2

Suppose I sell a robot, which contains Raspberry PI.

Or somebody sells a workstation, which contains a PC and Monitor and WiFi router, each running Linux inside.

Or a car workshop sells cars with custom bodies installed on off-the-shelf chassis, which, most likely, have numerous chips inside, some of them running Linux. (These days almost everything is secretly running Linux inside)

How would these vendors comply with GPL-2, which requires that " 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, .... 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, ... "

How would a car mechanic even know what Linux is and which parts of his product contain it and where to get these sources? Does anybody actually comply with these copyright requirements?

Some related questions: Hardware with GPL firmware Legal issues about embedded Linux Lend/Distribute IoT device containing GPL software Selling used hardware with open source software

1 Answer 1

3

How would these vendors comply with GPL-2

In general, you will find a written offer buried in very small print in one of the bits of paper you get with the device and immediately throw out. At least in the Western world, manufacturers are already required to provide various bits of information with their devices (information on harmful substances, information on recycling, etc), so adding an offer to supply the source code isn't actually onerous for them.

How would a car mechanic even know what Linux is and which parts of his product contain it and where to get these sources?

He would pass on the information he received from the manufacturers of the component.

Does anybody actually comply with these copyright requirements?

Yes - picking one just because it's the manufacturer of the TV I can see right now, Samsung have an entire site dedicated to providing GPL source; I don't actually know if I got a written offer for the source with the TV because I threw those bits of paper straight into the recycling but let's assume I did get an offer.

There are of course various degrees of compliance:

  • Major manufacturers are generally pretty good about this because they have well-versed legal teams that really don't want them to be sued.
  • Some manufacturers are in breach of the letter of the license (e.g. not supplying a written offer) but make some kind of effort to supply the source if it is requested.
  • Some manufacturers just ignore any requests for the source because they haven't got the processes in place to supply the source. They may respond if pushed hard, or they may just hope the problem goes away (it often does).
  • Some manufacturers have mistaken ideas that the GPL doesn't apply to them for some reason. Again, may respond if pushed hard or may just hope the problem goes away.
1
  • 1
    You wrote: "He would pass on the information he received from the manufacturers of the component." This seem to follow GPL clause :" 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" But a commercial car mechanic should follow clause a) or b), which requires him to give sources, which means that he should somehow obtain all the sources first, which is close to impossible for a non-technical person.
    – jhnlmn
    Nov 12, 2022 at 23:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.