Google fights Android fragmentation with new SDK terms

Google has revised the terms of the Android SDK license agreement so that users must now agree not to fragment Android by deriving other SDKs from Google’s official offering. In fact, you now have to agree not to fragment Android in any way as a condition of using the Android SDK.

image

The key clauses seem to be these (I write as a non-lawyer):

3.2 You agree that Google or third parties own all legal right, title and interest in and to the SDK, including any Intellectual Property Rights that subsist in the SDK. "Intellectual Property Rights" means any and all rights under patent law, copyright law, trade secret law, trademark law, and any and all other proprietary rights. Google reserves all rights not expressly granted to you.

3.3 You may not use the SDK for any purpose not expressly permitted by this License Agreement. Except to the extent required by applicable third party licenses, you may not: (a) copy (except for backup purposes), modify, adapt, redistribute, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or create derivative works of the SDK or any part of the SDK; or (b) load any part of the SDK onto a mobile handset or any other hardware device except a personal computer, combine any part of the SDK with other software, or distribute any software or device incorporating a part of the SDK.

3.4 You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK.

How much of this is new? Here are the terms as stored on my hard drive:

3.2 You agree that Google or third parties own all legal right, title and interest in and to the SDK, including any Intellectual Property Rights that subsist in the SDK. "Intellectual Property Rights" means any and all rights under patent law, copyright law, trade secret law, trademark law, and any and all other proprietary rights. Google reserves all rights not expressly granted to you.

3.3 Except to the extent required by applicable third party licenses, you may not copy (except for backup purposes), modify, adapt, redistribute, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or create derivative works of the SDK or any part of the SDK. Except to the extent required by applicable third party licenses, you may not load any part of the SDK onto a mobile handset or any other hardware device except a personal computer, combine any part of the SDK with other software, or distribute any software or device incorporating a part of the SDK.

The clause 3.4 specifically concerning fragmentation is new, but the clause 3.3 forbidding the creation of derivative works is not new. When this was first added is an interesting question and please comment if you know.

Note that the Android SDK depends on the Java Development Kit, and that Google’s use of Java in Android was the subject of unsuccessful litigation from Oracle.

Free software advocate Torsten Grote has posted about the move here and says:

This situation is far from perfect for software freedom. Developing Android Apps in freedom is only possible as soon as the Replicant developers catch up. Looks like Android stops being a Free Software friendly platform.

Replicant is a free version of the Android software stack including an SDK, though of course it will not be possible to include new parts of the SDK only available under the non-free license.

4 thoughts on “Google fights Android fragmentation with new SDK terms”

  1. I believe everything but clause 3.4 (November 2012) is included here: http://web.archive.org/web/20100111025451/http://developer.android.com/intl/ja/sdk/terms.html

    That’s a Wayback version of the terms fetched in January 2010 that dates itself as April 2009. As someone who downloaded the original SDK in November 2007, I believe everything but 3.4 goes back to the original SDK release (it sounds pretty familiar anyway), but since the Wayback archives don’t go further back I don’t see an easy way to demonstrate that.

  2. @Ravi thanks. 3.3 has changed a bit too, with the addition of “You may not use the SDK for any purpose not expressly permitted by this License Agreement.”

  3. You both (Tim and Ravi) have good eyes for the changes.

    I’m a lawyer by trade, so have access to industrial strength document comparison software. I ran the current license Tim links to against the archived version Ravi linked to, and generated this redline: https://s3.amazonaws.com/wac6web/docs/Android+Software+Development+Kit+License+-+changes+in++November+2012+marked+v+April+2009.pdf

    I think it pretty much confirms that you guys have spotted the essential changes. Would be interested if you see anything to the addition of “Android” as a defined term at Section 1.2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *