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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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  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:28AM (#19837625)

    CUPS Purchased By Apple Inc.
    In a blind attempt to compete, Microsoft has announced they have purchased MUGS [mugheaven.com].

    What exactly did Apple purchase?
    Well, Microsoft doesn't know and Microsoft doesn't care ... gentlemen, the race to be the ultimate provider of a liquid serving technology has begun.
  • by raffe (28595) *
    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.

    • 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]

    • by daeg (828071)
      As stated by others, contributors do not retain copyright of code contributed to CUPS.
  • What's transferred (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *
      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

    • Just to point out that at the bottom of the notice is written; "CUPS, the Common UNIX Printing System, and the CUPS logo are the trademark property of Apple Inc.".

  • by qqaz (33114) <colin&colinbaker,org> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:32AM (#19837667) Homepage
    Clearly, Apple didn't like CUPS' poop-brown web interface. Their only option was to buy it and make it white/blue/brushed aluminum.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227)
      Even Eric Raymond has said of the years that the cups printer interface needed a lot of user friendly type of work. Apple may just do that. As I said earlier as long as it stays GPL Apple can push the project in what ever directoin they like and it will only benefit Linux and BSD's.
      • by Ilgaz (86384) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:21AM (#19838255) Homepage
        In fact the CUPS on OS X is so flawlessly working that nobody has clue they have "CUPS" or ever visited the famous 127.0.0.1:631 on their browser. I bet most would be surprised to see that page.

        I think now Apple in control, they may make it same way on Linux that only actual system admins would care about the CUPS interface and end users may have a similar feeling on Linux/FreeBSD.

        CUPS must be also used at large corporate Windows based hosts or anywhere that actually have a real postscript printer. I mean of course there must be a actual printing server running its Professional edition.

        This may really prove good for Linux and FreeBSD. Look how they made a Mach/NeXT/FreeBSD hybrid (OS X) usable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by leoc (4746)
          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.
  • 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?
  • Just because it's licensed under GPL, doesn't mean that there is no copyrights that can't be sold.
    What probably happened is that mr. Sweet (the main developer) sold his copyrighted code to Apple. Any bits of code in the open source project which wasn't build by the main developer is still the sole property of those individuals.
    What this means is that Apple can use mr. Sweet's code any way it pleases, without having to adhere to the GPL (just as mr. Sweet could do; it was his copyright). What Apple CANNOT do
    • Except that Sweet required that copyrights for all code be transferred to his company.
      • If Sweet indeed owns the copyrights to all the code, he can certainly sell them to Apple. At this point Apple can relicense future versions of CUPS.

        This is to me the downside of using open source code in one of your projects - at any time your ability to use future versions with their bug fixes, security fixes, etc. may go away.

        • This is to me the downside of using open source code in one of your projects - at any time your ability to use future versions with their bug fixes, security fixes, etc. may go away.

          What is the legality of forks based on code prior to the purchase date?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tim Browse (9263)

          This is to me the downside of using open source code in one of your projects - at any time your ability to use future versions with their bug fixes, security fixes, etc. may go away.

          And this is different to using non-open source code...how?

  • Apple now controls this project, its direction, and what it will support. They don't "own" it in the conventional (pre-GPLv3) sense, but they own control of what it will do and from that, what will work with it and what it will not support. A very smart move on their part, because as long as we're a capitalist system, we need to have some control over IP that makes it exclusive enough that we can sell it.
    • by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      If the company that created CUPS required contributors to sign over their copyright just like the FSF does, then Apple really does own CUPS now.
  • What exactly did Apple purchase? It was and is an open source project.

    Yes, but the GPL is still based on copyright law, the code is still covered by copyright, and the copyright is still assigned to someone.

    It sounds like Apple bought the copyright for all lines of text written by Michael Sweet, so they can no relicense those lines in any way they choose (provided, of course, that other lines owned by other people are rewritten by Apple). They could decide to close the source, for example, preventing the r
  • In the faq there are certain extra rights (on top of gpl) that are granted to developers on Apple OSes, so maybe that's why they did it. Here's a little extract:

    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

  • by saintlupus (227599) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:37AM (#19837725) Homepage
    The CUPS implementation in OS X server was such a total piece of shit, prone to lockups and meltdowns, that we have all of the Macs on our campus printing through a Debian box instead. Hopefully this will allow Apple to handle the sort of printer sharing that _every other NOS on earth_ has done for the last three decades.

    It's pretty bad when you're fucking something that simple up to a degree even Netware can't manage.

    --saint
  • by xtaski (457801) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:37AM (#19837727)
    The GPLv2 (or LGPL) licenses do not convey copyright ownership. Even though anyone in the world is free to use/redistribute/modify/rename/etc, the source code copyright ownership is still retained by the developer that contributed the code. Some organizations require copyright assignment of code contributed into the base where the contributing developers give up their ownership of the code they created and assign their copyright to the project (or in some cases, a commercial organization). Once the developer assigns copyright over, the project/commercial organization can do whatever they want with it - including relicensing it under a completely different, closed, commercial license. I doubt however, that Apple will make any devious use of CUPS as the GPL versions are still available and could simply fork continuing with GPL. Copyright ownership does, however, make it easy for Apple to do what it wants with CUPS integration into Mac OS X without ever having to worry about the GPL license.
  • welcome an Apple-sponsored CUPS UI overhaul.

    Let's face it ... CUPS is a bit cumbersome and counterintuitive.

    • by bugg (65930) *
      I take it you've never set up printing with lpd?

      I recently made the switch from lpr to cups, and man, a world of difference.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:41AM (#19837773)
    1) The developer and his skill. My guess is they want it worked on and expanded. Much easier to get that done when you are paying a guy to do it full time. There's only so much you can do for a hobby.

    2) The ability to use the code under other licenses. If Apple now owns the source and the developer, they can use (and license) the code under a non-GPL license if they wish. Somewhat similar to QT.
  • No big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786)
    Basically, they're just paying the developer to work on it full time. Whereas before the dev. had to rely on licensing CUPS to other companies and sub-contracting for work, now he is paid by apple.

    As long as the project stays GPL this really isn't any different than how RedHat / IBM / Oracle etc. pay some kernel developers full time.

    The only thing is Apple can also now make changes to cups that only they can use.
    • 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.
      • by ktappe (747125)

        While Michael is primarily working on non-CUPS projects, he will continue to develop and support CUPS

        He and all the other developers were probably pulled onto the iPhone project so they could get it out the door. CUPS, like the rest of Leopard, was put on the backburner for a while and thusly delayed until October. Odds are good he's back on CUPS by now.

        Personally I'm hoping for CUPS to become AppleScriptable. In Tiger the only way to create new printers via script is through GUI scripting [applescript.net], which is ugl

  • I realize that CUPS is useful for large networks, but does it have to be installed by default on every Linux distro. Then there are the FreeBSD ports that insist on bringing it in as a dependancy. I use APSFILTER and delete CUPS asap.
  • Well, hopefully they can make printing via a network Just Work now. The hours I spent getting my MBP to print via my fathers XP machine on his Canon IP4000...
  • by asphaltjesus (978804) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:21AM (#19838263)
    is troublesome.

    Apple has never been portrayed as a good corporate citizen when it comes to GPL projects. The GPL code will become the red-headed step child of whatever Apple wants to do with it. For example, integrating colorsync or letting the gui die from benign neglect as Apple adds code that breaks the gui.

    I'd like to hear from some people who work on Konqueror how much Apple is contributing. Based on my limited experience with Apple, I'd estimate they throw useless code over the wall surrounding Cupertino HQ every once in a while. I seem to recall they changed the license on some of their previously Free code a while ago too.

    They are Free to do both, but I think their actions in these situations show they are just as hostile to Free/Open computer systems as Microsoft.

    • 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.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:31AM (#19838425) Homepage
    This, as other posters have mentioned, is a way of GPL3-proofing CUPS, which is a key piece of the apple architecture and made possible because the copyrights for contributions were transfered to the developers.

    Unlike Microsoft, Apple depends pretty heavily on GPL'ed code: CUPS, dev tools, and a lot of assorted *nix tools. Under GPL2 they were happy: release the source for the tools, any modifications they made, and be happy.

    GPL3 is a nightmare: both the anti-Tivo clause and the anti-Patent clause represent huge and unacceptable changes to Apple. The anti-Tivo clause goes against the iPhone, iPod, MacTV, etc. And the anti-patent clause represents unilateral disarmament in the defensive-patent war, so even if you weren't going to enforce the patents, just have them for defense, GPL3 is a vulnerability.

    So expect the following:

    When possible, Apple will buy out any developers who own copyrights on GPL'ed code they depend on.

