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Printer Businesses Apple

CUPS Purchased By Apple Inc. 465

Posted by kdawson
from the carry-on-printing-as-before dept.
Rick Richardson writes to note a posting on cups.org that reveals that Apple, which in 2002 first licensed CUPS for printing in OS X, purchased the source code last February and hired its main developer, Michael R. Sweet. Sweet writes: "CUPS will still be released under the existing GPL2/LGPL2 licensing terms, and I will continue to develop and support CUPS at Apple." There are no comments on the post. What exactly did Apple purchase? It was and is an open source project. Trademarks aren't mentioned.
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CUPS Purchased By Apple Inc.

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  • RMS Proffing (Score:1, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:27AM (#19837609)
    Apple did a hostile takeover of CUPS. In general apple paid for the primary developer to give up his rights to the code and sell it to Apple Computer. As he was the primary developer he had rights to license his code it in multiple ways as he saw fit. So with Apple buying it allows them to RMS Proof the GPL Code to insure that CUPS can have a license that works with Apple. So right now apple decided to keep it GPL2/LGPL2 but if they like they could take out the bits from the other programmers if they don't agree and make their own version under a different license if it Apple likes to. Where without the purchase the Application may have been swapped to GPL3 which may not be compatible with Apples Business. So apple bought the rights from the Primary Developers so they own rights to the large parts of the code. It too companies a long time to even consider GPL code with the threat of GPL3 companies are back tracking and going more priority. So Pay the GPL developers for their rights to their code and IP is like buying stock in a company. The more Programmers Share you have in the code then the more control you have over it. I bet we can see more of this in the future as the GPL3 starts showing its ugly teeth.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:27AM (#19837613)
    http://www.cups.org/articles.php?L180+I0+TFAQ+M10+ P1+Q [cups.org]

    Apple Inc. has trademarked the Common UNIX Printing System, CUPS, and CUPS logo. These names and logos may be used freely in any direct port or binary distribution of CUPS. To use them in derivative products, please contract Apple Inc. for written permission. Our intention is to protect the value of these trademarks and ensure that any derivative product meets the same high-quality standards as the original.
  • by raffe (28595) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:29AM (#19837647) Journal
    If you look in the faq [cups.org] you find pretty interesting stuff. For example some addtions to the license:

    Software that is developed by any person or entity for an Apple Operating System ("Apple OS-Developed Software"), including but not limited to Apple and third party printer drivers, filters, and backends for an Apple Operating System, that is linked to the CUPS imaging library or based on any sample filters or backends provided with CUPS shall not be considered to be a derivative work or collective work based on the CUPS program and is exempt from the mandatory source code release clauses of the GNU GPL. You may therefore distribute linked combinations of the CUPS imaging library with Apple OS-Developed Software without releasing the source code of the Apple OS-Developed Software. You may also use sample filters and backends provided with CUPS to develop Apple OS-Developed Software without releasing the source code of the Apple OS-Developed Software.
    If he owns the code and sold it to apple he could do this but if not not he needs to get the approval of all that contributed code to change the license like this.
  • What's transferred (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:29AM (#19837649) Homepage Journal

    What exactly did Apple purchase?

    It says right there in the post. "Apple Inc. acquired ownership the CUPS source code." So they are now the copyright holder rather than Michael Sweet. This allows them to provide the code under other licenses, and does not bind Apple's use of the code. To prevent issues with contributions interfering with this, they hired Mr. Sweet to maintain the source code, thus making it a work-for-hire arrangement.

    Open Source projects are usually encumbered from this sort of aquisition because of the large number of contributors. In the case of CUPS, it was originally developed by Sweet's company: Easy Software Products. Since he had a company set up around it, it's likely that he ensured that any accepted contributions were provided with special rights to his company.

    Trademarks aren't mentioned.

    According to the USPTO, the trademark registration for "Common UNIX Printing System" has expired. I was unable to find a registration for "CUPS". Thus my guess is that the unregistered trademark will follow the code as that is simply its name. It *is* Common Unix Printing System. So unless they change the name now (which it doesn't sound like they will) Apple will probably own the mark as well.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:32AM (#19837675)
    "What exactly did Apple purchase? It was and is an open source project. Trademarks aren't mentioned. "

    Perhaps, oh, the source code? Just like it says?

    Under the GPL, the author does NOT give up his rights to do whatever the hell he wants with the code, including sell it. The GPL simply grants others the right to copy and distribute the code, subject to certain limitations.

