By April 24, 2011

Does Android violate Linux GPL?

android According to some heavy hitting IP experts Google’s Android operating system may in fact violate the GPL (General Public License) terms of the Linux kernel that it is based upon. This is a massive claim and if it has any legs could be far worse than the wrangle between Oracle and Google over their Java usage.

No Linux lawsuit has been filed yet, and there’s nothing to say that it would be for sure but it’s potentially disastrous for Android.

The Linux kernel is open source and freely available, however there are strict licensing terms relating to its usage. For example, if you use and alter the open source Linux kernel you must also offer your software under the same open source agreement as the original work.

According to NoSoftwarePatents campaign founder Florian Mueller:

"Google copied 2.5 megabytes of code from more than 700 Linux kernel header files with a homemade program that drops source code comments and some other elements, and daringly claims (in a notice at the start of each generated file) that the extracted material constitutes ‘no copyrightable information,’"

Via FOSS Patents he writes:

To eliminate the risk of a collapse of the Android ecosystem and navigate around copyleft, the misappropriated Linux code would have to be replaced. The only real viable alternative is a library called glibc (GNU C library). That library is the industry standard and is used by Android’s major mobile Linux competitors, MeeGo and WebOS.

This could be a huge shakeup to the Android platform. Watch this space!


Posted by: Matt

Posted in: Editorial

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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