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Does Android Have a Linux Copyright Problem? 292

Posted by timothy
from the ask-the-patented-magic-8-ball dept.
An anonymous reader writes "TheRegister says Google's attempt to purge copyright from header files has put mobile developers at risk of being forced to reveal their own source code, according to legal experts. This time it's not patents or Android's reinterpretation of Java that's causing problems, but the Linux code that compiles down into Android itself. The discussion started with a Huffington Post article by IP lawyer Edward Naughton, who has serious doubts about Google's approach to the Linux kernel header files. He in turn links to copyright law professor Ray Nimmer's blog post on disclosure risks on copyleft platforms. And IP blogger Florian Mueller believes Google faces a serious Linux copyright issue."
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Does Android Have a Linux Copyright Problem?

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  • NO... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2011 @01:54PM (#35519484)

    No real risks, just header files which are not even copyrightable and things explicitly permitted by the lesser (lib) GPL licence anyway, noting to read here just Florian Mueller posting as anonymous for the FUD...

    • Re:NO... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:02PM (#35519614) Journal

      yup. The real question is "Does Florian Mueller have a open source problem?" and the answer is yes.

    • Re:NO... (Score:4, Informative)

      by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:11PM (#35520616)

      No real risks, just header files which are not even copyrightable and things explicitly permitted by the lesser (lib) GPL licence anyway, noting to read here just Florian Mueller posting as anonymous for the FUD..

      Header files are almost certainly copyrightable. There seems to be some debate about whether you can restrict use of the header files for compilation based on the copyright, although the GPL assumes that you can (that's what the whole LGPL thing is about.)

      Some of the linux header files are LGPL, but most are GPLv2; what the LGPL allows would not apply.

      • by tomhudson (43916)
        You're allowed to modify the header files and distribute the modified header files. If you had actually checked how these header files are generated, they're to clean up the linux source to remove stuff that isn't needed for Android, or that conflicts with Android.

        Google didn't replace any copyright notices - just that everything not needed is removed, comments and all, to make for quicker compiles.

    • While "filing off" copyright notices and comments does not suddenly make code less covered by the GPL, this is not what is being done.

      Read the RATIONALE section at the bottom. [kernel.org]

      After you've read it, if you still have a problem, to put this into perspective ... let's take a proprietary platform, Windows. There is nothing to prevent me from creating a set of optimized headers that wrap around the windows api, leaving out unnecessary parameters, constants, and code definitions that will conflict with my userland application code, and defining new "convienence" methods, functions, classes and structures.

      If I then use the "cleaned up" headers to create an application, that application is no less my work because I used the "cleaned up" version as opposed to the original kernel source.

      Proprietary applications can use these "cleaned up" header files without falling afoul of the GPL, the same as if they had used the original headers. Otherwise, the "binary blob" device driver problem would clearly not exist.

      From the GPL v2:

      identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works.

      An application distributed separately, just like a driver distributed separately, is not "derived" from the kernel source.

      Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program.

      It's a tricky balance. The kernel is gpl, and the code is available, including the "cleaned up headers" code, as per the gpl.

      Just remember, an application that calls kernel functions is not "derived from" the kernel any more than an application that calls the windows api is "derived from" windows.

      I believe this is just more FUD on the part of certain parties ... ask yourself "cui bono", then follow the money to the usual suspects.

      • by Unequivocal (155957) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:10AM (#35526100)

        Linus back in 2003 seems to disagree in this post, cited by one of TFA's:

        "In short: you do _NOT_ have the right to use a kernel header file (or any other part of the kernel sources), unless that use results in a GPL'd program."

        "So you can run the kernel and create non-GPL'd programs [...]
        BUT YOU CAN NOT USE THE KERNEL HEADER FILES TO CREATE NON-GPL'D BINARIES.
        Comprende?" -- http://lkml.org/lkml/2003/12/5/13 [lkml.org]

  • And this just goes to show just how hard it is for even the best minds in the industry to grasp.
  • Nimmer is the real deal. He wrote the definitive treatise on copyright law. It is cited in more judicial opinions than any other scholarly work on the subject. That doesn't mean Google is necessarily screwed, but it certainly means this is a serious matter.

    Despite the persistent belief that copyleft and the GPL are antithetical to copyright law, nothing could be further from the truth. The GPL relies on copyright law; without copyright there could be no GPL. Google's attitude seems to be that copyright is m

    • If openness is a virtue, what is sort-of-openness?

      Pure self interest?

