Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

Summary: The porting of the Kindle Fire Silk browser to non-Amazon hardware raises the question -- is this theft?

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Amazon made a big deal about its Silk browser included on the Kindle Fire, claiming it would speed up web browsing on the Fire. My experience with the browser backs up that claim when connected to the web via a slow connection, but otherwise it is much like other Android browser variants. The homebrew community didn't like the fact that the Silk browser was restricted to the Kindle Fire, and have now ported it to other Android devices. That raises the question -- isn't that stealing the app?

The beauty of Android is how open it is, and how most companies involved let users do pretty much what they want with the software. I'm not sure that applies to the Silk browser, which is developed by Amazon strictly for the Kindle Fire. Porting it to non-Amazon hardware seems to fly in the face of doing what is right. It almost seems like outright theft of proprietary software.

The argument will be made that Amazon is not losing anything since Silk carries no extra cost to Fire owners, but that's pretty weak. Everything has a cost to develop, and this is no different. Since the Silk browser uses Amazon servers to dish out web pages faster than normal, there is an actual cost to the company for every illicit copy in use.

Android may be open but that doesn't mean folks can just take any app on the platform willy-nilly. It seems there is an ethical boundary that has been crossed with this Silk browser port. What do you think? Should any free app on Android devices be fair game to take and put on devices they aren't intended to be run on? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Topics: Hardware, Browser, Mobility

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37 comments
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  • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

    If it is gone from Kindle Fire then yes.
    paul2011
    • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

      @paul2011
      That's right. Strictly speaking, "stealing" software (or any other digital media) isn't actually stealing, because the original still exists. Some use the term "piracy" but of course, this isn't really accurate, either. What it is is copyright infringement.

      And it is illegal.
      x I'm tc
      • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

        @jdakula: "What it is is copyright infringement."

        I don't think so. If it's open source, so you're entitled to what you want with it - you can even take it apart and reassemble it into something else. Have you seen any statements from Amazon reserving rights? If no rights are reserved, or it's published as open source, then likely they're not restricting you in any way.
        JJJoseph
  • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

    Hmmm, Amazon might make more from the extra search/usage data collected than the cost to service additional users.
    gavmiller
    • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

      @gavmiller - I agree, also the "public awareness" free press kind of thing...developing an android app, as I understand has very little cost more-so once it is developed. All-in-all while I usually agree with James, I am somewhat disappoint in this view James. A neutral viewpoint asking what the readers would vote is more inline with James' normal articles...
      heredavid
      • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

        @heredavid
        The problem in this is not what it costs to develop, but what it costs to maintain. Silk uses a server farm to speed up the user experience, and that's not free.

        On the other hand, Amazon could just use this as a great marketing tool. They have something most people want, and they can use it as a means to push amazon into your phone. I seriously hope Amazon doesn't go on a blocking spree for silk. That'd hurt them way more than simply releasing it themselves.
        errandum
      • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

        @errandum
        If they [i]want[/i] to give it away, that's up to them. This is copyright infringement, plain and simple.
        x I'm tc
      • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

        @heredavid - Asking readers to vote won't change the fact that this is copyright infringement and ethically wrong.
        fredzachary
      • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

        @jdakula this isn't a ripped mp3. Silk was built on WebKit, the same open source code powering Safari and Chrome. So you cannot assume any of it is copyright infringement without having an IP lawyer going through the code and the underlying open source licenses and seeing if Amazon can claim copyright on any of the code that was ported over. Plus, Silk probably violates or uses someone else's patents -- probably Opera since they were doing the same thing years ago -- so Amazon may not even have the IP moral ground (not that it matters)<br><br>There is a reason why Microsoft called open source software a "cancer". Once you start using it, the underlying licenses can wipe out all of your copyright claims. But companies still go for it because they can try for patent protection or tie it in with services that are not as easily copied.
        nategator
  • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

    I think I'll leave that up to Amazon to answer! If they fire off a lawsuit, then the answer is yes!
    leopards
  • Line crossed ...

    ... not by porting the app. but by using the AMAZON cloud.
    I'd be OK with the port if it linked to a cloud service provided by the developer.
    jacksonjohn
  • If you can't take the heat of modding & hacking

    Then get out of the Android kitchen!

    Android is an open platform, love it or leave it.
    kingcobra23
    • I left it

      @kingcobra23

      And I love being gone.
      LiquidLearner
  • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

    Personally, I suspect that Amazon is neither surprised nor angry about this. They had to expect it would happen at some point. Plus, if they get the browsing pattern and history, they may have been happily waiting for this to happen.
    jglopic
  • Depends

    Maybe I missed it but it depends on the license that applies to Silk.

    Maybe if you would do your due diligence as a responsible media type and enlighten us as to the license we would be better prepared to respond.
    Tim Patterson
    • here

      3. License and Restrictions

      "Subject to your compliance with the terms of the Agreement, Amazon grants you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable, limited license to install and use the Software on your computer or device in accordance with the Agreement and any applicable law or regulation in the relevant jurisdictions (including any laws regarding the export of data or software to and from the United State or other relevant countries). You may not make copies of or distribute the Software or electronically transfer the Software from one device to another or over a network. Except and only to the extent expressly permitted under applicable law, you may not, and may not encourage, assist, or authorize any other person to, modify, reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Software, in whole or in part; create any derivative work from or of the Software; or bypass, modify, defeat or tamper with or circumvent any of the functions or protections of the Software. Unless Amazon has given you specific written permission to do so, you may not sublicense, assign, or otherwise transfer the Software or your rights to use the Software. All rights not expressly granted in the Agreement are reserved by Amazon and its affiliates."

      "An open source software license applies to certain components of the Software and will govern in the event of a conflict with this Agreement. For more information about the open source software components, see the legal notices section of your device or Amazon Silk browser."
      Tim Patterson
      • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

        @Tim Patterson - Nice comment, very well done!

        And the answer seems clear: "piracy".
        jeremychappell
      • RE: Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

        @Tim Patterson:"An open source software license applies to certain components of the Software and will govern in the event of a conflict with this Agreement"

        Well, there you have it. It's open source and you're free to do what you like with it. Open source prevents anyone from trying to restrict any part of the package. If some of it is open source, then _ALL_ of it is open source. Go for it!
        JJJoseph
      • But

        @jeremy<br><br>Curious however the part about "certain components" under an "open source" license. Which open source license and if integrated into the whole may indicate a violation on the part of Amazon?<br><br>I love how some companies use the work of others (open source) to provide most of the functionality of their product then attempt to lock it all up under a proprietary license. /sarcasm <br><br>Not saying that is what Amazon did here but I'd love to see these "open source" license terms.
        Tim Patterson
      • Also

        From the notice heading the source code download page regarding the source for the Fire;

        "In accordance with certain free and open source software licenses, Amazon is pleased to make available to you for download an archive file of machine readable source code ("Source Code")."

        You walled garden serfs better hold off on your rants until we know what the deal is here.
        Tim Patterson