1 5 6 7 8 9 Previous Next 129 Replies Latest reply on Jan 9, 2012 3:32 PM by keithlm Go to original post
      • 105. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?

        bobstro wrote:

        Not sure which version of the GPL applies. I'm not a lawyer, but by my understanding, if the compiled source won't compile and run properly, they didn't meet the terms of the GPL:

         



        As I edited and added to my previous post (probably too late for you to see): if there are some people that can successfully compile then what has happened in this case is is that some people were too hasty to jump to the conclusion that the terms of the GPL are not met.

         

        • 106. Re: Regarding 1.4.1.

          SamSpade88 wrote:

          Please provide reference in the 1.4.1 update log that side-loading is considered a bug and that is what is fixed by it. AFAIK it just says the update has minor enhancements.


          OH... nice attempt at diversion.

           

          Please show me where update logs always contain all pertinent information in all cases from all companies. (Or just about any company for that matter.)

          • 107. Re: Regarding 1.4.1....

            JMTR wrote: Moreover, the fact that B&N at least sometimes uses "content" that way indicates that's it's not absurd for its customers sometimes to do so as well.

             



            However that also means the term is ambiguous enough that if the issue went before a court of law that the outcome would not require that B&N unlock side-loading.

            • 108. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?
              roustabout

              I asked about this question on Saturday, and have not received a response.  I understand Adam's arguments, and again think I'm seeing a lack of candor. 

               

              My impression after reading Adam's threads is that what he wants is for BN to deliver source that does not match what is in use on the device. 

               

              The problem is this:  compiling an unsigned kernel from source and copying it to an SD card does not result in a bootable SD card.

               

              A compiled, unsigned kernel that boots from an SD card would be behaving differently than the shipped code. 

               

              Adam has not documented any compiler errors in his build process.  others have reported they can compile the kernel (the wireless stack is a different issue;  it may not be under the GPL at all) but Adam's test is, in essence, a demand that the hardware itself comply with the GPL. 

               

              If the BN source cannot boot an OMAP reference board, that  might be a valid test of kernel completeness and build succuss.  I have not seen anyone aside from Adam make the argument that the sources are invalid.  If the BN source can't boot an emulator when installed to internal memory, that might also be evidence (depending on how the emulator is configured.) 

               

              My impression so far is that Adam is claiming in essence that unless the bootloader is unlocked, BN is in violation of the GPL. 

               

              Adam is also claiming that he has to have a mysterious Tax ID number to apply for dev status.  The form you fill out for applying states that the tax ID number can be  your social security number.  It is possible, of course, that Adam lives off the grid, does not have an SSN, perhaps does not use a ZIP code for mail or accept payment in Federal Reserve notes. 

               

              Or it's possible that Adam expects no one to look at the webpage and note again the prominent candor issues in his reporting of his experiences. 

               

              So, if folks here with the tools to look into it think  the code BN dropped is incomplete, I'd be interested to hear.  My impression is that it is complete, valid source that folks have built with and that the GPL does not extend to requiring changes in the manufacturing process or disclosure of crypto keys. 

              • 109. Re: Regarding 1.4.1.
                SamSpade88

                Okay fair enuf.  Show me where you said side loading is considered a bug by B&N.  I've not seen that reference.

                • 110. Re: Regarding 1.4.1....

                  keithlm wrote: "However that also means the term is ambiguous enough that if the issue went before a court of law that the outcome would not require that B&N unlock side-loading."

                   

                  _______________

                   

                  It might mean that, but remember (or be aware) that ambiguity in a contract typically is construed against the drafter, which in this case is B&N.

                   

                  In any case, as I've already stated, I don't want to argue about hypothetical EULA lawsuits. My point is simply that it was inaccurate for you to imply that viewing apps as "content" is exclusively a personal opinion held by some dissatisfied customers.

                  • 111. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?
                    DeanGibson

                    roustabout wrote:
                    ...

                    My impression so far is that Adam is claiming in essence that unless the bootloader is unlocked, BN is in violation of the GPL. 



