[webkit-dev] Using WebKit (or KHTML/KJS) and LGPL violation
tailblues at mobilus.co.kr
Thu Mar 8 06:34:01 PST 2007
This maybe not an exact place to ask this question but, I'm still
confused and would be very happy to get any advice at all.
One of our customer's IP/Legal team informed us that putting LGPL
library in a closed system which prohibits any form of reverse-
engineering, or which is lack of ability to install library, is a
direct violation of LGPL. And they also told us that, they don't
understand how Apple would use LGPL library in their (to be) closed-
system. (namely , iPhone)
I'm working in a small software company that helps a mobile phone
vendor (lets call them company S) We developed and shipped DRM, MMS,
and OMA(wap) browser for them. We have failed to make a decent web
browser, and that's where WebCore came in.
Recently I could almost convinced my boss and the company S into
using WebCore as default web engine for their new mobile platform. We
could actually made a working demo on their system, and they agreed
to open the modified source code themselves, but they frowned at LGPL
section 6 :
My (possible) business model using WebKit, was something like this ;
1) Let's maintain a WebCore Windows Mobile port : On Windows mobile,
still you only have NetFront3 or Opera. They cost quite some amount
for individual users (something over $20 to register) . Let them use
top notch browser freely. Put "notice" clearly that we are quite
expert on porting browsers on "things".
2) Wait for more embedded device vendors to "aware" us. Made a good
abstraction layer, port webcore and a decent UI on any device they
want. (IPTV, PMP, portable DVD players, etc) Get some service fee
and customize the browser for them. If they need WAP2.0, terrific.
Sell our old browser with it. Get Maintenance contract with them.
3) Drop our own Web Browser development, it's going nowhere.
I though this scenario could be quite valid; Nokia N series devices
are already a successful example. But it seems that this goes very
close to the LGPL violation boundary. Company S told us that, When
reading literally, even Nokia isn't satisfying LGPL.
Nokia N series device do not have any LGPL license text for users.
Normal users won't be able to aware about the LGPL library or
license. (possible violation 1. selling H/W with LGPL Library is a
"distributing"). And there is no way for users to change and run S60
Browser. (although they can run the reference UI) And the reverse
engineering is prohibited as usual. (Possible violation 2. No method
for modify LGPL'ed library and run the work based on the library)
My questions is simple. Is that really LGPL violations? Safari
Browser is satisfying all LGPL "duties" (It shows credits, LGPL
license, and you can rebuild webcore and run safari with it. Done.)
But how safari on iPhone will satisfy LGPL?
Company S's lawyer read LGPL "literally". But lawyers always do. What
is the limit of using webCore(KHTML, or any LGPL library) on embedded
Any comment from S60 guys? I'm pretty sure that Nokia IP/Legal team
gave them "clear" sign, so It is there. That's why I am so confused
tailblues at mobilus.co.kr
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