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Old 02-28-2008, 05:43 PM   #16
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Speaking of the GPL, the underlying OS is supplied by the hardware manufacturer. Now, obviously, Bookeen can't release said OS source code without that manufacturer's permission. In fact, it might be best to query the manufacturer directly.

No, I don't know who that manufacturer is, or I'd put in a request for the source code and SDK myself.
Why do you think there is an underlying OS? in any case it is Bookeen that is selling the product and have to provide the source code for any GPL:ed things on the device.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:45 PM   #17
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I got an answer from Bookeen and it seems that you are right that they have a supplier which supplies them with the hardware+linux OS on it. Strange that they did not provide the Linux OS themselves. They mentioned that they have to force the supplier to release it. I am surprised that they started selling a product they knew broke the GPL. I tought it was just a question for them to package there code but obviously not.

I will download some copyrighted books to compensate
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Old 02-28-2008, 07:13 PM   #18
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I got an answer from Bookeen and it seems that you are right that they have a supplier which supplies them with the hardware+linux OS on it. Strange that they did not provide the Linux OS themselves.
What's strange about it? Embedding Linux for something like this is a highly skilled endeavor. Bookeen is the designer of the device, and likely responsible for the firmware that handles actual book display, but the underlying OS kernel will be another matter.

I'm not at all surprised that hardware and OS come from a third party. Bookeen certainly isn't large enough to do their own manufacturing.

And when you are dealing with Asian suppliers, GPL violations come with the territory. First, you have the issue of getting them to understand that the GPL requires them to release the source code, then you have the issue of enforcing the license if they balk.

That's the problem with things like GPL violations. Someone has to have the time, money, and legal staff to bring suit and argue it in court, and the difficulties are compounded when the court is overseas.

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They mentioned that they have to force the supplier to release it. I am surprised that they started selling a product they knew broke the GPL. I tought it was just a question for them to package there code but obviously not.
If you are a company making its living and paying its staff selling ebook readers, and your choice may be between selling a product that breaks the GPL or selling nothing, folding, and laying off your staff, which way do you jump?
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Old 02-28-2008, 08:11 PM   #19
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They could have just asked for the specific drivers of the hardware. And it might be the case that everything is standard components.

I think they should have told the customers this before. I would never have bought the Cybook if I had known this. I think GPL is a good idea and I do not want to encourage people to break it.
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:39 AM   #20
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History with other companies like Archos has shown that you will probably not get a response until you report them.

Why are you so forgiving in this instance of a criminal/illegal behaviour but not so forgiving on other?
No, you've misunderstood me. I absolutely do NOT condone non-compliance with the GPL. You say it's "criminal behaviour" - is the GPL actually enforced by criminal law? I would have thought it more likely that it's covered by civil contract law than by any criminal law, but I'm not a lawyer, obviously, so I could be wrong!
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:21 AM   #21
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No, you've misunderstood me. I absolutely do NOT condone non-compliance with the GPL. You say it's "criminal behaviour" - is the GPL actually enforced by criminal law? I would have thought it more likely that it's covered by civil contract law than by any criminal law, but I'm not a lawyer, obviously, so I could be wrong!
Well, I used your terms and I think but I might misremember that you wrongly calls copyright infringement for theft and then starts calling people criminal or criminal scumbag or similar.

