Last year, Kogan undertook to release “all source code that has been requested by customers”, following a request from one of its customers to exercise his right to receive a copy of the source code running on his Kogan Android-powered phone and smart television set.
Three months later, the process is far from smooth.
On February 13 this year, Kogan customer Brad Moore made a request for the source code for his Kogan Agora phone, and was told by a company representative that “unfortunately, we do not have this information available to the public”.
After enquiries by TechRepublic, the electronics company said that it is fulfilling its obligations under the GPL. Kogan said on February 21 that it had “fulfilled all requests for Android source code up until February 17”, and was working with partners to obtain the source code for the Agora phone in question.
“Obtaining and providing the base code for products is different for each one,” the company said.
“Kogan has no interest in holding this off from this customer, and is working closely with its partners to obtain it for him as quickly as possible.”
Despite its assertions, at the time of writing, Kogan has yet to hand over any source code to Moore.
As Kogan phones and smart television sets are powered by the open-source Android operating system, the electronics vendor has an obligation to make its source code available to interested parties. Much of Android is licensed under the Apache Software Licence, but, due to its Linux kernel, parts of the mobile operating system are still subject to the terms of version two of the GPL.
“If you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have,” the preamble of the GPL v2 states.
“You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.”
Moore said that as a developer, he would be “slightly bothered” if someone violated a licence of a library he created.
“Kogan probably see no harm in doing what they are doing, as they are not taking money away from anyone by not complying with the licences,” he said.