[Arm-netbook] CT-PC89E / Chitech GPL Violation update: they're "in the middle"

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton luke.leighton at googlemail.com
Mon Mar 29 20:10:05 BST 2010

On Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 6:22 PM, Neil Brown <neil at neilzone.co.uk> wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
>> ok, i just heard back from kimberley of chitech, and she explained
>> that they're "in the middle".  they're just a factory, manufacturing
>> machines.  this puts them in both a difficult position and also in one
>> of power, because they are perfectly well entitled to request the GPL
>> and LGPL source code, just as we are!
> They are in a difficult position - I can certainly relate to that.
> However, they have a few options, to my mind:
> 1.) Do not obtain the source, stop distributing, and avoid future
> infringement, but struggle to make up for past infringement
> 2.) Do not obtain the source, continue to distribute, and take the risk
> 3.) Obtain the source, and distribute it. Struggle with the past
> infringement of failing to provide a written offer, but hope to be forgiven

it's simpler than that: they just _really_ didn't know, were being
supplied with binaries, bought the hardware design,

> If it has stopped distributing, in favour of the "WinCE (not supplied)"
> approach, it would look like it has gone for #1?

 ahh, that i believe is an entirely separate company - one in north china.

 basically, the situation looks like this (as best i can tell) / the
working hypothesis is this:

 the chinese government puts forward a shed-load of money to some R&D
companies: china telecom research, (Si-Chang aka Seatron) to design
SO-DIMMs plus a netbook and a GPS-based MID device; the second
shed-load of money goes towards mid-fun.com (somehow) to develop a
GNU/Linux distribution and to put the software onto Si-Chang's / China
Telecom's hardware.

 everyone involved gets the right to distribute the hardware designs
(working hypothesis).

 so, Si-Chang gets the rights to sell the hardware, as do Naijing (aka mid-fun).

 chitech come along, buy the hardware designs, and get fleeced for a
fortune to continue to fix bugs in the software that Naijing still
haven't quite finished.

 then that company in north china _also_ buy the machine (completely
separate from chitech), took one look at the binary linux OS and go,
"naaaah" and change the specs of THEIR copy of the SAME netbook design
to state "wince compatible (not supplied)".

 we come along, buy the samples from chitech, and ask for the source code.

 chitech translate the messages dutifully and pass them on the naijing
(aka midfun).

 ... who politely ignore the requests, thus making chitech inadvertent
and unknowing GPL violators.

 somewhere in between, a shit-storm descends on chitech's heads, and
they begin to realise the extent of the problem, and admit to us that
they don't have _any_ software engineers at all (which they obviously
didn't want to do, before), that they have in fact _themselves_ been
asking naijing for the linux kernel source code and have been denied
it, and that they're a bit unhappy about all this and, reading between
the lines, would really appreciate some help.

 so, now the attention needs to be transferred to mid-fun.com.  i'll
ask kimberley to send copies of the refusal to provide GPL source code
that they received from mid-fun.com, and i'll pass it on.


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