I just realized another bad thing with this. Since I cannot sell anything that contains copyrighted material since I think this is immoral I cannot sell my Cybook if I would want to. So the second hand value has become zero for me which was not in the original equation. In the same way I think what Bookeen has done is selling something that has copyrighted material and where they do not own the copyright or have the right to sell it or distribute it.
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:47 AM   #22
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I just realized another bad thing with this. Since I cannot sell anything that contains copyrighted material since I think this is immoral I cannot sell my Cybook if I would want to. So the second hand value has become zero for me which was not in the original equation. In the same way I think what Bookeen has done is selling something that has copyrighted material and where they do not own the copyright or have the right to sell it or distribute it.
The Gen3 contains all sorts of copyrighted material, and that hasn't changed. Everything from the words on the package to the code of the MobiPocket book reader are copyrighted. You knew that at the time you bought it . Why has its value "suddenly" changed for you?
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:47 AM   #23
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The Gen3 contains all sorts of copyrighted material, and that hasn't changed. Everything from the words on the package to the code of the MobiPocket book reader are copyrighted. You knew that at the time you bought it . Why has its value "suddenly" changed for you?
But that is material where permission is given to sell or distribute things. GPL:ed code cannot be sold since you only have this permission of you comply with the licence. Maybe the actual binaries technically is not copyrighted but you are not allowed to sell them in any case without complying with the GPL. So I cannot sell my Cybook.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:48 AM   #24
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When I bought my Cybook I did not know that it might be impossible for Bookeen to comply with the GPL and I did not know that they did not comply with it when the sold the unit.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:56 AM   #25
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I admire your principles, Tommy, but it does seem fairly clear that Bookeen licenced the hardware design and its GPL'd software in good faith. It's not they who are in violation of the GPL, but the company they got it from, who I'd guess are somewhere in China - not a country noted for its rigid enforcement of copyright law, unfortunately .

What are you going to do about it? Return your Gen3 and ask for your money back?
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:08 AM   #26
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I admire your principles, Tommy, but it does seem fairly clear that Bookeen licenced the hardware design and its GPL'd software in good faith. It's not they who are in violation of the GPL, but the company they got it from, who I'd guess are somewhere in China - not a country noted for its rigid enforcement of copyright law, unfortunately .
I think they were aware of the problem. Signing a NDA for Linux code should have triggered a lot of questions. That was why I was surprised that they did not provide the OS themselves to get around these kind of problems.

And you are wrong. It is also Bookeen that is in violation. It is they that are sellling the unit.
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:18 AM   #27
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Does the GPL really extend the responsibility to the end retailer? That seems a little unreasonable, if it's something that they have no control over.
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:21 AM   #28
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Does the GPL really extend the responsibility to the end retailer? That seems a little unreasonable, if it's something that they have no control over.
Of course they have control over it. They can choose to sell the thing or not. The person having the copyright have not given permission to distribute or sell the thing in that form. Do you mean that if you take/receive something against the copyright holders wishes you can sell it because you have no control over the copyright holder?

So it is copyright that extends. i cannot take a copyrighted book and make an electronic version and sell it without the permission from the copyright holder. The GPL is a licence that give you this permission under certain circumstances.
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:27 AM   #29
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I admire your principles, Tommy, but it does seem fairly clear that Bookeen licenced the hardware design and its GPL'd software in good faith. It's not they who are in violation of the GPL, but the company they got it from, who I'd guess are somewhere in China - not a country noted for its rigid enforcement of copyright law, unfortunately .
They may have done this in good faith, but if so then they are badly incompetent. By now everybody in the hardware/software business ought to know that Linux is GPL'ed, and that this comes along with legal requirements. IANAL, but I think that as soon as they found that they were violating Linux copyright, they legally should have stopped distribution. It is a copyright infringement to distribute copyrighted materials beyond fair use (and other exemptions) without a license. I think one can't distribute copyrighted materials beyond fair use without a license while trying to negotiate a license, or trying to comply with the license, etc.: one needs to have complied with a license first.

Tommy is right that one can't in good conscience re-sell one's Gen3 in a case like this. I think one can in good conscience use it, however, since GPL does not restrict usage, only distribution.

All that said, Bookeen is in a very difficult position: it seems to me that doing the legally right thing would require them to immediately withdraw the device from circulation, and perhaps even offer to refund money to all purchasers, while informing them that the device they purchased is not legally resellable. This would presumably spell the end of the company. While that may be what the letter of the law would require, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that the FSF and other copyright owners would be willing to let them have some time to try to extract source code from their supplier.
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:29 AM   #30
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Does the GPL really extend the responsibility to the end retailer? That seems a little unreasonable, if it's something that they have no control over.
It is illegal to resell bootleg CDs and DVDs, even if one purchased them in good conscience thinking they are genuine. Selling devices that include Linux but violate the license seems basically the same.
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