    Now Apple owns the copyright to the code. They can take it closed, relicense it, dual license it, or use it for ass paper. But the stuff already release under the GPL remains there. Why is any of this so hard to understand?
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:34AM (#19837703) Homepage Journal
    Someone already beat me on the trademark FAQ explicitly stating that Apple now owns the marks, so I'll add this bit [cups.org] to back up my claim of special rights on contributions:

    To contribute code to the base CUPS distribution, please contact us via email at cups-info at cups dot org. Because we also provide CUPS under a binary distribution license, we will require that all ownership of the code be transferred to Easy Software Products, or that Easy Software Products be granted unlimited distribution rights to the code, possibly via payment of a fee to the contributor.


    Hope that settles it. :)
  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:39AM (#19837747) Homepage Journal

    As he was the primary developer he had rights to license his code it in multiple ways as he saw fit.

    Actually, the primary developer does not have that right. The reason why CUPS has that right is because they required that the copyright to code modifications be transferred to Easy Software Products before the modification will be accepted into the main branch.
  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:2, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:45AM (#19837817)
    Dude chill. I got a first post they probably modded it down mostly to keep it from staying on the top. For more thoughtful answers. My Karma is good enough not to worry about stuff like that. While I agree that GPL 3 may do more harm then good for Open Source in general it is not worth trolling about GPL3 espectially for the fact that it was never mentioned in the story. GPL 3 was only my guess on what would cause this actions. Other peoples post about Trademarks seems to make more sence to me.
  • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ritchie70 (860516) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:49AM (#19837875) Journal

    Nope. From the FAQ: (emphasis added by me)

    CUPS was written by Michael R Sweet, an owner of Easy Software Products. In February of 2007 Apple Inc. hired Michael and acquired ownership the CUPS source code. While Michael is primarily working on non-CUPS projects, he will continue to develop and support CUPS, which is still being released under the existing GPL2/LGPL2 licensing terms.
  • Except that Sweet required that copyrights for all code be transferred to his company.
  • by hysterion (231229) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:56AM (#19837959) Homepage

    You may therefore distribute linked combinations of the CUPS imaging library with Apple OS-Developed Software without releasing the source code of the Apple OS-Developed Software.
    Note, this exception has been there for the last 5 years:

    http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/05/msg00 033.html [debian.org]

  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:2, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:00AM (#19837987)
    Well an Open Source Product and a Public Traded Company actually have a lot in common. Each Programer is like a share holder in the application the more code you write in it the more you have in stake of the direction of the program. So say you made a GNU application and you wanted to duel license it you will need to make sure all the programmers agree that you can deul license it because it is their code as well. If a couple of minor ones don't agree you take out their code and put in something else from a programmer who does agree. In public traded companies if a company or person want to aquire an other publicly traded company but the other company doesn't want to sell then all the company needs to do is buy the majority of the shares 50.0001% then they defaulty own the company. So for an open source project if say 1/2 of the code is written by one programmer then you buy the rights of his code from him then you own the project.
  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:5, Informative)

    by vslashg (209560) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:17AM (#19838199)

    I have little doubts that Apple will try to use/make another compiler as soon as they can so they can avoid having to share their changes.
    Indeed, Apple is active in the LLVM [llvm.org] project, a non-copyleft optimizing compiler backend. Currently, to make any real-world use of it, you have to use GCC as the frontend, but Apple is working on that problem, too [osnews.com].
  • by vtcodger (957785) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:35AM (#19838487)
    *** It was and is an open source project....***

    If memory serves me right, that's only partly true. As I recall, a lot of CUPS is built around Postscript (Yech) handling software. Postscript is a proprietary protocol/format owned lock stock and barrel by Adobe. There was some sort of odd arrangement that allowed CUPS users to get around having to pay royalties on Postscript as used in Linux. Am I imaging all this?

  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:5, Informative)

    by jimicus (737525) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:36AM (#19838505)
    A few days ago, I said that the only way to successfully fork a large, complex project (which you may well wish to do if you don't like a license change) is to hire a developer who's important to it [slashdot.org].

    Sounds like this is exactly what Apple's done. GPLv3 has a few clauses in there that Apple probably don't much like (eg. the patents bit) and they probably don't much fancy reinventing the printing wheel - the risk of CUPS going GPLv3 versus the cost of just buying ESP outright is probably well worth it.
  • by Ilgaz (86384) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:38AM (#19838543) Homepage
    " For example, integrating colorsync or letting the gui die from benign neglect as Apple adds code that breaks the gui."

