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Android Open Source Apache

Popular Android ROM Accused of GPL Violation 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the small-details-like-compliance dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A petition has recently been started to get the developer of the popular Android 'MIUI' ROM, Chinese based Xiaomi, to comply with the GPL. While Android itself is licensed under the Apache 2.0 License, and therefore does not actually require derivative works to be FOSS, the Linux kernel itself is GPL-licensed and needs to remain open. Unless Xiaomi intends to develop a replacement for the Linux kernel, they need to make their modifications public."
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Popular Android ROM Accused of GPL Violation

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  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:13PM (#42050265) Homepage

    It depends on how they distribute the sources. If they accompany the binaries with the source code, then you're right. However, if they offer the sources for download or by any method not accompanying the binaries, they have to offer the source to any third party regardless of whether they're a customer or not. That's because the Linux kernel is under the GPL v2 [] with no option to use a later version, and section 3b of the GPL v2 specifically says the offer has to be good for any third party. 3a covers distribution only when the source accompanies the binaries, and 3c isn't available because it's only allowed for non-commercial distribution which this isn't.

  • Re:Popular? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CritterNYC (190163) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:44PM (#42050509) Homepage
    It's a Cyanogenmod fork designed to look like iOS. It's been in violation of the GPL since its very first release. MIUI users always try and minimize the fact that it's basically illegal software.
  • by Qubit (100461) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:35PM (#42050907) Homepage Journal

    GPL does NOT, I repeat, does NOT require PUBLIC release of derivative works. It only requires disclosure to the actual users of the software.

    It is perfectly legal to create a derivative work of a GPL work and release the source code to the product users under NDA, forbidding public disclosure.

    Let's look at the FAQ for the GPL...

    Does The GPL Allow NDA? []

    Does the GPL allow me to distribute copies under a nondisclosure agreement?

    No. The GPL says that anyone who receives a copy from you has the right to redistribute copies, modified or not. You are not allowed to distribute the work on any more restrictive basis. If someone asks you to sign an NDA for receiving GPL-covered software copyrighted by the FSF, please inform us immediately by writing to If the violation involves GPL-covered code that has some other copyright holder, please inform that copyright holder, just as you would for any other kind of violation of the GPL.

  • Value != Money... (Score:5, Informative)

    by IBitOBear (410965) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:49AM (#42051389) Homepage Journal

    I can tell you are not a laywer, but even you should know that "value" doesn't mean "money". For instance, everything that is valuable that is not money, such as the things one trades money for, are themselves valuable.

    So too are intangables valuable. For instance, you pay for the right (within limits) to determin who is allowed to access the contents of your house, apartment, and/or other real property. This is the same as how one might buy a mambership to a club so that one receives the right to enter the premises of owned by that club.

    So a copyright is "valuable" as it allows the owner of that right to say how many of that thing may be brought into existence and under what circumstances.

    When someone brings more of those things into existence than the owner wishes to allow, or does so in a way the owner doesn't wish to allow, they owners valuable right is diminished by misuse.

    Much the way I might diminsih the value of any of your properties by misuse (like by ruining your carpet or driving your car into a ravine).

    These are not difficult concepts, and many times as you grew to this age, you experienced a diminishment of yoru intangibles. Every time you ever said "That's Not Fair" and no cash was involved, you experienced circumstantial devaluation enough to prompt outcry.

  • Bullshit summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by truedfx (802492) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:28AM (#42052187)
    From the summary:

    Unless Xiaomi intends to develop a replacement for the Linux kernel, they need to make their modifications public.

    From the article:

    unless Xioami wants to develop a replacement for the Linux side of Android, they need to make their kernel modifications public.

    The article is correct. Xioami only needs to make their kernel modifications public. The fact that there happens to be a GPL program in Android (the kernel) doesn't mean all of Android is tainted by it. Showing whatever else they've modified is nice, but not required.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:53AM (#42052653)

    >It is not copyright. It is a license.

    Yeah, see that is why /. is so confused. Let me explain, so you understand why the stronger copyright is, the stronger the GPL is. The right that the license is granting is the copyright. Without the copyright, you don't need the license and can use it for whatever you want.

    Source code is protected partially by copyright. The copyright holder has the right to prevent others from using/copying/distributing/performing/etc their work under copyright law. Thus, without copyright, if your source code leaks, there is nothing you can do to prevent others from abusing it to death, because you have no rights against them to stop it. Copyright is your ownership as an author of the source code. Thus, when you distribute it as open source, you usually grant a license that allows others to use your copyright material without fully surrendering your right. Those holdbacks are the conditions of the license. Again, if there is no copyright law of any strength, then I don't need a license to rip off your source code, I can just do it and there is nothing you can do to stop me.

    Conversely, if copyrights are all-powerful, then I can't rip off your source code unless I comply exactly with the granted license that gives me limited rights to your copyright.

    I sincerely hope that offers some clarity to you, and the others who don't understand copyrights. You can't argue that on one hand, copyright isn't theft when it is downloading an mp3 and listening to it, but then on the other hand, copyright is theft when you "steal" an open source library without following the GPL. They are the same law and rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:56AM (#42053233)

    The GPL may be an unconventional usage but it requires copyright. If there was no copyright (i.e., all works were public domain), then companies would be able to take code, modify it, and obfuscate it with impunity. We would see the behavior evidenced in the article, in short. In short, RMS would have encountered that same software issue and been in the same boat that caused him to start the FSF (the key difference would have been that it was legal to disassemble the binary).

    That is, free (as in libre) software requires legal protection to exist.

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.