let alone remain faithful myself) when all they do is act like the bigger kid on the playground. All these trivial patent claims do is hurt the ecosystem and punish the consumers, which are the folks that sign their checks to begin with.

But alas, part of the problem with Linux and OSS in general is a lack of standardization. If we could get all of the big wigs together, sit down and work out some kind of unanimous system that benefits everyone, Linux might branch out and become something more than just a nerd's toy.

This one ain't got nothing to do with patents, it's actually about the copyright, that Android infringes…
I agree on the standard thing; IMHO one of the reasons why developing on Windows is of such easy is that it's "standardized" - yes it's not a standard like ISO-C++11 - but APIs are guaranteed to be present on any Windows system (of course considering the OS version)

Acheron_77 said,
This is not even near of true. Take a little read here http://bit.ly/SObw0

I think that's talking about Android itself, the OS bits that OEMs grab from Google, NOT the Linux kernel that Android uses which is what this post talks about.

The Linux kernel is under GPLv2, you can't take the kernel and then give it out under a different license than what it already has stuck to it, at least I don't believe you can. There's a difference here, the way I see it, but hell, I could be wrong.

Acheron_77 said,
This is not even near of true. Take a little read here http://bit.ly/SObw0

Of course not. One idiot writes something and everybody is re-posting the story without fact checking any of these claims. I guess Neowin is like the Enquirer now?

Anyway we all know this is a non issue. One idiot writing about it doesn't make it an issue. But you know what? I'm gonna have fun reading these comments on this thread. It should be entertaining when everybody thinks they are an expert of the GPL and Apache terms.

Acheron_77 said,
This is not even near of true. Take a little read here http://bit.ly/SObw0

I'm glad, I'm not the only one who thought this. As long as the Android variant of the Linux kernel is available (and it is), there is no GPL violation. Obviously this doesn't let the manufacturers off the hook though, since they may have their own modified kernels, and are legally bound to redistribute them.

The rest of Android though is Apache licenced though, and Google are perfectly entitled to withhold releases of source if they see fit, as long as the kernel source is made available if it was modified.

IANAL, but as far as I'm aware, Google meets all the criteria of the Apache licence. Doesnt let the manufacturers off the hook though.

This whole article is complete anti-Android FUD.

Majesticmerc said,
Obviously this doesn't let the manufacturers off the hook though, since they may have their own modified kernels, and are legally bound to redistribute them.

The manufacturers release the kernel source code.

http://htcdev.com/
https://opensource.samsung.com/
http://sourceforge.net/motorola/
http://www.lg.com/global/support/opensource/opensource.jsp

So I guess no issue.

Majesticmerc said,
This whole article is complete anti-Android FUD.

On this site? NEVER!

Edited by UndergroundWire, Aug 16 2011, 12:48am :

Majesticmerc said,

I'm glad, I'm not the only one who thought this. As long as the Android variant of the Linux kernel is available (and it is), there is no GPL violation. Obviously this doesn't let the manufacturers off the hook though, since they may have their own modified kernels, and are legally bound to redistribute them.

The rest of Android though is Apache licenced though, and Google are perfectly entitled to withhold releases of source if they see fit, as long as the kernel source is made available if it was modified.

IANAL, but as far as I'm aware, Google meets all the criteria of the Apache licence. Doesnt let the manufacturers off the hook though.

This whole article is complete anti-Android FUD.


This is incorrect. ANDROID is not licensed under GPL, that is correct. However, components of android such as the LINUX KERNEL are under the GPL still as they are not written by Google. Does that help clarify?

Please do your own research before accusing of FUD as this has been thoroughly checked over.

GP007 said,

The Linux kernel is under GPLv2, you can't take the kernel and then give it out under a different license.

You can, if you get the agreement of all those developers that contributed in Linux - even a basic one-liner counts in that decision! Google obviously doesn't have this agreement…

UndergroundWire said,

OK, chill. It's a wider issue, as the software developer's (Goog) responsibility is to release source for the kernel, not the manufacturers, if Google doesn't release it all manufacturers forfeit.. We're talking about different releases here.

Owen W said,

OK, chill. It's a wider issue, as the software developer's (Goog) responsibility is to release source for the kernel, not the manufacturers, if Google doesn't release it all manufacturers forfeit.. We're talking about different releases here.

They do. My Android 2.3 ROM is running Linux 2.6.35, which is roughly 16 days old (released 1st August). Just because Honeycomb was not distributed doesn't mean the kernel wasn't. In fact its highly likely that 3.0 and 2.3 share the same kernel.

