In recent months, a number of alleged GPL-violation reports regarding products (tablet computers, mini netbooks and the like) using the Wondermedia WM850x line of ARM SoCs. People have been contacting me, as I was working as VIA Open Source Liaison, and there is the general belief that VIA and Wondermedia Technology (WMT) are one company.
I had investigated this issue even before there were any reports, and I'd like to publicly state that:
- Wondermedia is a separate company from VIA, with independent management, making their own business decisions. The 850x SoC development was started inside VIA, but is no longer part of VIA for a long time.
- Any references to VIA in the source code or old data sheets date from that time before the SoC business became part of Wondermedia
- I have had assurances from Wondermedia, even before there were any allegations, that similar to VIA they explicitly notify their customers about the GPL and always provide their SDK / BSP as full corresponding source code.
- Effectively, this means that GPLv2 Section "3a" is used. WMT has provided the Linux and u-boot source code to its customers, and thus has no obligation under GPLv2 Section "3b" to provide it to anybody else (any 3rd party)
- So, if you buy a product including a WMT SoC and u-boot/Linux, like always, GPL compliance of what has been shipped to you has to be assured by the manufacturer of the product, not the semiconductor maker
Notwithstanding all of the above, Wondermedia was willing to provide the Linux kernel and u-boot source code of their SDK to me, so I can share it with the community. As indicated, they're not legally required to do this and I'm happy they do it anyway to show their good intentions.
This software is provided without any kind of support. If you see some GPL related legal problems (i.e. you believe it is incomplete), don't hesitate to contact me. To the best of my knowledge WMT (basically a small hardware start-up with small software development team) has no resources to actively push any of this mainline.