    • by starfishsystems (834319) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:10PM (#35519754) Homepage
      [Ray] Nimmer is the real deal. He wrote the definitive treatise on copyright law.

      You're thinking of David Nimmer [wikipedia.org]. Ray Nimmer has lots of credentials too, but he's a different guy.
    • >Despite the persistent belief that copyleft and the GPL are antithetical to copyright law, nothing could be further from the truth. The GPL relies on copyright law; without copyright there could be no GPL. Google's attitude seems to be that copyright is merely a hassle, an obstacle to be routed around.

      GPL uses a "judo" approach using copyright against itself. Google does a GPL-based "end run". Both work to hasten the collapse of copyright under its own weight.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Copyright is not going to collapse, and it has no weight. It's a concept, and it has to be interpreted, and interpretation takes no force at all.

        If anything, it's the GPL that will collapse when someone interprets it as self-inconsistent and legally void, regardless of anyone else's interpretation of it.

      • by ron_ivi (607351)

        GPL uses a "judo" approach using copyright against itself.

        No it doesn't.

        It's a licence to a copyrighted work in exactly the same way any other software license is.

        A Windows OEM license tells you "only run this software on this particular approved brand of machine", just like the GPL tells you "only use these header files with these other approved software packages".

        If both cases, you get to use it in exactly the ways the licenses permit.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Nope, EULAs are use licenses, GPL is only impacts copying of the software. You can feel free to use GPL software in your private software and never give up your source so long as you never make copies of that software and distribute them.

          • by bipbop (1144919)

            Which is why I'm amused every time software makes me agree to the GPL before I install it. The GPL is pretty easy to read and understand, and I can only imagine that someone would use it as a clickwrap license if they hadn't actually bothered to read the thing.

            (Well, to be fair, some people are probably using braindead installers which require some clickwrap step. Ugh.)

    • by cfulmer (3166)
      Uh.... Different Nimmer. This is Ray Nimmer. The guy who wrote the treatise was Melville Nimmer (now deceased) and the treatise is maintained by his son, David Nimmer.
    • "If openness is a virtue, what is sort-of-openness?"

      Virtuel?

    • As several of you have noticed, I was thinking of the wrong Nimmer. Sorry, folks! Please mod my original post down -1 Stupid.
    • by Maestro4k (707634) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:27PM (#35520886) Journal

      Google's attitude seems to be that copyright is merely a hassle, an obstacle to be routed around. Even if they are not found to be legally in violation of the GPL, they obviously Bionic with the deliberate intent of routing around it.

      If you read the rationale section of Bionic README.TXT [kernel.org] it doesn't seem that Google's trying to claim these new headers are re-licensed. They're simply providing an (automatic) way to create cleaned headers that won't cause compilation errors due to a variety of reasons that the original headers can/will cause them. While I'm not a copyright expert, this doesn't sound anything like what these guys are claiming Google's doing.

      Also, I've never heard of anyone having to release their source code because they used header files from Linux. You kinda have to use them to compile, and there's plenty of non-GPL software that compiles and runs on Linux that hasn't been forced to release its source code.

    • by tomhudson (43916)
      The file in question is one generated by a script from the original source. You get the original source, plus the script to generate the file, which is a "cleaned up" version of the headers that removes anything inconsistent with Android, to allow apps to compile clean and quick.

      How is that a GPL copyright violation? The GPL requires that you include any intermediary scripts that do this, which is what google did.

  • Google copied 2.5 megabytes of code from more than 700 Linux kernel header files with a homemade program that drops source code comments and some other elements, and daringly claims (in a notice at the start of each generated file) that the extracted material constitutes "no copyrightable information".

    So, take a bunch of copyrighted (or, copylefted) code, stripping out the comments, and then claim there's no copyrightable information???

    Seriously? How can they even attempt to claim this. This seems to be a

    • Re:What the heck? (Score:5, Informative)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:04PM (#35519654) Journal

      This won't play into a goddamn thing. It's headers. read the first post. Headers are not copyrighted. This seems to be about as blatant a lack of comprehension you can get.

      • Indeed, google "SCO linux headers" or "SCO errno.h".

        • by radtea (464814)

          Indeed, google "SCO linux headers" or "SCO errno.h".

          So you conclude that because some headers are not subject to copyright, no headers are subject to copyright?

          The phone book contains no copyrightable information. Does that mean no book is subjec to copyright?

