The question raised by this article is whether America Online
(AOL) has violated the GPL by using Transmeta's Midori Linux
without bothering to provide information about how to obtain source
or even the license itself. People with a less hostile
predisposition to AOL than the authors may not like the tone, but
an important issue regarding how the GPL can work in the "sealed
box" world of embedded systems has been raised.
"...Giving credit where credit is due is one of the
foundations of open source technology, and it's done through
copyright notices on any and all applications used that are covered
under the GPL. (AOL did give credit to applications and libraires
covered under the MIT and BSD licenses.)
While we were able to find several utilities covered under the
GPL whose authors were not credited by AOL, the majority of the
utilities are on other partitions we think are encrypted. The first
two partitions on the flash card are boot sectors. Partition 1 is
the main boot sector. Partition 2 is the backup of Partition 1. Our
best guess is that both are encrypted, possibly due to private AOL
network information included on those partitions.
What happens next is up to the authors of the applications
covered under the GPL, authors whose work AOL failed to credit with
copyright notices. They can demand that AOL follow the provisions
of the GPL. Should that not happen, AOL can almost certainly expect
to find itself in court yet again to justify its actions."