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Suit Claims Diebold Voting Machines Violate GPL

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the insult-to-injury dept.

United States 252

An anonymous reader writes "Diebold Inc. and its subsidiary, Premier Election Solutions, is using Ghostscript in its electronic election systems even though Diebold and PES 'have not been granted a license to modify, copy, or distribute any of Artifex's copyrighted works,' Artifex claims in court papers filed late last month in US District Court for Northern California. The gs-devel list first brought up the possible GPL violation a year ago."

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Are they distributing the software? (0)

jfinke (68409) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631859)

If not, where would the violation be?

Re:Are they distributing the software? (5, Insightful)

CppDeveloper (829095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631897)

When they sell the machine to the buyer it is distributing the software that the machine runs.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (5, Interesting)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632243)

When they sell the machine to the buyer it is distributing the software that the machine runs.

Google Linksys, they were in a similar situation a few years ago. I'd love to see the same outcome this time!

We Tax payer want our money back! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632311)

Dear Diebold,

Due to security problems, many states are no longer going to use voting machines sold by by your company. From a warranty standpoint, your product never lived up to our expectation, there for we want our money returned.

American Tax Payer

PS: Don't you also provide Bank ATM's? Should we be concerned about security of these devices too?

Re:Are they distributing the software? (1)

jfinke (68409) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632377)

Thanks! I had a brain fart there.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (4, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632445)

Real question here - I am not a lawyer, so I'm curious. Say for the purpose of argument, the Diebold machine runs Win2k, and happens to have a stock, unmodified copy of Ghostscript which it uses on that system for creating and printing a "receipt" of some sort.

Given that scenario, under the GPL, is Diebold still required to make a copy of the ghostscript code available, if they've made no modifications to it? Or could they simply put on their web site, "Diebold uses the open-source tool Ghostscript, v8.2.1, which can be downloaded from "?

It doesn't make sense that running the ghostscript app on their system would force them to provide "all the source code for their entire system," and it also doesn't make sense that if they're using the app unmodified, they should have to provide for some sort of hosting mechanism when there's already a definitive hosting platform for it and they're "just using" the app as distributed by that company.

So I'm curious - anybody have any insight?

Re:Are they distributing the software? (2, Funny)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632527)

You're right. 1) At most they only have to provide this to the people that they've sold machines to. Anyone else can go roger a knothole. 2) Aggregation, as you note, doesn't lead to licensing infection.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632549)

Sigh. The GPLv2 makes it perfectly clear that the "offer to provide source code" method of binary distribution can only be passed on from a third party for non-commercial distribution.

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

        a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
        b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
        c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.

If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place counts as distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code.

It's pretty straightforward english.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (0)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632563)

If Windows comes with Ghostscript, then Microsoft has already gotten permission to distribute it.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632573)

They would have to give source for the version they used. Putting a gostscript.tar.gz in the c:/ would have been good enough.

Linking to a license text or source code on servers other than yours. This amounts to GPL Section "3c" (passing on a written offer), which is only valid for non-commercial distribution. They committed commercial distribution. So they should have just dropped a src tar on the machine or on a cd that came with it.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (1)

eean (177028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632807)

If you distribute binaries you have to distribute the source or provide some mechanism for getting the source for 3 years. It doesn't matter what makes sense or not: these are the rules the GPL makes up.

There was recently a court case that said since that the GPL and other such licenses could make up any sort of rules they want essentially.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25631923)

The software is distributed with the voting machines.

IANAL, but that should mean that Diebold are required to supply the source to people/organizations that buy their machines.

Yes it does. (5, Informative)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631963)

The GPL is pretty strict about any distribution requiring source being made available. Embedded devices are no exception.

Re:Yes it does. (1)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632641)

The GPL only states you have to provide the source code to those who you distribute the binaries too. There is no requirement that the source be available the public at large. While most companies provide the source without any requirement to also have the binaries, this is not a requirement of the GPL.

Anyway, this suite is seems stupid. Isn't the whole point of the GPL and open source in general that the developer is explicitly giving permission to anyone to "modify, copy, or distribute" their software without prior permission? If this lawsuit succeeds than every Linux distribution out there is going to have to send a flood of emails out for every single open source package they provide to get explicit permission to distribute it.

Re:Yes it does. (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632901)

debian packages comes with a copyright text file stating the license and usually where to obtain the source. I think that other distros have some package listing with the link to the original source and the modified one, if needed. rpm's usually have the license in the header, or a copying file (I'm peeking in packages using rpmfind).

Re:Yes it does. (0, Troll)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632687)

The GPL is pretty strict about any distribution requiring source being made available. Embedded devices are no exception.

Erm, the person who modded that as "Informative" needs some education - it is a misleading statement at best. Requirement for distributing source only applies to MODIFIED source. You are allowed to distribute unmodified code under GPL however you like:

From GPL:

4. Conveying Verbatim Copies.

You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice; keep intact all notices stating that this License and any non-permissive terms added in accord with section 7 apply to the code; keep intact all notices of the absence of any warranty; and give all recipients a copy of this License along with the Program.

You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey, and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632271)

The software is distributed with the voting machines.

IANAL, but that should mean that Diebold are required to supply the source to people/organizations that buy their machines.

More likely, they will buy the alternative license for GhostScript: GS's own "AFPL" license.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631955)

I think they sell the electronic ballots. This _is_ distributing the software and, as far as I understand the GPL, it's also a copyright violation.

It would be sweet if by some courtroom magic we could use Diebold to fund lots of open source development.

Re:Are they distributing the software? (4, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632301)

It would be sweet if by some courtroom magic we could use Diebold to fund lots of open source development.

More likely, this will turn into MS FUD about how the GPL is cancer.

On a related note: (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631863)

I've been considering making a Firefox extension, or a greasemonkey script, to filter attention whore articles, such as those about Jack Thompson, Uwe Boll, John Dvorak, or those submitted by Roland. Filtering kdawson would be good too. Unfortunately, I have no experience writing extensions or greasemonkey scripts for Firefox.

On the other hand, if we filtered all of the stories that we complain about on Slashdot, there would be nothing left. Then where would we waste our time?

=Smidge=

Re:On a related note: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632013)

You do know that there are is a filter in your preferences that let you filter by "author".

Learn your preferences. Use them.

Then complain if you can't filter shit out.

I liked this video. (-1, Offtopic)

generic (14144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631867)

The thing is (2, Interesting)

Jeremy Visser (1205626) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631903)

The GPL only applies when you distribute software. They are probably not distributing the software outside their own company.

For one of the people who will be running the election hall on election day, when they get delivery of the election machine, is that counted as receiving a copy of the software?

The machine itself is closed and locked down, and most likely cannot be opened without a special key from Diebold.

If that is not the case, hit me with a cluebat.

GPL was violated (2, Insightful)

Changa_MC (827317) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632007)

If you give people GPLed software to use you must also make the source (including all changes you've made) available to them. That is not waived just because you don't let them take the program home.

In this case that means every voter can demand diebold's source, which in a Free Society can only be considered a Good Thing.

Re:GPL was violated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632039)

But these are voting machines which means everything must be secret!

Voters don't have standing here (5, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632317)

It's my understanding that anyone who has "object code" is also entitled to "source code."

This means the owners of the voting machines have standing to sue. If the machines are leased, depending on how the courts determine what distribution means when a lease is involved, the local governments may or may not have standing.

The copyright owner might only have a claim of "license violation" if an owner asked for and was denied the source code.

There's also the whole issue of "how viral is viral." If the printing code is done as an independent program, then Diebold might only be obliged to release it. After all, if I publish a BSD LiveCD that contains some GPL programs, I'm obligated to publish the GPL source but not the source to BSD-licensed code. The same would apply if the PDF-generating code were in a self-contained application in the "rom filesystem" in the firmware.

Re:Voters don't have standing here (1)

marxmarv (30295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632961)

The copyright owner might only have a claim of "license violation" if an owner asked for and was denied the source code.

Read Section 3 of the GPL, reproduced a few comments up. PES MUST inform their licensees as to how to obtain source for the Ghostscript module. If they did not do so then PES is not authorized under the GPL to distribute Ghostscript. If PES also has no license to distribute under the AFPL, then they're making unlicensed copies. Ergo, pwnt.

Re:GPL was violated (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632591)

In this case that means every voter can demand diebold's source, which in a Free Society can only be considered a Good Thing.

Looks like we have another person that doesn't understand how the GPL works - the voters get to demand nothing, since the software was not distributed to them. Only the people that received the hardware from Diebold can request the source code from Diebold, the voters are not receivers of anything in this case.

So, the question becomes - has anyone who purchased or rented a Diebold voting machine actually requested the source code, and if so what was the result?

Remember, Diebold doesn't have to conduct any of this in public - they don't have to make their code available to the world at large, just the people they distributed the binaries to.

Re:GPL was violated (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632639)

Except we are only entitled to the GPL parts. I doubt Diebold has made substantial improvements to Ghostscript.

Re:The thing is (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632065)

They are probably not distributing the software outside their own company.

Considering they *sell* the machines to the government, that most certainly counts as distribution.

Just because it's loaded on closed hardware doesn't mean that it's not being distributed.

For one of the people who will be running the election hall on election day, when they get delivery of the election machine, is that counted as receiving a copy of the software?

Unless Diebold is

A) a part of the US government

or

B) running the election

that's pretty much irrelevant. They're distributing the machine to the government, who sends them to the election halls, and *that* is what counts as distribution.

Re:The thing is (2, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632401)

A) a part of the US government

Well it looks like A) came true: DRE 700 for pres! [theonion.com]

Re:The thing is (3, Interesting)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632143)

Many people have said this, but delivering software on a hardware platform is delivering it. This is why we have source code for things like the linux running on Linksys routers. The routers are mean to be as locked up as a voting machine, but because of the GPL they are forced to distribute the source.

Re:The thing is (3, Interesting)

bmwm3nut (556681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632209)

This is something I never thought of before today. But how would they (the GPL folks) handle it if the hardware was leased just for election day. I.e., the precincts pay Diebold $LARGE sum to deliver, set up, run, tear down, and take back the machines each election. Then Diebold isn't distributing anything. They're just providing a service. This would be similar to if I modify a GPL webserver that stays on my personal server. I'm never distributing the software, just giving the output to someone (people who browse my site). Here Diebold isn't distributing the software, just giving the tallies of the votes to someone (people who count the votes).

Re:The thing is (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632501)

1. If I run Linux on my laptop, and I let you borrow my laptop, have I distributed Linux and am I required to provide you wish the source? 2. What if I let you borrow it for money, aka "lease" it?

3. What if I run Linux on my laptop, and I let you into my home or office to use my laptop; have I distributed it then?

I'm pretty sure the answer to 3. is NO. I'm not so sure about 1. or 2.

Re:The thing is (1)

squeeze69 (756427) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632829)

But my question is.. how can YOU (I mean in the U.S.A.) trust a software for elections w/o seeing it's source?? BTW. Your elections are a nightmare all over the world, internet,tv,newspapers.. Uh.. and... Please, forgive (and forget) any italian politician (no matter the party) flying around.. they are politicians after all they don't really know what they are doing.

Re:The thing is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632561)

Yes you are right, this type of case is not covered in the normal GPL.

The GPL folks also seem to have realized this and if you are building webservices, then you can avoid this scenario by using the AGPL (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/agpl-3.0.html).

I'm not sure of the details, but as far as I understood the AGPL also requires you to offer the source-code to users of your webservice.

Re:The thing is (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632651)

There would probably be cries of 'circumvention!!!' and demands for the GPLv4 to 'fix' the 'problem' :)

Re:The thing is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632817)

Then that would be legal, as they aren't distributing the software. Same way you can use Apache and PHP without providing a copy of the source (or offering to) to each of your website visitors.

Re:The thing is (2, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633041)

But how would they (the GPL folks) handle it if the hardware was leased just for election day. I.e., the precincts pay Diebold $LARGE sum to deliver, set up, run, tear down, and take back the machines each election. Then Diebold isn't distributing anything. They're just providing a service.

How would the MAFIAA handle it if someone were to do the same with DVDs or BLU-RAYs and large portable theaters? I'm pretty sure that not only would the MAFIAA see such use as distribution, so would the courts.

forced to distribute the source .. (4, Informative)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632415)

"The routers are mean to be as locked up as a voting machine, but because of the GPL they are forced to distribute the source"

No one is forcing Diebold Inc. to use Ghostscript in its electronic election systems ..

Re:The thing is (1)

cl0s (1322587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632165)

If that is not the case, hit me with a cluebat.

  1. Swing
  2. ???
  3. *splat!*

Re:The thing is (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632179)

They are probably not distributing the software outside their own company.

the software on the machines they sell doesn't leave their company? how can they do that?

For one of the people who will be running the election hall on election day, when they get delivery of the election machine, is that counted as receiving a copy of the software?

does that machine work without any software? why the hell wouldn't you consider it's being distributed?

The machine itself is closed and locked down, and most likely cannot be opened without a special key from Diebold.

and PC's are closed and locked with screws. can you sell them with a pirated copy of windows on their hard drive?

Re:The thing is (4, Interesting)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632867)

The machine itself is closed and locked down, and most likely cannot be opened without a special key from Diebold.

That you can make from pictures foolishly posted online. Does anyone seriously doubt that Diebold machines are, at best, woefully badly made?

To put it another way (true conversation):

Nerd One: I don't get it, it's not hard to design a machine with buttons that counts ballots fairly in a secure manner.
Nerd Two: It's not hard, there's just no market for it.

Re:The thing is (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632885)

The GPL only applies when you distribute software. They are probably not distributing the software outside their own company.

Incorrect. The GPL governs copy, modifying, distributing, and sublicensing. If you do any one of those (outside of any rights you have under law that do not require a license from the copyright holder), you are permitted to do so only under the terms of the license. Some terms of the license are only relevant to certain of those acts (or certain combinations of them).

Note, particularly, Section 4, which states "You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License." And note that that's an or not an and, so copying and modification are each covered, even without distribution. (This is particularly true of modification, as underlined in Section 5.)

(Its also, I would say, debatable whether a voting system, designed to run one application and, by design, not having components that can be used separately, would be a "mere aggregation" of separate works, rather than a single work derived from its components, for the purposes of the GPL -- remember that the GPL "derived work" vs. "mere aggregation" distinction isn't restricted to the copyright law definition of derived works, insofar as the copying and distribution would, under copyright law, require a license whether or not the work is an unmodified copy or a derivative work.)

Ghostscript was found only on (0, Flamebait)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631959)

the voteMcCain models.

Re:Ghostscript was found only on (3, Funny)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632897)

Oh so THAT's why only blue districts need anti-virus applied just before election day

I Am Shocked On Several Opposing Levels! (-1, Troll)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631965)

This is just another software patent case gone awry in a broken system with ... wait, what? It's against Diebold? Those thieves! They are stealing open source software and should be distributing the source code with the ... wait, what? It's a copyright issue? Copyright is bad, mmkay? We need to reform copyright to be limited until it enters public domain! All Diebold machines should be impounded ... wait, what? There's an election going on and that will inhibit American brand Democracy?

Screw it, I give up.

Overlook the matter (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631967)

Diebold and PES 'have not been granted a license to modify, copy, or distribute any of Artifex's copyrighted works

In a later statement, Artifex said that they would overlook this violation if all the machines were reconfigured to auto-vote for Obama.

Re:Overlook the matter (0, Offtopic)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632087)

Aren't they already configured that way, or was it just the 2:1 media bias towards him?

Re:Overlook the matter (4, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632557)

Whoops, got modded as a troll. I reckon I can still claw this back though:

In a later statement, Artifex said that they would overlook this violation if all the machines were reconfigured to auto-vote for McCain.

There, that should keep everyone happy :)

Good thing Diebold is helping with the election (4, Funny)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632035)

Would not want anyone of questionable ethics that would steal or worse help by counting votes. /sarcasm

Re:Good thing Diebold is helping with the election (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25633023)

Yeah really. Next thing you know, groups will be registering dead people or fictional characters like Mickey Mouse.

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632051)

does it count votes?

Re:But... (1)

chibiace (898665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632141)

no, but it runs linux and can cook you breakfast in bed.
yum install baconandeggs, anyone?

Re:But... (1)

silent_artichoke (973182) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632567)

I hope that your Linux doesn't have a shell.

How are they violating the GPL (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632069)

Let's forget that the outcome of this lawsuit means that Diebold will argue that the liberals made the paper trail go away.

Look, the GPL gives Diebold the explicit right to use that software, so long as they distribute it themselves. This sort of political nonsense only undermines open source. Sure, some left leaning authors might not like Diebold and want to "get them" in some way, but... all they've done is establish that the free software movement is really free subject to arbitrary whims and conditions. At least if they had used Microsoft Windows internally, they would have been free of any political considerations for license compliance.

Just give them money, and that's all they ask for. At some point, having to vote for democrats, worship mother earth and spin two times on your rear on tuesday doesn't look nearly as good as just giving some dope $20 per copy you sell.

and quite honestly, it would have been easier to write a voting front end using Windows. Windows is all about client apss and you could have a simple WinForms client application, printing under Windows is super easy, even in C++. It would be a very simple application and the source could be published, if they so chose.

Re:How are they violating the GPL (2, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632185)

But not half as cheap and simple as using paper and pencil, and having thousands of volunteers counting in parallel. Oh I know, sometimes the electoral ballots are huge in the US, but really, why does it have to be such bloody rigmarole every time there's an election there?

Re:How are they violating the GPL (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632215)

Moron. The machines in question are running win2k. The software they are distributing with their close systems is ghostscript, which is dual licensed. They either have to have the AFPL commercial license for closed distribution, which they do not, or they have to adhere to the GPL, which they are not.

According to the MPAA and RIAA, Diabold are stealing software. The fact their systems are flawed and they fight tooth and nail to avoid any inspection of their voting machines, also adds insult. Now we know why, they are thieving pirates.

Re:How are they violating the GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632221)

Maybe I'm missing something here, but does this story have anything at all to do with political bias, or are you just celebrating election day by trolling?

Re:How are they violating the GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632239)

You have just proven you know absolutely nothing about (1) Diebold's history of fraudulent activities, (2) the requirements of the GPL to make source code available, (3) the complete and utter unwillingness of Diebold to publicly release the source code to their voting machines. Good job. Please refrain from voting or reproducing.

Re:How are they violating the GPL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632357)

Seconding, please remove your testicles or have yourself otherwise sterlized.

Alternative/ Remove yourself from the Gene Pool

Re:How are they violating the GPL (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632295)

Look, the GPL gives Diebold the explicit right to use that software, so long as they distribute it themselves.

What? The GPL gives them the right to use and modify the software, as long as they don't distribute it. If they distribute it (say, by selling a voting machine that runs a copy of the software) they have to provide the source. They have not provided any source.

all they've done is establish that the free software movement is really free subject to arbitrary whims and conditions.

The conditions are not arbitrary. They are clearly spelled out in the GPL, which is much easier to read and obey than any proprietary license.

At least if they had used Microsoft Windows internally, they would have been free of any political considerations for license compliance.

Read the second link in the blurb. The voting machines in question run Windows 2000. Guess what, GhostScript runs on Windows too.

Re:How are they violating the GPL (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632407)

They have not provided any source.
Are they withholding the source to the GPL code?

Read the second link in the blurb. The voting machines in question run Windows 2000. Guess what, GhostScript runs on Windows too.

Well, in that case then, Diebold is even extra stupid and probably should just get sued for that. There's absolute no reason you need ghostscript on a Windows box when GDI is perfectly capable of producing device independent output natively.

Re:How are they violating the GPL (1)

UdoKeir (239957) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632309)

As trolls go, this one is far too unsubtle. You need to try harder.

Re:How are they violating the GPL (2, Insightful)

Shaleh (1050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632467)

Actually, if you look at the mail thread linked in the summary, they *ARE* doing this on Windows.

Someone looking at the setup noticed some Ghostscript files being changed so he mailed the gs-devel list asking for ideas.

Re:How are they violating the GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632617)

Yup, the GPL gives Diebold the right to use the software so long as they make the source code available to anyone to whom they distribute the software. The problem is, Diebold has been fighting tooth and nail for a long time now in order to NOT release that source code.

They either need to pay for the non-GPL version of Ghostscript or abide by the restrictions in the license of the free, GPL version.

Perfect /. story (2, Funny)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632101)

Actually, maybe if it was Microsoft Suit Claims Diebold Voting Machines Violate GPL.

most of US feel violated by corepirate nazis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632109)

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remember freedom? (1, Insightful)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632307)

Seriously, why do people still publish under the GPL?

These ridiculous lawsuits scare the crap out of anyone who would want to legitimately use open source software, and they completely go against the idea of freedom.

Every time a lawsuit like this happens, it is a huge setback to the open source community. If someone wants to use your software, you have succeeded. Isn't that enough? Software will never be free until this damned license warfare comes to an end.

Re:remember freedom? (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632389)

Because the GPL ensures freedom for the people who use the software down the chain?

Why give out free software and not make sure it is free for all under the same conditions you gave it?

Why should someone have their opensource software closed up by someone else?

In making opensource software the idea is to make opensource software, not to make the basis for closed source software.

If you intend to never give source, do not use free software, write your own. It is not a huge burden to put the source on your webpage somewhere.

Re:remember freedom? (0, Flamebait)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632503)

Your drinking Artifex's koolaid.
Artifex is ticked because they are not getting paid. It looks as if they are just using Ghostscript for printing. I guess they could put up a website with yet another copy of Ghostscript for people to download.

Re:remember freedom? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632643)

No, this is my actual belief.
The company I work for makes money with GPLed software, we distribute source, so can diebold.

Re:remember freedom? (0, Troll)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632701)

Oh I do agree but you are drinking Artifex's koolaid.
It is hard to tell but it looks like they just want money. They don't care if Diebold publish the source or not.
From the link.
"The alleged infringement "has contributed to [Diebold and PES] profits and is adversely affecting the potential market for and value of Artifex's copyrighted works," according to the court papers.

Artifex is seeking unspecified monetary damages in excess of $150,000 and also wants the court to impound PES equipment that allegedly violates Artifex copyrights. "
I just don't think this has anything to do with Freedom and everything to do with MONEY.

Re:remember freedom? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632787)

No, this has to do with the fact that the software is dual licensed. If diebold want the close source version the must pay, since that is what they want they should pay.

Artifex has every right to be paid for someone using the software for commercial closed source distribution, they do have a license just for that. Diebold should be happy this option exists so they may use it.

Re:remember freedom? (0, Flamebait)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632963)

If it is just a GPL issue with Ghostscript they have to do is offer the "customers" the right a copy of Ghostscript. Not really a big deal. Also is there a GPL violation at all yet? For it to be a violation one of the customers of these machines would need to request the Source.

Re:remember freedom? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633021)

No, the violation occurs because they did not include it or any offer of it.
At the very least they must have a written offer to the customers.

Re:remember freedom? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632455)

Ha! The users of Diebold machines have no freedom to inspect, modify or redistribute the Diebold software. The copyright holders of Ghostscript just want Diebold to give users the freedoms they gave Diebold. When Diebold wants to open up their software, they can come talk.

Re:remember freedom? (3, Insightful)

Malc (1751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632505)

If people are writing software with the sole aim of having it used by others, then there are licences for that too. People publish under the GPL because it represents what they believe in. There's obviously demand for it, which is why its used.

Sorry, I know I should feed the trolls.

Re:remember freedom? (-1, Troll)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632715)

I think a majority of people who publish under GPL do so because it is the only license they know, and it's popular.

GPL is not only viral, it is weaponized, so you can use it to fuck over or shut down projects and companies you don't like. I doubt that is what most people have in mind when selecting their licence, but it seems to be all the licence is used for these days.

Maybe I am wrong, maybe that is what people are looking for, but it is a concept that I have never quite been able to grasp.

Re:remember freedom? (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632907)

Who pays you to post this drivel?

The GPL is not viral, it is a very clear license. If you do not like it, do not use it or software licensed under it. Many people do use it and prefer it because it ensures that the software they wrote stays free.

Re:remember freedom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632753)

Die in a fire.

Re:remember freedom? (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632755)

Only a moron would be scared to legitimately use open source software because someone else illegitimately used open software. That's a little like being afraid to closed source software because a warez site got raided.

The only companies that "don't understand" what they can and cannot due under the GPL are the ones that are using an "I'm stupid" smoke screen to try and hide their illegal behavior.