          • Re:What the heck? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by just_another_sean (919159) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:36PM (#35520100) Homepage Journal

            If all a header file does is describe an interface then no, I don't think it should be copyrighted. The interface is there to promote
            interoperability and if headers were subject to copyright we might have Linux but it damn well would not work as a near perfect
            drop in replacement for Unix.

            If people are putting code in headers that are worthy of copyright my first reaction would be "they're doing it wrong".

            All phone books are uninteresting. Some books are interesting. All header files (IMHO) should be uninteresting.

            IANAL - I might be wrong but I trust my own knowledge over anything Florian has to say on the subject.

          • by Drathus (152223)

            So you conclude that because some headers are not subject to copyright, no headers are subject to copyright?

            The phone book contains no copyrightable information. Does that mean no book is subjec to copyright?

            Your analogy isn't quite right. Headers are headers, but not all books are phone books.

            Correct would be like "AT&T's phone book contains no copyrightable information, so one could assume that Verizon's doesn't either."

          • by mindwhip (894744)

            Sorry...

            "The Phone Book" as an item, the specific implementation of a printed and bound document containing a list of names and numbers is copyrighted. It often contains layout, additional text, fonts, advertising, phone company logos and other graphics which are not public domain data such as advertising which are copyrightable.

            The data it contains - the list of names and numbers is not copyrightable and can be freely copied and used elsewhere as long as you don't copy any of the copyrightable stuff along

      • Re:What the heck? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:13PM (#35519782) Homepage

        This won't play into a goddamn thing. It's headers. read the first post. Headers are not copyrighted. This seems to be about as blatant a lack of comprehension you can get.

        Well, from the last article linked from the summary:

        Linus Torvalds himself has clearly rejected the idea of using the original Linux kernel headers in programs that aren't licensed under the GPL. In a posting to the official Linux kernel mailing list, he made the following unequivocal statements:

                "In short: you do _NOT_ have the right to use a kernel header file (or any other part of the kernel sources), unless that use results in a GPL'd program."

                "So you can run the kernel and create non-GPL'd programs [...]
                BUT YOU CAN NOT USE THE KERNEL HEADER FILES TO CREATE NON-GPL'D BINARIES.
                Comprende?"

        Now, I have no idea if Linus making this assertion is a fully valid legal opinion, but he's sure as hell under the impression that they're certainly copyrighted.

        And, the second link in the summary says:

        Recently, Ray Nimmer, a well-known copyright law professor, observed that there could also be a problem with the way Google used some key Linux software code, called kernel header files, to create a vitally important element of Android. In fact, the way that Google used these files creates a legal quandary for manufacturers of Android devices and many developers writing code and applications for those devices.

        So, I'm not entirely convinced that your assertion that the header files aren't copyrighted is actually true.

        Most of these articles seem to be saying that this quite likely is a violation of copyright.

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          Most of these articles also cite Florian Mueller or a legal guy saying it's a legal analysis with a disclaimer that says "THIS IS NOT LEGAL ANALYSIS". It's not a coincidence.

          As another commenter noted, Indeed, google "SCO linux headers" or "SCO errno.h".

          you'll see what this is about, and the answer is zero.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Desler (1608317)

          So, I'm not entirely convinced that your assertion that the header files aren't copyrighted is actually true.

          It's not an assertion. It's backed up by case law such as the rulings of SCO v IBM where one of IBM's central claims against SCO with respect to SystemV header files like ERRNO.H is that they aren't copyrightable.

          • Re:What the heck? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Raffaello (230287) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:38PM (#35520128)

            IBM's claim, which was upheld, what that those specific headers were not copyrightable because they were in the public domain. IBM did not claim that header files in general are not copyrightable.

          • by Guy Harris (3803)

            So, I'm not entirely convinced that your assertion that the header files aren't copyrighted is actually true.

            It's not an assertion. It's backed up by case law such as the rulings of SCO v IBM where one of IBM's central claims against SCO with respect to SystemV header files like ERRNO.H is that they aren't copyrightable.

            Did the case establish that no header files are copyrightable, or just that some System V header files, such as errno.h, aren't copyrightable (assuming the judge ruled on that particular claim)?

      • by MikeyO (99577)

        The majority of the linux kernel headers ARE copyrighted. Look for yourself. Perhaps you are trying to make a claim that "headers are not copyrightable", but that would be crazy. Perhaps google is doing this with the idea that "although the headers are copyrightable and people are claiming copyright on them, after you strip all the comments from the files, what you are left with is no longer copyrightable". I'm sure you could find people on both sides of that argument.

