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Android Google Handhelds Hardware Hacking The Courts Build

Google Serves a Cease-and-Desist On Android Modder 336

Several readers sent in word that Google has served a Cease and Desist order to Cyanogen, one of the most prolific Android modders: his CyanogenMod is enjoyed by 30,000 users. The move is puzzling. Gizmodo wonders what Google's game is, and Lauren Weinstein calls the move "not of the high 'Googley' caliber" that one would expect of the company.
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Google Serves a Cease and Desist On Android Modder

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  • Le Shocque! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rydia ( 556444 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:24PM (#29540729)

    Google a giant company, not your BFF.

    Film at 11.

  • What is confusing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:40PM (#29540909) Homepage Journal
    If Cyanogen is "passing around Google's closed-source apps like Google Maps, Google Talk and Gmail", then google has every right, even a responsibility, to stop it. It does not matter that it only runs on google authorized hardware, Cyanogen has not been given the right to distribute the software. What happens if Cyanogen, or some other person, decided to modify the Talk so that all numbers dialed were reported to third party advertisers? Not only would google lose their share of the advertising dollars, but I am sure most would hold google liable. Same thing if maps intentionally lead people to drive off a cliff. Right holders have a obligation to control distribution, and I don't trust those who don't control distribution.

    Leaving this issue aside, it does seem that Android is not the open savior that every thought it might be. Given that for a cell phone to work it must have towers, and that the towers are controlled by private enterprise in search of profit, and that large firms tend to sue each other as part of the competitive process, any completely open phone is unlikely to thrive in the marketplace. If google were no a commodity vendor, then I would say that an open phone might work. But given they want tens of millions of customers, there is going to be a compromise of open software and control.

  • Simplish solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IMarvinTPA ( 104941 ) <`moc.APTnivraMI' `ta' `APTnivraMI'> on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:44PM (#29540933) Homepage Journal

    Stop distributing those apps in the ROM!
    Add an app to retrieve them from the original (backup) version of the phone.

    SafeTex []: Copying copyrighted textures from original Quake to custom commercial levels without incident. IE Don't distribute what's already there.


  • Re:Le Shocque! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Glendale2x ( 210533 ) <slashdot@ninjamon[ ].us ['key' in gap]> on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:44PM (#29540935) Homepage

    I know you're joking, but that may come as a surprise to a lot of people.

  • by PhreakOfTime ( 588141 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:48PM (#29540971) Homepage
    Neither do fiat currencies. They all end up crumbling in exactly the same way.

    Did your history book also mention that?

    So, since ALL systems of humanity eventually fail, wouldnt it be more important to look at the quality of life that exists under these systems for the brief periods that they exist?

  • Proves the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:48PM (#29540987) Homepage Journal

    Google is sending a C&D because someone is distributing closed-source Google apps (like GMail, Google Maps, etc...) without a license.

    This is why I want a phone that runs only Free Software in the base install. If I know that the base functionality is open and free, that means I can take that base set of software and modify it and distribute it to other people without worry of getting a C&D letter like this one.

    Free Software licenses are a great way to CYA. Sure, they do a number of other things for you as well, and they aren't always the best at dealing with software patents, but they CYA a lot more than most proprietary licenses I've seen.

  • Re:say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:52PM (#29541021)

    They try, they don't always succeed, sometimes they fail miserably, but they do try. Which is better than 99% of the companies out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:52PM (#29541027)

    Planned economies do not work. End of story. Crack a history book sometime.

    All economies are planned to some extent, and none are completely.

  • Re:Do no evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:53PM (#29541033)

    Wrong end. When you're talking about something that needs to use a network to be useful, you've got to start at the network. The device is the LEAST important part. As long as the phone company gets to say what does or does not run on their network the devices will do what they need to meet those requirements.

    It's kind of funny actually - Apple releases a closed phone but doesn't sick the lawyers on any of the hackers. Google releases an "open" phone but does sick the lawyers on the hackers.

  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:03PM (#29541143) Journal

    Seems to me that the most reasonable compromise, for all involved, is for Google to allow redistribution without modification of their closed source software. Yes, Google has the legal right to make cyanogen stop distributing, but how does that benefit Google? Lots of 'proprietary' software are distributed as .zip or .exe files which the license allows you to make verbatim copies of. This is slightly different, because the software is incorporated as part of a ROM image, but as long as the software inside the ROM image isn't modified, Google should just let him distribute. He's not hurting them in any real way.

  • Re:GPL Violation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daskinil ( 991205 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:13PM (#29541251)
    Umm, Linux is the same way, developers have the freedom to write a closed source app for it. Which is good. Otherwise I wouldn't have matlab on linux. Which is an industry standard for many engineering applications. So this is really not too news worthy, Google has closed source apps and open source apps. Just because a company has some OSS apps, doesn't mean they can't defend the rest of their apps.
  • Re:License missing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:15PM (#29541277) Homepage Journal

    It's pretty clear that Google goes way out of its way to provide APIs and guidance on using its stuff as a third party, so I suspect that there's specifics in this C&D that aren't just "you used our service." Specifically, if they were re-packaging Google's logos or the like, then there's real copyright concerns there.

  • by rliden ( 1473185 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:15PM (#29541281)

    Developers should care about why Google is doing this. How would you feel if people were distributing your apps or project without a license possibly in violation of that license? It's irresponsible of those developers not to abide by the licensing agreements. If these developers were distributing GPL apps without a license I'm pretty sure the FSF would be breathing down their necks too. It's a matter of respect and professionalism. Those developers are out of line.

