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GNU is Not Unix The Courts

Palm Sued Over Palm Pre GPL Violation 374

Posted by timothy
from the license-quicksand dept.
zaxl writes "Palm is being sued by Artifex Software over the PDF viewer in Palm's Pre smartphone, which may violate the GNU GPL. Artifex alleges that Palm has copied Artifex's PDF rendering engine, called muPDF, and integrated it into the Palm Pre's PDF viewer application without the proper licensing conditions. The entire application must be licensed under the GPL if muPDF is part of the application. It seems more and more cell phones are shipping with open source code, but in a closed manner."
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Palm Sued Over Palm Pre GPL Violation

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  • Re:Well (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:05PM (#30348730)

    If you don't like the GPL, don't use anything covered under it. Go away, nobody's stopping you.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chysn (898420) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:08PM (#30348752)

    Well, if the GPL wasn't a bullshit license which states that you're subject to the GPL if you even use GPL software in your project

    The GPL is for open source software whose authors wish to encourage the development of open source software. If you're not writing open source software, you look for another solution or write it your damn self. If you ARE writing open source software, it's not a bullshit license.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bky1701 (979071) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:09PM (#30348758) Homepage
    You use GPL source, you agree to the GPL. You use GPL libs/external executable, you MAY, but only a small number of terms actually apply to you in those cases.

    The GPL is a distribution license; you only need to actually agree to and follow it if you plan on distributing it or derivatives of it to others.

    Other than BSD trolls, I don't see how anyone could find the above complicated. Would you rather take proprietary EULAs? Those DO govern what you can do with the software itself.

    If you want to be able to use source without having to give back, there is PLENTY of it under more permissive licenses like the BSD/MIT. Use those, don't bitch about the GPL.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:13PM (#30348784)

    "Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any
    products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to
    its source code released. This was simply unacceptable."
    Either you're a troll or your lawyers are idiots. the FSF specifically explains this isn't the case.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@NoSpAm.palegray.net> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:14PM (#30348792) Homepage Journal
    Please refrain from using GPL licensed code in your projects, then. Now that we've solved the problem for you, let's fix your first statement with regard to Palm: "Well, if Palm hadn't decided to include code licensed under the GPL and subsequently ignore the requirements of the license, shipping shitloads of infringing units, this wouldn't be a problem."

    I don't license my stuff under the GPL; I prefer BSD-style licensing. However, the copyright holder is free to choose how they want their stuff distributed. Palm should have secured a commercial use license from Artifex, failed to do so, and will now have to pony up a whole lot of "oopsie" money.
  • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moridineas (213502) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:21PM (#30348844) Journal

    I think what you're looking for is covered under this article?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPL_linking_exception [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:25PM (#30348862)

    Bullshit license? Listen buddy, nobody is making you, Palm, or anyone else use it. I am sure if you used a proprietary company's source code you would be bound to worse restrictions. I honestly don't see what is with you anti-GPL trolls. Here's the deal with the GPL, I am offering you code to inspect, compile, and distribute to anyone on the planet. The only thing I require in return is that if you DISTRIBUTE changes to the code that you contribute with your changes. You may not like it but tough. You didn't write the software and you have no right to tell people how to license their code. You are free to use a competitor's product if they provide what you want.

    On that note I have said it a million times before. If you really want to use a GPL'ed product under a new license where you don't have to distribute your changes, stop being cheap and cough up the money. You do have options. Allow me to recap

    - Use it under the terms of the GPL and show your changes
    - Use a competitors
    - Contact the author(s) of the code and offer to purchase a special license for your product.

    On the latter, the author has the power to do that since they are the copyright holder and I am sure many would be happy to offer you a proprietary license for your company for the right price. You anti-GPL trolls need to get over yourselves and you are the same guys who accuse GPL fans or being cheap and not wanting to pay for software, yet you scumbags turn around and cry because you can't turn around you use whatever code you want without abiding by the license. Companies have legal departments and if they are creative enough to write elaborate EULAs, I am more than confident these guys can read a relatively simple license and *gasp* weigh their options.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:36PM (#30348912)

    [Citation Needed]

  • by bieber (998013) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:38PM (#30348920)
    The industry is moving to BSD-style licenses because they're just now finding out that they can and will be sued if they blatantly violate the terms of the licenses on other persons' code? Is this seriously a revelation to anyone, and do you honestly believe that it's changing anything? I'd really like to see some backing to the statement "The GPL is dead," because last I checked there was a pretty immensely large body of GPL code still in use, and there's no indication of any significant portion of it fading into obscurity because ZOMG IT'S UNDER TEH EVIL GPL.
  • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:41PM (#30348930)
    The GPL doesn't require the source to be included, just that it be available in the same place. Which one would assume in this case would require that Palm provide that code in their store. I forget about cases where the code is itself completely unmodified from the originals are dealt with specifically.

