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SimpleDevices, their software, and the GPL

        - Read the petition

SimpleDevices developed (well, actually, they mostly modified) the system software. Rockford/Omnifi licensed it for use on the DMS1 and DMP1. This, incidentally, is most likely why the Support folks at Rockford were unable to give us any kind of realistic view of what development (if any) was taking place - they simply don't know. Thus, Rockford just points us to SD when we start pressing them on the software and GPL license compliance. They are just as culpable, according to the GPL, but they're probably unable to do anything for us without help from SD.

SD, unfortunately, is taking a fairly typical approach for companies that steal GPL software (let's call a spade a spade - they're selling someone else's property, and that's certainly theft in my book).

Phase 1 is denial. We don't have any GPL software, or we don't need to show you anything - we own it. Uh-huh.

Phase 2 is to pretend to comply. This is where they admit to the unimportant software they're using, and provide information on where on the Internet to get the original un-modified source. An important part of phase 2 is that they do *not* reveal the GPL software they're using that is important to them, and/or they do not admit that they have modified the source code. In other words, it's very much like phase 1 except that they're pretending to comply.

This is where we are now. The most important source code has not been properly provided to us. They modified the kernel (they added device drivers directly to it - they did not use modules), but claim they didn't. They're required to provide the source code to the modified kernel. They use armboot (which is GPL-licensed) as the bootloader, but haven't even admitted at all that they use it. Why? Because they modified armboot to enforce additional checks/rules to make it harder for folks like us to get in and boot our own kernel. They're required to provide the source code to the modified armboot.

Someone said that only the author of the software can pursue a copyright/license violation. That's not entirely true. The author can assign the rights to another party (like the FSF, or a parent project or a follow-on project), and that party has every right to pursue violators.

There are basically two things (to my knowledge) that we, as victims, can do:
  1. Try to inform/educate/persuade SD that they are violating the law, we're aware of their violation, and it would be best for them if they stopped violating it.
  2. Inform the copyright holders that SD is violating their copyright, and hope that they have the desire and resources to pursue SD for the violation.

Yes, they _owe_ you and me the source code, but unfortunately, the only commonly applied law is copyright law, and thus it's up to the copyright holder to take and legal action.

You can read the text of the GPL here (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt).
There's a GPL FAQ here (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html). You can read about how it works, and what we can do here (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html#GPL).

-Andy (source: e-mail 8/25/05)

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