ASUS SplashTop and Phoenix Hyperspace infringing kernel copyright and GPL
From: Stan Cunningham
Date: Mon May 19 2008 - 18:39:55 EST
SplashTop is an extension of BIOS that runs on the Linux kernel and has been distributed by ASUS on certain high-end motherboards and laptops since October, 2007. In May 2008, ASUS announced that it will ship SplashTop on *ALL* its motherboards. The problem is that ever since SplashTop's inception ASUS has been infringing on the copyright of Linux kernel contributors.
SplashTop's so-called source code (http://www.splashtop.com/download3.php?token=1bfb156d0cd5fef5df4a43ad2b46a531) contains a few patches to the Linux kernel but not the whole, compilable modified kernel source code as the GPL requires. This clearly constitutes a copyright violation.
I haven't bought any of the motherboards or laptops containing SplashTop, but ASUS may have left out the obligatory notice on boxes and/or manuals informing the recipients that the product contains GPL code and where that source code can be obtained. If they indeed left out the notice, that constitutes another violation of the GPL and consequently of copyright law.
Another product that likely violates the GPL is Hyperspace, which is marketed by the infamous proprietary PC BIOS maker Phoenix. Even though Hyperspace clearly runs Linux and has been reported to do so in the press, Phoenix doesn't even mention the word Linux or the GPL on its website (http://www.phoenix.com/en/Products/Browse+by+Products/Phoenix+HyperSpace/default.htm), and certainly doesn't provide any source code. I am not sure what motherboards Hyperspace is distributed on, but I would expect that they also fail to mention Linux, the GPL and the availability of source code. This again violates the GPL and the copyrights of Linux kernel contributors like yourselves.
I urge you to uphold your copyrights and protect the rights of Free Software users by making unscrupulous companies like ASUS and Phoenix respect the conditions set out by the GPL and give back their improvements in the form of source code. And if they refuse, sue them in court! Some of the improvements to Linux that they try to illegally keep secret would really help distros in areas such as hardware support and extremely quick boot time.
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