Thursday, November 29, 2007

ASUS' GPL resolution on EeePC

Story here, but also in other places.

The story I'm referring to isn't the worst, but I think there is a basic error here: the GPL doesn't say ASUS have to put the source code to their system online.

ASUS are distributing their EeePC with GPL'd software pre-loaded. I'm pretty sure - but haven't had it confirmed - that they are not shipping it with the source code on CDs. If you don't ship the source with the software, the GPL is very clear: you need to make an offer to give the source, or relay the offer you have.

If someone requested the source from ASUS, and they didn't make it available, that would be inconsistent with the GPL, and therefore would likely be a violation of copyright. However, that doesn't seem to be what happened: someone requested it from ASUS, and ASUS made it available.

Was ASUS ever in "violation of the GPL"? Not making the source available to begin with is not inconsistent with the license, and I don't see any evidence that ASUS refused to supply source.

The "Groklaw" blog made this comment about the state of affairs:

PJ: Actually, no. My understanding is that they need to get permission from the authors of the code to be able to redistribute that code again under the GPLv2. It's not automatic. Perhaps they have done so. If not, they would, I believe, remain out of compliance.
This comment comes from the "News Picks", which sadly don't seem to have permalinks so I cannot cite it directly.

PJ is right in that if ASUS were out of compliance, they could not automatically rectify the situation with GPLv2: GPLv3 allows that, but not v2. The implicit assumption is that there were not in compliance, and that doesn't seem to be supported by the facts at the moment.

No comments: