Delayed GPL Compliance?

In the Android world, it’s quite common that a lot of vendors don’t comply with the GNU GPLv2. There’s a (probably outdated) list of Android Tablets that fail to comply, and even a couple of articles on the topic, and even a statement from HTC about intentionally delaying the Source Code for 120 days.

Samsung just shipped their official “Ice Cream Sandwich” ROM for the Galaxy S2, and it includes the Linux 3.0 kernel. I registered on their “Open Source Release Center” and sent them a Request for source 48 hours ago. No reply from them, so I sent another a few hours ago. At this point, I don’t expect a response from Samsung, until they feel like actually complying…

Is there any way, other than through legal action, to force a company to comply with the license? What’s the point of having a license that states that you must also give the source, if you can just intentionally delay giving out the source, or not give it out at all?


Update: Samsung released the source code for the Kernel 3.0 used in their Ice Cream Sandwich release. :-)

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4 comments on “Delayed GPL Compliance?
  1. Joe Buck says:

    v2 of the GPL requires either that the source accompany the executable, or the executable be accompanied by a written offer to provide the source code. It’s silent on how long the provider of the executable has to provide the source, and since it was written in the 80s when few had Internet connectivity, in the old days there were delays. So HTC can probably get away with a 120-delay, provided that they are clean on including instructions on how to get source code with the devices they send out, and provided that the code they finally do send is complete.

    Note that it’s not good enough to put out a GPL2 binary with no instructions on how to get source, and then to provide it later when nagged. You’re already in violation of the license as soon as you provide a binary without a written offer.

    But to compel someone to follow the license you need legal action.

    • Nushio says:

      I didn’t get the Samsung Rom via official channels (It’s not out officially in Mexico), but I think that making some noise and raising awareness against specific high-profile vendors might get them to cut their delays a bit shorter.

  2. Phone manufacturers do usually put the kernel source out somewhere, FWIW. The forums on are usually where you’ll find people who know where to get them.

    • Nushio says:

      Not Samsung, they haven’t released anything.

      I’m on XDA Developers, which is where I learned about the Open Source Samsung Request portal. It’s been over 72 hours and no reply. :-/

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