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Apple Delays Release of LGPL WebKit Code 209

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hey-now-wait-a-minute dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Ever since Apple forked the KHTML project to create WebKit, the rendering engine at the core of Safari, the company has been a good open source citizen, releasing the code back to the community after updates. But that suddenly stopped in March, with no code releases for the last two updates to the iOS version of the browser, for reasons unknown. This might remind you of Google's failure to release the Honeycomb source code. But at least Google announced that it was holding the code back, and Android is under a license that allows for a delay; the LGPL'd WebKit isn't." Update: 05/09 21:21 GMT by S : Reader Shin-LaC points out that Apple has now released the relevant source code.
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Apple Delays Release of LGPL WebKit Code

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  • CUPERTINO, Transylvania, Friday — After bricking unlocked iPhones, kicking applications off the iPhone store that might even slightly compete with iTunes in the far future, "delaying" the release of GPL source code and filing a wave of patents on basic well-known computer science, Apple Inc. today filed a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission declaring that it was openly adopting Evil [newstechnica.com] as a corporate policy.

    "Fuck it," said Steve Jobs to an audience of soul-mortgaged thralls, "we're evil. But our stuff is sooo good. You'll keep taking our abuse. You love it, you worm. Because our stuff is great. It's shiny and it's pretty and it's cool and it works. It's not like you'll go back to a Windows Mobile phone. Ha! Ha!"

    Steve Ballmer of Microsoft was incensed at the news. "Our evil is better than anyone's evil! No-one sweats the details of evil like Microsoft! Where's your antitrust trial, you polo-necked bozo? We've worked hard on our evil! Our Zune's as evil as an iPod any day! I won't let my kids use a lesser evil! We're going to do an ad about that! I'll be in it! With Jerry Seinfeld! Beat that! Asshole.”

    "Of course, we're still not evil," said Sergey Brin of Google. "You can trust us on this. Every bit of data about you, your life and the house you live in is strictly a secret between you and our marketing department. But, hypothetically, if we were evil, it's not like you're going to use Bing. Ha! Ha! I'm sorry, that's my ‘spreading good cheer' laugh. Really."

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#36072778) Journal
    Here's the download webpage. [apple.com] Presumably Apple intends to release it eventually (based on what is written on that web page), who knows why they haven't yet.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Seems like jumping the gun a bit. There other FOSS code dumps are current and it is only the beginning of may. For all we know they are searching the source to make sure they don't have any patent issues with the code. Which is just wrong but if I was Apple I would triple check it just to be sure.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      It would really be fun if Apple decided not to release it and there were a class action lawsuit by all iDevice users, to whom Apple owes source for any LGPL parts of Webkit. Google would definitely back that.

      • by bieber (998013)
        A user can't sue a company violating the GPL, only the copyright holder can do that. It would be up to the Webkit developers to pursue a lawsuit if they chose to.
        • by Jonner (189691)

          A user can't sue a company violating the GPL, only the copyright holder can do that. It would be up to the Webkit developers to pursue a lawsuit if they chose to.

          That's usually true, though there are exceptions [ebb.org]. However, since Google uses Webkit extensively, they've almost certainly contributed to it and therefore hold copyrights on parts of it.

  • DHS to the rescue? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hweimer (709734) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:18PM (#36072874) Homepage

    So we have a case of blatant copyright violation, which is even perpetrated for commercial gain. So I guess the DHS will step in and seize the apple.com domain as they have done before in similar cases, right?

  • by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:19PM (#36072894) Homepage Journal

    Other than some underlying systems bits that's copyleft (Linux kernel, Bluez, some system utils), or BSD licensed, Google generally own most of the Android code outright. So Google don't ever have to release Honeycomb. It's their code, they don't have to give source if they don't want to. (That said, I reckon their bluetooth stack depends sufficiently on BlueZ that their userspace becomes derived from that GPL code - stuffing IPC between your code and GPL code does NOT, of itself, mean your code escapes from the GPL; but that still doesn't mean they'd have to release their code).

