Re: ASUS SplashTop and Phoenix Hyperspace infringing kernel copyrightand GPL

From: Chris Snook
Date: Mon May 19 2008 - 18:58:36 EST

Stan Cunningham wrote:

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
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
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

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.

Thanks, Stan

Out of curiosity, have you tried asking them nicely? ASUS seems to be pretty responsive when oversights like this are pointed out to them. Of course, if you start with a lawsuit threat you're inclined to hit the slow path (legal) rather than the fast path (support/community relations). I have no idea how responsive Phoenix is to issues like this, but a friendly request goes over much better than a shot across the bow.

-- Chris
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