    Apple will correct colours whatever opportunity they will have. Even their Windows Safari comes with colour correction. Colorsync is all XML based format and Apple is not Pantone, never said they can't use/implement Colorsync. In fact in early days of Mozilla while nobody cares about it except few remaining Netscape fans, they offered Colorsync free to it. It took 5-6 years for the current Firefox finally implement it. Dozens of DTP professionals, credible graphics artists and even companies like IBM feedback didn't help to take it serious.

    "I'd like to hear from some people who work on Konqueror how much Apple is contributing. "

    I was on webkit channel for a while, all I saw is Apple Inc. coders giving up everything they have in hand and helping free /opensource OS developers to implement/manage webkit compile process on other operating systems. Forget that, the Konqueror 4 in KDE 4 will have very very similar rendering engine with Safari.

    Another thing. Webkit reviewers http://webkit.org/blog/95/lots-of-new-reviewers/ [webkit.org]

    "Lars Knoll - Lars is the original creator of KHTML, and has been doing a lot of work in the WebKit tree to port it back to Qt, and has also submitted some general refactoring patches and bug fixes. "

    "Nikolas Zimmermann - Niko is the co-creator of KSVG2, with Rob Buis. In addition to all his original work on KSVG2 (and KDOM), Niko has been working in the WebKit tree for a while now, mostly on SVG fixes and improvements but also in other areas."

    "George Staikos - New port reviewer for Qt port. George started the effort to port WebKit back to Qt, in the form of the Unity project."

    As ordinary user, not a developer, I see Apple offers the core of Tiger operating system, launchd open source (really open) completely free and nobody implementing it to their distros.

    I begun to suspect that "Apple never gives back to open source" is something similar to "one button mouse" never ending story.

  • IANNALS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:52AM (#19838715)
    I am not not a law student.

    The GPL is a license. It does absolutely nothing to the copyright. The copyright still exists, and someone still owns it. The GPL makes this clear. People who don't know this or don't understand this have not read the license.

    What this means is that no matter the situation, licensing code under the GPL does not change who holds the copyright. When people have modified CUPS, and distributed changes and thus were forced to relicense under GPL, or licensed their changes under the GPL just because they wanted to, they retained the copyright.

    The story indicates (vaguely, but my and others' interpretation is the most plausible) that Apple bought all copyright to CUPS that was owned by Mr Sweet and/or Mr Sweet's company. It appears as though all of upstream CUPS is owned by Mr Sweet and/or his company, perhaps by requiring assignment of copyright as a condition of inclusion of modifications in the upstream code. If that's the case, then Apple now owns the copyright to the entirety of the upstream CUPS source code.

    Please note that licensing CUPS modifications under the GPL and assigning the copyright to Easy Software Products are two different things. A third party distributor of CUPS, such as a hypothetical ScarletHeadwear, Inc. (based in the town of Ames, North Carolina), may modify CUPS and distribute that modified CUPS under the GPL; doing so does not mean that those changes will be accepted into the CUPS source tree maintained by Mr Sweet at ESP, and does not mean that the rights to those changes will be assigned to Easy Software products (though, under the GPL, Easy Software Products would have a right to use/modify/distribute/etc. those modifications). As such, it's entirely possible, even with the copyright-assignment requirement, that there are parts of, e.g., ScarletHeadware Entrepreneur Linux's CUPS system which are NOT at this time owned by Apple.

    The following things are licensed under the GPL, then:
    • The last release of CUPS under the GPL by Easy Software Products
    • All modifications to CUPS made by Apple under the GPL
    • Any future modifications to CUPS that Apple releases under the GPL
    • All third-party modifications to CUPS under the GPL


    The following things are NOT licensed under the GPL:
    • Any undistributed in-house or personal changes anyone, anywhere, ever, has made to CUPS that weren't explicitly licensed under the GPL
    • Any modified version of CUPS distributed by Easy Software Products before Apple's purchase of CUPS that wasn't explicitly distributed under the GPL
    • Any modified version of CUPS distributed by Apple after Apple's purchase of CUPS that wasn't explicitly distributed under the GPL
    • Any modified version of CUPS distributed by anyone with a proprietary license granted by ESP before Apple's purchase of CUPS or by Apple after that purchase


    Hope this clears some issues up.
  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dan Ost (415913) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:54AM (#19838723)
    Legally, I suppose it would be within your right to create a fork under GPL2 but ethically and morally it would be stealing since the original copyright holder (Michael R Sweet) was the main contributor and any other patch contributors assigned rights to him before they were included in the repository. You would basically be carrying out a coupe and violating the spirit of the license if not the letter of it by taking something none of you owned and creating a fork of it.

