Webtide has been putting some effort into porting Jetty onto Google’s Android mobile phone platform. We were seduced to expend this effort by the promise from Google that android would provide “a new level of openness”. Yet we may be forced to abandon this effort as Google’s bad robot breaks Asimovs 3 laws of Robotics as they have been modified for openness by the the eclipse foundation.

The core issue, is that after an initial promising start, google appear to have backtracked on the openness bit.  SDKs updates are only being distributed to select partners who are gagged with NDAs and thus can’t illuminate the community as to the now unclear intentions of Google. This bad robot violates all three laws:

 

A committer may not, through action or inaction, violate IP cleanliness

While not an IP issue, there is a real issue that google may have infringed the GPL by attempting to limit distribution rights with an NDA. They have been officially inactive to try to remedy this and their unofficial weasling out of it does not satisfy the GPL.

 

A committer may not, through action or inaction, disenfranchise contributors

Webtide has been disenfranchised of the freedom to equally compete with those that have access to the SDK.  We were induced to contribute our i-jetty efforts to the android community by the promise of openness and the OSI licenses applied to the initial SDK releases. Those promises have proved hollow and the terms of the licenses used have been disrespected at least in spirit, if not in the letter.

 

A committer may not, through action or inaction, surprise the membership

We are waiting for the surprises that will come with the revelation of the secret APIs in the lastest SDKs. We do know that some of the priviledge few with access to the JDK are experimenting with i-jetty.  But we have no idea if the secret APIs that google will not reveal might include HTTP and/or servlet capability and our efforts will be for naught.  Thus we feel duped into supporting the development efforts of Google and their partners without the transparency needed to allow us to take this business risk openly. 

I see little reason that we should continue to put development resources towards this project.  While we accept and embrace that that the vast majority of the users of our software will do so freely, we are not a charity and certainly not to the likes of Google. We give away our software and openly  collaborate on it’s development, but if one wants our commercial priorities to be aligned with their own commercial activities, then we expect a commercial relationship.  Google have used false open pretenses to induce ourselves and many others to align our open source efforts with their closed commercial priorities.

Bad Robot! Google Android is evil

6 thoughts on “Bad Robot! Google Android is evil

  • August 9, 2008 at 7:54 pm
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    You committed your efforts to a beta product, what exactly did you expect?

    Wait until Android is out, then you can complain.

  • August 10, 2008 at 8:19 am
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    We commited effort to a project that self described itself as open source.     All we expected was for that project to be open.

  • August 11, 2008 at 8:26 am
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    As the trackback blog points out, it is almost certainly the case that Google has not breached the GPL.

    But the google response is that they may have distributed the source code of their modification with the binaries that they have shipped to a select few, and that the NDA does not cover that source. So if we knew who the select few were,  we could ask them if they would send us the source, and if it was separable from the bits that the NDA does protect and they were inclined to help and they were confident that they fully understood the limits of the NDA, then we all could have the source code, but it would do us any good anyway, because it’s useless without the bits the NDA protects.

    So s/level/definition/  in googles original statement about the openness of android.

  • August 19, 2008 at 4:00 am
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    @Greg

    What are your thoughts on the released SDK today?

    It will be more open as the full stable release is provided which would be v 1.0 that is pushed out in approximately a month.

    ,Michael Martin

    Google Android News

  • August 24, 2008 at 10:35 pm
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    just back from vacation… so we have not checked it out yet (or I’ve not been told if we have). Will comment when i know more.

    cheers

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