Subject: RE: Embedded systems & OS/FS
From: "Lawrence E. Rosen" <>
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000 08:50:30 -0700

Copyright protection subsists in original works of authoriship "fixed in any
tangible medium of expression."  It makes no difference that the tangible
medium is an embedded device in hardware.  The licensee of GPL code must
honor the license terms regardless of whether he embeds the licensed code in
a derivative work on a floppy diskette or on a chip.  Once the final
manufactured product (e.g., a printer) is distributed from the factory, the
distributor or owner (e.g., the wholesaler or end customer) of that printer
can sell it without triggering any further obligations to the original
licensor.  /Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2000 2:29 AM
> To: License-Discuss list
> Subject: Embedded systems & OS/FS
> Trying to pick some brains before I get up on stage and make a fool of
> myself again (Intel Developers Conference).
> I'm told the audience will be a mix of both SW and HW developers, with
> the HW folks doing a mix of embedded devices and chip/circuit designs.
> Question I've got:  how does software licensing, free/OS or otherwise,
> effect the hardware market.  My read is that some licenses, notably the
> GNU L/GPL, may have their source availability requirements triggered by
> the physical distribution of media (HW) on which the software is
> embedded, etched, or otherwise fixed.
> The primary statuatory provisions of copyright (in the US) are of the
> reproduction, making derivative works, distributing, performing, and
> displaying of copies.  The GPL specifically restricts itself to
> "copying, distribution and modification" (section 0).
> An instance in which this would matter:
>    ACME Mfg. creates printers.  They incorporate GPLd code 'gnuprint'
>    into their product 'acmeprint', creating a derived work
>    'gnuacmeprint' of the two programs.  In distributing the printers to
>    wholesalers and eventually customers, does ACME trigger the GNU GPL's
>    source distribution and relicensing requirements?  To whom does the
>    source obligation apply -- wholesalers, final customers, or both?
> My read is that yes, ACME does.  The code to 'gnuacmeprint' must be
> licensed under the GPL, and the terms of 3(a) or 3(b) of the GNU GPL
> must be met.  I'm not sure that the wholesalers would have a solid claim
> to code, the end customer certainly would.
> Other takers?
> --
> Karsten M. Self <>
>  Evangelist, Opensales, Inc.          
>   What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?   Debian GNU/Linux rocks!
>    K5:
> GPG fingerprint: F932 8B25 5FDD 2528 D595 DC61 3847 889F 55F2 B9B0