August 16, 2013
Conservancy Helps Samsung Resolve GPL Compliance Matter Amicably
Conservancy's GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers is pleased to announce its role in assisting Samsung in a recent public compliance issue. The compliance issue was brought to Conservancy's attention when source code of an exFAT filesystem driver for Linux was unintentionally released via GitHub, and Conservancy later determined that similar code appeared in binary form only (thus violating GPLv2§3) in a Samsung Linux-based tablet. Samsung has made a source release available on their Open Source Release Center website.
Conservancy's GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers worked collaboratively with Ibrahim Haddad, the Group Leader for Open Source at Samsung Research America, and fellow community leaders, throughout the process after this code first appeared on GitHub. Conservancy's primary goal, as always, was to assist and advise toward the best possible resolution to the matter that complied fully with the GPL. Conservancy is delighted that the correct outcome has been reached: a legitimate, full release from Samsung of all relevant source code under the terms of Linux's license, the GPL, version 2.
Conservancy has worked on many difficult compliance matters for many of its member projects (including BusyBox and Samba, in addition to our GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers). Conservancy thus particularly appreciates Samsung's celerity, responsiveness, and correct action on this matter.
As it was in this situation, most problems with GPL compliance are confusions, misunderstandings, and/or honest mistakes that need correction. Conservancy approaches every discussion regarding GPL compliance as an opportunity to help a company reach the best possible outcome for software freedom and the Open Source and Free Software community. Delightfully, Mr. Haddad and his team at Samsung shared many of those goals as well, and thus an amicable outcome was achieved easily and rapidly.
Finally, Conservancy is particularly grateful to Samsung's willingness to talk publicly about this matter. Most compliance matters remain private, usually at the request of the company who made the initial error. Yet, such errors are never the disasters they might seem at first. Conservancy hopes that Samsung's willingness to show publicly how even large companies quickly resolve such mistakes to the satisfaction of the community inspires others to talk in a friendly and open way about GPL compliance.