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October 5, 2008 08:00 PM

Categories: Rovio

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RobosapienPet

Member
Joined: 10/18/2006

Background:
The main program in the Rovio is called CameraTest.bin. It is part of the firmware inside the robot (see other threads if you are interested in the technical tidbits).
This program handles the web server, WiFi configuration, camera control, glue to other systems (like motors and NorthStar), other CGI server scripts, and much more.

It uses an open source embedded OS called "eCos"
http://ecos.sourceware.org/

This represents approximately 1MB of ARM code and data. Part of that is 'eCos'.

eCos is released under a GPL-like license (but not as strict)
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/ecos-license.html
http://ecos.sourceware.org/license-overview.html
"....In the simplest terms, when you distribute anything containing eCos code, you must make the source code to eCos available under the terms of the GPL."
"...However you would not need to make available any other code, such as the code of a wholly separate application linked with eCos."

So WowWee owes us the source code for at least part of the software.
-------
Request for action:

This is the official WowWee endorsed forum isn't it?
If so, would someone with contacts at WowWee please inform them they are currently in violation of the eCos licensing terms, and ask them nicely to provide the required source code ??

IANAL but I think they need to include proper copyright notices (I can't see any) as well as provide source to the eCos components they used with any modifications they made. There may be more depending on how they factored their application (see the exception clause in the license). We'll know that once we get the bare minimum to start with.

Thanks

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-15 of 62 | Latest Comment | 1 2 3 4 5 Next »

October 5, 2008 9:19 PM

RobosapienPet said: Request for action: This is the official WowWee endorsed forum isn't it?

When you post here, you are not talking directly to WowWee.

Yes, there are some WowWee employees who keep tabs on things here

That's not the same thing as WowWee stating that RoboCommunity is an official channel of communication for talking to WowWee.

I suggest you take it up directly with WowWee.

ScottE -- collecting and building robots for 40 years - details in profile

October 5, 2008 10:59 PM

Well, I would say one of you two should contact Wowwee. Pet, you seem to have passion and knowledge. Scott, seems like you have a leg up on the rest of us. But since Scott seems to have passed on this, Pet, I second his suggest, please contact Wowwee!

October 6, 2008 7:16 AM updated: October 6, 2008 7:19 AM

I don't have any contacts with WowWee that everybody else in this community doesn't also have.

Since I don't have a Rovio, I'm not a customer of the product at this time.

Since I'm not familiar with the legal aspects, I cannot describe them intelligently to any WowWee contacts without first learning them. Moderating takes enough of my personal time, without having to research legal issues for community members.

ScottE -- collecting and building robots for 40 years - details in profile

October 6, 2008 1:32 PM

Huh? I agreed with your suggestion that "Pet" (Robosapien Pet) should contact Wowwee.

October 6, 2008 1:58 PM updated: October 6, 2008 1:58 PM

Thanks for volunteering me ;->

I take no responsibility for getting results. If you want to help, and you have a Rovio, please post your additional request on this form:
http://www.wowweesupport.com/contactus.php

They don't have a category for "Rovio" so pick one at random.
-----
As mentioned, anyone who has direct contact with WowWee should send them an email (like those who get early review robots, hint hint).
-----
NOTE: this is not something they should ignore. Wowwee is legally obligated to provide these things at the time you receive the robot, even if it is a trivial adaptation of eCos.
There are numerous cases of hardware manufacturers ignoring their legal requirements under licensing terms.

It can take some time and a number of customer protests to get companies to do what they are legally obliged to do.
Please add your voice.

October 6, 2008 2:03 PM

I have yet to order a Rovio. I have no programming ability, and I never heard of eCos until your post. But I will do as you say: if at some point I own a Rovio (as I hope to), I will post on the Wowwee forum you referenced.

October 6, 2008 2:44 PM

Rob said: Huh? I agreed with your suggestion that "Pet" (Robosapien Pet) should contact Wowwee.

I was responding to your statement that I "Passed on this".

It's roughly akin to your passing on the "opportunity" to come over and do my yardwork for free this fall.

Anything I do here is on my own time.  No money changes hands. Taking on a task such as chasing this bit of legalese is a bit too much to do as a favor out of the goodness of my heart.

ScottE -- collecting and building robots for 40 years - details in profile

October 6, 2008 6:25 PM

Hey buddy, you're lucky you have one to hack around with.  Keep up the good work as you are definately saving us time.

I haven't been able to get a hold of one yet, but as soon as I do I intend to write a library so that I can hijack the stock remote control crap and give it true autonomy. 

What good is a robot if it can't think for and act on it's own decisons? 

Give us more control WowWee.

October 6, 2008 8:24 PM

RobosapienPet said: They don't have a category for "Rovio" so pick one at random.