Lets assume the worst for a second, and imagine that they are caught with their pants down. Little will come of it. Google will make a big donation to the FSF, release any missing releases, and life will go on. Google is one of the bigger Linux contributors as it is, and it would be rather foolish of the other contributors to shun one of their biggest allies for the sake of some delayed code releases.

Majesticmerc said,

Lets assume the worst for a second, and imagine that they are caught with their pants down. Little will come of it. Google will make a big donation to the FSF, release any missing releases, and life will go on. Google is one of the bigger Linux contributors as it is, and it would be rather foolish of the other contributors to shun one of their biggest allies for the sake of some delayed code releases.

Its not that easy in this case. There are thousands of contributors and each one has to agree to them getting a new license. I think it'll be a bit harder than just throwing money at them this time.

Acheron_77 said,
This is not even near of true. Take a little read here http://bit.ly/SObw0

you didn't read your own site. FAIL. and i quote,

Although the underlying Linux kernel is licensed under version 2 of the Free Software Foundation's General Public License (GPLv2), much of the user-space software infrastructure that will make up the Open Handset Alliance's platform will be distributed under version 2 of the Apache Software License (ASL).

the point IS about the Linux kernel it runs under, not the user-space software. the kernel is still under GPL, even if the userspace is under ASL. so it IS true.

Owen W said,

Its not that easy in this case. There are thousands of contributors and each one has to agree to them getting a new license. I think it'll be a bit harder than just throwing money at them this time.

agreed. plus, microsoft has released like 22,000 lines of driver code to Linux...i wonder if Google can get Microsoft to allow them to use it ?

UndergroundWire said,

they do release their source code, but the problem is that for each manufacturer, there was a time when they had an Android product running on top of GPLv2-liscenced Linux that wasn't opensource. it doesn't matter if they made it opensource a week later. they were in violation for the first couple days they didn't release the code.

MFH said,

You can, if you get the agreement of all those developers that contributed in Linux - even a basic one-liner counts in that decision! Google obviously doesn't have this agreement…

actually, the Kernel is still under GPLv2...only the google-made stuff is under ASL.

Matthew Thepc said,

agreed. plus, microsoft has released like 22,000 lines of driver code to Linux...i wonder if Google can get Microsoft to allow them to use it ?

I don't think there's much use for Hyper-V related code on Android devices If it came down to that they could just remove every Hyper-V related module and be done with it (actually they've quite probably done that from the very beginning, same as with plenty of other modules that don't apply to mobile devices).

UndergroundWire said,

One idiot writes something and everybody is re-posting the story without fact checking any of these claims.

Especially when the idiot is Florian Mueller, a well-known troll. His previous allegations about google using linux header files, and hence violating the GPL, was dismissed by Linus Torvalds himself..

GreenMartian said,

Especially when the idiot is Florian Mueller, a well-known troll. His previous allegations about google using linux header files, and hence violating the GPL, was dismissed by Linus Torvalds himself..

It's one of those articles that Neowin hast to put out to make the WP7 community feel happy again.

UndergroundWire said,

It's one of those articles that Neowin hast to put out to make the WP7 community feel happy again.


Wow, nice trolling

So why keep it open sourced now. They have a manufacturer. Now they can take it and put it on their own phones and license it to others for a (super) small fee. Just a thought. Is that possible?

dogmai79 said,
So why keep it open sourced now. They have a manufacturer. Now they can take it and put it on their own phones and license it to others for a (super) small fee. Just a thought. Is that possible?

Well, I think the issue is that Android makes use of Linux, which is licensed under the GPL... Google doesn't own Linux...

dogmai79 said,
So why keep it open sourced now. They have a manufacturer. Now they can take it and put it on their own phones and license it to others for a (super) small fee. Just a thought. Is that possible?

They can't as long as they are using anything that's under a Copyleft-license (like the GPL). So they would have to use another kernel, considering how they messed up Linux - it wasn't re-integrable into the official builds! - you gotta wonder why they didn't take BSD to begin with.

MFH said,

They can't as long as they are using anything that's under a Copyleft-license (like the GPL). So they would have to use another kernel, considering how they messed up Linux - it wasn't re-integrable into the official builds! - you gotta wonder why they didn't take BSD to begin with.

Because Google likes to play the open source card and win fans over then stab them in the back when it suits them? They wouldn't have been able to play the same marketing angle with BSD (which is what Apple does) compared to Linux etc.

