[linux-elitists] What would be the proper course of action for a possible GPL violation?

Karsten M. Self karsten@linuxmafia.com
Wed May 14 21:04:30 PDT 2008

on Wed, May 14, 2008 at 07:55:05PM -0700, James Sparenberg (james@linuxrebel.org) wrote:
> All,
>    As some of you may have seen on slashdot there is an announcement that all 
> asus mobo's will in the near future contain built in splashtop Linux desktop.  
> Being the curious monkey I am.  I go to the site and start looking for 
> packages and source.  Just to see what it is I'm dealing with.
>   Not only am I not finding a path to source, but I saw this page and the 
> following paragraph contained within.  
> http://www.splashtop.com/aboutus-corporate.php
> <snip>
> DeviceVM is releasing its first software product, Splashtop, in October of 
> 2007. Splashtop is a proprietary technology developed by DeviceVM that 
> provides users with a rapid-start alternative to the traditional operating 
> system.
> </snip>
> Now before people start calling me alarmist.  I'm not trying to raise a call 
> to arms, and I do understand business.  What I'm looking for is the proper 
> method to follow to find the people able to assist DeviceVM in working with 
> GPL'd software, and complying with it's license.  
> Suggestions?

Well, you can first determine whether or not there is GPL violation.

If the product ships with sources, they're covered by GPL v2 section (3)(a).

If the product _doesn't_ ship with sources, then it must ship "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 cmoplete machine-readable copy of the corresponding
source code", under GPL v2 section (3)(b).

Section (3)(c) doesn't apply for commercially distributed works.

You could post an inquiry as to which GPL v2 term applies to any GPLd
sources in the product, such as the Linux kernel, and whether you could
receive your (3)(b) machine-readalbe sources.

If not, find a friendly copyright holder to a covered codebase and see
about infringement.  The FSF will do this _for code to which they have
been assigned rights_.  For the Linux kernel, I believe you'd want to
talk to the Linux Foundation (if it still exists) or OSDL, though any
copyrightholder in the credits will serve.


Note that in general, the FSF's approach is to send out a friendly
letter.  Until the past several years, that letter alone was very, very
successful.  With a string uf unsuccessful challenges to the GPL since,
I'd think that any rational actor would do what they could at that point
to come into compliance.


Karsten M. Self <karsten@linuxmafia.com>        http://linuxmafia.com/~karsten
    Ceterum censeo, Caldera delenda est.
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