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Android Modder Tries To Outmaneuver Google 152

Posted by timothy
from the only-a-link-to-a-url dept.
itwbennett writes "Google recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Steve Kondik, the creator of Cyanogen, a popular souped-up version of Android, asking him to stop distributing applications such as Gmail with his modified software. 'We make some of these apps available to users of any Android-powered device via Android Market, and others are pre-installed on some phones through business deals,' wrote Dan Morrill on the Android developer blog. 'Either way, these apps aren't open source, and that's why they aren't included in the Android source code repository.' Now, Kondik thinks he's found a workaround. He plans to release a 'bare bones' version of Cyanogen without the applications, leaving it to modders to make a backup copy of the Google applications that shipped with their phone for later reinstallation before hacking away at the Android software. 'The idea is that you'll be able to Google-ify your CyanogenMod installation with the applications and files that shipped on your device already,' Kondik wrote."
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Android Modder Tries To Outmaneuver Google

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  • Slashdotted... (Score:5, Informative)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:43AM (#29581251)

    Google Cache [74.125.47.132]

    The current state..

    The last few days have been difficult. What has become clear now is that the Android Open Source Project is a framework. It's licensed in such a way so that anyone can take it, modify it to their needs, and redistribute it as they please. Android belongs to everyone. This also means that big companies likes Google, HTC, Motorola, and whomever else can add their own pieces to it and share these pieces under whatever license they choose.

    I've made lots of changes myself to the AOSP code, and added in code from lots of others. Building a better Droid, right?

    The issue that's raised is the redistribution of Google's proprietary applications like Maps, GTalk, Market, and YouTube. These are not part of the open source project and are only part of "Google Experience" devices. They are Google's intellectual property and I intend to respect that. I will no longer be distributing these applications as part of CyanogenMod. But it's OK. None of the go-fast stuff that I do involves any of this stuff anyway. We need these applications though, because we all rely so heavily on their functionality. I'd love for Google to hand over the keys to the kingdom and let us all have it for free, but that's not going to happen. And who can blame them?

    There are lots of things we can do as end-users and modders, though, without violating anyones rights. Most importantly, we are entitled to back up our software. Since I don't work with any of these closed source applications directly, what I intend to do is simply ship the next version of CyanogenMod as a "bare bones" ROM. You'll be able to make calls, MMS, take photos, etc. In order to get our beloved Google sync and applications back, you'll need to make a backup first. I'm working on an application that will do this for you.

    The idea is that you'll be able to Google-ify your CyanogenMod installation, with the applications and files that shipped on YOUR device already. Or, you can just use the basic ROM if you want. It will be perfectly functional if you don't use the Google parts. I will include an alternative app store (SlideMe, or AndAppStore, not decided yet) with the basic ROM so that you can get your applications in case you don't have a Google Experience device.

    I'll have more updates soon as I get all the code hammered out.

    Thanks for all the support thru all of this.

    This entry was posted on September 27, 2009, 9:41 am and is filed under Home.

  • Not outmaneuvering (Score:5, Informative)

    by ddrueding80 (1091191) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:47AM (#29581303)
    It isn't outmaneuvering, I'm sure this is what Google had in mind. No licenses being broken, and a strong modder community.
  • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Informative)

    by DMiax (915735) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:54AM (#29581379)

    If BioWare sells a linux live cd with Neverwinter included you do not have the right to redistribute a mod for free, even if it includes free software. I think it is called "mere aggregation" and it is well understood to be specifically exempted from the viral effects of the various licenses.

    So Android is free but the Google Apps that usually come "for free" with Android are not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:06PM (#29581553)

    comparing it with OS X is a bit extreme. with the expected barebones android mod, it will still be a fully functional phone. i don't know of any OS X mods that give you a fully functional working PC just without iLife and iTunes, etc...

  • Re:cyanogenmod (Score:4, Informative)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:17PM (#29581687) Journal

    Market is included in the proprietary category from what I have read.

    however, I wonder if there's a market .apk that can be downloaded (you don't need market to run a .apk)

    If there is, this would resolve all problems.

  • Re:Andoid Touch (Score:3, Informative)

    by rivetgeek (977479) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:19PM (#29581719)
    If you download the sdk they have an emulator.
  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Informative)

    by evalhalla (581819) * <elena@valhalla.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:28PM (#29581855) Homepage Journal

    > In FOSS however you can fork the project, which you can't here.

    Yes, you're free to fork the Android project and do whatever you want with it, it's under a FOSS license.

    What you can't do with the fork is distribute Google's proprietary apps that happen to run on Android: if you need their capabilities you have to write an alternative.
    While such applications feature strongly in the "google phone" as usually sold, they have no technical advantage, and there is nothing in the system that prevents alternative applications from taking their place.

  • by watanabe (27967) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:02PM (#29582387)

    There are a few technical pieces missing from the comments here, and this story is still definitely developing. From Cyanogen's twitter feed today: "This is about proprietary device drivers and not Google at this point. These drivers are not redistributable."

    This is a nice reminder that there's likely no building a usable phone room without infringing on some agreements. I do not expect this to change in the near future; what this means is that a sort of 'merge' or 'overwrite' or patch system will need to be put in place for people modding their phones.

    This will take a little time to build would be my guess, but isn't insurmountable; I think the complexity of building such a thing should fit inside of the typical hacker attention span that's been piqued right now.

  • Re:I am confused (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:21PM (#29582653) Journal

    I *am* confused as to why Google would raise a stink over their product being distributed in such a way that it will ONLY be useful on devices that already came with the software

    Because that's not the case. Android can run on a wide variety of platforms, including a lot that are not supported by Google. Google only wants to support their apps on a certain set of platforms. You are confusing the issue somewhat because everyone running Windows Mobile on a handset is doing so because the manufacturer has bought a license from Microsoft, while not everyone running Android has any business relationship with Google.

  • Re:Andoid Touch (Score:2, Informative)

    by crwl (802043) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:23PM (#29582683)

    He just said he didn't need a phone.

    The N810 isn't a phone. The upcoming N900 is, however.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by lenehey (920580) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:23PM (#29582699)
    Intellectual Property:

    Function: noun
    : property that derives from the work of the mind or intellect (as an idea, invention, trade secret, process, program, data, formula, patent, copyright, or trademark) ; also : an application, right, or registration relating to this "

    --Merriam Webster.

    To help you out even further, the word "property" means, "2 a : something that is or may be owned or possessed : WEALTH, GOODS; specifically : a piece of real estate b : the exclusive right to possess, enjoy, and dispose of a thing : a valuable right or interest primarily a source or element of wealth : OWNERSHIP c : something to which a person has a legal title : an estate in tangible assets (as lands, goods, money) or intangible rights (as copyrights, patents) in which or to which a person has a right protected by law"

    --Merriam Webster

    Are you still confused?
  • by august sun (799030) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:34PM (#29583709)
    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/09/google-cracks-down-on-android-developer/ [wired.com]

    "The Android engineers at Google are now making available previously unreleased components â" makefiles and configuration files â" that will give independent developers the ability to create Android releases in the same manner that Google does, but without using Googleâ(TM)s proprietary apps. These engineers are working with volunteers from the community and have already begun working on alternatives to the proprietary Google applications."


    It doesn't sound as contentious as the OP but it definitely seems like Google is taking the right tact on this to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:55PM (#29584723)

    It is still cooking and one critical aspect that is ignored is that the binary hardware drivers are IP of the handset makers and without those, the OS is basically useless. So yeah, they can remove the Google bits but they now have to figure out of they can legally build a firmware implementation that can install without the binary drivers.

    That is what will make or break this mod.

    A headset company may provide binary license if you own the phone but i'm willing to bet most (if not all) may be leary of providing binary licenses or having them installed in a "Self build" package because of the risk & liability of supporting the device should problems arise.

    Especially if they offer their own updates or rollouts that may be managed even from the carrier itself rendering the modded phone useless or a security risk

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