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Compaq

Possible GPL Violation from Compaq UPDATED 167

An anonymous reader wrote in to say "I was having a look at ThinkGeek's 6 Gb MP3 jukebox, and was interested to see that the software is Linux-based. There's a link at the bottom of the page: download Linux source. Interestingly, this link requires I 'sign' a license agreement with Compaq before downloading the source code. The license, amongst other (scary) things, says: CUSTOMER acknowledges and agrees that COMPAQ owns all rights, title and interests in and to the SOFTWARE and all Intellectual Property Rights therein." That can't be right, can it? What's going on here? Is it a simple case of Compaq needing reminding about the ground rules concerning Linux distribution? Perhaps they have not made any kernel modifications, and this license is for their application software? " Update: 09/13 05:16 PM by CT : we screwed this one up. The link is somewhat misleading since it says its a link to Linux Source, but its not actually the linux source, its just some code that runs on linux. Stop flaming please. Move along. Nothing to see here.
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Possible GPL Violation from Compaq

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  • You need to re-read the GPL. If you use GPL'd code you must make the source open, and available for up to three years, and you can not change the original licence it was released under, especialy claiming it is yours, or that you own it.
  • at compaq about this. Does anyone know if the device actually runs linux or if this is propriatary software for linux. If it is running linux and someone does know who to email, lets make an open letter and do something about it. Then we can get the community to help back up the GPL, if it doesn't run linux they have the right to license there software how ever they want, after all the GPL is a license.
  • With the updated story on /. that this is a mistake, that this is just code that runs on linux, and not linux source code itself: shame on /. for not having someone clickthrough the link and investigate this. You know how much headache even a momentary story like this makes for Compaq people on this project as half of /. goes into jihad mode?

    --
  • So, Rob, tell me, did it hurt when you plummeted off the turnip wagon?

    I mean jeez. This is the second story today I saw where you guys seem to be just trying to cause a fire-storm. Two links deep we have the press release about the Linux DVD player. (Oh horror of horrors! The project is running LATE! That never happens in the real world.)

    Then this. That's quite the Linux distribution they have there. They are right to change the license if their whole distro can be in that 504kb zipfile I downloaded a minute ago.

    Don't you guys even make a slight attempt to research your stories before you post them?

    Karma be damned.
    • The GPL is indeed mentioned in every file. I tend to think, Compaq is violating the license by requiring you to jump through the hoops to get the source. On the other hand, Compaq is also the copyright holder of this software... I'll leave this to experts.
    • Other platforms? First, the software's include/allocblock.h causes a syntax error -- apparently, whoever was inserting the comment-block with the explanation of GPL (among other things) forgot to remove ``*/'' (or add another ``/*''). Easy to fix... After changing the silly ``#ifdef __linux__'' to the smarter ``#ifndef __WIN32__'' in a couple of places, I got the thing to compile on FreeBSD.
    • Now I just need the PJB unit and for someone to port the usbdrv/ part to FreeBSD :)
  • Only it is an awful lot more constructive than yours. If you have an opinion on anything, that is.

  • (For those with better things to do)
    • 10% Irrelevant trolls, flames, FPs, etc.
    • 20% Calm, politely worded comments to the effect of "Somebody made a little mistake at Compaq. It should be pointed out to them."
    • 20% Researched posts (some including excerpts of the source downloaded) which reveal that there really is a conflict here, but not a terrible one. The code is GPLed, both explicitly and by including some kernel code (headers).
    • 50% obnoxious folk, shouting about how reactionary we all are for assuming that there is a violation without looking at the code, and that it's "obvious" that Compaq is simply distributing something non-GPL.



    My mom is not a Karma whore!
  • Well, I wasn't clear, but I think that the real problem is that it includes other people's code (or at least seems to be). Otherwise, it seems to me that Compaq making you agree to the click-through license would just be dual licensing the code (like Qt and the QPL and GPL). It would be an odd case of dual licensing, but I think that it might hold up. But they can't dual license this code, because its not all theirs. But like you said - it just seems like a glitch on Compaq's side.

    --
  • >"We have the right to distribute information any way we choose, despite what the copyright holder says!"

    The GPL *gives* you the right to distribute source code in any way you choose, despite what the copyright holder says.

    You CAN'T steal somthing that is GPLd. "Look at my new 3l33t h0t k-rad cr4ack3d w4ar3z LiNuX K3rN3l d00dz!" is just not possible because of the nature of the GPL. Hell, you don't even have to accept the terms if you don't want to. I beleive clause 5 (or maybe another number) simply binds you to the usual copyright laws if you don't like the GPL.

    How much more freedom do ya want?

    >Company X is distributing software in violation of the GPL! That's wrong! Let's get the bastards!

    Yes, Company X is not using the GPL or violating it. So therefore they are denying you the right to distribute source code in any way you choose, despite what the copyright holder says. Instead you have to receive and use the software in the way Compaq chooses.

    Try harder next time. :-)

  • No no. The source and all our modifications are GPL'd and included. It's just that this package is distributed in our standard 'packaging' and that standard packaging and the form you have to get by to download it contain our 'standard' license. If one read those and presumed that they applied to everything being downloaded or within the package (which they seem to claim), then the wrong message would be received....

    Clear?

  • I commend you for finding an easy way around the e-mail address issue, but I disagree with you about IP addresses being useful for tracking. When was the last time your ISP gave you a static IP address? All Compaq could tell from my IP is that a Mindspring subscriber downloaded their file. To find out anything at all about me via that IP address, they would have to subpoena Mindspring's logs to see who was using it at a given time.

    --
  • Why in the hell your post was modded to +4 I'll never know.

