GPL violation by the Tablet Contribution Program

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GPL violation by the Tablet Contribution Program

Adrian Custer



To whomever feels legally responsible for Mozilla's actions,


Mozilla has given me a Tablet as part of the Firefox OS Tablet
Contribution Program. Unfortunately, in the process, Mozilla has
violated the terms of the General Public License, version 2, (GPL) used
by the Linux kernel and several core libraries integrated into the
version of Firefox OS running on the device. Mozilla has failed to
fulfill either of the three conditions required by section 3 of the GPL:
   http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html#section3
which requires that those distributing binaries of GPL must 'accompany'
the binary by either:
   * the source code of the binary, or
   * a written offer to obtain the source code, or
   * 'information' provided by a previous distributor of the binary.

The quickest way to resolve this violation might be to:
   1. write a web page (or extend
      https://wiki.mozilla.org/FirefoxOS/TCP/Patching) which explains
      how to extract from the build system the source code for the
      exact build of Firefox OS which was used on the device as shipped
      (i.e.whatever '1.4.0.0-prerelease' means).
   2. email ( 'a written offer') all recipients of the tablets with
      a link to those instructions.
Properly, a piece of paper should have been added in the tablet box with
that link, something Mozilla should ensure is done in any future
hardware give away program.




In greater depth:

The Tablet Contributor Program is distributing a hardware device running
Firefox OS which includes the Linux kernel. Therefore Mozilla is
distributing a binary of the Linux kernel software and Mozilla therefore
MUST comply with the terms of the GPL and MUST fulfill one the the three
conditions of section 3 of that license. (MUST, that is, unless Mozilla
takes the anarchist stance that software licenses are immoral and need
not be followed and Mozilla then decides to operate outside the legal
system.) The fact the tablets are given away or that Mozilla
believes itself to be working in the best interests of end users does
not alter the legal requirements of the GPL.

Section 3 of the GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html#section3)
makes a requirement of those distributing binaries of GPL
programs (in order to guarantee the freedoms the recipients of those
programs) that the binary be 'accompanied' by either:
   * the source code of the binary, or
   * a written offer to obtain the source code, or
   * 'information' provided by a previous distributor of the binary.

The standard way compliance with this section of the GPL is usually
ensured for devices running a Linux kernel has been to include a piece
of paper pointing to an URL where the source can be obtained. For
example, the 'Alcatel' branded device running Firefox OS which I
purchased included, in the box, a piece of paper pointing to a
Sourceforge dump of the supposed source code for Firefox OS used on the
device. Thus, the manufacturer and the telephony provider perhaps
complied with the letter of the GPL. (However, that Sourceforge
repository is missing some key files or instructions for duplicating the
build of the software, so the distributors have failed to comply with
the intent of the requirements: making it easy for the recipients of
their devices to hack on the source.)

The GPL software at the heart of Firefox OS raises a few difficulties
for those distributing Firefox OS, whether hardware manufacturers,
telephony partners, Mozilla, or hobbyist hackers. We will all run into
difficulties with the requirements of the GPL until such times as the
heavy work has been done to refactor the current build system (i.e.
properly split Gonk from the rest of the OS, fix the build system to
work on multiple operating systems, fix the build system to use shallow
clones by default, show how to use specific tags of all the projects in
the 'repo' tool build) to enable all of us comply with the requirements
of the GPL while ensuring we provide the recipients of our builds with
all the freedom to easily hack their own way forwards.



Sincerely,
   Adrian Custer


P.S. This message has been sent to:
     [hidden email]
     [hidden email]
     [hidden email]
in hopes the message might make its way back to someone feeling
responsible. It is unclear where this message properly should be sent:
Mozilla does not offer any well publicized communication channels from
outside developers to the leaders of the TCP program, of the Firefox OS
Project, or even of the Mozilla Foundation itself.
_______________________________________________
legal mailing list
[hidden email]
https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo/legal
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Re: GPL violation by the Tablet Contribution Program

Asa Dotzler-2
I believe this is in error. We provide what we're required to provide at
https://github.com/flatfish-fox/flatfish-kernel and
https://github.com/flatfish-fox

- A


On 5/29/14, 6:35 AM, Adrian Custer wrote:

>
>
>
> To whomever feels legally responsible for Mozilla's actions,
>
>
> Mozilla has given me a Tablet as part of the Firefox OS Tablet
> Contribution Program. Unfortunately, in the process, Mozilla has
> violated the terms of the General Public License, version 2, (GPL) used
> by the Linux kernel and several core libraries integrated into the
> version of Firefox OS running on the device. Mozilla has failed to
> fulfill either of the three conditions required by section 3 of the GPL:
>   http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html#section3
> which requires that those distributing binaries of GPL must 'accompany'
> the binary by either:
>   * the source code of the binary, or
>   * a written offer to obtain the source code, or
>   * 'information' provided by a previous distributor of the binary.
>
> The quickest way to resolve this violation might be to:
>   1. write a web page (or extend
>      https://wiki.mozilla.org/FirefoxOS/TCP/Patching) which explains
>      how to extract from the build system the source code for the
>      exact build of Firefox OS which was used on the device as shipped
>      (i.e.whatever '1.4.0.0-prerelease' means).
>   2. email ( 'a written offer') all recipients of the tablets with
>      a link to those instructions.
> Properly, a piece of paper should have been added in the tablet box with
> that link, something Mozilla should ensure is done in any future
> hardware give away program.
>
>
>
>
> In greater depth:
>
> The Tablet Contributor Program is distributing a hardware device running
> Firefox OS which includes the Linux kernel. Therefore Mozilla is
> distributing a binary of the Linux kernel software and Mozilla therefore
> MUST comply with the terms of the GPL and MUST fulfill one the the three
> conditions of section 3 of that license. (MUST, that is, unless Mozilla
> takes the anarchist stance that software licenses are immoral and need
> not be followed and Mozilla then decides to operate outside the legal
> system.) The fact the tablets are given away or that Mozilla
> believes itself to be working in the best interests of end users does
> not alter the legal requirements of the GPL.
>
> Section 3 of the GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html#section3)
> makes a requirement of those distributing binaries of GPL
> programs (in order to guarantee the freedoms the recipients of those
> programs) that the binary be 'accompanied' by either:
>   * the source code of the binary, or
>   * a written offer to obtain the source code, or
>   * 'information' provided by a previous distributor of the binary.
>
> The standard way compliance with this section of the GPL is usually
> ensured for devices running a Linux kernel has been to include a piece
> of paper pointing to an URL where the source can be obtained. For
> example, the 'Alcatel' branded device running Firefox OS which I
> purchased included, in the box, a piece of paper pointing to a
> Sourceforge dump of the supposed source code for Firefox OS used on the
> device. Thus, the manufacturer and the telephony provider perhaps
> complied with the letter of the GPL. (However, that Sourceforge
> repository is missing some key files or instructions for duplicating the
> build of the software, so the distributors have failed to comply with
> the intent of the requirements: making it easy for the recipients of
> their devices to hack on the source.)
>
> The GPL software at the heart of Firefox OS raises a few difficulties
> for those distributing Firefox OS, whether hardware manufacturers,
> telephony partners, Mozilla, or hobbyist hackers. We will all run into
> difficulties with the requirements of the GPL until such times as the
> heavy work has been done to refactor the current build system (i.e.
> properly split Gonk from the rest of the OS, fix the build system to
> work on multiple operating systems, fix the build system to use shallow
> clones by default, show how to use specific tags of all the projects in
> the 'repo' tool build) to enable all of us comply with the requirements
> of the GPL while ensuring we provide the recipients of our builds with
> all the freedom to easily hack their own way forwards.
>
>
>
> Sincerely,
>   Adrian Custer
>
>
> P.S. This message has been sent to:
>     [hidden email]
>     [hidden email]
>     [hidden email]
> in hopes the message might make its way back to someone feeling
> responsible. It is unclear where this message properly should be sent:
> Mozilla does not offer any well publicized communication channels from
> outside developers to the leaders of the TCP program, of the Firefox OS
> Project, or even of the Mozilla Foundation itself.
> _______________________________________________
> tcp mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://mail.mozilla.org/listinfo/tcp

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Re: GPL violation by the Tablet Contribution Program

Gervase Markham
In reply to this post by Adrian Custer
Hi Adrian,

On 29/05/14 06:35, Adrian Custer wrote:

> Mozilla has given me a Tablet as part of the Firefox OS Tablet
> Contribution Program. Unfortunately, in the process, Mozilla has
> violated the terms of the General Public License, version 2, (GPL) used
> by the Linux kernel and several core libraries integrated into the
> version of Firefox OS running on the device. Mozilla has failed to
> fulfill either of the three conditions required by section 3 of the GPL:
>   http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html#section3
> which requires that those distributing binaries of GPL must 'accompany'
> the binary by either:
>   * the source code of the binary, or
>   * a written offer to obtain the source code, or
>   * 'information' provided by a previous distributor of the binary.

If you start your tablet, open the Settings app, choose "Device
Information", then "Legal Information", then "Obtaining Source Code",
you will find the written offer you are seeking. The "More Information"
section under "Device Information" includes various build identifiers
which you should be able to use to determine the exact source code
corresponding to the build on your tablet.

The other section in "Legal Information", titled "Open Source Notices",
includes a copy of the GPL (which is another GPL requirement).

> For
> example, the 'Alcatel' branded device running Firefox OS which I
> purchased included, in the box, a piece of paper pointing to a
> Sourceforge dump of the supposed source code for Firefox OS used on the
> device. Thus, the manufacturer and the telephony provider perhaps
> complied with the letter of the GPL. (However, that Sourceforge
> repository is missing some key files or instructions for duplicating the
> build of the software, so the distributors have failed to comply with
> the intent of the requirements: making it easy for the recipients of
> their devices to hack on the source.)

This may or may not be a violation, depending on what's missing, as not
all of Firefox OS is under the GPL. However, if you file a Bugzilla bug
in the Legal product:
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/form.legal
making sure I am CCed, we can look into it for you.

> P.S. This message has been sent to:
>     [hidden email]
>     [hidden email]
>     [hidden email]
> in hopes the message might make its way back to someone feeling
> responsible.

[hidden email] would have been the correct place to send this
email. Generally, GPL enforcers such as Bradley Kuhn recommend not (and
certainly not in the first instance) accusing people of GPL violations
in public, as it makes resolutions harder to reach. Something to bear in
mind for next time.

Gerv

_______________________________________________
legal mailing list
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