When Google started hurling lawyerisms at the maker of the souped-up, stripped-down Cyanogen custom Android ROMs, the outlook was pretty grim. Luckily for Android hackers, Cyanogen and Google have reached an agreeable, albeit still stupid, compromise.
The issue Google took with CyanogenMod wasn't that it fundamentally changes Android—they're generally open to that, seeing as it's an open source project and all—but that the custom ROMs contain binaries of Google proprietary applications, like Maps, Talk and Gmail. Of course, this was a technicality, because the devices Cyanogen wrote his customs ROMs for all shipped with these apps in the first place. That's why Google's cease and desist spree seemed so silly, but also why it'll be so easy to legally circumvent:
Since I don't work with any of these closed source applications directly, what I intend to do is simply ship the next version of CyanogenMod as a "bare bones" ROM. You'll be able to make calls, MMS, take photos, etc. In order to get our beloved Google sync and applications back, you'll need to make a backup first. I'm working on an application that will do this for you.