28 responses to “Telstra violating GPL in their T-Hub product”

  1. Nathan

    The party A (OEM) sells to party B (retailer) sells to party C (consumer) is an interesting issue.

    Typically we see the OEM directly provide source, eg I have a Samsung phone and they operate http://opensource.samsung.com/ as a repository for all their products.

    I didnt buy my phone directly from Samsung though; and my retailer does not provide the source code that Samsung provide. Is my retailer technically violating the GPL?

  2. Nathan

    Ah right, yes that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.

  3. Glen

    “However, the vendor doesn’t always need to distribute the source themselves. Under GPLv2 clause 3(c), they can simply redistribute an “offer to distribute corresponding source code” that they themselves received from a third party along with the binary code, provided that the vendor did not modify the source themselves.”

    Section C states “This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.”

    Would Section C be applicable in this case?

  4. Trent Waddington

    As it seems you are already aware, you need to contact the actual copyright holders of these works and get them interested in pursuing it further. The easiest would be BusyBox who have sued *many* embedded device manufacturers already.

  5. Brad Hards

    Did you really mean libusb 0.1.4? or 1.0.4?

  6. Karl Jorgensen

    Well… If your analysis is correct (which sounds plausible), then you cannot put it back on ebay: if you were to sell it, then it puts you in a bad position in two ways:

    * You too would guilty of copyright infringement – just like Telstra. And since you’re asking Telstra to comply with the license, not doing so yourself is hypocritical. (sorry for sounding harsh…)

    * If you do not have the device, then you probably have less leverage with Telstra: It just makes you an “interested party” – not somebody who is entitled to the source code.

    You are better off keeping the device…

  7. Will

    There are two interesting comments that I’ve seen on this one:

    a) While your recent correction above is right in that Telstra have to (but see next point) offer the source, they could offer the source by contracting Sagem to host the servers and pointing to Sagem’s servers. The end result would be very similar to the non-commercial section c, but keeps Telstra legally in the loop.

    b) One interesting argument I’ve heard likens Telstra to a book seller rather than a publisher. If a publisher were to do an unlicensed print run of a book and then sell those books to Dymocks, I don’t think Dymocks could be held liable for the ones they’d unwittingly sold – it would be the publisher’s responsibility. However, once informed of the issue, Dymocks would probably have to stop selling the books until they were licensed correctly. I’m not a lawyer though, so this might be incorrect. :)

  8. V ividAreNaughtyToo

    While you are reminding companies to do the right thing you should add Vivid Wireless to the list. Certainly the home gateway device they sell most certainly is Linux based and they do not care to honour their obligations under the GPL from those that have tried.

  9. Duncan Bayne

    I filed a Questus complaint with Telstra. A rep. called me today, & was told that he contacted the T-Hub manufacturer, who told _him_ that there was no open source software whatsoever on the device.

    I read the rep. your list of FOSS on the device, & he said he’ll get back to me.

    If I don’t have any joy, then the next step is to file a complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

  10. Duncan Bayne

    A different – and quite rude & aggressive – Telstra rep just phoned me.

    She said that her understanding was that as I would be using the source code to switch to a different provider (don’t know where she got that idea), and the T-Hub only works with Telstra, there would be no point in having the code. And besides, she said, they won’t release it.

    I explained to her that my intended use of the code is irrelevant to Telstra’s obligation to release it. I also pointed out that there are many reasons to want access to the source, including learning & security audits.

    She’s calling me back, apparently.

  11. Duncan Bayne

    I hope so too, but I don’t hold out much hope.

    The last rep. with whom I spoke had simply no clue as to what the GPL is, & was positively crowing over what she saw as a reason to withhold the code (i.e. that I might use it to connect the T-Hub to a different provider). She actually sounded very happy & self-satisfied.

    She announced her (odd) conclusion and then asked “is there anything else I can help you with?” and was quite taken aback (& became a lot less happy) when I explained the flaw in her undestanding of the GPL.

  12. Duncan Bayne

    No one called me back, so I called them. Apparently my Questus complaint was ‘unassigned’. I was put in touch with a new case manager, who asked me if my complaint was due to an inability to upgrade my T-Hub.

    Much hilarity ensued as I explained the issue to her, then to the poor CSR on the T-Hub helpdesk (yes, that’s who she put me through to; the complaint has come full circle as it was the T-Hub helpdesk who originally escalated the issue). The poor chap did very well under the circumstances.

    He suggested I call the manufacturer; I explained that the manufacturer has already lied to Telstra about the presence of GPL software in the device (see http://projectgus.com/2010/11/telstra-violating-gpl/#comment-3878 ), is profoundly unlikely to help me, and besides it’s Telstra’s issue because they’re distributing the device.

    So, said CSR’s team leader is getting in touch with his colleagues and will be calling me back soon. The case manager promised a callback in ~ 24 hours too.

  13. Duncan Bayne

    I just had a call back, less than ten minutes after my call. I have a new case manager who’s following it up, & who has promised a callback in < 24 hours. He seemed quite interested in all the details. Fingers crossed …

  14. Duncan Bayne

    My new case manager is still following up the issue with several other (unnamed) individuals & departments … he’s promised a followup later this afternoon.

  15. Duncan Bayne

    I got a follow-up call, just to check I want the source for the T-Hub, not the source for the HTC Desire. Oh well, at least they’re trying … apparently I’ll get another call back this evening.

  16. Duncan Bayne

    So a different Telstra rep called me, & told me that as far as he is aware, there is no way Telstra can release the source because of ‘Copyright Reasons’, & because if they released the source, then I could possibly change the binaries on the device.

    I explained that ‘Copyright Reasons’ are the reason why they are _compelled_ to release the source, regardless of whether they want people changing the binaries.

    He said he’ll call back in a few hours …

  17. Duncan Bayne

    Right – apparently Telstra is in talks with the manufacturer, & a (highly tentative) release date for the source is this month or perhaps February. Finally :-)

  18. Omega


    Anyway to take linux tree and rebuild and flash with new custom “rom”?

    want to try port Android over to THUB.

    Any ideas?


  19. Shannon

    A link to the page, with an email address to contact for the source code for T-Hub can be found here.

    Someone smarter than me will need to figure out the direct link. When i try it I get a link with a session id, which I am assuming is useless for anybody else.

  20. Phlee

    Well it seems that Telstra can’t find the software and don’t support the T-Hub 1 any more. Why can’t they just leave a link so people can download if. Go figure.

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