    The same reason that First Boobs was modded up as being funny.
    Moderators are people.
    people can be, and tend to act, stupid.
    Stupidity likes stupidity

    [phpwebhosting.com]
    nerdfarm.org

  • This bit may be a little offtopic, but... This, articles is definately one to remember.. In a good way, despite the fact that it was erroneous... Through many of the posts that are from Trolls on here, a common theme is that Slashdot, and all that compose it's bustling community are a bunch of slavering Zealots, who think only to bash anything that isn't of the 'Pro Linux, anti-microsoft, open it all up' view..
    While they may get a fair bit of ammo because of the posting of the article in the first place (erroneously), the thing to note is that the most highly rated articles are the ones that actually point out the error and clarify the issue rationally .
    Unlike many news agencies and distributors of FUD, the editorial staff (CdrTaco himself) concerned quickly got back, and amended the text to admit that there was a big cockup made.
    No quiet removal and brush it under the carpet, and pretend it didn't happen.
    Maybe it's something they should read, just so they can see that we still consider ourselves not just 'geeks', but wholly human, thus fallible, but with the guts to stand up and admit the error and face the fire.
    Just a thought, thought I'd share...

    Malk
  • by weatherwax ( 59856 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:44AM (#782332) Homepage
    Lessee... what's the best way to get free software accepted? Flame the vendors! That's the ticket! Flame 'em. Post your gripes to Slashdot so everyone else will flame 'em too. Tell 'em they suck. Threaten to sue 'em. NO GPL VIOLATORS ALLOWED!

    Ummm, what, they may have made a mistake? That the software is actually under GPL, and the license is erroneous? It *doesn't matter*. Free software is way too important to tolerate mistakes. Flame 'em.

    Uh... perhaps they want to make a profit on it? Perhaps it isn't a derived work, perhaps it only *runs on* Linux? No matter. Flame 'em. Commercial software sucks. Only free software is good enough to run on free OSs.

    Flame the vendors, flame the reviewers, flame the journalists who have this idiotic idea that free software devotees are a gaggle of flaming geeks. That'll convince them that free software is mature (like its promoters) and worth supporting.

    <sigh>

  • I'm gathering you're not a GPL fan?

    You might say that, considering I've been arguing against it for at least a decade, and considering that my karma has gone up and down more than Clinton in the Oval Ofice from arguing it here...
    --
  • ...so that he can convince Compaq that since they are using GPL software they will also have to GPL some hardware to him (Alpha cluster most likely).

    I could use one of those new-fangled iPaqs myself. I hear they ported Windows to that thing now.


  • This is most likely some form of boilerplate contract language that COMPAQ's lawyers told their web-publishing department to release all "to be distributed free"-type software under.

    The programmer who released the GPL code probably just put it up on a server controlled by a dept. that does this as part of their release process.

    It's quite unlikely that this is an intentional challenge to the GPL or other freeware licenses.

    Point it out to them, and I'm sure they'll clean it up.

    ..we now return you to Slashdot's regularly scheduled hyperbole.

  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:00AM (#782336) Homepage
    Maybe I'm just confused about this whole thing, but is this software really GPL? Just because it's on Linux doesn't mean that it's automatically GPL. Hell, we should be celebrating that they even released the source code in the first place.

  • Tell them, right at the bottom of the page is the contact info.

    " If you have any problems with this site, please send mail [mailto] to the Compaq Corporate Research Downloads Team [compaq.com]."

    Simple isn't it?

    Malk-a-mite

  • by David E. Smith ( 4570 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:02AM (#782338)
    I'll admit that I have not yet downloaded this package (and I probably won't, because a portable MP3 player does nothing for me, but...

    It just happens to use Linux as its core, but the actual internals may very well be proprietary. (The file manager, MP3 decoder, etc.) If these bits are in fact Compaq-proprietary, they're permitted to use whatever license they please (including the ugly abomination they're using here). The GPL would only cover the Linux kernel itself in this case, and I think we all know where to get that. I'm willing to bet that either:

    • It's proprietary software, and Compaq can do this, or
    • It's a standard template of lawyer-ese, and giving them a stern talking-to will clear this right up.

    Let's not always leap to conclusions, summoning dark demons, creatures of unmitigated hatred, and RMS, every time something like this happens. More often than not, it's just legitimate misunderstanding.

  • It's not quite a violation, since they wrote the software themselves- but the license that they make you agree to on the site is incompatible with the actual software license...

    Here's a link to a mirror to the official sources:

    http://members.xoom.com/svartal f/winjukebox_v_1_0.zip [xoom.com]
  • .tar.gz is equivalent of a solid archive ZIP (like RAR); a .tar.gz would be almost exactly the same size as a .tar.zip (probably about 100 bytes smaller due to the additional header info in a .ZIP file)

    -- Sig (120 chars) --
    Your friendly neighborhood mIRC scripter.
  • My understanding was that the doubt was where to draw the line between
    `normal' use of headers and substantive quoting that should be covered
    by the GPL. That there is an exemption for normal use of headers I
    thought was not in doubt, since there is a clearly worded paragraph by
    the copyright holder to this effect.
  • I'll take advantage of this /. article to ask if there are any other PJB100 users out there that would like to collaborate on the Linux project?

    I've tried hard to find any 'communities' (lists, forums, etc) for other PJB100 users, but I can't seem to find any that are populated ... I can't be the only geek with a couple of PJB100's ... so if there's anyone out there that wants to hook up to chat about them, drop me an email (See email, shift-2)...

  • First of all, there is no GPL violation - if you bother to check the software, they are requiring you to agree to a license for THEIR own software - now, call me old fashioned, but I was under the impression that they were allowed to impose whatever licenses they want on their own software.

    There is no GPL code in the code they are shipping.

    Point 2, why the fsck did you not even bother to go about this the correct way - namely ASK COMPAQ (assuming you were too incompetant to be able to check the actual source code yourself)?

