GPL violations continue by OEM manufacturers using Sigma systems SDK

Iain Barker ibarker at
Thu Feb 1 18:20:26 CET 2007

Three years on, and still I am finding OEM customers of Sigma who are shipping product without GPL compliance...

I purchased a Galaxy IPTV last week, it is running uCLinux 2.4 and an embedded distro very similar to the previous Sigma EM8500 SDK on my Liteon DVD player (which was also a GPL violation, see below).

No mention of the GPL license was provided with the Galaxy unit, no offer of source code etc.

Although Sigma did release the GPL source for the kernel in their SDK via the UCLinux site "on behalf of their customers", the OEMs are continuing to sell products which are in violation of GPL.

If you want to look at a similar firmware for confirmation of the Linux/GPL content, try here:

-----Original Message-----
From: legal-bounces at [mailto:legal-bounces at]On Behalf Of Iain Barker
Sent: Friday, 18 March, 2005 11:05
To: legal at
Subject: RE: Problems with KiSS (dvd player) firmware

Regarding the KiSS DVD player firmware:
This problem is common to multiple vendors who use the Sigma EM8500 chipset.

Sigma provide an GPL'd SDK to the OEM manufacturers such as Kiss, but some of the OEMs are failing to pass on the GPL license with their products. The Sigma SDK includes Linux4TV, BusyBox, uCLinux and a few other GPL programs.

KiSS are actually one of the better behaved OEMs, at least they released a source code snapshot and included the GPL license text in their documentation. For the product I have (Liteon LVD2001), the OEM refused to issue source code and didn't even seem to be aware of the GPL.

Here are some of my previous postings on the topic:

After these threads I was in discussions with some of the copyright holders, Alan Cox (RedHat), Bruce Perens (BusyBox) and Jeff Dionne (uCLinux). Sigma were contacted via email, and when Sigma realised the problem they immediately agreed to comply with GPL and publish the source for their uClinux SDK on behalf of their OEMs.

There is a summary at the uClinux site :

Dec 3, 2003
Sigma Designs has released the uClinux kernel source for its EM8500
Progressive DVD Player Development Kit. Chances are your home DVD player
runs uClinux! The current release is based on a 2.4.17 snapshot. Check out
the page for links to the source code.

The specific sources and build scripts are available here:
So, a small victory. But this doesn't resolve the entire GPL violation...

As far as I can tell Liteon (and maybe some of the other OEMs) still don't actually comply with the GPL themselves, as source for other GPL components in the firmware (Busybox etc) are still not made available. The GPL license is also not included with the products. But it but does at least partially mitigate the problem.

Liteon now appear on the Busybox shame list as a result of this action.

- Iain

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