Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th May 2011 21:46 UTC
Apple Apple has released the source code for WebKit in iOS 4.3, which it had been withholding for eight weeks. However, according yo Jay 'saurik' Freeman, they are still not, and never have been, in compliance with the LGPL. "Apple's provided source code (which /is/ heavily modified for the iPhone) [...] isn't even complete enough to compile (it is missing a bunch of code for the WAK* classes), so Apple has simply never been in compliance with this license," Saurik writes. So, it would seem that Apple is still violating the LGPL, and has been doing so for a very long time. Funny how this never makes it to mainstream technology sites. I guess they find their pre-release review devices more important.
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cmchittom
Member since:
2011-03-18

In this comment, I offer what are effectively opinions on law. I am not a lawyer in any jurisdiction. Do not construe the following as legal advice. If I am wrong about some fact, I welcome correction with the appropriate citation.

In fact, even end users are harmed when apple violates licenses. Many end users do benefit from having access to the source code. It doesn't matter if they are a minority or not, the copyright holders entitled them to it when they published code under the LGPL.


As I've told others, if Apple is in violation of the license they should fix the violation by releasing source code as appropriate—that is (I hope!) uncontroversial. That is the legal issue, and it is pretty straightforward.

But I repeat: even if Apple is in violation, how are end users harmed? Even assuming that released source code is a benefit that end users want, not receiving a benefit is not, per se, harm. So tell me: if I buy an iPhone and use it, how am I harmed by not having the source code to WebKit? This is not a rhetorical question. Please answer, because it's become apparent to me that either I am missing some reasoning somewhere, or else other people aren't being rational.

Apple is not entitled to withhold their source code changes while distributing the object code.


Says you. Apple says differently, apparently. I don't know who's right; that's why we have judges.

If apple disregards their obligations, end users who depended on having access to the source code (and are entitled to it), are undeniably harmed.


But end users, by definition, don't depend on access to source code. Source code is useful only to developers.

It makes for an interesting question, what if an open source owner died before transferring ownership? Could non-copyright holding end users legally coerce a company to distribute their modifications to the code as required by the license? Or is the company legally sheltered from fulfilling it's open source obligations because the copyright holders are gone?


Actually, this is a boring question because it's easily answered. At no point is the copyright holder ever "gone." When people die they transfer all their assets, including held copyrights, either in accordance with a will or other instrument, or in accordance with local law. Either way, it's pretty clear-cut, from what I understand: whoever inherits would then hold the copyright, just like the original owner. That person would then have standing to go after license violations. End users never have standing to go after license violations.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

cmchittom,

"But I repeat: even if Apple is in violation, how are end users harmed? Even assuming that released source code is a benefit that end users want, not receiving a benefit is not, per se, harm."

I don't know the details of what apple is withholding, or whether there is in fact a violation. If there is, then we can agree that apple should be held accountable for it.

Never the less, if apple is in violation, your logic is absolutely wrong that it doesn't hurt end users. Not understanding this implies that you don't understand how the LGPL is designed to protect end users as well as the developers.


"So tell me: if I buy an iPhone and use it, how am I harmed by not having the source code to WebKit?"

It disturbs me greatly to hear the claim that GPL violations don't harm any end users.

"But end users, by definition, don't depend on access to source code. Source code is useful only to developers. "


By definition???? Many of us "end users" are developers and/or homebrew users.


Users wanting to patch & recompile, or even just inspect the source code are prevented from doing so because of apple's (alleged) infringement. A developer's reasons are technically irrelevant to this discussion, but could include security enhancements, new customized features, code review to make sure apple's not hiding back doors, incorporation into other projects, homebrew development, etc.

While you dismiss source code rights nonchalantly, many of us are harmed by not having access to the source which we are in fact entitled to.



"Actually, this is a boring question because it's easily answered. At no point is the copyright holder ever 'gone.' When people die they transfer all their assets, including held copyrights, either in accordance with a will or other instrument, or in accordance with local law."


I appreciate your infinite wisdom, but you didn't give the question the due consideration that it required.

I specifically mentioned the copyright holder dying before they've had the opportunity to set a successor. If there are no decedents to inherit the rights, then what happens? Does the state take ownership? The state can't revoke outstanding GPL licenses, but it's not under any obligation to enforce it either. If the state owns it, conceivably the code could become public domain, in which case companies have an easy out for avoiding their GPL obligations.



"From my perspective, Apple does, as you say ride on the work of a lot of people. But those people all agreed to have their work be used in accordance with the license they chose."

Re-read your posts, you suggest that even if apple is in violation, it doesn't harm users... on a site like this those words could be considered trolling.

Reply Parent Score: 1