    In this case if Palm is dynamically linking rather than statically linking the software and isn't modifying the GPL software, they have a legitimate argument as to whether or not they have to comply with the more onerous licensing terms. Meaning that they don't have to license their application as GPL. This is a legitimate interpretation of the licensing terms and it's one which is accepted by many projects that use GPL code.

    It would be a bullshit license if they required that code that uses dynamic linking had to be GPLed as well.
  • I'm confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:50PM (#30348986)

    Is Slashdot for or against copyrights this week? You know, since the GPL is a copyright license and relies on copyright law to have any power.

  • Re:How hard is it? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by FlyingGuy (989135) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {yuggniylf}> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:58PM (#30349024)

    In Palm's case, they would never sell any phones, not because the software is Open Source but because no carrier would let it on their network.

    Just like Android phones, iPhones or any phone for that matter. The TelCo's will only go so far before they say ( and rightly so ) stop, this has to be locked down, we cannot risk the entire cell ecosystem on a phone that can be completely modified to do anything. That is why you can write apps for the iPhone the BackBerry, the Android phone, but there are parts of the phone that you just cannot screw around with and so your app runs in a proprietary sandbox. To allow a completely open source re-programmable phone is to invite disaster. It is one thing when you are talking about jacking up the web for a few hours it is entirely another when you take out a whole cell tower or several cell towers do to either malicious programing or just bad programming. People lives can depend on the cell system, they don't depend on the web.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:58PM (#30349028) Homepage

    Just another example of why the industry is moving to BSD-style licenses.

    Your source for this fact?

    Face it, the GPL is dead

    It doesn't matter to me what "the industry" does. "The industry" can do whatever it wants, and it has no effect on my ability to run open-source software on my own machine.

    and Stallman's socialist dream along with it.

    Extra points for red-baiting.

  • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onefriedrice (1171917) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:02AM (#30349058)

    I don't suppose someone here with a Pre would mind checking out that folder and seeing if the source for the PDF viewer is there?

    Umm, don't you think that is probably something they checked before filing the lawsuit?

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@NoSpAm.palegray.net> on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:08AM (#30349082) Homepage Journal

    Is Slashdot for or against copyrights this week?

    Well, that depends. If the discussion revolves around people wanting to share files regardless of copyright, this community is probably against copyright law. If the discussion is about [insert large company here] violating the GPL, then copyright law is awesome. It's a simple conditional.

  • Re:How hard is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:15AM (#30349122)

    they would never sell any phones

    Sure they would, if they sold directly to their REAL customers, the end-user who uses the damn thing.

    The TelCo's will only go so far before they say ( and rightly so ) stop, this has to be locked down, we cannot risk the entire cell ecosystem on a phone that can be completely modified to do anything.

    This is entirely false. If it were true, then there is no way GSM providers would ever allow an unlocked device on their network. After all, there's no way they could ever be certain about such a device. And the only thing preventing a GSM baseband is patents.

    To allow a completely open source re-programmable phone is to invite disaster.

    Is it? I suppose to allow any fully open source, reprogrammable computer on the internet is an invitation to disaster. And yet the least open source of OSes, Windows, causes the most havoc. What's your logic in this?

    If your phone can screw up the towers, then there's something wrong with the towers. Eventually they will ignore your device, if it persists the company will register an FCC complaint. You aren't going to knock out a tower because of bad programming, at worst your phone will be ignored, and if you're unlucky you'll see a bunch of minutes or data billed on your account because it bugged out (after the battery dies in a flash.)

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afaik_ianal (918433) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:16AM (#30349124)

    Contrary to popular belief, comments on Slashdot are written by multiple users just like yourself (but different!).

    As it actually happens, the set of people who feel compelled to comment and moderate on "Pirate Bay" stories may not be exactly the same set of people that comment and moderate on GPL licensing stories.

    Of the users who comment or moderate on both kinds of stories, some might have what appear to you to be contradicting viewpoints, but you may need to stop looking at everything as black and white - maybe you'll learn something.