    For crying out loud, when is slashdot going to wake up and stop posting shite like this thread? This is a NONH story, brought about because the submitter was to lazy / stupid to check it out first, and ditto slashdot.

    *sigh*
  • Something about ZIP, there's some overhead somewhere because .tar.gz's almost invariably end up being smaller than .zip's.
  • There was a snafu when the software was put
    up for access...


    I think the flamers out there will now be very disappointed
    that there is one less thing to flame at...


    As various people have noted, shooting first and
    asking questions later isn't a way to win friends
    and influence people...

    - Jim Gettys

  • wise-up.

    There is no GPL infringement, just Rob being to stupid and lazy to check his facts.
  • Carbon Monoxide can kill you without warning. I would stick around.
  • so if I wanted real news for nerds, where would I go?

    ArsTechnica has some of the best articles. They are similar to slashdot in that they post links to other cool geeky things, but they also generate a lot of their own content (well written, geeky articles). In addition, they are not as biased towards one OS over another. They cover Linux, BeOS, MacOS, and Windows.

    It's news for geeks, minus the paranoia, propaganda, and pandering to Linux zealots.

    -thomas


    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

  • > A simple e-mail to Compaq legal oughta do the trick; it's only a minor error.

    I'm resentful of the fact that an e-mail to their legal department is even necessary.

    Why?

    Because the (nameless) company I work for has done the EXACT same thing, in spite of my own internal objections! As far as they were concerned, the 'wrapper' license doesn't mean what it clearly claims it means, the 'sub' license was burried in there and 'over-rides' the wrapper license, and so that was that. (Go figure, the glove is on the other hand and they interpret it in whatever way is convenient.)

    Good luck getting anything done about it.

  • someone moderate this boy up, he's onto something... i also like that site he reffed, geekpress.com.
    --
    Peace,
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • Slashdot desperately needs to learn some basic reporting skills. Verifying information is the main one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking CmdrTaco to start wearing pants during work hours or leaving the Geek Compound; I just wish someone there would pick up the phone or send some e-mail once in a while before posting a story. I don't think it's sunk in with you guys how much clout you have. If you mail someone and say, "Hi, I'm Rob Malda of Slashdot, and I understand you may be violating the GPL. Care to comment?", you will get a response--probably a very hurried one along the lines of "Sorry, there's been a misunderstanding, here is a comprehensive explanation, and for Bob's sake don't call us GPL violators on Slashdot!"

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • Could be that all software, downloadable through their site, is given a boilerplate popup license, and the people who put it online aren't aware or don't care what the real license is. Doesn't sound like they are trying to undermine the GPL.
  • Is this source possibly just for software to transfer files to the device? Does the device actually run Linux internally?
  • I think if you gently remind them that they're not allowed to make the claims they do on the link that they'll correct the whole mixup.
  • Hysteria mongers? Excuse me, you are post number 17 on this topic. A cursory scan through the previous posts found no hysteria mongering, at least in my +1 filtered view.

    Are you imagining voices that don't exist? Are you responding to invisible straw men?

  • The trick is to talk to the right person. It's truly amazing how many people in corproations make mistakes like this every day because despite the press, the concept of OSS or Free S/W(GPL) is totally alien to them.

    My corporation has a S/W libary, I'm not sure exactly how legal this whole concept is, they have a lot of MS and Novell S/W in it to loan out, as well as all the apps we support (It's a tech support sweatshop, we outsource for other corps.). Anyway, I asked them what Linux S/W they had and the guy said they hadn't gotten around to ordering it. I told him I'd happily bring in some of the ISO burns that I had of previous versions, as well as some of the BSD Unixes, and he got white as a ghost. Apparently "Burn" and "CD" in the same sentence sends them into fits, and after several tries at explaining why it's ok to copy and redistribute open source, he still didn't get it, and wanted nothing to do with it unless he had a license agreement to send to the home office.

    This is probably some of the same, one person or a department who have never had it explained to them like a 6 year old that you're *supposed* to pass the code around, and in the case of the GPL, required to do so if you release new binaries. Just be polite and don't flood their inbox, RMS will probably be on the horn to the right person and everything will be copacetic again.
  • You need to re-read my post. I've released quite a bit of software under the GPL, I believe I know what I'm talking about.

    I said "are they using GPLed code in their product?"

    As far as I have seen, they are not. They wrote a piece of software themselves and licensed it themselves. No distribution involved.

    Now, if their download INCLUDES something other than their application, it should be mentioned that that is NOT under their license, only their application is.

    The download page implies that it includes ONLY their application software and nothing else (ie, Linux distro).

    Mike

    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • Actually, I'd like to see an actual jihad about this stuff sometime: it hasn't happened as far as I know.

    But all the noise on Slashdot and elsewhere ought to have by now created some awareness among developers who work at places like Compaq, but still they continue to fail to uphold the GPL. Maybe if they sensed the GPL had some more teeth they might.

  • by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:05AM (#782360) Journal
    1. Anything posted by Slashdot editors that could be cleared up by a phone call to the company will instead be posted without any reservations whatsoever.

    2. Any sort of "cause" that could be taken up with a petition of Slashdot viewers, such as disapproval of Amazon.com's patents, is instead posted without reservation. A very helpful, "What do you guys think?" should be tacked onto the article summary by the editor.

    3. If you are posting an article about a product or company doing something with Linux, do not post the article under "Linux." Instead, spread it around to the various other subjects, so that everyone must read about it even if they don't want to read about Linux.

    Rinse, repeat.

    -thomas


    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
  • Why do you assume that the 'lazy' web designer did this? Do you knwo anything about the web design team at Compaq? Do you? I doubt. They work very hard, btw.

