SD format Zigbee card (GPL conflict?)

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at
Sat Dec 12 23:26:13 EST 2009


> According to what I've read, it is probably not possible to write
> *any* GPL zigbee code due to zigbee spec licensing terms:

This article is a bit old, I'm wondering whether anything has happened since
then. The author of this article (who btw made a lot of assumptions himself),
has since solved his problem by switching to the BSD license and making the
ZigBee stack subject to the ZigBee Terms of Use (exluding commercial products
I would think).

It's funny the comments on that page are saying MontaVista got a cease-and-desist
letter from the SD forum in 2004 for writing a SD GPL stack, 3 years later the
SD forum changed their policies and now everybody is using the stack.
I am wondering what games Certicom with their Certicom license and the
'Smart Energy' profile are playing in ZigBee. I don't understand enough about
the different ZigBee 'profiles', interoperability etc right now.

The best would be if the ZigBee Alliance would come forward with a statement
on GPL development. Have they done it since then? Several GPL-licensed ZigBee
projects are already underway.
My personal opinion is that as long as I am not using the ZigBee spec, I
can take ZigBee GPL sources and build a product out of them without
violating anybody's license.
The ZigBee Alliance should either introduce a new membership level without
a yearly fee (that would probably remove the alleged GPL incompatibility),
and/or switch to a model where they make money from use of their logos, same
as USB for example. But that's up to them, of course.

Meanwhile, ZigBee is just a set of protocols, based on IEEE 802.15.4.
Other protocols are WirelessHART or MiWi.
I don't know whether the SDZ-537 microSD card we are talking about here could
be reprogrammed into a WirelessHART card, or whether the WirelessHART specs are
any better in terms of GPL compatibility than the ZigBee specs.
TI released a number of source codes but afaik the licenses of some of those
sources are also not fully clear, at least if you think about it long enough :-)

This is all I know right now, let's see what further work reveals...

On Sat, Dec 12, 2009 at 06:42:04PM -0800, sjl at wrote:
> On Sat Dec 5 Richard Sharpe wrote:
> > I did read it. The problem is that I want to write a GPL'd driver, but
> > using their sample code can compromise the licence that the driver
> > could be released under.
> According to what I've read, it is probably not possible to write
> *any* GPL zigbee code due to zigbee spec licensing terms:
> Does anybody know if the license conflict has been somehow resolved?
> That is great news if so, and the zigbee wikipedia entry ought 
> to get updated...

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