        • by LetterRip (30937)

          The majority of the linux kernel headers ARE copyrighted. Look for yourself. Perhaps you are trying to make a claim that "headers are not copyrightable", but that would be crazy.

          Having a copyright notice does not mean something is copyrighted, it just means a copyright claim is being asserted. In US law 'merely functional' elements are not copyrightable. It is argued that headers are 'merely functional' and hence not subject to copyright. (That doesn't mean that a header could not contain some copyrightable elements such as comments describing the function, but the core of header files - function definitions - are 'merely functional' and thus not copyrightable).

      • Re:What the heck? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by idontgno (624372) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:27PM (#35519978) Journal

        Ah. Concise. To-the-point. Quite possibly completely wrong.

        Read and learn. [ipinfoblog.com]

        Actual practitioners of the law, people who don't have to say "IANAL" like you obviously should have, say that the answer is unsettled. There is precedent that header files, in general, may be copyrightable. Header files that express APIs, perhaps less so, because the API itself is not copyrightable. (But again, the idea of a big white whale and and obsessive whaler hunting each other isn't copyrighted, but I'm pretty sure Moby Dick certainly was.

        But let me put your central assertion to the most obvious test. I write the Great American Novel. It's an awesome novel. It's breathtaking, ground-breaking, and lots of other "aking" things. But I'm eccentric. So I write it entirely as a C++ comment block, and in a file called "GreatAmericanNovel.hpp".

        Why isn't it copyrighted, again?

        • Re:What the heck? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arose (644256) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:45PM (#35520230)
          If the rest of "GreatAmericanNovel.hpp" describes an API and the comments are stripped, what creative work is left?
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          That novel would be in the comments, it would not merely describe an interface. That novel would also be creative not merely a collection of facts.

        • Re:What the heck? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by just_another_sean (919159) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:53PM (#35520340) Homepage Journal

          OK, I am one of the IANAL guys spouting off about headers not being protected by copyright but you definitely raise a good point. So lets assume there are many comments in the header files in Linux, some useful, some funny, some coming close to the greatest written piece ever. I'll grant that those elements in the file are subject to copyright.

          Now, back to your example, if the only thing in your header file is the comment itself which contains this fabulous piece of writing and the fact that you completed it on 3/18/2011* and I strip it out the writing, leaving only the date completed (a fact), is the header file still subject to copyright protection?

          The point I'm trying to make is that Google claims (right or wrong, I don't know, I have not seen the files) that they stripped out everything but the sections of the header that describe the interface into the Linux kernel. Linux on the other hand copied some of this data from BSD and ATT SYSV header files claiming all along that this was needed for interoperability. A court of law held that IBM could do the same thing with regards to Linux and SCO could not claim protection over those files. I agreed with that then and I agree with it now; assuming Google did a thorough job of scrubbing anything out of the files that was worthy of copyright protection.

          * Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!

        • by LetterRip (30937)

          But let me put your central assertion to the most obvious test. I write the Great American Novel. It's an awesome novel. It's breathtaking, ground-breaking, and lots of other "aking" things. But I'm eccentric. So I write it entirely as a C++ comment block, and in a file called "GreatAmericanNovel.hpp".

          Your comments are expressive, so would be copyrightable. The parts of a header file that are not copyrightable are the 'merely functional' parts - which likely would generally be held to be function prototypes and typical stuff in a header.

          A comment that describes the function might or might not be copyrightable but I think it probably would be - depends on the comment.

          I read your source - he doesn't really address the 'functional' clause which addresses what is excluded from possible copyright, which is r

    • So, take a bunch of copyrighted (or, copylefted) code, stripping out the comments, and then claim there's no copyrightable information???

      Header files implement an interface. That interface is a fact, not subject to copyright.

      The fact "strcpy takes as arguments two character pointers, and returns a character pointer", is not copyrightable. This does not change if I express it in C as "char *strcpy(char *d, const char *s);"

      A minimal C or C++ header file is just a collection of such facts.

      • Re:What the heck? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by samjam (256347) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:28PM (#35519990) Homepage Journal

        Header files generally specify an interface, the libraries implement the interface.

        However header files can implement some of the interface by use of inline functions and macros.

        As has been hinted, these are more likely to be subject to copyright as they are more than a minimal specification required for interoperability.

      • Re:What the heck? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Raffaello (230287) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:30PM (#35520018)

        Header files implement an interface. That interface is a fact, not subject to copyright.