    Otherwise, two things will happen: Apple will feature-freeze with a GPL2 version and fork, or simply replace the GPL'ed code completely.

    Congratulations, RMS, I think this is what you actually intended. And it will work. Enjoy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chandon Seldon (43083)

      And the anti-patent clause represents unilateral disarmament in the defensive-patent war, so even if you weren't going to enforce the patents, just have them for defense, GPL3 is a vulnerability.

      This is only true if your opponent's software business uses only GPLv3 software derived from software you have conveyed. If that's the case, they've given up their right to sue you as well (assuming that you've folded their changes back into your products) - so you don't need defensive patents against them at all.

  • 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.
  • Apple is traditional (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:47PM (#19839423) Homepage Journal
    Apple is still a very traditional business in most ways. They are uncomfortable basing there multi million dollar empire on open source. And Apple has always been nervous about depending on outside groups, be it other companies or be it open source, for delivering their products.

    They likely want CUPS under their management umbrella. And it's always nice when an open source guy gets a full time job.

    GPL3 on CUPS would not be a terrible problem for Apple, you can already replace CUPS on existing systems with an upgraded version if you so desire (which is really what GPL3 is about). There is nothing special about Apple's CUPS distribution. They just have some management interfaces layered on top but not linked to it. That's something not even the GPL3 tried to extend itself to controlling. And it seems like people have successfully gotten the proprietary management bits to talk to upgraded versions of CUPS, which means it even fits in the spirit of GPL3.
  • by GnarlyDoug (1109205) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:50PM (#19839451)
    The real issue for open source development I see was that Sweet violated an implicit understanding. Everyone transferred their copyrights to him, but there was the idea that the project was open source. How many of those developers would have done the work if they knew or thought Sweet would do this? I bet many of them would not have contributed. By giving up their copyright they lost their entire stake in the matter.

    The real lesson here is that the idea that the developers should pool their copyrights into one person is flawed. That person can then cash out. The get all the profits for everyone else's work. The other developers lose out on both getting a piece of the pie if they would have wanted that, and they lose out in the moral sense in that if they didn't want their code to suddenly become part of a closed source project, they have no say in it anymore.

    I think that in the future open source developers should be more cautious about giving away their copyrights. Also, I hope that open source developers will start forking projects that are being developed by companies and groups that require that the copyright be transferred.

  • by photomonkey (987563) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @01:37PM (#19840133)

    I have a feeling I'll get modded down for saying it, but a lot of the posts I'm seeing here are pro-FLOSS in an anti-FLOSS way.

    I'm not a lawyer, and don't pretend to have a complete understanding of GPLv2 and GPLv3. However, I do think it is generally A Good Thing when companies like Apple (despite their less-than-stellar FLOSS history) buy out projects like CUPS.

    Sure, there is a lot of really great FLOSS software out there that comes completely free to use. A lot of people donate their time to projects. However, with the growing popularity of desktop *NIX, especially desktop Linux, the pseudo-commercialization of the software is bound to happen.

    So long as people get to modify the original code, it only encourages developers if companies like Apple (or Microsoft, or Novell, or whoever) take the original code and make it their own proprietary code. It gives otherwise volunteer developers a way of being financially rewarded for their work.

    The argument about all this comes from something much bigger: the patent/copyright situation. People don't want to see a portion of really useful code locked up for a really long time. But that's kind of the nature of the beast, hunh? You're going to go to whoever has the best product. Companies will seek market advantage by trying to build the best product.

  • by Mikachu (972457) <jjburke&hunter,cuny,edu> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:19PM (#19840729) Homepage
    Good thing, too, cause their nuts would be sore from all the kicking the OSS community is going to be doing once they hear about this.
  • Fork still fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lulu of the Lotus-Ea (3441) <mertz@gnosis.cx> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:23PM (#19840785) Homepage
    A number of posters have commented that Apple probably did this to insure their ability to relicense the CUPS code, or at least keep it under GPL2 rather than GPL3. That's probably true enough. But there's no particular harm in it either.

    If Apple creates a branch of CUPS under some restrictive, proprietary license, so what? All the other developers in the world can take the last GPL(2) version, and enhance it however they like. They might not have access to Apple's enhancements, but there's no requirement for Apple to create them in the first place. For that matter, there's nothing that requires its primary developer to ever write another line of CUPS code either, so that's not something to count on either. Well, the contract with Apple might require such lines be written, but that's neither here nor there.

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