License when it is impossible to reflash the microcontroller

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fjb
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License when it is impossible to reflash the microcontroller

Postby fjb » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:32 pm

Hello,

is the commercial license the only way to use ChibiOS/RT when it is impossible to reflash the microcontroller?

Frank

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Giovanni
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Re: License when it is impossible to reflash the microcontro

Postby Giovanni » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:57 pm

Hi Frank,

Are you referring to some specific clause of the GPL? Using the exception you have to abide to the GPL for everything but having to provide your own source code.

Anyway there is this clause in the GPL3:

" If you convey an object code work under this section in, or with, or
specifically for use in, a User Product, and the conveying occurs as
part of a transaction in which the right of possession and use of the
User Product is transferred to the recipient in perpetuity or for a
fixed term (regardless of how the transaction is characterized), the
Corresponding Source conveyed under this section must be accompanied
by the Installation Information. But this requirement does not apply
if neither you nor any third party retains the ability to install
modified object code on the User Product (for example, the work has
been installed in ROM)."

The Source requirement is not applicable because the Exception text and the clause specifically states that you don't have to provide installation information if the product is not modifiable by anybody including you (ROM).

It the micro can be erased and re-flashed then you should consider this part:

" When you convey a covered work, you waive any legal power to forbid
circumvention of technological measures to the extent such circumvention
is effected by exercising rights under this License with respect to
the covered work, and you disclaim any intention to limit operation or
modification of the work as a means of enforcing, against the work's
users, your or third parties' legal rights to forbid circumvention of
technological measures."

Basically you cannot forbid your users to hack and re-flash their devices even if you don't have to provide your own source code except the ChibiOS/RT code itself (and this requirement is satisfied by simply giving a link to the ChibiOS/RT pages.

Alternatively you may consider some of our commercial licensing options :-)

Giovanni

fjb
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: License when it is impossible to reflash the microcontro

Postby fjb » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:07 pm

Hello Giovanni,

thank you for the clarification.

what troubles me is this clause:

"Installation Information" for a User Product means any methods,
procedures, authorization keys, or other information required to install
and execute modified versions of a covered work in that User Product from
a modified version of its Corresponding Source. The information must
suffice to ensure that the continued functioning of the modified object
code is in no case prevented or interfered with solely because
modification has been made.

That would imply a guide how to disassamble the device, flash the microcontroller and to reassamble the device.

Open source licenses should be readable and understandable by common users, not only by lawyers.

Frank

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Re: License when it is impossible to reflash the microcontro

Postby Giovanni » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:59 pm

you are so concerned by this you may add a note about "device servicing" into the manual (or your web site) mentioning it would require a JTAG probe etc, flashing the MCU is a standard procedure already documented by the manufacturer, just link the relevant documents.

I am assuming you are not preventing re-flashing by hardware means.

Giovanni


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