GP007 said,

Because Google likes to play the open source card and win fans over then stab them in the back when it suits them? They wouldn't have been able to play the same marketing angle with BSD (which is what Apple does) compared to Linux etc.


Know the big difference between BSD and GPL? BSD-people most of the time don't give a f*** about how you use their code - I can remember only one incident where the change of the license lead to an outrage: the WLAN driver thing - sorry but I don't have a link …

BTW: Whilst obviously the basics of OSX are based on BSD, all modern OSes contain BSD code… (Though one could argue that OSX is the most shameless in using BSD of them all…)

FMH said,
I don't get it. Why all if a sudden they are to or are about to lose the license?

Because they violate the GPL - the license of Linux. By violating the GPL you loose all rights to use the source code…
The "all of a sudden" is correct though. Whilst I'm not a fan of the GPL - or Copyleft in general - this violation has gone on far too long!

FMH said,
I don't get it. Why all if a sudden they are to or are about to lose the license?

They already lost it. The second they released a product based on modified GPL code without sharing the sources, their license was aoutomatically void.

M_Lyons10 said,
Wow, this sounds like it's going to be another headache for Android... I'm sure it will get resolved though.

Not very easy...

M_Lyons10 said,
Wow, this sounds like it's going to be another headache for Android... I'm sure it will get resolved though.

To regain the license to use Linux they will need the agreement of all kernel devs as this is an obvious violation of the GPL…

MFH said,

To regain the license to use Linux they will need the agreement of all kernel devs as this is an obvious violation of the GPL…

Do they? It's not like this would be the first time someone violates the GPL, and all that's been required before is going back into compliance.

It's only when a company refuses to comply after being properly notified about the violation that copyright owners take legal action. Seeing how pretty much every Android manufacturer is releasing the kernel source, I don't see how this is going to get that far.

ichi said,

Do they? It's not like this would be the first time someone violates the GPL, and all that's been required before is going back into compliance.

Yes, if the rights have been taken away from them…
Considering how long some of those companies violated the GPL I can imagine that their rights have been withdrawn.

Oh but see this is awesome. Google will have to HAVE TO open source honeycomb. That means my nook color (and other cheap android tabs) can get honeycomb proper with all the bells and whistles. Google saying their choice to not release honeycomb source due to people putting it on smartphones was a LIE. Yeah that will be a small part of the scope, but really people wanted the source for the cheap tablets, like the nook color. Google wanted people to buy brand new $500 tablets with 1ghz or dual core processors, get a 2nd data plan on a tablet, etc. They didn't want people to have the easy route so screw them.

Over at Google HQ, the company is rejoicing over its purchase of Motorola

No, Google purchase was for Motorola Mobility. Not the whole Motorola corp.

still1 said,
then why is Apple not in trouble?? just wondering.

Because their code is built off of Darwin which is derived from BSD. BSD isn't under GPL. In fact it has its own licensing called "BSD License".

I'm not sure exactly how the GPL is violated for Android though. You would have to be a licensing expert to figure it out. I'm pretty sure there are lots of devices out there based on Linux or have embedded Linux in them.

Shadrack said,

Because their code is built off of Darwin which is derived from BSD. BSD isn't under GPL. In fact it has its own licensing called "BSD License".

I'm not sure exactly how the GPL is violated for Android though. You would have to be a licensing expert to figure it out. I'm pretty sure there are lots of devices out there based on Linux or have embedded Linux in them.

Because the people who take it and then use it to sell phones/tablets aren't sharing the code like the GPL says you have to. I think the article makes it clear on this. Google has honeycomb out and OEMs have used it on devices, but where's the source code? And also in the past when OEMs take android, do whatever they do to it and then sell a device using it, have they released the code their device uses?

I think that's the problem here, can you go to say, Motorola.com or w/e and download the source code for android 3.x that's used on the Xoom? If at some point in time you couldn't get the code then it's a violation.

GP007 said,

Because the people who take it and then use it to sell phones/tablets aren't sharing the code like the GPL says you have to. I think the article makes it clear on this. Google has honeycomb out and OEMs have used it on devices, but where's the source code? And also in the past when OEMs take android, do whatever they do to it and then sell a device using it, have they released the code their device uses?

I think that's the problem here, can you go to say, Motorola.com or w/e and download the source code for android 3.x that's used on the Xoom? If at some point in time you couldn't get the code then it's a violation.

The GPL'ed code is available at http://android.git.kernel.org like it has been since the beginning and since all of Android is NOT GPL'ed there is no obligation to release the entire codebase.

Please do a little research before posting this crap.

SharpGreen said,

The GPL'ed code is available at http://android.git.kernel.org like it has been since the beginning and since all of Android is NOT GPL'ed there is no obligation to release the entire codebase.

Please do a little research before posting this crap.

Obviously not all of it is, hence this licencing issue

Shadrack said,

Because their code is built off of Darwin which is derived from BSD. BSD isn't under GPL. In fact it has its own licensing called "BSD License".

I'm not sure exactly how the GPL is violated for Android though. You would have to be a licensing expert to figure it out. I'm pretty sure there are lots of devices out there based on Linux or have embedded Linux in them.

Ok, the premise is correct, that the OP is conflating Linux and OS X's Darwin.

However, Darwin is NOT derived from BSD. It does use a BSD API kernel interface, but that has nothing to do with the core kernel, nor the actual code implementation.

Darwin's origins go back to XNU and NeXT and the base technologies of using a MACH kernel with a BSD 'style' interface.

OS X is NOT BSD.

Even FreeBSD is a bit misleading to people, because they expect it to be 'OpenBSD' which is highly acclaimed for its security. However, neither FreeBSD or OS X are OpenBSD and neither have even close to the same level of security history.


Taking this a step further, if you turn on the SUA (The Unix Subsystem) on Windows NT (Windows 7/Vista/XP/Server), it is a full BSD and R5 Unix OS running on top of the NT Kernel.

(This is due to how NT is designed with the modular and horizontal/vertical layered design of NT that is uses a client/server OS agnostic interface to the base level kernel technologies at a higher level than traditional OSes. --It is this geek stuff that real computer scientists find quite brilliant about NT, add in its object based communications, and HAL that provides far easier portability than most other OSes, including Linux and Darwin, etc.)

SharpGreen said,

The GPL'ed code is available at http://android.git.kernel.org like it has been since the beginning and since all of Android is NOT GPL'ed there is no obligation to release the entire codebase.

Please do a little research before posting this crap.


Wrong.
1) Android is based on the modified Linux kernel which is GPL.
2) GPL requires you to share the modified code under the same GPL license.
3) Google did not release the source code for the Honeycomb.
4) What matters is that companies that sell Honeycomb devices didn't release the sources.
5) Their licenses were automatically terminated.
6) To restore the licenses, they'd have to get the approval of ALL Linux code commiters.

SharpGreen said,

The GPL'ed code is available at http://android.git.kernel.org like it has been since the beginning and since all of Android is NOT GPL'ed there is no obligation to release the entire codebase.

Please do a little research before posting this crap.


Wrong.
1) Android is based on the modified Linux kernel which is GPL.
2) GPL requires you to share the modified code under the same GPL license.
3) Google did not release the source code for the Honeycomb.
4) What matters is that companies that sell Honeycomb devices didn't release the sources.
5) Their licenses were automatically terminated.
6) To restore the licenses, they'd have to get the approval of ALL Linux code commiters.

I think people are getting something quite mixed up here.

Android uses the Linux Kernel - true.
Android, as a whole, is NOT Linux, the Kernel is but that's about as far as it goes.
So essentially there are two codebases, the Linux kernel (Which google doesn't have to share because they didn't release a commercial device using it) and the Android codebase (which is Google's to do what they want with). Google is under no obligation to release any source code here, however the manufacturers are and that's the main issue - they only need to release the kernel source code, but most of them haven't bothered with this.

Kushan said,
I think people are getting something quite mixed up here.

Android uses the Linux Kernel - true.
Android, as a whole, is NOT Linux, the Kernel is but that's about as far as it goes.
So essentially there are two codebases, the Linux kernel (Which google doesn't have to share because they didn't release a commercial device using it) and the Android codebase (which is Google's to do what they want with). Google is under no obligation to release any source code here, however the manufacturers are and that's the main issue - they only need to release the kernel source code, but most of them haven't bothered with this.


True, as Google seems to use Apache for their stuff.
But the manufacturers have to release the source of anything related to Linux and GPLed software.

thenetavenger said,
. --It is this geek stuff that real computer scientists find quite brilliant about NT, add in its object based communications, and HAL that provides far easier portability than most other OSes, including Linux and Darwin, etc.)

Always bringing the smrt to these forums. Another great read.

And yes, we do like that about NT!

dotf said,
And yes, we do like that about NT!

I like it too!

Funny fact: almost all Linux-diehards I ever met have no idea about NT, but that Linux is superior in every aspect…