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GPL Enforcement: Is Copyleft A Force For Good?

Posted on Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012

BY Edward J. Naughton

The debate over GPL enforcement continues, with the two leading GPL enforcers lashing back at the “anti-copyleft” forces.

A few weeks ago, Rob Landley sparked a firestorm of controversy within the FOSS community when he criticized the GPL enforcement campaigns conducted by the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC).

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Is BusyBox Too Dangerous To Use?

Posted on Friday, Feb 3, 2012

BY Edward J. Naughton

Rob Landley thinks so.  One of the principal developers of BusyBox, Landley was a lead plaintiff in some of the enforcement actions brought by the Software Freedom Law Center a few years ago.  He’s now leading up a project, called Toybox, to rewrite BusyBox and release it under a more permissive, non-GPL license.  And for doing that, Landley’s drawn a lot of fire from free software advocates.

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The Accidental Android TouchPad: Further Developments

Posted on Thursday, Nov 10, 2011

BY Edward J. Naughton

As I wrote a few weeks ago, it seems that a few of HP’s now discontinued TouchPads shipped with Android 2.2, or FroYo, installed.  The TouchPad was a WebOS-powered tablet, but somehow at least a few units had Android installed.  It’s thought that these were test units that were never meant to be sold.

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Google’s Closed Development of Android Opens Old Wounds

Posted on Monday, Sep 12, 2011

BY Edward J. Naughton

Does “open source” mean developing in the open?  Or is it good enough – legally and morally – to publicly release the code after the fact, when the next release is ready for market?  Is transparency a defining value of the open source community, perhaps even the most important value?  Or is it equally valid, and perhaps a better business practice, to keep development closed?

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Operating (system) without a license: Does Section 4 of the GPL leave Google and Android device manufacturers unlicensed? (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Aug 11, 2011

BY Edward J. Naughton

In my previous post, I explained how Section 4 of GPLv2 plays a critical role in GPL enforcement actions brought by the SFC and the SFLC.  By immediately terminating rights for non-compliance and requiring express permission from the licensor to reestablish those rights, Section 4 provides a stout club that can be used against companies who rely on GPL code in their products but fail to adhere to the complicated requirements for that license.  In this post, I want to examine what that might mean for an Android ecosystem that is not a model of GPL compliance.

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License revoked: Applying Section 4 of the GPL and the lessons of Best Buy to Google’s Android

Posted on Monday, Aug 8, 2011

BY Edward J. Naughton

Not long ago, open source advocates sued more than a dozen major consumer electronics manufacturers, claiming that the manufacturers had lost the right to use GPL’d software in their devices.  It looks like the same could be said of Android: virtually every one is unlicensed.

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