"I have a Dell Streak, with Android 2.2, and some people wanted to port MeeGo on it. They did it, but where struck with proprietary drivers for the video chip that were compiled against the kernel headers - these exact headers that are at stake here - and are therefore not compatible with the MeeGo kernel headers, so there is no 3D hardware acceleration possible for MeeGo."
Its not a question of being physically unable to work, but licensing issues.
Google is attempting to circumvent copyright law by saying if we take a copyright document... strip out this, that, and the other thing, what's left is something that really isn't creative and should be protected under copyright law. What the lawyers who are critical of Google are saying is that Google can't do it. Stripping down a copyright protected document to a base document is not the same thing as building up the same base document from scratch. In the end, both base documents could contain the same material, however its the process of how they obtained the based document that is at issue.
The various flavors of GPL protect the authors of their code, and I believe that the GPL doesn't prohibit the authors of releasing the same software under different license. That is to say that Google could pay those copyright holders to release the code to them under a different license so that they have a right to use it.
But then again, here's the rub. Google isn't doing that. What they are doing is trying to get around the law by getting creative and then hoping that they don't get caught.
Look at it this way...
You have a project that is built on Apache's license. There's a piece of code that you want to use that is licensed under GPL. GPL has restrictions on use that you do not have with Apache. What Google is trying to do is to trash the copyright laws and re-release a modified version of the code under Apache.
NOT ALL OPEN SOURCE LICENSES ARE CREATED EQUAL. Sorry to shout but that's a concept that many of the commentards don't quite grok. Under Apache, you release it, as long as I attribute you as the author, I can do whatever I want. I can take your code you wrote and gave away for free and embed it in my 'for profit' product and make millions off your work. GPL? Not so much. I embed GPL code, where I made modifications that gave me a proprietary advantage, and I have to release that code to the public.
You have two examples...
1) Apple and the GNU C/C++ compiler. Or rather NeXT. NeXT modded the gnu C compiler to do Objective-C which is the base language for NeXTStep, OS X, and iOS. Under GPL, Apple had to release their mods. However Apple didn't have to release their libraries...
2) Apache's Hadoop (HBase) project. One can take LZO compression to make Hadoop more efficient. Because LZO's GPL is not compatible with Apache's license, Apache and Cloudera made the choice of not including it in their release, but allow the end users to add it if they wanted.
Both actions are legal and ethical. Google's? Not so much.