Pirates! UAV Solutions violates Open Source Licenses


I noticed earlier today that William Davidson was promoting UAV Solutions as a place to purchase telemetry radios. Just as Tridge called out Paul Whitespy from Ready to Fly Quads as a license violator I want to make people aware that UAV Solutions is one of the most prolific violators of the open source licenses we use in Ardupilot, Pixhawk, and PX4.

UAV Solutions violates the GPL License on Mission Planner and Ardupilot and they removed Michael Oborne's name from Mission Planner and rebranded it as their own software.

I have spoken with UAV Solutions many times and they have no interest in respecting Michael's work or the efforts of the dev team. They have no interest in respecting the licenses and there is no reason for them to change the way they do business because people buy from them and keep them in business.

Please support the companies who support this project and who respect the developers and the people who have made this project possible. UAV Solutions is not one of those companies.

One of the dev team had a suggestion of creating a badge for open source violators.  Mr Davidson you are the first person to be awarded the badge. 

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  • The license also requires any time the software binaries are distributed (ie: installed on systems being sold complete) that the recipient be made aware of the fact they are using open source code, and must be given that source.  Again, either a .zip or link to Github repository, etc.  

    Are any of the UAVS vehicles using APM code?  If they are, is this being made clear?  It's impossible for me to say from the UAVS website which systems are using APM code.  It's certainly not obvious.  Some of the multirotor vehicles do state that they employ an "open architecture philosophy for hardware and software" but nowhere does it mention APM software, or any other. 

    So, are they using Arducopter?  What about the planes?  If they are, is the source provided to customers?

  • We have no problem providing the source. We never considered it proprietary.
  • Admin

    @William Davidson,

    It would seem that using and modifying Open Source code and then not making the modifications available to the original Developers and users makes the modified source code proprietary which is in violation of GPLv3?


    TCIII Admin

  • @William Davidson,

    It seems clear to me that you haven't addressed all issues that @Craig Elder has or he wouldn't have felt he need to post what he did.  Either that or one of you is unable to communicate effectively and I have to say that Craig has proven he can on this site.

    Maybe if you had approached the dev's and asked if they were ok with how you are attributing their work, did you even try that?  Lets be honest with everyone, it is largely their work and not 'UAV Solutions', you have applied some minor customization and left credits only on a screen that flashes up and disappears quickly.  How nice and considerate of you.  I'm sure they'd have said leave some credits in a help or about screen and all is good and great work on pushing the software out there.  Notice the 2nd scenario is good will on both sides (win win), your method makes one party unhappy (win loose).  Which is better, would have taken you max 1 hour to get a win win.

    I'd vote for the post to stay and please try and justify what you have done to those who have actually provided the software you are now making a living off.....  Before you say you don't charge for the software, you sell a solution, the software is part of that package.

    Good that you have supported the PX4, please detail how you have supported them?  Just in name or have you pony'd up some funds?

    I do agree changing your avatar without giving you a chance to respond wasnt great, now the onus is on you to justify it to the community to get it lifted.  You can still achieve a win win and with less effort than you have most likely put into this already.  Be a champ and do the right thing.

  • And yet their store is selling 3DR supplied products...?!

  • I created an account after reading this blog post because something about it concerned me. I have no dog in this fight and I don't know William Davidson personally or if he is actually guilty of open source license violations.

    My concern is with this "Open Source Violator" badge. Did Craig Elder make a unilateral decision to replace William's avatar image with that badge? Was that decision made by just Craig Elder or by the community at large? It appears Craig Elder made the decision on his own based on his own opinion. On a community as large and engaged as diydrones, branding someone a violator has real-world implications.

    If it turns out William is guilty of willfully violating the open source license agreement, then sure, he should be publicly called out on it. But I don't think one person with administrative privileges on this website should be allowed to be judge, jury, and executioner.

  • Developer

    @William Davidson: The Open Source License for the products you are using do not prohibit you from selling a distribution of the compiled code. The only requirement is that the source code changes you have made are available for download by others (a zip file of all the source code is good enough, github/or bitbucket etc better). So others can build upon the changes that you have made in the same way you made the changes to the original. The point of the GPLv3 is all the work on the project and its derivatives remain in the public domain. Which is the license Mission Planner uses. 

    There are other Open Source licenses that have less restrictive terms. But ArduPilot and Mission Planner are GPLv3 so that's the rules

    I hope that helps :)

  • I would request that the moderators remove this discussion as there is no wrong doing other than the posting of this blog. We have been blatantly attacked without any proof other than a picture that is months old.

    Mr. Elder has come up to us at various trade shows (I believe twice in the last year). With his concerns and any issues. All  were addressed.

    Additionally we have never talked badly but promoted Pixhawk and APM unlike the letter I have read regarding the Whitespy incident.

  • Give credit where credit is due.

    Patent and copy right is only as good as you can afford. Litigation only lines the pockets of lawyers. The ones with the biggest pocket typically wins, because they can afford the best representation, not because they are on the right side of the "law". Most of the time the winner is the result of who wears the opponent into financial ruin.

    The principle of making money is to leverage something of a lower cost to sell at a higher cost. Hence "Open Source" is an obvious target as it is at a very low cost. Being at a low cost, perpetuates the problem that it can't, at least financially, afford to defend itself.

    The nature of current business is that it is ILLEGAL for a corporation NOT to make a profit. This drives businesses to make profit by pushing the boundaries of what they can get away with, rather than what they are "allowed" to do. There is no industry that I know of where IP protection isn't an issue, nor where the "stealing" of "original" ideas isn't an issue. See Samsung and Apple etc etc.

    The philosophical question arises exactly who's "original" idea anything was, as our life experiences are not independent from each other. We experience life as a group of individuals. Many ideas are the direct result of external stimuli of a problem that is perceived to be in need of a solution. Open source is actually a closer representation of the that truth, in that our thoughts and with them our ideas, are not just "our own". The community that supports and uses those ideas should be the beneficiary of those ideas, not those that seek to profit from them, without contributing back to the community.

    Open source only works only IF beneficiaries continue to contribute BACK to the community.

    The issue is simply the misdirection of pursuing the wrong goals. Corporations aim for profits and as a result anything goes that they can "afford" to do, be that even criminal or "just" leveraging the "open source" community for financial gain. Some do that "incognito" other's openly, other's again after the community development has produced a product of sufficient financial value....

    The true intent of open source is to promote and develop an idea that benefits the community that uses and develops it. The goal is not, at least directly, and in the hearts of true believers, to not make a profit in money, but to perpetuate the cause to benefit the community.

    Who is in contravention of "open source" is for some a matter of perception. But asking one corporate beneficiary of open source to pursue another, in the name of protecting open source, is unlikely to yield the results anyone wants.

    Regards JB

  • It seems that people like to jump to conclusions without actually getting their facts correct.

    The gentlemen at 3DR know we promote open source and this project to our customers and everything it stands for, additional we promote to universities that in turn promote and use this project as it was intended.

    We do use the opens source code as many here do and make modifications as needed for ourselves or our customers. To that end we then provide the software free of charge to our customers with no NRE for the service.

    We are supporters of the PX4 Group.

    Additionally, the software does still give credit to Mr. Oborne on startup.

    We are a 3DR dealer and therefor can sell their radios and Iris + spare parts if someone needs them.

    Seems a bit premature to slap a badge on us and curse at us on twitter. Not a positive way to promote DIY

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