    Apple OTOH started WebKit/WebCore as a fork of KHTML, which is LGPL. So it wasn't their code at all to start with and, unless they're rewritten ALL the code since the fork AND gotten appropriate grants from the other contributors to WebKit, Apple are obliged to honour the *other* copyright holders and follow the LGPL licence.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      (That said, I reckon their bluetooth stack depends sufficiently on BlueZ that their userspace becomes derived from that GPL code - stuffing IPC between your code and GPL code does NOT, of itself, mean your code escapes from the GPL; but that still doesn't mean they'd have to release their code).

      "Stuffing IPC" between something under the GPL and something under a different license certainly does isolate the other-licensed code from the GPL. If that weren't the case, it would be nearly impossible to distribute anything under a GPL-incompatible license to run on a GNU/Linux system. Any time you piped output from Bash into the incompatibly-license program, you'd violate the GPL. Thankfully, the GPL is not viral in that way. In fact, it's always been perfectly acceptable to run proprietary programs on

    • by gilesjuk (604902)

      Isn't the whole runtime of Android based on Apache Harmony? therefore reliant on a big chunk of open source code.

  • Forgive the line numbers, I grabbed it from the webkit Trac [webkit.org]

    Here's the license.

    1
    2 Copyright (C) 2005, 2006, 2007 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
    3
    4 Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
    5 modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
    6 are met:
    7
    8 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
    9 notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
    10 2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
    11 notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
    12 documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
    13 3. Neither the name of Apple Computer, Inc. ("Apple") nor the names of
    14 its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived
    15 from this software without specific prior written permission.
    16
    17 THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY APPLE AND ITS CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND ANY
    18 EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED
    19 WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
    20 DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL APPLE OR ITS CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY
    21 DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
    22 (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
    23 LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND
    24 ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
    25 (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF
    26 THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
    27
    28

    In other words, "We'll release the source when we're damn well good and ready."

    • by Octorian (14086)

      Why does that look more like a BSD license than the LGPL?

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        I believe that's the blurb from the Apple open source licence, not the LGPL one on the bulk of Webkit.

        Either way, Apple will release the source - they simply have to, and they are well aware of it. They've always done so in the past and there's no reason not to now, so I am sure this is just a storm in a teacup.

        • by JAlexoi (1085785)
          Did you say the same about Honeycomb source?
          • by jo_ham (604554)

            I don't believe Google actually has to release the Honeycomb source right away if it doesn't want to, since it owns the whole project? Some nuance to the copyright attribution on the code. I'm not sure exactly.

            Either way, changes to contributed code from other people absolutely must be released, or what's the point of the licence?

            Google wouldn't be taking the stance it has done so on such a hot button issue unless it was pretty sure about the legal implications and without a plan for what it was going to do

    • by Jonner (189691)

      In other words, "We'll release the source when we're damn well good and ready."

      If that's what their attitude has become, they're itching for a fight, since they are legally required to make available source code of any LGPL-licensed components to whomever they have distributed binaries. If they don't make the sources available, any iPhone owner could take them to court. Apple and Steve Jobs are no strangers GPL violation. NeXT wrote an Objective C frontend for GCC and didn't want to release the source for it, but were eventually forced to do so. Apple bought NeXT and got Jobs and all

      • by SETIGuy (33768)

        they are legally required to make available source code of any LGPL-licensed components to whomever they have distributed binaries

        You need to read your licenses better, or stop believing people who don't know what they are talking about. The only provision in the LGPL for only giving source to people you have given binaries to is if you give the source and binaries together. If you don't give source and binaries together, then you are required to give source to any party that requests it.

        • by Jonner (189691)

          they are legally required to make available source code of any LGPL-licensed components to whomever they have distributed binaries

          You need to read your licenses better, or stop believing people who don't know what they are talking about. The only provision in the LGPL for only giving source to people you have given binaries to is if you give the source and binaries together. If you don't give source and binaries together, then you are required to give source to any party that requests it.

          I'm not entirely sure what your point is or what you're disputing, but I think you're saying that distributing a binary of an LGPL-licensed library to anyone requires the distributor to offer to source to everyone. This is not the case. The relevant section from LGPL 2.1 [gnu.org]:

          4. You may copy and distribute the Library (or a portion or derivative of it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you accompany it with the complete corresponding machin

          • by SETIGuy (33768)
            You're right. I didn't notice that the LGPL had "the same user" where the standard GPL has "any third party," and made a bad assumption. Yet another reason not to choose LGPL.
            • by Jonner (189691)

              You're right. I didn't notice that the LGPL had "the same user" where the standard GPL has "any third party," and made a bad assumption. Yet another reason not to choose LGPL.

