Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

Summary: Because something is useful, and available, and valuable, does this make it fair game?


Adafruit is offering $2,000 for an "open source" interface with Microsoft's Kinect, which shipped with the latest XBox.

Kinect, for those of you who have been under a rock since before the recent election, is operated without a controller. It tracks the user's movements with a camera, depth sensor, microphone and software algorithms. Microsoft hopes to make the motion detection technology part of Windows 8.

Note that Adafruit, a robotics company, did not ask for a Kinect clone, just a connection, and they insist there are good reasons. It could be used to read sign language, or in robotics.

Microsoft was not amused, which caused Adafruit to double the bounty to its present figure. Perhaps because of the cheek, there are already reports that a winner is ready to be crowned.

But is the result open source? Or is it just piracy?

I have little doubt Microsoft will call it the latter, and their lawyers make more money than I do. There are also more of them than there are ZDNet bloggers.

But history tells us that once something gets into the wild it will be used -- witness peer-to-peer technology.

The question for the open source community is how we really feel about this.

Because something is useful, and available, and valuable, does this make it fair game? Can an open source license be valid on what a proprietary company insists is an illegal technology?

This may be where the movement divides, between the "information wants to be free" crowd and the "open source is business" crowd. The former care more for what's right, the latter insist on following the law.

Which side are you on?

UPDATE: An open source driver for the Kinect is now online.

[poll id="118"]

Topics: Open Source, Emerging Tech, Microsoft, Piracy, Security

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  • RE: Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

    How is this piracy? What property of MS have they copied? None. They are creating NEW property that has the purpose of connecting a piece of hardware that they own to another piece they own.

    Is it piracy to use a MS branded mouse on a Mac?
    • RE: Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

      @grant@... You know what we've seen in other areas. People have been accused of criminal offenses for getting into guarded code. And companies seeking to protect their rights have not only used the law, but technology, to shut down attempts by others to profit from it.

      And make no mistake. The aim here is eventually to profit from Microsoft's technology.

      I just ask the questions here. I don't agree this is piracy, or should be. But before we can all say that the law and corporate policies must conform to our way of thinking. Otherwise we're just asking for trouble.
      • My mind boggles...


        I, for one, appreciate the response. At the same time, I'm even more confused than I was after reading the article...

        1.) People can be accused of virtually anything. People can be brought to court for basically anything. The question then becomes a.) whether they were convicted, and b.) whether the conviction establishes significant case law, as we've seen in MPAA vs. Sony (establishing timeshifting), MPAA vs. 321 Studios (DMCA pwns fair use), and AutoCAD vs. that-guy-who-sold-his-used-copy-on-eBay-whose-name-escapes-me (DRM pwns first sale doctrine). Can you cite a court case where writing third party drivers established case law? The closest I can think of was when forum user Daniel_K wrote Vista drivers for his Sound Blaster Audigy, Creative gave him a C&D, and after thousands of Creative users chewed out the company on their forums, Creative was like "lol jk, we won't sue you Daniel". He was accused, they sent their love letter, and it didn't go much further than that.

        The reason ANY professional buys ANY technology is to make money. I bought my HTC Touch Pro2 so that I could make money by booking appointments. That doesn't make HTC entitled to say whether I connect it to my car stereo or not just because it's only designed to connect to a PC.

        You may "just ask the questions", but I don't think it's too much to ask to have them backed up. Actually, I'll raise you one and say that you're NOT just asking the questions, because you're implying an answer - that the open source Kinect drivers will be used for copyright infringement (unless you're implying that the modded drivers will facilitate pillaging on the high seas). If the drivers were written by reverse engineering Microsoft's drivers, or required some sort of decryption in order to function, then the question would have merit. Kinect is *hardware* that requires a driver to function. To my knowledge (and you're welcome to cite me wrong on this), there is no court case whereby a hardware manufacturer wins a case over someone who clean room reverse engineers drivers in order to achieve broader interoperability.

        Finally, you started three sentences in the above post with a conjunction.

  • New Product

    So, they're asking for someone to develop an interface that MS hasn't even built for their own product?

    How is this piracy?

    If MS sues, it's just another example of Corporate Druggernautry(Made that up!).

    Welcome to the U.S. Where corporations don't provide jobs for the jobless in its own country...and the Republicans provide tac breaks for these "individuals".

    Variation of Purdue's cheer: Lawyer UP!!!
  • Third echo is this piracy?

    the task: "WRITE a set of software libraries that allow two pieces of hardware to work together". I don't see the copyright infringement here. Heck, I don't even see the secondary copyright infringement here - it's not like clean room reverse engineering drivers for the Kinect makes it easier to burn copies of games.

    Lawyers can spin just about anything they want, just about however they want. If you're going to write the headline about it being seen as piracy Dana, can you provide an example as to how it could be considered as such?

  • Google should buy the company that makes the controller that this is based

    • That would bring the concept of

      Google tracking your movements to a WHOLE new level.
  • MS wont sue but

    all the sudden there will be a update that will make the device go all wierd up and you will need to buy the new driver made by MS so it can work properly ......

    There one thing to be sure with MS you will get screwed somewhere and something that a guaranty
    • RE: Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

      MS has been the "NEW" IBM for a while now, but Steve Jobs has his eye on the position!
      • Dear Leopard

        I never said that Steve Jobs is a angel quite the opposite
        The subject was on MS, Jobs is quite a other mad man
  • RE: Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

    There are some questions to be asked before answering to the one in the title:
    Q1: [I'm not a kinect knowledgeable,but I would guess that the intelligent part of the whole is outside the HW sensor case and inside the console]. In this case - is AdaFruit willing to re-invent the wheel, or they're aiming for that part also?
    Q2: Even if they're so nice that they will try to re-create the intelligent part, can one accept to play on a Sony with kinect? because this can be the ultimate result: take out the "package"competition and have a separate competition for controllers and another one for consoles.
  • This will increase sales of Kinect

    and Microsoft is the sole supplier. Microsoft profits from this.
  • This is lawsuit just backing in the oven

    MSFT has been gobbling up all patents and all similar tech. The brains are actually onboard the unit - as opposed to the lies that have been spread on the net. there is a PrimeSense PS1080-A2 - SoC image sensor processor onboard - which I would assume also includes the software for that pre-processing. So any interface can potentially read this software - long story short - prepare to be sued.

    MSFT has purposely not disclosed the specs of the unit because they are not trying to share this tech. again... prepare to be sued. LOL
  • Your Question IS the problem

    By putting this question you try to give MS a cause to sue.<br>This ISN'T Piracy, otherwise you may have a serious problem in thinking about things...<br><br>If a company has many lawyers, this doesn't mean it will sue everybody... Review your logic please
  • RE: Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

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