A couple of days ago, the CyanogenMod team announced that they have formed a company and aim to become the third largest mobile operating system out there. Being a company means that the team needs to raise money to survive, and they had certain plans on how to monetize their user base including teaming up with hardware vendors.
While most fellow developers and custom ROM users were pretty happy with Cyanogen Inc. being formed, there was another section of users and developers who were very displeased with this.
Today, we have the first casualty of Cyanogen Inc. – Focal – the camera app that was released under Project Nemesis by the CM team in late July. As of now, Steve Kondik a.k.a Cyanogen has removed Focal from all future nightly builds of CyanogenMod.
Reason? Licensing issues. The actual developer of Focal is Guillaume Lesniak, and not Steve Kondik or any other popular member of the CM team. The problem is that to work with hardware partners and carriers, CyanogenMod developers “might need to put hardware-specific enhancement for some camera devices, and that has to be hacked in the Camera app code.”
These hardware specific enhancements cannot be made public (by being pushed to CM’s github/repository) since they are trade secrets and they need to be protected, which meant that Focal cannot be fully GPL compliant anymore. I suggest reading this post from Guillaume Lesniak to get a clear picture of the scenario and the licensing issues.
Considering how many people worked and contributed to CyanogenMod, these issues are bound to happen. This is just the beginning of all the problems for Cyanogen Inc. and things are definitely going to turn ugly for them down the line.