    I understand how "RIAA should not be destroying people's lives for downloading songs" could be interpreted by you to mean "Copyright sucks, and anyone should have the right to copy anything they want." But there's actually a not-so-subtle difference between those two viewpoints.

    I also understand how you might interpret "Corporations need to comply with the terms under which they licensed others' software by releasing their source code or remove the copyright software from their product" as "Burn the evil corporations at the stake", but again, these arguments are not the same thing.

    I hope this helps resolve at least some of your confusion.

  • Re:Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:34AM (#30349254) Homepage Journal

    If you ARE writing open source software, it's not a bullshit license.

    As an open source software developer wishing to license my code liberally, I am forced to either give up my freedom of choosing the license for my code or re-implement functionality (thereby taking away my time from improving other parts of my open source app).

    [Emphasis mine.]

    You're forced? Is the GPL being implemented at gunpoint now? Nobody forced you to use GPL software. It's your choice if you want to avail yourself of the hard work of others or not. If you do, then the least you could do is to respect their wishes about how the fruits of their labour are used.

    So, the GPL license IS a bullshit license even if you are writing open source software (in certain circumstances).

    If by 'certain circumstances' you mean that the GPL is a bullshit license because you want to use it in ways that it wasn't intended to be used, well... you have less than my fullest sympathy.

    Look, I respect software licenses - even the ones I don't agree with. I personally think that BSD is fine (though my preference is for GPL). And while I don't like a number of proprietary EULA's I've encountered over the years, I respect the right of the author to put conditions on how his work is used.

    It's clear that you don't agree with the GPL, but that doesn't mean you have to go casting aspersions on the license. The only argument you've made so far is that it sucks because it's not what you want. I sympathise, but the solution couldn't be clearer: Just use a different one, and stay away from GPL-licensed code in the future.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Earl (1894) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:01AM (#30349374) Homepage Journal

    In other words, you would like the freedom to choose the Free Software license of your choice, but you don't think that the folks writing GPLed software should have the same freedom.

  • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by myrdred (597891) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:27AM (#30349540)

    I don't win, as someone who writes software licensed under BSD/MIT.

    I have to compromise.

    Either license my code as GPL, which restricts who can use my code (I want my code to be used as widely as possible - I don't care if MS uses in their software - I give it away with the purpose of improving the quality of software people use - i.e. if Joe Windows User benefits from MS including my BSD licensed software or Bob Linux User benefits from GPL projects including my BSD licensed software - both make me happy).

    Or, I re-implement the software as BSD licensed. Now, this is no worse off than if the GPL code had never been written in the first place, true, but it goes against the idea of everyone working towards a common goal (creating open source software for users) - since the result is waste of time duplicating code under different licenses.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pohl (872) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:38AM (#30349602) Homepage

    Your post has forced me to either respond or not respond. Damn you and your restrictive discourse.

  • Re:How hard is it? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Monday December 07, 2009 @02:34AM (#30349882)

    What about the N900, the OpenMoko, and any rooted iPhone/Android device?

    All of them give you root-level access to the device. The point is that OP's suggestion that for a provider to disallow a fully open phone they would have to disallow all unlocked (and unknown) devices.

    You can be quite sure that you will face serious fines if you use an unlicensed radio device.

    Assuming it causes undue interference and broadcasts with too much power. By your logic isn't the Gnu Software Radio project wholly illegal?

  • by AlexLibman (785653) on Monday December 07, 2009 @02:42AM (#30349928)

    Like Microsoft and other for-profit software companies, the GPL gang uses government-based aggression in order to enforce its so-called "intellectual property rights", but what makes it worse is that using the latest crack from The Pirate Bay nor any amount of money would fix your GPL-related legal problem. Microsoft is able to invest billions into R&D to protect its market share by actually delivering value and innovation to its customers (not all of whom are software geeks), which is why it has been able to retain its market position for all this time. Restrictive licenses like GPL discourage free market competition! The software authors, acting in the context of the competitive environment, should get to decide what they can do with their source code, like include it in a proprietary project some time in the future.

    Just look at how much good the small amount of permissively licensed software (ex. BSD, X, Apache, Xiph codecs, SQLite, PostgreSQL, Lua, etc) have done - pieces of that code are included in feature-competitive commercial products used by millions (or maybe already billions) of people all over the world! GPL, on the other hand, continues to be a black hole that companies like IBM and Oracle (both, interestingly enough, a part of the Military-Industrial Complex) continue to pour billions into, presumably in an ill-devised effort to hurt Microsoft, but in reality having a crummy-but-free desktop competitor only solidifies Microsoft's market dominance by crippling any serious proprietary competitors before they get a chance to get off the ground.