  • Re:GPL Violation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vexorian ( 959249 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:16PM (#29541293)
    I think you were meaning to reply the parent post.

    its more open when developers have choices.

    THAT doesn't make any sense.

  • Re:License missing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:20PM (#29541351)

    I'm guessing it's like having a pickup game of softball at your local municipal field, and you get busted. Why? You need a permit. It's free and easy to get, but you still need to get it.

    Google's saying "We ask everybody else to play by these rules, which aren't even onerous, so you need to as well."

  • Re:GPL Violation? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop ( 1293238 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:23PM (#29541379)

    All the user cares about is data. If I can switch from your mail app to my mail app without losing my data, the system is open. However, if the developer has the choice of whatever mail format it wants, it's unlikely that I can transfer my data without issue. Thus, choice for the developer does not equal choice for the user.

  • by Vexorian ( 959249 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:23PM (#29541381)
    It is illegal to distribute closed source apps without the license. It doesn't matter if you think what you are doing is not for profit or doing any 'harm'. Google is even required by law to enforce its copyright. The answer is not to complain about google doing evil or about how it is 'harmless' to use this software illegally but to make free software clones of the apps and avoid the legal non-sense altogether. And in most cases, you don't even need to make them... they are already done.

    This is something that must be understood. Some "alternative" GNU/Linux distros out there love to include things like Skype and flash without any license. It is illegal doing so, and the reason most of the major distros don't do it. (Some of them don't do it because they don't like proprietary software, but most of them really do it just to avoid the copyright infrigement).
  • Re:License missing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:26PM (#29541417) Homepage

    Like the parent said, that only applies to trademarks and not to copyright.

    You mean trademarks like Gmail(tm) and the Google(tm) logo? Which are almost certainly being distributed as part of those apps?

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:37PM (#29541563)

    You mean like China?

  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geirt ( 55254 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#29541577)
    Google, please hire Cyanogen. He is clever!
  • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <> on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:56PM (#29541789) Homepage
    Sure, developers should care... And Google probably has the law on its side..
    But maybe Google should work this out instead of sending a C&D...

    It seams to me as Google is trying to control how their apps are experienced kind of like Apple does it... And that doesn't really encourage community participation...

    Anyway, I guess that settles it for me... I'm not buying an Android phone anytime soon... :)
  • Re:License missing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:56PM (#29541795)

    You mean trademarks like Gmail(tm) and the Google(tm) logo? Which are almost certainly being distributed as part of those apps?

    And, so what?

    If I sell or give you a genuine boxed copy of Microsoft Windows(tm), what law am I breaking? And, if I choose to advertise the fact that I am selling that same product and want to use the trademarked name in my advertisement, Microsoft has no grounds to stop me. They can force me to specifically state that the name is trademarked by them, but that's all.

    Trademark exists not to protect businesses, but to protect consumers. That way, you know that if it says "Microsoft" or "Sony" or "Intel", or uses similar packaging, you won't be getting a product from some other company (like "Sorny"). And, this is the crux of why trademark has to be defended or else it is lost.

  • by azdio ( 185000 ) <azdio AT me DOT com> on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:30PM (#29542191)

    I welcome versions of Cyanogen without the google applications.

  • Google is evil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @03:27PM (#29542815) Journal

    "Case closed."

    Indeed. They are evil.

  • by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @03:40PM (#29542985)
    His latest ROM has the new market app which isn't only closed-source, but it's unreleased closed source. Google doesn't want their stuff going into the wild until they say so.
  • Re:Le Shocque! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zapakh ( 1256518 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @04:37PM (#29543781)
    In Google's defense, they do make their opt-out process as painless [] as they can.
  • Re:License missing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by multisync ( 218450 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:28PM (#29544285) Journal

    You buy Nike T-Shirts then print some slogan on them and then either sell them or give them away. What you've done is now made it appear the slogan is from Nike (or it's reasonable to assume people could be confused by it.)

    Yes, this is a problem, isn't it.


    So I buy a Chevy car, put a "Breasts Not Bombs" bumper sticker on it, then either sell the car or give it away. According to you, what I've just done is made it appear the slogan is from Chevy, or it's reasonable to assume people could be confused by it.

    Or I buy a Dell Laptop, peel off the "Ready for Vista" sticker and put a Tux sticker on it, sell it to someone. Dell's going to stop me because their Trade Mark is on it? I don't think so.

    Even if Nike, Chevy or Dell could make the case that I was making it appear they endorsed the slogan, Trade Mark law wouldn't be relevant. Trade Mark law prevents me from selling a knock-off with someone's Trade Mark, or a confusingly similar mark, on it. What you're talking about is something entirely different, and frankly I don't think the manufacturer would have much say in the matter.

  • Re:License missing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:14PM (#29545733)

    It's amazing how quickly Slashdotters will rush to defend Google over anything. I notice you've made many other comments in this story defending Google. If this was Microsoft, they'd be portrayed as the greedy corporation exploiting software licenses to shut down freedom. When it's Google, we're supposed to shut our eyes and cover our ears. "Case closed."

    It's amazing how quickly slashdotters rush to bring out this tired trope whenever they read a comment they don't agree with, saying if it was [Company X] instead of [Company Y] then they'd be [outraged/gushing/the epitome of evil].

    Here's a tip: slashdot commenters don't have a hive mind, they are individuals with varying opinions.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead