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Australia GNU is Not Unix Open Source Software

Australian Telco Telstra Complies With GPL 90

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

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  • by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      *sips coffee*

      Indeed.

    • by ytaews (1837554)
      To be fair, Telstra under Thodey have given us every possible indication that they're not going to be the Telstra to which we've become accustomed.
      • by mug funky (910186)

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

        pricks.

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

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

      Having said that Telstra -

      WHERE THE HELL IS FROYO FOR MY WILDFIRE !?!?!? YOU'VE BEEN PROMISING I
      • by Enigma23 (460910)

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

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

      • by idontgno (624372)

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

        Right here. [xda-developers.com]

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

      • by Meski (774546) *
        If you'd got a NexusOne, it would have been auto-deployed months ago. Relying on ISP/Carriers to do this is bound to end in tears.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Monday February 21, 2011 @03:18AM (#35265384) Homepage

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

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

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

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

    • Re:"Engaging"? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cheese_wallet (88279) on Monday February 21, 2011 @04:44AM (#35265682) Journal

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

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

    • Re:"Engaging"? (Score:5, Informative)

      by williamhb (758070) on Monday February 21, 2011 @05:44AM (#35265862) Journal

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

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

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

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

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

      • by romiz (757548)
        While most of the devices provided by Sagemcom are sold to operators rather than end customers, they do offer the source for the Linux products they sell to the public. At least for some of them, as you can see here [sagemcom.com].
      • by bug1 (96678)

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

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

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

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

        • by rrossman2 (844318)

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

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

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

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

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

        If I sell physical CDs with copies of Microsoft Windows on the

        • by eladts (1712916)
          Your theory completely ignores the First Sale Doctrine. You do not need a license from Microsoft to sell a Windows CD, as you are not making a new copy. You do not need permission from Microsoft to sell your Windows PC. The same applies to GPL software and hardware with embedded GPL software.
          • by rrossman2 (844318)

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

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

            My actual words were "physical CDs with copies of Microsoft Windows"; I used the word 'copies' deliberately to make t

      • by Aggrajag (716041)
        The same happened with the T-box which is produced by another French company Netgem. Netgem released their latest source only after pressure from Telstra.
      • I would have thought someone at Telstra would actually look at one of the devices and see that there could be a problem.

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

    • Re:Just for clarity (Score:5, Informative)

      by williamhb (758070) on Monday February 21, 2011 @05:30AM (#35265822) Journal

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

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

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

  • by SolitaryMan (538416) on Monday February 21, 2011 @03:50AM (#35265530) Homepage Journal

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

    Yeah, lets encourage this behavior further...

    • I LOVE MY CAPS! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) *

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

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

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

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

      By giving Telstra POSITIVE FEEDBACK for compl

      • by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

    • by DrXym (126579)

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

      Yeah, lets encourage this behavior further...

      I think there would be less violations if the FSF offered some useful targeted advice to the vendors. It is the vendor who is distributing the boxes, so they're the ones on the hook to supply the source code but they're often not the ones doing the firmware. Usually they'll subcontract that out and there could be subcontractors underneath them. Everyone in the chain needs to know their obligations during requirements gathering, contract negotiation phase, deliverables and in support. The FSF should produce

  • by Jarryd98 (1677746) on Monday February 21, 2011 @04:06AM (#35265586)
    I'd have to agree with the above comments. Telstra doesn't deserve any credit for compliance alone. It's expected. Many people seem far too willing to forgive/forget within a short period of time. They delivered what was expected of them after an extended period of inaction. That is all.
    • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

  • Correct title: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ant P. (974313) on Monday February 21, 2011 @05:46AM (#35265872) Homepage

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

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

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

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

    Device manufacturers are the biggest problems, they never talk to developers, they already have

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

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