    BSD is free software, GPL isn't!

    (I know saying this will further push my karma toward negative infinity, but it is nonetheless true.)

    Falling prices and eventual open-sourcing of software should come as the result of free market competition, not government force!

  • Re:Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr2001 (90979) on Monday December 07, 2009 @03:53AM (#30350240) Homepage Journal

    Now, this is no worse off than if the GPL code had never been written in the first place, true, but it goes against the idea of everyone working towards a common goal (creating open source software for users) - since the result is waste of time duplicating code under different licenses.

    That's because everyone isn't working towards a common goal. Open source is a means to an end, but that end is different for different people.

    Some people just have the goal of creating software that others can freely incorporate into their own projects (providing freedom for developers and quality software for end users). BSD is fine for them.

    Other people have the goal of creating software that will always be free for its end users to examine and modify (providing freedom for developers, quality software for end users, and freedom for end users). BSD is no good for them, they need the GPL.

  • Re:Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lord Maud'Dib (611577) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:27AM (#30350388)
    Give it up. You're argument is circular. Just rewrite the functionality yourself then others can use your BSD licensed version. Respect the choices of others and the license "they" chose to support just as you want others to support "your" choice of license in the software you write.
  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bostei2008 (1441027) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:11AM (#30351136)

    ... you must be new here? Or you're technologically impaired and know not a thing about Palm.

    This is not the place for you - go back to Digg/Wikipedia where you belong. This is a place for people with EXPERIENCE AND FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE to discuss things, not provide bullshit citations from some wiki that any moron can edit, for morons with the weakest google-fu on the fucking planet or just plain lazy fools without a clue.

    IOW - Sit down little one, adults are talking. Speak only when spoken to.

    ...stunned silence.... ... wow. What the hell ?

    You are the official elitist-asshole-of-the-day.

  • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:41AM (#30351274) Homepage Journal

    No?

    Who is going to troubleshoot your software?

    Who is going to fix it?

    How are you going to gain technical credibility if nobody know it is your company who is doing that great software?

    That is why companies are using GPL. At the very least bugs are easier to find and if your product is any good your own users become your best QA team.

  • Re:maybe not... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quantumstate (1295210) on Monday December 07, 2009 @08:17AM (#30351436)

    Just look at PDFViewer.cpp. That is definitely not GPL. It states that the material in the file is the proprietary property of palm. So this provides evidence that they did break the GPL assuming this is part of the PDF viewer software.

  • You are confused. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gbutler69 (910166) on Monday December 07, 2009 @09:22AM (#30351786) Homepage
    You say, "there should not be a law...". Well, if there were no law, then the copyright holder would have no protections whatsoever. Absent a law, you have no ability or right to stop me from doing anything I want with respect to copying of a copyable work. Only the law grants you a limited monopoly. In exchange for that limited monopoly (benefitting, you, the copyright holder) there is supposed to be a benefit to society as a whole. Lose site of that, and there is no reason to have copyright. So, now that we agree that there should be a law, let's debate the nature of the law. So, explain to me why there *should not* be a law to force certain exemptions. What is a logical reason that such a prohibition should exist. I'm sorry, but, there isn't one.
  • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday December 07, 2009 @09:36AM (#30351960) Journal

    You can win by relicensing as GPL.

    Not always possible. I've released BSD-licensed programs that depend on Apache-licensed libraries. The GPL is not compatible with the Apache license, so I can't change the license of my code to the GPL, even if I want to. I could ask the upstream author of the Apache licensed library to make it GPL'd, but why would they? They don't want people to integrate their code with less permissively licensed code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @10:04AM (#30352304)

    Artifex has no case.

    They're trying to impose terms on GPL licensed software, which they cannot impose. Either software is released under the GPL to everyone or no one. Artifex tries to impose additional conditions: "If your entire application (including its source code) is not licensed to the public under the GNU GPL, you are not authorized to ship GPL Ghostscript or GPL MuPDF with your application under the terms of the GNU GPL".

    What Artifex is trying to do is prohibited by the GPL itself: "If the Program as you received it, or any part of it, contains a notice stating that it is
    governed by this License along with a term that is a further restriction, you may remove that term."