    Bullshit. Taking the GPL2 codebase and forking it (still under the GPL2 since only the copyright owner can change the licensing) wouldn't be stealing at all. When CUPS was licensed under the GPL, the owner was declaring to the world that anyone is allowed to take the code and, within the rights granted by the GPL, do whatever they want with it. This includes forking.

    Seriously, if the project hadn't been GPL'd in the first place, do you think it would have received such broad support from the community and gotten where it is today functionality-wise?

  • by leoc (4746) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:58AM (#19838781) Homepage
    Huh?

    For years now, every version of Linux I've used (Gentoo, Fedora, Ubuntu) has had a native GUI administration tool for the printer settings.
  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:4, Informative)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:30PM (#19839229)
    How is that a hostile takeover? A hostile takeover is when you buy something the owner doesn't want to sell. Apple paid the developer of CUPS AND gave him a job... not very hostile.
  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:35PM (#19839307) Homepage Journal

    You appear to be confused. How does Adobe "own" PostScript? The newer revisions may be hindered by patents, but the earlier language levels are decades old at this point and long past the point of having patents. The language is highly standardized and well documented.

    That CUPS is "built around" PostScript is unsurprising, as it's been the Unix standard for printing for decades. Applications write PostScript and hand it off to a printer demon. And this is hardly a CUPS issue. If your printer natively handles PostScript, CUPS doesn't do any PostScript processing; it just merrily hands your input off to the printer. CUPS only cares if your printer doesn't support PostScript, in which case it hands the PostScript input to GNU GhostScript (another old open source product) which interprets the PostScript and converts it to something your printer can handle. If PostScript were somehow proprietary, I'm pretty sure the Free Software Foundation wouldn't be shipping GhostScript [gnu.org].

  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:2, Informative)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:00PM (#19840495) Journal
    Apple did a hostile takeover of CUPS.

    A hostile takeover is when shares of a company are purchased without regard for the company's wishes. How is that analogous to this?

  • by sabre (79070) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:34PM (#19840915) Homepage
    Apple already has released the source for it, under the standard LLVM BSD license:
    http://lists.cs.uiuc.edu/pipermail/llvmdev/2007-Ju ly/009817.html [uiuc.edu]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:35PM (#19841669)
    You're wrong about the GPL3 patent provisions. By distributing GPL3 software, a patent holder licenses any of their patents which are exercised by that software, only to users of that software and only for the running and further distribution of that software. I.e., the patent license is extended only enough to make the software safe for downstream users to use and exercise their GPL rights.

    The patent holder does *not* lose all control of their patents, and can still sue for infringement by other users or for infringement unrelated to the use of the GPL software.
  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:3, Informative)

    by real gumby (11516) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @04:34PM (#19842407)
    Once NeXT realised they couldn't keep the objc runtime proprietary they did work with us to help us port it over, and made changes so that it would fit into the ain line. They realised they benefited from being in the main line as well. It's not like they were jerks about it.
  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:3, Informative)

    by shawnce (146129) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @08:37PM (#19844593) Homepage
    Sure I will take that bet =P ...since they already have released the source under the LLVM license. :)
  • Re:Future Proffing (Score:3, Informative)

    by metamatic (202216) on Friday July 13, 2007 @02:47PM (#19851741) Homepage Journal

    I think the real question is if CUPS moves to a non-GPL license and the project forks. In a years time, which code base will be better. The code for AppleCUPS with their new features, which cant use GPL code, or CUPS with opensource developers who cant see nor use AppleCUPS code?

    Well, right now printing has always worked for me on the Mac, and I've never managed to get it working on Linux (to the same ipp: printer URL). So I know which one I'd put my money on.

  • by gig (78408) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @01:06AM (#19856719)
    > I am sure if the GPL was worded in a couple ways OS X would be Linux Based not Unix Based.

    OS X's BSD-heritage goes back to 1988 which predates Linux.

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