As an open-source hippy, I feel like I should respond. In this email, where I reference the GPL, I'm directly referencing version three, although everything I say is [I believe] correct for version two also.
They aren't selling the software, they're selling the device. They're not obligated much at all, and handing it out for free with the device [including, IIRC, the source code in the package - I need to go and check my CD] is actually pretty generous of them, in the grand scheme of things.
I wasn't aware that OBDKey had made and modifications to the software. In fact, I'm almost certain they haven't.I've been able to shoehorn the unmodified open source code into working, but the connection is finicky without the modifications specific for OBD key.
If they have, their salient obligations to this conversation are [I'm paraphrasing, in a couple places arguably incorrectly. The GPL is a very readable license, feel free to look at it for details]:
1) If they distribute compiled modified versions, they must provide a mechanism where you can get the source-level changes [Section 6]
2) They can charge a nominal distribution fee for you to get those changes. [Section 6b]
It's worth noting that if you can't prove that they've distributed the software to you, they're under no obligation to send you their source-level changes. [eg, you could have purchased the device naked, second-hand on ebay, and then tried to get support and free software CDs. I don't *think* first sale doctrine of hardware sales could do you much favor in this context, but I'm not sure]
On the other hand, I know I have my CD at home. I will take a look at it later if I remember - if I have it, then I am bestowed with all the privileges the GPL grants [Section 10], which would include making changes available to you as I see fit [under the GPL].
Actually, if their source code isn't being distributed under the GPL, then that's a violation on their part. A valid [albeit unpopular] resolution is for them to simply stop distributing modified versions, and I would be left without the right to redistribute their modified version [Section 8]. You could argue that they implicitly agreed to the GPL, but I would personally be unwilling to send you modified versions in such a grey area.I will add that, independent of the shadyness of their operation, the fact that their software is based on a GNU general public license application gives you the right to freely redistribute their modification of it. I.E., what I'm requesting is legal.
In short, I think you may not be bestowed the rights you feel you are, but I will check my OBDKey box when I get home, and make available the software on it to you, if that's allowed under the copyright notices in the box.
Which is really what you were seeking in the first place rather than a grumpy GPL response. I'm also still not sure they're modifying it at all, anyways.