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No, Google is not making the Android SDK proprietary. What’s the fuss about?

January 4th, 2013 · No Comments

Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) member Torsten Grote claims that Google’s “Android SDK [Software Development Kit] is now non-free software.“On Twitter, Grote summed up his position as “#Android SDK is no longer #FreeSoftware. Is #Google turning evil?

Grote’s solution is not to drop Android. Rather, he suggests developers use “the truly Free Software version of Android called Replicant.”

The particular clauses that Grote seems to object to is the restrictions in the Android SDK license in section 3.3 and 3.4:  

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.

This clause applies to the SDK binary, not the SDK source code files, and it has been around for years. The SDK source code, like almost all of Android, is covered by the Apache Software License 2 (ASLv2).

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