    I doubt this was malice, but you instantly associate anyone who isnt a slashdot first-poster with a lazy and stupid idiot.

    Try growing up. There are lots of smart people who don't know what the fucking GPL is.

  • They can't claim the license to Linux, but it's possible to claim the license to any software that they did to make the player work under Linux.

    Just because any piece of software runs under a GPL system doesn't mean that that software itself is GPL.
  • The license page at http:/ /crl.research.compaq.com/downloads/register.cgi?do wnload=Linux+Jukebox [compaq.com] now shows a copy of the GNU General Public License.

  • Excuse me?

    Is that freedom in the sense that "only if we like you"?

  • Sounds like what companies have been saying about IP and the defense there of.

    "If we don't take action, they'll think it's ok. So we better sue."

    Sure, as Slashdot users we can't sue, but we can flame with the best of them! Right guys?

    Sotaku
  • "Jump through hoops"? By asking you to provide some cursory information? Tell me how this violates the GPL?
  • It's just a shame that you don't fscking bother to CHECK stories for even a grain of truth before posting them.

    I suppose that it too much to ask for, is it?

    *sigh*
  • Linux kernel headers are explicitly exempt from the GPL restrictions. There was a discussion about this recently on the linux-kernel mailing list.
  • Why has this been posted to Slashdot? This question is meant to be in a more philosophical vein rather than just a rhetorical 'why do they keep posting this shit?'. It's a very minor violation of the GPL that could easily be cleared up. It's obviously not intentional. By posting this story it is trivially obvious that the net effect is to cause a slew of flames to be sent to Compaq pissing them off. Was this the desired intention of the Slashdot editors? It's clearly not a very enlightening story in its own right seeing as it's identical (barring a s/xxxx/Compaq/) to many other stories.

    And please please please can we have a separate GPL violation category so I can filter out these stories.

    --
  • This is the second story today I saw where you guys seem to be just trying to cause a fire-storm.

    Well, duh. Slashdot is supported by banner ads. The more page views, the more revenue. The only way /. can make money with all the other news sites and weblogs that it competes with is to exploit controversy. So much for journalism.

  • Interesting. And a good idea, really, considering how many programs that run on Linux probably include those headers.

    In any event, the research lab licensed the whole package under the GPL anyway, so it's a moot point. I just found it kinda interesting.
  • by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @08:01AM (#782373) Journal
    You can bet that if another company was violating one of compaq's licenses, compaq's lawyers would be in jihad mode before you could blink. By not being aggressive towards companies which violate the GPL, the message sent to companies is that it's okay to violate the GPL and if you're caught all you have to do is comply with it once caught. If any other law were being broken, a simple "okay, I'll stop" would not suffice, and if compaq caught you violating their license I doubt they'd settle for a simple "I'm sorry".

    This is absurd on multiple levels.

    First of all, no one has proven they are violating the GPL. It looks very doubtful at this point.

    Second of all, the first thing Compaq would do is send a cease-and-decist letter. They would not (could not) simply launch a jihad against you without giving you a chance to rectify the mistake (if one was made).

    And finally, no law has been broken. We're talking about a possible license violation. I'm afraid that doesn't qualify.

    Why in the hell your post was modded to +4 I'll never know.

    -thomas


    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
  • Well, it *is* often called the General Public Virus...

    --

  • How long before Slashdot gets shutdown becasue the editors don't do any fact checking? I don't think it would be out of line for Compaq to go after Slashdot because of damage to their good name. Further, Slashdot is also indirectly the cause of any abuse that Compaq employees may have recieved. Also, it is appearant that folks are not taking Slashdot seriously, which is making the signal to noise ratio worse. Throw in the fact that Slashdot is owned by VA Linux (right, that will not impact the editoral content) and the whole thing looks like it has little life left.

    The sad thing is, there is no excuse. The principal editors are rich, and work full time on the site. VA Linux has more then a few dollars lying around. Both the time and the money exist to do a little fact checking. Yet they don't. I, for one, am puzzled by this.

    I used to be happy to point people to Slashdot. Now, I'm embarassed. Slashdot is becoming a laughing stock. If the editors of Slashdot don't take the site seriously, who will?
  • First of all, most people on high speed connections due have a static IP (even when they are told it is dynamic ... my ADSL IP address hasn't changed in many, many months).

    Second of all, an IP address can be used to find the person's general location, what ISP they used, and can usually be linked to other page views on other sites for the same day.

    This is the price you pay for surfing the web. A small price, I think.

    I hope it's clear how an IP address is much more useful for tracking and gaining info about someone, rather than an easily faked email and name.

    Again, all these minor, idiotic privacy flaps are like crying wolf. Pretty soon people will tune this stuff out, and a real problem will not get through.

    -thomas

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
  • Wow, such uninformed panic.

    The software in question is just some source code and the USB drivers. It's sample code for writing your own app to talk to the device. No linux distribution. No kernel or kernel mods. There's no GPL violation here at all. In fact, the source code is GPL'd itself.

    The point is, they're not supporting linux with jukebox software or an encoder, but they're letting everyone roll their own.

    Also, the PJB-100 itself doesn't run linux internally...that would be overkill. But still it's really nice. I got mine last month and listen to it every day. I've got about 50 CDs in it right now.
  • http://members.xoom.com/svartal f/winjukebox_v_1_0.zip [xoom.com]

    The software license upon unpacking the ZIP (why, oh, why, Compaq? .tar.gz or .tar.bz take up less space by far!) is revealed to be version 2 of the GPL. The click-through license is due to a clueless suit insisting on putting the thing available for download on that maze of a download site instead of doing something sensible.
  • by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:06AM (#782379) Homepage
    Here's the description of the code, from the README.TXT file:
    This kit contains enough code to communicate with and manipulate the file system of a PJB-100 Personal Jukebox.


    It is not a complete Jukebox Manager application. Instead, it is an open-source version of some of the library routines used in
    the PJB's shipping Jukebox Manager. With this library source, you can write your own Jukebox Manager for Windows, Linux, or any other operating system that supports USB.

    Compaq isn't trying to claim ownership of Linux or anything else it doesn't truly own here.


    In addition, the complaint in the posted article, that CUSTOMER acknowledges and agrees that COMPAQ owns all rights, title and interests in and to the SOFTWARE and all Intellectual Property Rights therein, is not unreasonable at all. All it says is that Compaq owns the code and you're not going to claim ownership of it yourself. What's so bad about that?


    The code is indeed released under the GPV, as is evident from both the README file and the inclusion of the GPV itself in the archive. The legal agreement you have to click through to get the code is a standard Compaq thing that the lawyers no doubt mandate for every download from Compaq. I doubt strongly that it overrides the GPV itself.


    (Disclaimer: I work for Compaq, but I'm 5 layers of management below anyone who's authorized to speak for the company, and I work halfway across the continent from the folks who do the PJB.)

    --

  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:06AM (#782380)
    This has everything needed for a Slashdot article.

    It mentions mp3s, a major company, the letters GPL, the word Linux, and the word violation all in the same sentence. It's sad.

    It is really the proper venue for discussing any GPL violation. With all due respect to the readers of this page, a large number of them will do nothing more than FLAME compaq into the ground. Public humiliation should be a last resort, especially if you, by your own admission, aren't even sure if it is a GPL violation (that is, what the license is refering to). It is better to have the FSF, or the owner(s) of the copyrighted code quietly contact Compaq and ask them what's up rather than a have THOUSANDS of people with flame throwers contact them.

    Grow up, Slashdot. You are in the big leagues now.

  • I think you're right. Not every piece of software released for Linux has to be GPL. Has anybody actually downloaded the source code and checked to see if it's anything that has been GPLed before?
  • has anyone thought to ask compaq about this before launchin into "jihad" mode?

    You can bet that if another company was violating one of compaq's licenses, compaq's lawyers would be in jihad mode before you could blink. By not being aggressive towards companies which violate the GPL, the message sent to companies is that it's okay to violate the GPL and if you're caught all you have to do is comply with it once caught. If any other law were being broken, a simple "okay, I'll stop" would not suffice, and if compaq caught you violating their license I doubt they'd settle for a simple "I'm sorry".
  • Let's assume for a moment that Compaq actually means what they are saying that they intend to own the software. Obviously this goes against GPL.

    So now, Compaq can do one of two things:

    1. Change the license to agree with GPL
    2. Change the software to avoid GPL license
    Seeing as how Compaq is a Big Company , they may not be inclined to follow option 1. Corel was a different matter. They positioned themselves as a Linux distributor.

    If Compaq decided to go route 2, then could they not switch to a BSD variant where they have more licensing control?

    I've been curious up to now about all the companies building product around Linux, when the GPL would require they make the source available , except for the documented pieces that aren't touch by the GPL worm. Business does not actually like giving away anything that might be a competitive advantage.

    So, my question on long term consequences, could it not be possible that the GPL could infact drive businesses away from using Linux and more toward one of the BSD's?

    Just wondering.

  • The problem here, I think, is that the link to the download page says "Download Linux Source", not "Download Linux Jukebox Source". This might very well have been the case why the article was posted on /. in the first case...

    HEY! Is this some marketing thing? Did Compaq post this to /. to get attention??!

  • Yes, and the version of Photoshop that I use is Mac-based, as opposed to Windows-based.
    Sorry, I understood the article wrong. I really thought the downloadable software was a modified source of Linux.
  • There were so many posts here that simply repeated what others posted

    This can be a good or a bad thing depending on context. Sometimes repetition adds emphasis - a protest march is simply a group of people all doing the same thing - surely it wouldn't be better is only one person marched?

    The repetition here should, at the risk of labouring the point, get the message home to the editors of /. that readers are getting a little fed up with provocative but unchecked articles being pumped out. It is, after all, "News" and not "Scandal" on the masthead.

  • Tarred and zipped files will wind up being smaller than a bunch of files that were zipped and not tarred.

    Zipped files achieve lossless compression because they can eliminate redundant information in each file. However, when you zip up a bunch of files, the zip algorithm doesn't take advantage of redundant information shared between files. If you first tar the files into one big uncompressed file, it lets the zip algorithm take advatange of all the redundancy between all those files because zip thinks it's just one big file now.

    That's also one reason why compression systems like WinRAR can acheieve much higher compression than zip if you're compressing a lot of files... when you check off the "solid archive" checkbox in WinRAR, it treats the whole batch of files as one big lump of data.

    For example, if file one contains this data: "1234-ABCD-1234-ABCD-1234-ABCD-1234-ABCD" and file two contains this data: "ABCD-ABCD-ABCD" zipping them up wouldn't take advantage of the redundancy between the two and the zip file would unnecessarily contain duplicate copies of "ABCD" for each file. If "ABCD" is a piece of data that's large, then the wastefullness is significant... Remember, in lossless compression, you need still need to store at least one pristine copy of each little chunk of information you're compressing.

    Did I do a good job of explaining this? I probably just rambled. :-)

  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @08:18AM (#782394) Journal
    There is at least some GPL code involved.

    Yeah, I'd say so; the whole package is GPL'd. The only problem here is the extra license, which is default boilerplate people have to click through before any download. It would probably be easier just for the devel group to offer the package outside of Compaq's regular download system. No big deal, really; just the kind of bumps you get when a company that normally deals in proprietary software tries to join the open source world.
  • by luge ( 4808 ) <slashdot AT tieguy DOT org> on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:08AM (#782399) Homepage
    /. is not the place for this kind of thing. Both posters and /. should know this by now- /. is an 800-lb gorilla, with strength and manners to match. Oddly enough, it also has about the effectiveness of an 800-lb gorilla when trying to explain things to lawyers- the lawyers laugh, sic their guards on the gorilla, and go on their merry way.
    For this kind of thing, you should drop a note to bruce at technocrat [technocrat.net]: he knows how to speak lawyer-speak, has lots of experience dealing with it, and has the respect needed to get a foot in the door and begin to solve the problem instead of just screaming and whining (like we tend to do here at /.).
    /.- you guys should know better. Posting this kind of stuff here (especially when the original poster has made absolutely no attempt to contact the alleged infringer) does no one any good at all. Get a grip, and when Compaq comes back and says "screw the GPL, yours truly, Compaq" then bring out the masses. Until then, this kind of post does more harm than good.
    ~luge
  • Then it's definitely a web-based download template and is simply an oversight on their part.

    Like I said in another post in this thread, a nice, friendly letter will get this cleared up quickly, but I'm sure the Linux community will create a bad impression as always seems to be the result of these kinds of things.

    Self-professed linux zealots flaming those in the name of something which they do not understand. Hopefully someone will send them a nice letter (not you Stallman, you stay away from this).

    Mike

    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • Actually I work for said company and I fired of an email to the fellows in the law dept...
    The odd thing about thid is with the download comes a copy of the GPL...
    Hopefully I'll get a timely response.

  • ..to actually check the thing out, here's the readme.txt from the ZIP package:

    Compaq Personal Jukebox
    Example Filesystem Code

    Copyright (C) 2000 Compaq Computer Corporation

    NOTE: The Personal Jukebox is not a Compaq product. It was developed
    by Compaq Corporate Research and was licensed to Remote Solution.
    You can read a little more about the research effort for the PJB
    by visiting: http://www.research.digital.com/SRC/pjb

    You can purchase a Personal Jukebox by contacting Remote
    Solution, or by visiting the web site at http://www.pjbox.com

    This kit is released under the GNU Public License. There should be
    a file 'gpl.txt' containing this license. You can read more about
    the GPL by visiting http://www.gnu.org

    This kit contains enough code to communicate with and manipulate the
    file system of a PJB-100 Personal Jukebox.

    It is not a complete Jukebox Manager application. Instead, it is
    an open-source version of some of the library routines used in
    the PJB's shipping Jukebox Manager. With this library source,
    you can write your own Jukebox Manager for Windows, Linux,
    or any other operating system that supports USB.

    There are some specifications for the file system in the docs/
    directory on this kit.

    In particular, check out docs/todo.txt.

    We hope you find this useful.

    Thanks!

    Compaq Corporate Research


    So, what we have here is a classic case of most of Slashdot jumping to not just one wrong conclusion, but several, ranging from the assumption that the source code is a customised version of Linux, to the accusation that Compaq is in deliberate violation of the GPL.

    Admittedly, the licensing agreement you have to agree to in order to download the source probably shouldn't be there, but this is obviously an accidental oversight, because the file gpl.txt is included, and it is the GPL.


    D.
    ..is for dumb people who jump to conclusions without checking the facts first.

  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:21AM (#782409) Homepage
    I hope the editors actually read the comments that are posted to stories like this. We all love /. or we wouldn't be here, but sometimes we have to keep these guys in check so that our beloved news source doesn't degenerate into a gossip rag or crack journalism showcase. The editors of Slashdot have a huge influence on the Open Source community (and geek community in general), and while it's fun to have that one-man website feel, I think that they have a certain responsibility to the community. It comes with fame.

    To the wonderful folks of /. : Please please please do a little investigating before posting stuff like this! Even the National Enquirer probably calls Brad Pitt once in a while before posting a story about him having a love child with G. W. Bush.

  • Arrgh! Go to my web pages listed in the URL. Xoom's changed how they operate (again!).
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:21AM (#782412) Journal
    I downloaded the source and poked through it a bit.

    For one thing, the software itself is GPL'd - a copy is included with the source. For another, one file - cpqpjb.c - #includes several header files in the kernel source. So the software itself is clear.

    It simply looks as if the file was made available for download the same way other chunks of Compaq software are offered, and no one remembered the legal boilerplate people have to agree to for most software.

    A simple e-mail to Compaq legal oughta do the trick; it's only a minor error.
  • I load Slashdot today and I see an advertisment for the Compaq MP3 player, and immediately below, I see the equivalent of "COMPAQ VIOLATES THE GPL DIE DIE DIE!(#&!*$" with the punctuation symbols and everything.

    Does anyone else find this even somewhat ironic?!
    (sigh)
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:09AM (#782422)
    Argh. No more license related stories with headlines starting with "possibly" or "maybe" or ending with question marks. These are getting to be embarrassing for Slashdot in general. Half the time the "violation" is a misinterpretation by some wacked out do-gooder who hates The Man, and the other half of the time things are blown out of proportion. In all cases there's more conjecture and bad information than anything else. These are just like stereotypical local news stories: "Could something in your house kill you without warning? More after this commercial about margarine."
  • What bothers me though is the whole setup: what you do is submit your first and last name, and your e-mail address, and they e-mail you a "personalized Linux Jukebox download URL". How's that for tracking?

    Well, it sucks for tracking. Let's see, fake name, freemail address, and you're anonymous.

    Actually, your IP address is much better for tracking, and they get that from every request whether you like it or not.

    I'm so sick of reading about fake privacy threats.

    -thomas


    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
  • by luge ( 4808 ) <slashdot AT tieguy DOT org> on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:21AM (#782427) Homepage
    Yeah, but... the first thing Compaq's lawyers would do is talk to the violators. Now, they might not talk very nicely (the phrase "cease and desist" comes to mind) but they'd talk. They wouldn't go whining to news.com and wired first- they'd do that only if the license violators didn't say "oops, sorry." The media ia a great way to create a jihad once your initial advance has been spurned (which is occasionally necessary) but it should never, ever be the first option, which is what it looks like it was in this case.
    ~luge
  • I just downloaded the file and the readme states :

    ------

    Compaq Personal Jukebox
    Example Filesystem Code

    Copyright (C) 2000 Compaq Computer Corporation

    NOTE: The Personal Jukebox is not a Compaq product. It was developed
    by Compaq Corporate Research and was licensed to Remote Solution.
    You can read a little more about the research effort for the PJB
    by visiting: http://www.research.digital.com/SRC/pjb

    You can purchase a Personal Jukebox by contacting Remote
    Solution, or by visiting the web site at http://www.pjbox.com

    ------------------------------------------------ ----------------------

    This kit is released under the GNU Public License. There should be
    a file 'gpl.txt' containing this license. You can read more about
    the GPL by visiting http://www.gnu.org

    ------------------------------------------------ ----------------------
    This kit contains enough code to communicate with and manipulate the
    file system of a PJB-100 Personal Jukebox.

    It is not a complete Jukebox Manager application. Instead, it is
    an open-source version of some of the library routines used in
    the PJB's shipping Jukebox Manager. With this library source,
    you can write your own Jukebox Manager for Windows, Linux,
    or any other operating system that supports USB.

    There are some specifications for the file system in the docs/
    directory on this kit.

    In particular, check out docs/todo.txt.

    We hope you find this useful.

    Thanks!

    Compaq Corporate Research

    -----

    To get the file, you have to go through a clickwrap licence at
    http://crl.research.compaq.com/downloads/downloa d.cgi/xxxx@xxxx.com/Linux+Jukebox/winjukeb ox_v1_0.zi
    p
    (email address hidden to protect the innocent)
    it seems that this clickwrap license is generated by a standard(tm) cgi that is on all files you want to download.
    The files are accompanied by a file called gpl.txt containing the text to the gpl version 2
    Thus, the Clickwrap licence violates the gpl in the file...
    probably the hasty work of a web designer that is more a graphist than a sysadmin...
  • We need to start keeping a track record of the Slashdot posters and see which ones are consistently irresponsible. Granted, they could be posting *precisely* to stir up this kind of 'corrective' response and clarification; but, in the long run it makes them look extremely unprofessional. Frankly, it annoys the hell out of me. Maybe having a list of the misleading, unresearched, or flat out wrong news postings would make them reform a bit. Their standards are incredibly poor for such a large and well-read site.
  • Xoom changed how they operate (yet again...)
  • by dr_labrat ( 15478 ) <spooner&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @06:53AM (#782436) Homepage
    I know this will probably get modded down, but has anyone thought to ask compaq about this before launchin into "jihad" mode?

    What is their take on the "situation"?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looks like the hysteria mongers are busy today. We've had this type of situation before (Corel being the most memorable example), and everything was quickly resolved there. This will turn out to be a simple misunderstanding, rather than an evil attempt by Compaq to steal other people's hard work.

    Please, let's not have a repeat of the previous incidents like this. Don't start flaming Compaq into the ground before we've heard their side of the story. Can we please give someone the benefit of the doubt, just this once?

  • by dizee ( 143832 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @06:54AM (#782441) Homepage
    How is this a GPL violation?

    So they wrote a piece of software and put their own license on it. It just happens this piece of software is for Linux. Last time I checked, there was no law that stated that EVERY piece of software for Linux had to be GPLed.

    I've looked at the page, it's their software, they put their own license on it. Am I missing something here? Are they USING GPLed code in their product?

    Mike

    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • You know, this kind of slapdash, misinformed crap was cute back when The Management here was a bunch of college undergrads running a rumors and argument site out of their rickety group house.

    But now that most of you have graduated and are running this as a business, 5 minutes or so of cursory fact-checking might be in order before posting a "story" like this.

    Hmmm. Too lazy to check facts. Eager to post inflammatory hearsay. Blind ignorance about some basic technology issues. Isn't that what the Ziff-Davises and CMPs are for? If it were just this once, it wouldn't be a big deal, but this kind of wild inaccuracy now accounts for one in four of the items that make the cut here.

    And Rob! You of all people! I expect barn-door-sized editorial gaffes like this from, say Timothy. But you?
  • The license is bad:

    2.2 CUSTOMER agrees not to distribute the SOFTWARE in any form, other than for CUSTOMER's own internal, non-commercial, research purposes.

    2.3 CUSTOMER agrees to refrain from and is expressly prohibited from reverse engineering, reverse compilation, disassembly or decomposition of the SOFTWARE.

    But if this only applies to software that they completly own there is nothing wrong with it.

    The original story indicates that there is incompatibility between copyright (protecting intellectual property) and GPL. In fact GPL is BUILT on copyright. It is the ownership of the copyright to source code under GPL that prevents anyone from violating the GPL. This is in fact what makes it different from public domain.

    -Peter

  • All right people, can we try not to completely flame Compaq (at least, until and unless they've blown us off, I mean)? Being polite and careful will go a long way toward producing results we want.

    Yes, I know you guys all know this, but somehow it never seems to sink in...

    Randall.

  • by crumley ( 12964 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:12AM (#782449) Homepage Journal

    There is at least some GPL code involved. In the zipfile take a look at the top of usbdrv/cpqpjb.c:

    /*

    * Based heavily on code by David Brownell
    * Modifications by Compaq Corporate Research
    *
    *
    * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
    * under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the
    * Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your
    * option) any later version.
    snip

    So there is a problem, but I don't know that slashdot is the best place to work it out. Compaq should have at least been contacted first.

    --

  • by Alan Cox ( 27532 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:12AM (#782450) Homepage
    I would tend to agree. I've had similar experiences beating some book vendors into putting the right label on their CD-ROMs in the back of books. They had boilerplate they had used for years and suddenely finding it didnt work for a project caused them a lot of chaos.

    Once it percolated to the right layer the lawyers generated new boilerplate and they now slap that on anything containing other people's software.

    But yes they should be more careful

    Alan
  • And even then, fingerprint scanners might very well work with a finger that's been removed from its owner
    Actually it's easy enough to check for. Living tissues conducts differently than dead tissue, so you run a small current and watch what happens. That doesn't prevent unconsious fingers, though, so you want to use a two step process: fingerprint/voice print, fingerprint/password or the like. The password should involve challenge/response with personalization; the computer displays a series of numbers, you type the numbers into your little password generator, then it prompts you for your personal ID code, then mashes the two together, runs them through a mathematical blender, then spits out a response, which you give back to the computer in question. Then a fingerprint or iris scan (retinas change too often to be useful for biometric identification) and you're off to the races.
  • by johnnie ( 33967 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @07:29AM (#782462) Homepage
    You can bet that if another company was violating one of compaq's licenses, compaq's lawyers would be in jihad mode before you could blink.

    because another party's sub-optimal behaviors validate our own, right?

    look, we, as a community, are viewed as 'Hackers' (press/non-geek meaning), whackos and such, often with fairly good cause (i like to think of myself as a hacker from time to time :)
    if we do not create our own set of distinctions between us and the people-with-vitamin-d, it will be made for us.

    Perhaps, we can make ourselves into the 'better men' in arguments like this one, winning ourselves more respect from the rest of society, as well as a very nice indication that the OS mentality can work even in the realm of wetware networking.

    i, for one, think it'd be pretty darn groovy to see our community mature a bit. you know, start setting standards for behavior, not just filetypes and the like. not that those standards are even noticed by anyone. oh, well. ok, let's burn them then...
  • 1) an oversight on their part, either by their lawyers or web designers. Working in a company like Compaq, I'm pretty damned sure they have a SOP of "make them click the license agreement before downloading anything" and that the license agreement is completely standardized across the board.

    2) at least they are making the source code available. I can remember quite a few companies that hadn't even done that while openly acknowledging the open source roots of their software.

    3) a polite line dropped to someone at Compaq would probably have this corrected; I'm sure many of those "polite lines" will result due to this article.

    If it's not an oversight, then yes, (IANAL!) I believe Compaq has some issues with that license. :-)

    -- Talonius
  • to the extent that it tries to cover GPLed software. It could never be upheld in court, so don't worry about it. Some property deeds include restrictive covenants that the property can't be sold to blacks or Jews, but it is illegal to enforce such a covenant.

    Don't lose sleep over leagally meaningless verbage.
  • Well if that is really the case then we shouldn't be blasting Compaq. They are the successor to Digital, which did a lot for Linux, and Compaq does a lot for Linux. Let's not roast a potential ally unless they really are attacking our community. An honest mistake is not attacking our community, if they rectify it. A crazy license on a web page is not a reason for war.

    Now if they or someone else does blatantly and deliberately violate the GPL and/or refuse to rectify any mistake, then we can act.

    I am one of the first to complain about unethical corporate behavior. But I also believe that not every corporate action is evil - and that some corporations can, in some cases, be an ally.

  • "I'm not sure it gets any clearer than that. The software is not the Linux kernel. The software is not under the GPL. The software doesn't even do anything on it's own! It's an API!"

    Well, I'd agree with the "doesn't even do anything on it's own", the "It's an API!", or even the "not the Linux kernel". However, you've obviously NOT looked into the matter as it is most definitely GPLed:

    (From the file, readme.txt, that's inside winjukebox_v_1_0.zip)

    Compaq Personal Jukebox
    Example Filesystem Code

    Copyright (C) 2000 Compaq Computer Corporation

    NOTE: The Personal Jukebox is not a Compaq product. It was developed
    by Compaq Corporate Research and was licensed to Remote Solution.
    You can read a little more about the research effort for the PJB
    by visiting: http://www.research.digital.com/SRC/pjb

    You can purchase a Personal Jukebox by contacting Remote
    Solution, or by visiting the web site at http://www.pjbox.com

    ------------------------------------------------ ----------------------

    This kit is released under the GNU Public License. There should be
    a file 'gpl.txt' containing this license. You can read more about
    the GPL by visiting http://www.gnu.org

    ------------------------------------------------ ----------------------


    Next time, do a little better job of getting the facts before posting... :-)
  • by dizee ( 143832 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @06:58AM (#782482) Homepage
    Okay, so it's a DEVICE that runs Linux and the software download is an actual Linux distribution aimed at the device?

    I was under the impression that this was a piece of software that ran on it, completely seperate from the kernel.

    In that case, I agree with the fact that it's probably a template for web-based downloads. A friendly letter will probably straighten this out. All you crazy bastards don't go off and fire off flames, although I know a bunch of you are going to do it anyway.

    Mike

    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • The "license agreement" looks like a bunch of legal boilerplate, quite similar to that at the bottome of another download page [compaq.com].

    Two gets you five the broken license was a miscommunication between a management drone and a legal department drone.

    What bothers me though is the whole setup: what you do is submit your first and last name, and your e-mail address, and they e-mail you a "personalized Linux Jukebox download URL". How's that for tracking?

    --

Enzymes are things invented by biologists that explain things which otherwise require harder thinking. -- Jerome Lettvin

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