                    Well, I happen to agree with Adam on this point.  The whole point of the GPL is that I can modify a component that is covered by the GPL, and run the resultant software on the device that the software originally ran on.  That's obviously not possible in this case, due to the locked bootloader, because you apparently can't even build the same identical software (ie, the kernel) and get it to run on the device.  You certainly can't modify it and get it to run (that's clearly the intent of B&N).

                     

                    It's not that B&N is in violation of the GPL in creating the kernel.  It's that B&N is in violation of distributing the kernel they provide, on the device.  The same would be true if I wrote an app and distributed in under the GPL.  Now, if some company picks up my software and distributes it unaltered on a custom device, but they do not provide a way for anyone to modify my software and still run it on the device, then they are in violation.

                     

                    It's the distribution on the device that is the legal issue here.  I have some GPL code out there, and I wondered what would happen if someone modified it and distributed it within a club, but didn't make it available to those outside the club.  So, I contacted the legal people back at the FSF (the creators of the GPL) and had a discussion about this.  It's the distribution outside of a company (clubs, associations, etc don't count) that is the issue.  A company that takes GPL code and modifies it for initernal company use, does not have to release source code.  Once they provide it to a single person (individual, organization, etc), they are bound by the GPL.  Further, even if the company charged $1million to the person, the company cannot prevent (by explicit or implicit contract) that person from giving away for free the product to anyone they want.

                     

                    People here have mentioned HTC and ASUS as having buckled on the "locked bootloader issue".  We don't know, but perhaps the GPL was an issue for them that they didn't want to fight.

                     

                    Anyway, I would think that a court would look at the intent of the GPL, and understand that a locked bootloader/kernel in effect circumvented the provisions of the GPL.  There is an organization that goes after GPL violations on behalf of the copyright owners:  http://gpl-violations.org  In particular, see http://gpl-violations.org/news/20111110-avm-cybits.html

                     

                    The opinions of everyone here don't count legally.  Nor do the opinions of the lawyers at B&N.  What counts is what a court rules.  What also counts is the opinion of Netflix (or whoever wants a locked platform that also uses GPL components) as to whether the legal exposure is worth the trouble.

                    • 112. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?
                      bobstro

                      keithlm wrote:
                      As I edited and added to my previous post (probably too late for you to see): if there are some people that can successfully compile then what has happened in this case is is that some people were too hasty to jump to the conclusion that the terms of the GPL are not met.

                      I'm also guilty of tweaking my posts. I can stare at it for 20 minutes before hitting Post, but I always find something that needs fixing afterwards!

                       

                      As to the source code: Looking at Adam's postings at XDA, and the follow-on posts, it appears that some information has not been provided. While it can be guessed at, isn't the requirement that it be provided?

                       

                      I'm actually more interested in the implications of the paragraph of the GPL cited in my 2nd quote. Again, I'm no lawyer, and I won't deign to speak for Richard Stallman, but doesn't the "you waive any legal power to forbid circumvention of technological measures..." clause of Section 3 of the GPL have implications for the signed bootloader issue? Wouldn't B&N be obligated to either release the key, or provide other means of booting a user-compiled version? I thought the very terms of the GPL were designed to prevent the onerous DMCA-facilitated lockdown for any software produced from GPL'ed sources.

                       

                      Nothing forced B&N to use Android as the basis for the NOOK series (with implied licensing requirements) any more than B&N forced users to accept ToS for NOOK.

                      • 113. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?
                        bobstro

                        roustabout wrote:

                        I asked about this question on Saturday, and have not received a response.  I understand Adam's arguments, and again think I'm seeing a lack of candor. 

                         


                        Fair enough, but I really didn't mean for this Subject shift to be Adam, but rather B&N's compliance with the terms of the GPL! I don't agree with everything he's said, but I think there is an interesting issue here with regards to the locked bootloader. If parts, albeit small parts, of the source are, indeed, missing, they should certainly be provided.


                        The problem is this:  compiling an unsigned kernel from source and copying it to an SD card does not result in a bootable SD card.

                         

                        A compiled, unsigned kernel that boots from an SD card would be behaving differently than the shipped code. 


                        This, I think, is the real issue. By my reading of the GPL, they are in violation.


                         So, if folks here with the tools to look into it think  the code BN dropped is incomplete, I'd be interested to hear.  My impression is that it is complete, valid source that folks have built with and that the GPL does not extend to requiring changes in the manufacturing process or disclosure of crypto keys. 


                        If that's the case, then I certainly stand corrected. I always thought the intent of the GPL (and RMS) was to prevent the use of GPL-protected code in locked down environments. This wouldn't apply only to B&N, of course.

                         

                        I recall Linksys/Cisco had to open up their modified GPL-protected sourcecode for the popular WRT-54 series of wireless routers. No locked bootloaders were involved, but a big corporate entity wound up on the wrong side of making GPL-based code proprietary, and the FSF and others had enough clout to get them to change their ways.

                        • 114. Re: Regarding 1.4.1.
                          TnTexas

                          keithlm: They have the legal right for what they have done.  And since they announced early that the bug existed and that they would be fixing it; they also have the ethical right.

                           

                          And this is where I have a problem with the whole situation. I totally agree that B&N has the right to sell a device that's completely locked down if they want. I don't have a problem with that at all. I even agree that they had a legal right to do what they did. It's the ethical argument I disagree with. In all the research I did on the Tablet before I bought it, I only ran across one review that mentioned B&N's response and intent; and that was mentioned in a way that seemed to imply the author had called the company for a response on the issue. None of the other reviews (and I looked at several) mentioned it. I didn't find any official press releases that mentioned it. As far as I could tell it wasn't mentioned on the site's product pages. In other words, as far as I can tell, there was no official announcement that they saw the ability as a problem and were definitely going to take care of it. They simply did it; and those who had read several reviews about the Tablet and knew about the sideloading capability but missed that one article got a nasty surprise.

                          • 115. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?
                            roustabout

                            Bob observes "I recall Linksys/Cisco had to open up their modified GPL-protected sourcecode for the popular WRT-54 series of wireless routers."

                             

                            Yes, they'd used a huge chunk of GPL code and not released the source.

                             

                            My impression is that BN has released the source and that source may be sufficient to boot either a reference board based system or an emulator, and that no one has tried either of those.  

                             

                            My take is that RMS surely hates locked bootloaders, but that the GPL is a software rather than a hardware requirement.

                             

                            In the back of my head, though, I was thinking that the issue of whether the hardware environment delivered by the vendor must support the code they dropped had already been to court.  It may not have been there yet.   

                             

                            Then there's the issue of "which GPL is Android bound by?"

                             

                            From what I'm reading, it's bound by GPL 2, and GPL 2 does not explicitly require the distribution of signing keys as GPL 3 does.  

                             

                            http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/5552.html

                             

                            is a discussion of problems with Grub working in the new secure boot environment, since Grub 2 is GPL 3 but would need a key to run in UEFI.  

                             

                            And apparently this kettle of clams is the basis of a new letter around unlocking submitted to the Librarian of Congress and excerpted extensively at

                             

                            http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20111203184859667

                             

                            (The librarian of congress is one waypoint in many of the disputes around unlocking devices.)   

                            • 116. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?
                              DeanGibson

                              bobstro wrote:

                              ...

                              I'm actually more interested in the implications of the paragraph of the GPL cited in my 2nd quote. Again, I'm no lawyer, and I won't deign to speak for Richard Stallman, but doesn't the "you waive any legal power to forbid circumvention of technological measures..." clause of Section 3 of the GPL have implications for the signed bootloader issue? Wouldn't B&N be obligated to either release the key, or provide other means of booting a user-compiled version? I thought the very terms of the GPL were designed to prevent the onerous DMCA-facilitated lockdown for any software produced from GPL'ed sources.

                               

                              Nothing forced B&N to use Android as the basis for the NOOK series (with implied licensing requirements) any more than B&N forced users to accept ToS for NOOK.


                              What's going to be really interesting is if the press picks up this whole B&N/GPL issue.  B&N is currently in a legal battle w/ Microsoft (which I hope B&N wins);  I wonder if they want Microsoft using this as another argument against B&N.  Of course, I'm not sure Microsoft wants to go on the record as supporting the GPL ...

                               

                              Let's all calm down, spread out the lawnchairs, grab a hamburger and good drink, and watch the show ...

                              • 117. Re: B&N in violation of GPL?
                                bobstro

                                DeanGibson wrote: [...]

                                The opinions of everyone here don't count legally.  Nor do the opinions of the lawyers at B&N.  What counts is what a court rules.  What also counts is the opinion of Netflix (or whoever wants a locked platform that also uses GPL components) as to whether the legal exposure is worth the trouble.


                                I find it interesting that Netflix is OK running on the NC without a locked bootloader, though one can fret over whether they mean for HD content to be so "protected" or not. Blockbuster, Flixster and others seem to care, though I wonder if they really just want to limit distribution to tested and approved devices for support reasons. In the game of who blinks first for captuing consumer loyalty, this may be the best test for which approach is most viable.

                                 

                                I really only care about this for two reasons:

                                 

                                1. B&N's restrictions on 3rd party apps access limits the usefulness of the device for my needs, and

                                 

                                2. If B&N don't come around, I'd like to see a means of running alternate firmware on the device as I can with the NC today.

                                 

                                The shame is that these are both restrictions B&N elected to inflict on an otherwise-loyal subset of their customer base. Users that don't want these capabilities wouldn't know or care whether they were present.

                                • 118. Re: Regarding 1.4.1....

                                  "Digital content sales also grew briskly during the same nine-week period, increasing 113% on a comparable basis. Content sales are defined to include digital books, digital newsstand, and the rapidly growing apps business."

                                   

                                  ____________________

                                   

                                  For those interested in this sort of reference, here's an excerpt from the 2011 B&N Annual Report, p. 3 (Letter to Shareholders from the chairman):

                                   

                                  "In addition, those Members buy a growing list of other types of content, including e-magazines and apps, which represent almost all new revenue streams for us, each of which is growing faster even than our book business."

                                  • 119. Re: Regarding 1.4.1....

                                    First off.....I want to apologize to the members of this forum.  It was not my intention to start a whirlwind of posts about legalities or such.  I was offended by a post and responded in the same manner.  I should be more thick blooded when I am in an internet forum. But I did not like being told to take my hacked device and go somewhere else.  This only proves that the poster did not know me or my device.

                                     

                                    keithlm, you keep telling me that it is my "personal opinion" about apps being content.  If that is what you think, then so be it.  I don't know what sites you researched, but I researched B&N, Amazon, ATT, Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile, and Google.  All of the companies (google does not sell direct to the consumer AFAIK) sell "Android Devices" (note: my use of the term "Android Devices" in this sentence includes any kind of device that uses the Android OS as its base), tablets included.  In addition, Apple also refers to apps as part of it's content.  Amazon specifically spells out the meaning of "Digital Content" in their TOS and it includeds apps.

                                     

                                    In every case, I can find reference in their document on the sites that refers to Apps as content.  If you want to find it real quick, just search for content filtering and on pretty much most of  the sites they will bring up information that refers applications being content. (this is not the only way to get the info)

                                     

                                    It has already been shown that B&N references apps as content in the shareholder documentation.   The TOS does state that I can sideload my own content.  It does not, however, go as far as to define sideloaded content.  The B&N TOS also does not state that I must purchase apps only though them.  So this is why I believe that B&N violated the agreement. 

                                     

                                    You asked me for proof and I have presented it.  You can disagree and that is fine, I respect that.  I did not post specific links because there are just too many to do so.  Anyone can find the same information I did.

                                     

                                    I have said it before and will repeat it again, I love the nook tablet, but I think that the sideloading of apps should be enabled.  Turning it off is not going to make me purchase apps through B&N.  I've used some free apps on my phone and I've donated to some of the authors.  But I ever purchased 1 app in 4 years on Android.  B&N isn't going to make money from me in the app store either way.  They will however get my money in the form of e-books.

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