[amsat-bb] Possible Outernet GPL violation

Dani EA4GPZ daniel at destevez.net
Wed Oct 12 09:28:11 UTC 2016

Hi all,

As some of you may know, I'm trying to build a GNUradio receiver for
Outernet, partly by reverse engineering their binary-only code.

While examining this code, I've noted that this code is using librtlsdr
and libmirisdr, which are licenced under the GPLv2 or later (and not
LGPL). It is my understanding that this forces the binary-only code to
be released under a GPL-compatible licence.

More info:

Can someone with legal experience tell whether am I right in my
interpretation of the licences?

Also, does anyone have the contact information for Outernet? I tried to
contact the user "foxbunny" in Github, who is the main contributor to
the Github repos of Outernet. However, he no longer works at Outernet.

I know that some of you are having fun with the Outernet receiver, and I
don't want to discourage anyone from doing so. However, I think that it
is in agreement with the Ham Radio spirit to be able to learn how the
technology works. Currently, the key software pieces of the Outernet
receiver are closed-source.

Recently, only after some nontrivial reverse engineering effort I could
figure out the scrambler they use. It turns out it's a scrambler
algorithm I hadn't heard about before, so there I learnt something:

Also, I think that in particular librtlsdr (the code that makes RTL-SDR
receivers work) has given hams uncountable hours of enjoyment with these
low cost SDR receivers. Therefore, we should support the fact that this
software is GPL and try to protect it from anyone who wishes to abuse
its licence.

I think that the Outernet project would benefit from releasing all their
software under a free software (open source) licence, and I told that to
Thane Richard from Outernet when he first announce the project on
amsat-bb almost a year ago.


Dani EA4GPZ.

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list