HTC needs timely kernel source releases!
Many users interested in the development on HTC devices have recently been becoming more and more frustrated with HTC's policy on kernel source code releases. While other companys such as Samsung release their kernel source the same day as a phone is released or an update is pushed to a device, HTC follows a different path. HTC while is supporting development via their bootloader unlocking tools, which we are thankful for, they seem to not care when it comes to how long after an update is pushed or a phone is released that it takes them to release their source code. By doing this they are hindering development on their own devices and tempting developers to leave HTC and move on to Samsung due to the greater support for developers of samsung devices.
The GPL states that the source must be released within 14 of a request of such code. However, it doesn't state a grace period or a timeline for which it has to be released. HTC says that "HTC will normally publish this within 90 to 120 days" (HTCDEV) and in this time they claim that they are still complying with the rules and regulations of the GPL v2.0. This wait is far too long however because after this time and they finally release the source code it may be out of date by 2 maybe 3 updates. This hinders the development on said devices because once a phone is updated, the only source they have to work with is outdated and may be either very hard to work into the new update or even impossible to use on the new software.
Others have alread tried to change the ways of HTC in the past with no success. The below quoted info is from the creator of gpl-violations.org (Harald Welte) and explains his attempts to alter HTC's policy with no success:
"There have been various reports and blog posts about HTC again committing copyright infringement by not fulfilling the GPLv2 license conditions in their latest Android phone, the G2.
While at this point I haven't studied the situation enough in order to confirm or deny any actual violations, let me state this: The number of GPL Violation reports/allegations that we receive at gpl-violations.org on HTC by far outnumber the reports that we have ever received about any other case or company.
In addition, HTC seems to have had a long trail of problems with GPL compliance in their devices. Ever since they have started to ship Android devices containing the Linux kernel, licensed under GPLv2+, we have received those reports.
The reason I have never taken any legal action is merely a result of the fact that HTC seems to first introduce their new devices in the US, then at some point release the corresponding source code before shipping those devices into Europe and Germany. So by the time the devices are sold over here, the legal issues appear to have been resolved before.
Nonetheless, I think it is outrageous for a company of this size and significance in the market to consistently commit copyright violation (or at least walk borderline with it) and thus mistreat the very copyright holders that have created the operating system kernel they use in their devices. The linux kernel developers and the Free Software community as a whole deserve fair treatment.
Also, the competitors of HTC deserve fair treatment: Samsung, e.g. is very forthcoming with their Android phone source code releases. If I was them and would see HTC to fail to comply with the GPL, I would consider filing a unfair competition lawsuit..." (Harald Welte)
This is a follow up post on his blog where he explains more:
"The Taiwanese smart phone maker HTC is widely known to be delaying its Linux kernel source code releases of their Android products. Initially, this has been described to to the requirement for source code review, and making sure that no proprietary portions are ending up in the release.
While the point is sort-of moot from the beginning (there should be no proprietary portions inside the Linux kernel for a product that wants to avoid entering any legal grey zone in the first place), I was willing to accept/tolerate it for some time.
At one point more than one year ago, gpl-violations.org actually had the opportunity to speak in person to senior HTC staff about this. I made it very clear that this delay is not acceptable, and that they should quickly fix their processes in order to make sure they reduce that delay, eventually down to zero.
Recently, I received news that the opposite is happening. HTC still has the same delays, and they are now actually claiming that even a 120 days delay is in compliance with the license.
I do think neither the paying HTC customers, nor tha Free Software community as a whole have to tolerate those delays. It is true that the GPLv2 doesn't list a deadline until when the source code has to be provided, but it is at the same also very clear what the license wants: To enable people to study the program source code. Especially in todays rapid smart phone product cycles, 120 days is a very long time.
So I hereby declare my patience has ended here. I am determined to bring those outrageous delays to an end. This will be one of my new year resolutions for 2012: Use whatever means possible to make HTC understand that this is not how you can treat Free Software, the community, its customers, the GPL and in the end, copyright itself." (Harald Welte)
The goal of this petition is not to bring down HTC but rather to have them change their ways when it comes to releasing source code. We would like to see source the same day as updates and phone releases so that developers can make use of this code; play with it, learn from it, and promote future development on HTC devices.
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