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Asus Corrects Eee PC Source Code Issue 157

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the learning-from-mistakes dept.
ozmanjusri writes "Asus has corrected the availability of source code for its Eee PC, and reaffirmed its commitment to meeting the requirements of open source licenses, including the GPL. They also announced the upcoming release of a new SDK to assist the Open Source community development on the Eee PC."
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Asus Corrects Eee PC Source Code Issue

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  • by norminator (784674) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @03:31PM (#21508351)
    I believe it's from "Easy to Learn, Easy to Work, Easy to Play" [asus.com].

    It may also be three different 'E' words, though, but I forgot what those are, if that is the case... Initially, I think it was part of the marketing to explain what the EEE stood for, but maybe that's fallen by the wayside now.
  • by kfort (1132) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @03:53PM (#21508669)
    According to section 3b of the GPL v2:

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

    The part about a written offer might be a minor quibble, but you should be in the clear as long as you provide the source when someone asks for it. So you don't necessarily have to publish the source at the same time you release the binary if it is an oversight. As long as you include the license with the software and make it clear it is covered by the GPL, you should be legal by the letter of the license.

  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @03:59PM (#21508797)

    It's because it's true. Duh.

    Not quite, see below.

    In order to come into compliance, one thing you can do is stop shipping the product. You are then in compliance again.

    And you are still in violation of the license. How do you handle the penalties for your existing violation?

    Then, you re-write the pieces that were causing the problem, and you start shipping the product again with the newly re-written pieces.

    And you still have not released the source that is mated to the version you've already shipped. Where is the source that goes with version 1.0? If you release version 2.0 with "cleaned-up" source code, you are still required to release sources for version 1.0, as well as atone for your prior violation with that version. Just because you complied at version v2.0 doesn't mean your violation with v1.0 goes away.

    Sony tried this game with their version of the POSE FLOSS project. They would release v1.0 in binary, then release 2.0 binaries, with v1.0 source code, and so on. Always keeping the source 1 release behind. They were in direct violation of the letter and spirit of the GPL license.

    Now, if you happen to be able to re-write those pieces so that you can stop/start shipping on the same day, well, that's ok too, you are still in compliance.

    You are assumed to be in compliance with the GPL for version 2.0 of your product, but you are still in violation of version 1.0 of your product. What do you do for all of the units already out in the hands of consumers?

    Each unit is now subject to US Copyright violation penalties, which vary from $20k to $200k per-unit (look it up). If you shipped 1,000 units, that's a $20M penalty at the low end of that scale.

    Read the license - it's in there.

    It sure is, and you've misinterpreted it very nicely.

  • by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @04:25PM (#21509195)
    I haven't bought one either. I'm what you might call one of those "any third party [gnu.org]" people that they have an obligation to under the GPL:

    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;
    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.)
    From the FAQ

    What does this "written offer valid for any third party" mean? Does that mean everyone in the world can get the source to any GPL'ed program no matter what?
    If you choose to provide source through a written offer, then anybody who requests the source from you is entitled to receive it.
    If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive copies of the source code, along with the written offer.
    The reason we require the offer to be valid for any third party is so that people who receive the binaries indirectly in that way can order the source code from you.
  • I am not sure of the point you are trying to make. None of the examples you give are GPL violations.

    1. Microsoft violated Eolas' patent. Microsoft has no obligation to release source code for IE as they own the copyright to that source code.
    2. See above.
    3. Please give me an example of SCO code that is illegally included in Linux. The SCO group never could.
    4. Trademark != copyright.
    5. The Apple Music store thing was a private contract between Apple records and Apple computer.
    6. Lindows was renamed due to a trademark violation. Refer to #4 above.

    None of your examples have anything to do with the GPL or even copyright.
  • by AusIV (950840) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @05:39PM (#21510251)

    6. Lindows was renamed due to a trademark violation. Refer to #4 above.

    That's not really accurate. Microsoft brought a suit against Lindows for trademark violation. After several court decisions made it look like they might lose their claim on the Windows trademark (because it was too generic), Microsoft bought the Lindows trademark from the company that is now Linspire for $24 Million.

  • by Eskarel (565631) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:10AM (#21514897)
    The GPL requires distributors to provide source code upon request. Asus released some source code which was apparently out of date, someone requested the updated source code and Asus released it.

    They have no obligation to host the source code, nor to provide it for download, they merely have to provide it upon request, and they did. End of story.

  • by cbiffle (211614) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:51AM (#21515127)
    Hi. I'm the software engineer who initially brought all this to the community's attention. I assume I'm the scare-quoted critic you're referring to.

    I am not a GPL zealot (in point of fact I'm a BSD guy), and I have never used the term "sanctity of the GPL," except possibly in jest.

    I haven't seen anyone suggest that they were willfully withholding sources; in my original analysis I said that I suspected it was a mistake on their part. It's possible you read a sensationalized second-hand source (like iTwire), but all I noted was that they had shipped modified GPL binaries without source. As you say, the eee's been available for weeks now, which is weeks longer than the GPL permits you to distribute binaries without source.

    Had you read the initial analysis or the followups where I tested and verified ASUS's source releases, you would know this.

    Honestly, seems like anything can make 5/Insightful these days.

Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your program doesn't deliver it.

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