Not like you to miss something, Rovio can be found in the "Technologies" product category. I highly recommend that you use it.

RoboGuide - Your guide to hacking all things WowWee

October 9, 2008 10:15 AM

I do indeed hope we get some source code out of this, it has been a while since I have done any imbeded device development but I feel this is a project I would be very interested in. If not I guess I need to break out IDA Pro.

I like turtles

October 9, 2008 8:24 PM updated: October 9, 2008 8:29 PM

> I take no responsibility for getting results. If you want to help, and you have a Rovio, please post your additional request on this form:
> http://www.wowweesupport.com/contactus.php

Official reply from WowWee support:
"Parts are not available for Rovio yet."
"Thank you for contacting WowWee."

I'm not surprised. WowWee doesn't get it.
----
I repeat anyone (yes *ANYONE*) with private connections to WowWee please help us out.
If they sent you a free robot, or a pre-release robot, or anything under NDA, then please send them an email to inform them that the Rovio is an illegal robot. It contains software that is in blatant violation of the licensing terms.

Get them to live up to their responsibilities. They are using open source software to produce their products, and sell them to you at premium prices, while shirking on their legal responsibilities.

October 13, 2008 1:24 PM

In addition, as far as I can tell, the media playback is using code derived from "spook"
http://www.litech.org/spook/
This package was released under the GPL (the old version, not the more lax eCos version)

October 17, 2008 4:27 PM

RobosapienPet, have you attempted to call WowWee and speak with someone regarding your request? That may be a better approach for you to use.

It seems like the original response you received via email may have been a "stock" response, not intended for your specific question. This does not constitute denial, just that it may have gone into the wrong electronic queue, or a similar event.

I guess my point is that your time would probably be better spent calling WowWee directly, rather than digging for faults or issuing legal accusations. Someone on the forums just recently posted on a positive experience calling WowWee, in fact, stating that they spoke to someone who was knowledgeable and polite.

I would highly recommend that you give WowWee a real chance to respond. Civility and respect go a long way, and I'm sure you'll find that you'll be able to deal with some really great, friendly, passionate people there.

Pete

Peter Redmer
Administrator
Blog | Twitter

October 17, 2008 5:01 PM updated: October 17, 2008 5:08 PM

> RobosapienPet, have you attempted to call WowWee and speak with someone regarding your request?...
To their credit, the customer support folks did re-evaluate the request, and it is being sent to the proper people (or so they say).
I continue to request that you add your voice, especially to those that have special relationships with the company (I do not).
----
I've been harping on this in the forums for a clear reason.
I am all but convinced they are using "GPL" code for their RTSP webcam and other parts (well beyond the special eCos license). This is very similar to other cases where consumer device manufacturers use all the advantages of someone else's "open source" GPL software to get their products out the door to make money, and immediately forget about where they got it, and the legal obligations that came with it.
If interested in the topic, please read: http://gpl-violations.org/

IANAL, but under the legal obligations of the (regular) GPL they need to release the source code to all linked code in the main program. They need to do this at the time of the release. Not years later, not after your customers discover your underhanded use of someone else's software, and certainly not after a long time of vocal protests.
-----
Of course you are correct. The beef is not with the WowWee support people. They are doing their job.
The issue is usually with the developers of the software/firmware. In many cases this is farmed out to other companies (I don't know any specifics for the Rovio)
-----
And finally, please don't confuse me with someone who cares a lot about this issue. It takes too much work when companies are breaking the law and customers have to shame them into doing the right thing.
If someone wants to take over this issue, please feel free.

October 23, 2008 3:29 PM

Additional commentary: (redacted from other threads)

If interested in past history, check the RS Media forum.

My prediction: by the time they partially comply with the GPL, the Rovio will be forgotten and in the bargain bin.

---
re: is this piracy ?
GPL software is not in the public domain. With public domain software you can do anything you want.

Most open source is released under licensing terms, like the GPL or variants.
Pirating is a common term for "Copyright infringement of software". IMHO it fits in the case of Rovio. Your opinion may vary.

The more common case of piracy is a kid ripping off a game and post it on the web. It is likely a copyright violation but is up to the copyright holder (eg: the company that wrote the game) to decide the rules for making copies.
In the Rovio case, the copyright holders decided the rules (read the licence), and WowWee is violating them. Open source software has rules too.

BTW: There are examples of users intentionally *NOT* violating WowWee's copyrights (eg: the RSMedia Java "SDK").

Think about it, if a member were to post a piece of software that was blatantly violating WowWee's copyrights, or promised to adhere to the rules in a year or two -- the thread would be deleted and the user maybe banned.
WowWee gets cut a lot more slack of course. Talking about WowWee's misdeeds can get people up in arms...

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 1-15 of 62 | Latest Comment | 1 2 3 4 5 Next »

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