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Re: Arcom GPL violation?

Gary Thomas wrote:
Note: this is really a topic for the eCos maintainers (of which I am
included), so I've cc'd them to this reply. (sorry for the duplication)

On Mon, 2005-01-31 at 14:43 +0000, CLUGSTON wrote:

Dear Gary,

I have purchased a VIPER board from Arcom UK that came pre-flashed with Redboot. There was a problem with the Flash which ment in the end that I had to return the board, but this problem lead me to inquire after the source code for Redboot. It turns out that they wanted £100 or about $180 USD for a 'Reboot Development' CD-Rom. I explained that by my understanding of the GPL that there where obliged to make the modifications available to anyone, especially anyone who has payed for a board with it embedded into it. They said that their engineers had spent the time making it unique to the Viper and therefore they have to charge for it.

Can you give me any clarification on whether or not they are allowed to do this or not before I purchase the CD?

Sorry for the direct email, but I didn't want to disscuss this on the mailing list. I have included below a section of a similar discussion from the list about 18mths ago that there was no follow up to.

This is definitely *not* allowed under the GPL.  They can charge you a
fee, but only to the limit of what it costs them to produce the sources
on a distribution medium.  From section 3 of GPL (rev 2):

  3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
    source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
    1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
    years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
    cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
    machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
    distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
    customarily used for software interchange; or,

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
    to distribute corresponding source code.  (This alternative is
    allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
    received the program in object code or executable form with such
    an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

Thanks for any information you can offer.

I don't know how you can push them on this though.  Perhaps the other
maintainers can make some suggestions.

Arcom have been decent in the past and made contributions. I would imagine it's more likely to be disconnect and miscommunication within Arcom rather than anything deliberate, so we don't need to come out with all guns blazing assuming the worst.

Steven, if you think you've already effectively pointed out what Gary says (which is entirely correct) we can take this on. As copyright holders we have much more clout.

I will make an initial discreet enquiry now, but (Steven) let us know whether you want to talk to them again first.

It may also help that Arcom are based in Cambridge UK, as are many of the eCos maintainers.

Note: you should have also received the full sources to their Linux port
if they distributed that as part of the product.


Although to be clear, you only get sources to the binaries you have received (in whatever form) so it may not include any fancy development tools they bundle - I don't know if they do.

eCosCentric    The eCos and RedBoot experts
Visit us at Embedded World 2005, Nürnberg, Germany, 22-24 Feb, Stand 11-124
--["No sense being pessimistic, it wouldn't work anyway"]-- Opinions==mine

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