Sky D-Link router and GPL violation (was Re: Selling device but retaining ownership of the firmware?)
mark at thuvia.org
Sat Apr 16 12:35:03 CEST 2011
>> Sky's GPL compliance on their set top boxes is pretty good, so I'd expect
>> this is likely to get solved.
>Sounds promising :)
I've been chasing Sky on this issue since December, when I signed up
with them after they bought and shut down my former ISP and I was
forced to use their customised D-Link router.
Basically, they have a learning curve to overcome but genuinely seem
to be trying to resolve the issue and are updating me regularly.
When I followed the web link in their D-Link GPL Code Statement (a
copyright statement and their written offer of source, shipped with
the router) and couldn't find any code for what might have been this
router's firmware (it has no model number marked on it, only a
firmware version number "SKY_1.11" displayed within the admin
interface), I contacted Sky, who initially denied me source access
"due to their service's terms and conditions".
I firmly but (fairly) politely pointed out their legal
misunderstanding, and after contacting D-Link too, figured out that in
moving from their previous development model (Netgear apparently
contracted to do all Sky's customisations and maintain GPL source
availability) to a new one (it seems they now have their own
development team customising the D-Link router), they'd somehow missed
out on realising their new obligations under the GPL (bad due
diligence, but sort of understandable for a small team getting a bunch
of D-Link code thrown at them "over the wall"). With this in mind, I
made them of aware of what the D-Link GPL Code Statement actually
means, and pointed at the FSF Europe's Freedom Task Force "Useful
Compliance Tips For Vendors" and the gpl-violations.org "Vendor FAQ"
as sources of help (also pointing out that their supplier D-Link would
have plenty of knowledge of the issues, having lost the same type of
law suit which Sky were now potentially liable to...).
At this point I was contacted by a helpful Sky customer services
representative who showed interest in pursuing the matter with their
legal folks, who shortly afterwards did admit they had an issue to
resolve (and apparently had been previously unaware of)...
It has been taking a while, but I have been trying to guide them in
the right directions (I have an embedded+free software development
background myself, though all my communication with them is via their
customer services person), and as of the last update their developers
are now finally at the stage of picking through the code with some
promised help from D-Link to figure out how to bundle the relevant
free software sources and proprietary binaries. It's still clearly
going to take them some more time to reach compliance, but they
haven't shown any real signs of deliberately dragging their heels.
I've also suggested to them that while this work is in progress, they
make sure that no further GPL source requests are denied, but that
they instead issue some sort of holding statement for their support
folks to give out. I've also reminded them that they need to replace
the D-Link GPL Code Statement with an equivalent of their own.
Further, I've suggested that they really should be updating someone
like the Free Software Foundation (Europe) with progress reports (and
getting their help if needed) rather than myself - I just want to see
the code when it's ready!
I hadn't been aware of the good GPL compliance of their set top boxes
(quoted above) - if that's not also all contracted out, I'll suggest
that the router team also talk to that team for help if they aren't
already doing so.
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