              The GPL v2 [gnu.org] doesn't say that distributing one binary of a GPL-licensed work to one person requires the distributor to offer the source to everyone in the world either. The Official FAQ [gnu.org] explains this. Though distributing a binary of a GPL work implicitly grants a license to everyone, it does not require the distributor to offer source to everyone, but only those who received a binary from the distributor, either directly or indirectly.

              Though LGPL 2.1 and GPL 2.0 have different wording, it's pretty clear that

  • Apple is INSANELY cool and that's all I care about.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      really now? I see apple as a bunch of old people who used to know what cool was, then the 80's ended

      • really now? I see apple as a bunch of old people who used to know what cool was, then the 80's ended

        where have you been the past five years? apple (a company, not a bunch of people) is hot as hell, like it or not

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:46PM (#36073160)
    Saying "Google does it too!", doesn't make it right.
    • by Jonner (189691)

      More importantly, Google probably hasn't done it too. It's not good that they're delaying the release of Android 3 source , but it's probably not violating any license. The specifically chose non-copyleft code as the basis for Android (with the obvious exception of Linux).

  • by Wovel (964431)

    I seem to recall when this story came out a couple of weeks ago that the speculation centered on the updated JS engine. Apple may be determining if that code needs to be released.

  • Can anyone point me to the Android web browser code used in Honeycomb? Seeing it also uses the same LGPL WebCore and JavaScriptCore modules I'd like to have a look. I've tried via the http://source.android.com/ [android.com] but couldn't get any of the updates that may have been introduced in Honeycomb.

    Thanks.

    • by JAlexoi (1085785)
      Android uses WebKit proper and V8. WebCore and JavaScriptCore are not used there. And the source for Chrome on Android is in the chromium sources, not android.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:20PM (#36073566)
    Am I the only to see a very simple explanation that the author has missed? To recap here is what the author is saying:
    • WebKit is LGPL so updates should be released
    • Apple has released iOS 4.3, 4.3.1,4.3.2, and 4.3.3 without any updates to WebKit
    • Therefore Apple is holding back WebKit updates.

    Am I the only one to see the major flaw in logic? iOS updates may include Safari updates which may include WebKit updates but iOS updates are not necessarily WebKit updates. If you look at the actual 4.3 updates [slashdot.org] that the author describes, the vast majority of changes have nothing to do with Safari. Even if they did, remember Safari is WebKit + Apple's browser code just like Chrome = WebKit + Google's code. The few changes around Safari seem to imply fixes to Safari not WebKit. Also if the author did any deep analysis, in 4.2, Apple updated Safari to use WebKit 533.17.9 whereas the newest stable version if WebKit is 534.20.

    • by 7-Vodka (195504)
      I think it's important to point out that the Google-authored portion of Chromium is released under the BSD license.
      • That may be true but the main premise is flawed. An update to iOS may not have anything to do with WebKit. The history of iOS seems to be that it lags behind WebKit. Just like Ubuntu and Red Hat do not always update their Linux distributions to use the newest stable version of the kernel. For various reasons, they may be 1 or 2 minor versions behind.
    • by Jonner (189691) on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:41PM (#36074436)

      Am I the only to see a very simple explanation that the author has missed?

      Apple's own iOS 4.3 source download page [apple.com] references the unreleased sources of JavaScriptCore and WebCore.

    • by tapo (855172)

      A key feature of iOS 4.3 was significantly improved JavaScript performance by porting Nitro to iOS, Nitro is a part of Webkit. So yes, this specific iOS update did include a rather significant Webkit update, perhaps one of the most significant ones in recent memory, which makes it suspect.

      So they're holding it back on purpose. Maliciously? Who knows.

  • Found it. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:54PM (#36073934)

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/tarballs/WebCore/WebCore-955.66.tar.gz
    Also see:
    http://www.opensource.apple.com/tarballs/

  • That Apple simply has nothing new to release?
  • What's missing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:26PM (#36075624)

    Nobody seems to have been clear on what is supposed to be published but isn't. The WebKit source [webkit.org] has had checkins as recently as 2 minutes ago, so it doesn't look like Apple have stopped publishing the source to me.

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