Thread Rating:
  • 3 Vote(s) - 3.67 Average
Selling hardware bundled with XBMC?
Hello all. First off many thanks to the developers and the latest beta build of XBMC! I am impressed. I now have it running at home on my PC and have several other friends gearing up to do the same. Great work!

My question is related to the legal issue's of selling the capabilities of this program.

I have several clients that have seen my setup at home with XBMC running connected to my home audio / video setup. They are very interested in it and want me to set it up for them. They are willing to pay me to get it done correctly and calibrated on their systems. This of course will take time as I want to put together a nice HTPC system that XBMC runs well on. I will need to test different platforms and find the most stable hardware. Hopefully on a Linux OS where I can direct most of the available resources to XBMC.

I want to make sure that "if" I were to build such hardware and place XBMC on it and sell it to them for a fixed price I am not breaking any open source software laws related to XBMC or even the version of Linux that is running on the backend.

What makes sense to me is to sell them the "hardware package" that I built and explain that XBMC was installed but I am not selling them that part of it. It's free. They are only paying for the box and any service fee's for installing it in their home or business.

Has anyone else dealt with this issue or knows the laws on this? This is a great product and I want to help promote it, but I do not want to cross any lines on software licensing issue's when selling the hardware.

Also would it be allowed if I wanted to also include a FAQ booklet included with the system that explains the basics of XBMC with perhaps screenshots of menus and such that help explain how to use the program? Would I need to include copyright names in the booklet to make sure it's legally correct?

Thanks guys!Smile
I suggest you start by reading these two discussion thread to learn the difference here of XBMC for Xbox and XBMC for Linux/Windows/Mac:

Also make sure that you read:
and of course also:

Knowing that MythTV is GPL just like XBMC also see this list of others who sell hardware bundled with a MythTV pre-install and pre-configured;

My own personal disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor will I take any legal responsibility if you go ahead and sell XBMC pre-installed on a hardware platform, but I will tell you about my own interpretation of the GPL (GPL version 2) that XBMC is distributed under;

First of all, the XBMC Media Center software is free and under the GPL (GPL version 2) license, and even though you may not charge for the XBMC Media Center software itself you can charge for the service of redistributing it and the work you done packaging/bundling it with hardware, packaging and handling, pre-sale and post-sale support, etc.

Note that you must somehow clearly inform your customer openly that the software itself if free under the GPL, do not misrepresent that fact or it could count as fraud. I do not know if you know this or not but remember that most set-top-boxes and also network routers that are sold on on the home and small-office market today contain GPL licensed software, either in the form of Linux based operating-system and/or as applications or services running on the operating-system.

Other than that you also have include a copy of the GPL with your product, and best/simplest is also to include a copy of the full source code of the exact version/revision of XBMC that you pre-installed, (either a copy of the source code on a CD/DVD, or a copy on the harddrive of the box, or provided on your website), important is that it is the full source code of the exact same version/revision of XBMC that you pre-installed. What they usually do in include a printed manual with does contain the GPL and either the source code on a CD/DVD or a link to where a copy can be downloaded on their website, (website download is more common among larger companies and CD/DVD more common among smaller companies).

The XBMC Online Manual and the XBMC Online FAQ are also open sourced, however they not licensed under the GPL but instead currently licesed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike lisence version 3.0, a license which is much more restrictive than the GPL when it come to using the content for commercial purposes, this means that you can not sell the content of it, (we might change the license of the wiki in the future but this it currently the case).

Yes the words "XBMC", "XBMC Media Center" as well as the XBMC logo/logotype are copyrighted so you must abide by that copyright, thus you can not start a company or website called "XBMC Limited", nor advertise that you are official/certified retailer of "XBMC" software, at least not unless we would give you approval to do so, (something that you can not expect us to do as we do not even know you).

So in conclusion, to me you are more than welcomed to make and sell a such XBMC for Linux pre-installed and pre-configured hardware boxes as long as you comply with the GPL and abide by our copyright of the "XBMC" name and logo/logotype. Currently though you may not copy the content of the wiki to use for commercial purposes, (sorry).
Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.
I will read the links you mentioned above and follow the guidelines. I do appreciate your help on this.

Nicholas... Nod
Note also, that some of XBMC is released under a dual-license, which will have implications for a commercial entity. In particular, the UPnP library (Platinum) is dual-licensed.

For doing this for a couple of folks, this will not likely be an issue, but should this endeavour expand, you will have to obtain a commercial license, or remove anything to which you no longer have license.

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.

jmarshall Wrote:UPnP library (Platinum) is dual-licensed.
hmm, is any parts/libraries other than libPlatinum in XBMC licensed under a such 'not free for commercial parties' license?

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.
Hi Gamester17,

First thank you (and all the other developers) for the XBMC project.

I have a question about what you mentioned above, when you say that a commercial product using XBMC must abide the XBMC copyrights and logos, do you mean by this that we need to leave them "as is" and indicate that they are trademark of the XBMC Project or should we replace all logos and XBMC name instances with our own ?

Also, are the skins licensed under GPL too ?

Thanks !


Does anyone know if XBMC can be used as an entertainment system for a hospital? The paid solutions don't look very promising until you start getting into the big bucks.

I assume how well it scales will be dependent on how much the audio/video is shrunk down before it is streamed across the network?

Would MythTV be a better solution considering we also want to include free-to -air TV?

I would suggest MythTV because it's designed around a front/backend model whereas XBMC is not. Also, as you say, MythTV is designed for live TV whereas XBMC is not.
Thanks theophile, I'll have a look at MythTV then.
I heard of some people using XBMC Media Center this way for hotels, condominium complexes, and such.