        The fact "strcpy takes as arguments two character pointers, and returns a character pointer", is not copyrightable. This does not change if I express it in C as "char *strcpy(char *d, const char *s);"

        A minimal C or C++ header file is just a collection of such facts.

        The point Nimmer, an acknowledged authority on IP law, makes is that when you aggregate such "facts" the resultant text, essentially becomes an expressive description of how a whole system works, and therefore is copyrightable. Otherwise one could argue that each individual word in a book is such a "fact," and that copying a book is just copying a series of facts and therefore not a copyright violation.

        Whether a work is copyrightable is a matter of examining the whole work in the context of its use, not just determining that individual lines are not copyrightable and concluding that the whole work is therefore not copyrightable.

        So no, it is not yet a settled matter of law that header files are not copyrightable.

        • Except that pure aggregations of facts don't have legal protection in the US. They do in other locations, but not the US. Otherwise, there would be a lot of fights over sports scores, tv schedules and phone books, like we have in the UK, NZ and Australia.

  • by davek (18465) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:03PM (#35519632) Homepage Journal

    From TFA:

    Google took a novel and quite aggressive approach to developing a key component of Android -- the Bionic Library. That library, a type of C Library, is used by all application developers who need to access the core functions of the Linux operating system. Google essentially copied hundreds of files of Linux code that were never meant to be used as is by application developers, "cleaned" those files using a non-standard and questionable technical process, and then declared that the code was no longer subject to the GPLv2

    That "technical process" looks like it refers to an automated filter that it ran the standard Linux header files through, resulting in part of the API for the non-GPL Bionic Library used in application development. One reading of copyright law could determine that the Bionic Library is a direct derivative of the Linux Kernel and therefore must be GPLv2 and open source. This library is essential for Android application development, therefore it would become legally impossible to develop a closed-source Android app.

    Personally, my reading of GPLv2 tells me that simply including GPLv2 header files does not mean that your application must also be GPLv2 (otherwise a large part of the embedded market simply wouldn't exist). So I'm marking this one down as FUD.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Personally, my reading of GPLv2 tells me that simply including GPLv2 header files does not mean that your application must also be GPLv2 (otherwise a large part of the embedded market simply wouldn't exist).

      I think if a large part of the embedded market is using GPL'd headers, they're likely in direct violation of the license and know it.

      How is directly copying it not a derivative work?

    • by LetterRip (30937)

      That "technical process" looks like it refers to an automated filter that it ran the standard Linux header files through, resulting in part of the API for the non-GPL Bionic Library used in application development. One reading of copyright law could determine that the Bionic Library is a direct derivative of the Linux Kernel and therefore must be GPLv2 and open source. This library is essential for Android application development, therefore it would become legally impossible to develop a closed-source Android app.

      Personally, my reading of GPLv2 tells me that simply including GPLv2 header files does not mean that your application must also be GPLv2 (otherwise a large part of the embedded market simply wouldn't exist). So I'm marking this one down as FUD.

      As pointed out above - header files are likely not copyrightable in the US.

      Also something that violates the GPL does not mean that the remedy is to make any work that violates the copyright of a GPLed work also GPLed. If you violate the GPL, then it terminates your right to distribute and makes you a copyright violator - the remedy for which is typically economic damages.

      IANAL - but I'm fairly sure that your post is mostly incorrect.

      • by Raffaello (230287)

        Individual function prototypes may not be copyrightable, but whole header files may well be copyrightable. In copyright law one cannot generalize from "this bit is not copyrightable" to "the whole work is just a collection of bits, each of which is not copyrightable, so the whole work is not copyrightable."

        It is simply not a settled matter of law whether header files are copyrightable, so Google and Android developers may be in a bit of hot water here.

    • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:28PM (#35519986)

      This library is essential for Android application development, therefore it would become legally impossible to develop a closed-source Android app.

      By that argument, it would be legally impossible to develop a closed-source Linux app. Yet there are many closed-source Linux apps. Do not confuse "linking with a GPLv2 library" and "writing for an OS that contains GPLv2 libraries".

      • Most of the closed-source Linux apps link against LGPL'ed libraries and headers, NOT GPL like you say. If you link against a GPL'ed library, your program has to be GPL'ed.

        See Linus' take on the GPL'ed kernel headers below. He's absolutely against your point:

        http://lkml.org/lkml/2003/12/5/13 [lkml.org]

    • by Chemisor (97276)

      There is a quote from Linus in the article where he raves that including a kernel header does make the resultant program subject to the GPL. So, I wonder, if I want to write an app that writes to the framebuffer device and have to include linux/fb.h, does that mean I'm violating copyright? If I write a libc alternative that needs definitions from the kernel headers to work, am I violating copyright? 'Cause if I am, it's definitely time to ditch Linux and work on yet another OS... Sigh.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Agreed. I'd think that the purpose of header files is to allow code interoperability, and as a result they would not be copyrightable (or subject to enforcement). Courts have ruled that copying code simply to allow devices to interface is not a violation (a Nintendo Gameboy case comes to mind).

        The only time it might get dicey is if the header contained defines with code in them, unless that code mainly was for the purpose of defining some kind of communication standard (true = foo, false = !true and so on

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        There is a quote from Linus in the article where he raves that including a kernel header does make the resultant program subject to the GPL.

        Did he mean "include" as in #include, or "include" as in "Copying the header file into your own SDK and distributing it." The latter is what Google is supposedly doing. The former something every program does.

        Ex: My "Hello World" application may #include <windows.h> but it is not a derivative work of Microsoft Windows so it is not subject to Microsoft's copyright. But if I created the "Super Duper SDK" which included a copy of Windows.h, or even a modified copy, then I am distributing their file an

  • "Google publishes that code under the Apache licence, but derives it from Linux source protected by the General Public Licence version 2 (GPLv2) claiming to remove all copyrighted components before changing the licence."

    I don't follow this. They're saying that they take the GPL-ed Linux source, and strip out all copyrighted parts. Wouldn't that be all of it? The GPL only works because the code is copyrighted to the developers.
    • claiming to remove all copyrighted components

      It means they are using the headers only and that these do not meet the minimum standard for copyright protection. If we can copyright header files then we might as well throw in the towel and allow 1's and 0's to be copyrighted, declare clean room reverse engineering illegal and just say F*&k you interoperability.

  • No author can be legally required to reveal the source code to something that they hold the copyright on, even if it is a derivative work of something that they do not.

    They can, however, be forced to cease distribution of the application if they do not. They can also, depending on the exact license on the original work (particularly if it was dual licensed), possibly be held liable for damages.

    The GPL does not and cannot force a copyright holder to do something with his or her own code that they are u

  • What's with Google? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Funk_dat69 (215898)

    I know only a minimal amount about Android, but why does Google insist on walking on the very edge of legality in regards to all of the software involved here? Licensing costs? That explains Java, but why all the incompatible custom changes, copyright header removals, and general open source shadiness.

    They may be within that law, but are outside the bounds of being upstanding (apologize before hand for the term) 'FOSS netizens'.

    Can they really not get Android to work *and* play nice?

  • SCO In Reverse (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FrankDrebin (238464) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:54PM (#35521278) Homepage

    It's the 99% of lawyers that give the rest a bad name.

    Naughton's trying to do a reverse SCO here... Oh noes, they copied the defines from errno.h! Completely dumb and a waste of time. There are lots of C libraries out there with Linux linkage. Saying A means 1, B means 2, and C means 3 is as copyrightable as Pi=3.1415. And nobody cares how you arrive at a preferred expression of that stuff, say by doing a dramatic reading of the POSIX standard into voice recognition software. Nobody cares except perhaps a FLOSS ambulance chaser.

  • by tbird20d (600059) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:08PM (#35522462)
    Oh for heaven's sake! Would it be too much to ask any of these legal pundits to post as much as a single line of code that they think is a) included in Google's sanitized header files, b) copyright-able, and c) causes the GPLv2 to apply to Bionic (and all linking applications)? If you want to assert that some code causes a legal problem, POST THE DANG CODE!

    Instead, we have statements like this in the original blog entry by Raymond Nimmer: "Not having examined the facts, I don’t know the actual truth of the matter." Indeed That pretty much describes all commentators in the entire mess.

  • by pem (1013437) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:16PM (#35522562)
    In his current resume, "Microsoft" was changed to "Fortune 500 company" in a couple of places, but google cache hasn't caught up yet. [googleusercontent.com]

    From the original resume:

    Co-counsel defending Microsoft against a putative consumer class action alleging that it had violated wiretapping statutes and common law privacy rights by designing Windows to permit third parties to place cookies on computers. Obtained dismissal of complaint.

    and this:

    Represented Microsoft in several dozen lawsuits against resellers and corporate end-users of counterfeit, infringing, and unlicensed software.

    At least he seems to know which side his bread is buttered on.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern

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