    The GPL's allowed restrictions (section 7) are very limited in number, quite strict, and Artifex is trying to assert a term which the GPL does not allow them to assert. Palm is quite right that it qualifies for the GPL license despite Artifex's statements to the contrary.

    I predict this case will be dismissed and Palm will collect legal fees from Artifex.

    Disclaimer: IANAL

  • Re:How hard is it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by marcansoft (727665) <hector @ m a r c a n s o f t.com> on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:24AM (#30353336) Homepage

    Uh, no. Talking to a baseband chip is like talking to a 3G USB modem. Barring exploits and other ways to actually run code on the chip and mess with the radio, there's nothing you can do to break FCC rules.

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:17PM (#30354096) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot is neither for nor against copyright, and neither for nor against copyright reform. Slashdot is both for and against copyright, and both for and against copyright reform.

    In case you hadn't noticed, we don't walk in lockstep here. There are varied opinions on every subject, including copyright.

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bryonak (836632) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:32PM (#30355180)

    To elaborate a bit on gbutler69's point: copyright is not a natural law.
    If I hurt you or steal something tangible from you, you have a natural and moral right to prevent this, retribute or get me to compensate.
    If you wear a blue hat today and I want to do the same, there is no "natural mechanism" you can leverage to prevent me from doing so.
    If you sing a song and I hear it, I can sing it too, etc.

    Now introduce society and monetary reward (commerce). People want to get money from their ideas and works of mind, so they agree upon an artificial law that once someone creates something, others should not be allowed to create the same thing. Details vary, and most countries have sensible rules for Fair Use and non-commercial reproduction but don't allow commercial distribution (without permission) of something someone else has already created.

    Point is, the very government you don't want to meddle with "your" copyright rights is the only reason there is any copyright at all. And since we're supposed to live in a democracy, the government ultimately represents the will of the people (yeah, having a hard time trying not to laugh myself ;) ).
    Why should the people be against non-commercial copying and Fair Use?

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Monday December 07, 2009 @03:24PM (#30356538)

    I strongly disagree on two points. First, to say that the average Slashdot reader honestly has the public good in mind when talking about copyright policy is laughable. The most frequent post simply amounts to "damn those big companies, I'll do what I want."

    I can't (nor can anyone) speak for all slashdotters. Yet, I believe the explanation of why everyone should be able to freely access copyrighted works without the author's explicit authorization if it's for personal use and the commercial distribution isn't affected (yes, it's a long winded description but necessary to explicitly state what we are talking about) resides exactly in the oppressive power that "capitalist" copyright, a copyright definition that is based on the concept that all copyrighted works are pure commercial products instead of the expression of the human spirit and a means to advance mankind, grants to those "big companies". If the "big companies" benefit from a quasi-totalitarian control over works they control so that they can persecute anyone who happens to look the wrong way at their work then society as a whole will be inevitably asphyxiated. You will no longer benefit from having a culture, you will not be able to express yourself as you see fit and, more importantly, you will not be able to educate yourself. Those rights, which should be unalienable, will become a luxury, only accessible to those who can afford it. To put it in other words, your society will regress and stagnate. Please see how medieval europe was before the invention of the printing press - That's what a totalitarian control on the distribution of copyrighted works causes.

    Next, I personally disagree with your view on the purpose of copyrights. While I accept that copyright law has gotten completely out of hand with absurd extensions on the lifetime of copyrights, I vehemently oppose the idea that there should be varying levels of protections based on the "intended use" of the work. If an copyright holder would like to specifically allow exemptions for educational use or non-commercial use, he has that right. However, there should not be a law that forces the holder to allow such exemptions.

    It's pretty much obvious that legally granting access to copyrighted works without the author's explicit authorization is not only acceptable but also vital. If that isn't the case then, for a start, public libraries would not be possible. Then, the access to education would not be an universal right but a privilege of the well-to-do masses. As a consequence, progress would be hindered and your society would stagnate. And last but not least, you would cease to have culture. That would cause completely absurd and inexplicable situations as being legally barred from singing the happy birthday song in someone's birthday, barring kids from drawing their favorite cartoons, not being able to cheer for your favorite sports team... you name it. Heck, even the access to your jurisdiction's laws would be taken away from you, opening the way to a Kafkaesque society. And what for? For some random corporation to enjoy a larger profit? After all, your copyright is not being granted to the authors but to legal organizations who control them.

    So please reconsider. Is all this really acceptable?

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