XBMC has a MythTV and VDR client so you could just use those, or a hardware solution such as HDHomeRun or Dreambox/Dbox2 as the backend:

You could alternatively setup VideoLAN to stream to XBMC, see:

Using XBMC as the frontend, and then something like HDHomeRun, Dreambox, MythTV, VDR, or VideoLAN as the backend.

For a hospital I would probably look at HDHomeRun first, they are a commercial version of the box as well:

Big Grin

@theophile, why would you go and recommend something other than XBMC for the frontend? Rolleyes
Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.
I think there's still many step to reach if we want to use XBMC in such case.

- While xbmc don't have a centralised library database , it can't be used in big multiroom infrastructure. Would be a pain to sync lib of each room.

- TV/PVR fonctionality is not ready yet for production use, and is not scaled for big streaming environment.

Imagine the network load of 100 rooms streaming the same channel. For the moment it's one tcp/udp stream per boxe. We should need to switch in multicast streaming when at least 2 boxes are straming the same live channel.
Streamdev vdr plugin implemented multicast streaming, so it won't be a pain to add when pvr client interface will be more mature.

- for legal issue in some country you should need a way to have detailed stats of users consomation to make the Hospital/Hotel paying the digital right fees.
Gamester17 Wrote:@theophile, why would you go and recommend something other than XBMC for the frontend? Rolleyes

Primarily because MythTV was designed for such an application and XBMC isn't. If it were me, I would opt for an integrated solution rather than trying to patch something together with XBMC + VDR + VLC. Plus, as a TV-watching frontend, MythTV frontend is still superior to XBMC. XBMC is a video library that's perfect for HT systems. But for mass frontends with presumably unsophisticated users, I would definitely go with the comparatively simply MythTV.
Has anyone found a solid company building pre-configured XBMC PCs? I am looking for a plug and play solution. I love the software just do not have the time to troubleshoot the configurations. It looks like http://URL REMOVED SITE DOWN is starting work on one and I have asked them for pricing. They seem to be building pre-configured a XBMC platform based on Linux and Nvidia-ION boards. Do any other vendors have a product available now?

This has been discussed before in these threads with "selling" tag:

Please respect that the word "XBMC" is copyrighted by the XBMC Foundation. You may not sell a product using the "XBMC" name without explicit consent by the XBMC Foundation, (you may however re-brand a XBMC based box to something else to your hearts content).

Know however that in my personal opinion (which may not reflect the opinion of the rest of Team-XBMC), it will only lead to trouble for us if unaffiliated third-parties starts selling "XBMC" branded set-top-boxes/computers. Third-parties should not be able to sell products using the "XBMC" name on them, ...they may however re-brand the open source software/skins to something else that does not contain "XBMC" in the name, (as long it of course does not violate someones else copyrights for that matter).

I think that them selling a "XBMC" or "XBMCbox" branded set-top-boxe/computer from a domain called will confuse their buyers and our users. I believe that all support cases and problems with their product will be addresses to us, thus any faults they have will probably be blamed on us, and any bad reputation they get will fall onto us. If they somehow misbehave or mistreat their customers in any way, intentional or unintentional, then I promise you that we will be the ones who suffers most, and it may seriously hurt the XBMC project in the long term.

Perhaps we could compromise and come to some sort of agreement to do something kind of what DivX (and Microsoft) does in their similar situation, that is, sell licenses or give out special approval/consent to third-parties so they may specifically market and label their products as "Designed for XBMC" or "Powered by XBMC" or "XBMC Approved Hardware", however these are just some ideas. Third-parties would still need to brand their hardware as something else, and would still need to make it clear that their products is not officially affiliated with the XBMC Foundation, Team-XBMC, the XBMC project. For the third-parties this would be similar to how IBM/HP/DELL sell computers with Microsoft Windows operating-system pre-installed and pre-configured, meaning all support cases should first of all go through the hardware manufacturer as the single point of contact, (same as IBM/HP/DELL does today, their customers do not directly call Microsoft for Windows support, they call IBM/HP/DELL as they have their own help-desk who in turn escalate to Microsoft only when absolutely needed, they do not direct their customers to call Microsoft directly).

Again, even if our approval/consent was given, re-branded or not, since XBMC is a free software, third-paries may not actually sell GPL software, you may only sell the hardware and the distribution/packaging service that you provide, which may or may not include a support contract with your users.

In any case I highly recommend that anyone wanting to sell a XBMC based 'set-top-box' style computer should brand their hardware to something with a unique name, (with a name that does not contain "XBMC"), and they should also set up their own support channels for their specific hardware, such as forums, IRC/chat-rooms, and/or telephone support service, so that their users can first of all turn to them directly for help.

coteyanick Wrote:Also, are the skins licensed under GPL too ?
All skins in the XBMC Skinning Project SVN repository are open source under GPL:
However, just like with the "XBMC" name, their names/logos are not open source!

PS! Some other examples in the open source world are the commercial MythTV systems for sale:

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.
The term "XBMC" cannot be copyrighted, it's too short a work to be considered protected.
It can however, be trademarked (register ® unregistered ™).
XBMC team must assert these rights in order to maintain them

The use of the logo WOULD be subject to copyright... of whoever created the logo. It's usually advisable to assert the copyright symbol, but it's not mandatory.

Basically, if anybody sold a box called XBMC, there's nothing you can do.

Selling hardware bundled with XBMC?3.673