Just a touch of compliance today. If I wanted to do real compliance engineering, I would turn to gpl-violations.org (in Europe, and please note they are still looking for a new webmaster) or to Brad Kuhn/SFLC (in North America) to do the actual engineering and checking of product. But here's a mostly happy story.

I spotted the LG NAS N2R1 at a local webshop. Two drives, DVD burner, UPnP, bla bla. Not something I need, but it struck me that that's exactly the kind of device that does poorly in compliance -- ships with Linux and busybox, no sources. So with my usual assumption of malice in place, I went looking. While the firmware downloads for the device (say from LG's Dutch site) do not mention corresponding source code, the file is clearly and unashamedly a Linux image: a .zip containing a .bin which is actually a .tar containing a .tgz which is the result of tar czf - / on a Debian installation. Somehow I expected a firmware update to be a little more sophisticated than that, you know?

No README or other indications of the licenses in the firmware, but when I downloaded the users manual for the device, imagine my surprise to find pages 159-164 filled with license information: which parts of the firmware are covered by GPLv2, GPLv3, LGPL, other liceses, and a compilation of copyright notices and BSD variants. There's a written offer for a CD with sources in the users manual. Pretty good, all in all -- although of course one might consider checking that the sources are the complete corresponding sources for each firmware version.

But this brings me to a mystery point in the GPLv2. You may distribute versions of the Program in object code (section 3) under the terms of section 1 and 2 provided you offer the source code in some way. So -- since this firmware is clearly distribution in object form -- we need to check if the conditions are satisfied. The source code offer is ok. But what does "under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above" mean? Section 1 is about verbatim copies of source code; section 2 is about modified versions (which might be understood to include object form). I guess the question comes down to this: does the condition in section 1, "give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program" apply to distribution in object form, or not?