Re:remember freedom? (2, Insightful)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632925)

These ridiculous lawsuits scare the crap out of anyone who would want to legitimately use open source software, and they completely go against the idea of freedom.

These lawsuits are no more "ridiculous" than Microsoft suing somebody because they were running 100 copies of Windows XP but had only paid for one.

In both cases, it's an infringement of copyright. If Diebold hadn't infringed copyright, they wouldn't be sued for it. OK, so maybe the RIAA would sue them while they were getting around to everyone else on the planet, but that doesn't count.

So... how does this violate the GPL? (0, Troll)

razathorn (151590) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632353)

What am I missing here? How does distributing a GPL program that the sources is freely available for violate the GPL? Is there a concern that they have modified GS in some way and not contributed the changes to GS back to the community? It sounds like people are just wigging out because somebody making money distributed a GPL application in a perfectly legal way. If the issue is that GS has been modified (which I can't tell if it is or not), has anyone inquired to diebold to see if the source to the changed version of GS is available at no additional cost to those who acquire the voting machines? I believe that is the real question here.

Sounds like a lot of jumping to conclusions here.

Re:So... how does this violate the GPL? (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632451)

If you distribute you must give source, does not matter if you change it or not.

Re:So... how does this violate the GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632713)

That is stupid. What you say sounds like they rather go to court instead of just saying "go to http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/ and download it there". And you are saying someone is suing rather than look up where he can get ghostscript from.

Re:So... how does this violate the GPL? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632737)

That is a requirement of the GPL.
Your little guess is called paragraph 3c and only applies to non-commercial distribution. This was clearly commercial distribution.

Re:So... how does this violate the GPL? (1)

jwkfs (1260442) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632497)

It sounds to me like they are distributing a GPL program without distributing the source code, which I believe is required regardless of whether the source is modified or not.

Re:So... how does this violate the GPL? (2, Informative)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632747)

If you distribute a GPL program, you are required to specify that you are using GPL software, and you must let your users know their rights to view, modify and distribute the source code. Additionally, you are required to give them the source, or offer to do so.

The GPL is more or less straightforward and easy to understand. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt [gnu.org]

Doesn't Sound Like A Violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632405)

Based on the totally inadequate summary it seems like there is no violation, except perhaps the minor one of Diebold not having their own ftp site with the normal GPLed gs code available (which they could fix in an hour).

I mean if Diebold didn't modify gs but merely used it on their machines they are only required to distributed the standard gs code. The mere fact that gs runs on the same machine doesn't make the rest of the diebold code a derived work. It's all about what is a derived work of the gs code.

Double standard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632425)

""Diebold Inc. and its subsidiary, Premier Election Solutions, is using Ghostscript in its electronic election systems even though Diebold and PES 'have not been granted a license to modify, copy, or distribute any of Artifex's copyrighted works,'"

Neither have these people [thepiratebay.org] This should be interesting to watch.

Doesn't Sound Like A Violation (3, Informative)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632427)

Based on the totally inadequate summary it seems like there is no violation, except perhaps the minor one of Diebold not having their own ftp site with the normal GPLed gs code available (which they could fix in an hour).

I mean if Diebold didn't modify gs but merely used it on their machines they are only required to distributed the standard gs code. The mere fact that gs runs on the same machine doesn't make the rest of the diebold code a derived work. It's all about what is a derived work of the gs code.

Re:Doesn't Sound Like A Violation (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633049)

They don't even need a public FTP site unless they have a public FTP site for the binaries. Unless the software that uses ghostscript is a derived work, supplying the ghostscript source on the hard disk or on any reasonable medium with the machines would be enough to satisfy the terms of the GPL.

Bad Summary: likely in-house license, not GPL (5, Informative)

Madball (1319269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632449)

After RTFA (which does not even mention GPL) and the gs-devel post, it would seem that the lawsuit most likely centers around their in-house "AFPL" which apparently forbids commercial usage (regardless of source availability). One would have to find the actual filing to know for sure.

GPL issue ok, but whose issue is it? (2, Interesting)

thetagger (1057066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632483)

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe under the GPL they only need to show the GhostScript source to the people who bought the machines (that is, whoever takes care of elections in the US, assuming someone does). Unless Diebold really used a non-GPL version of Ghostscript, I don't think the lawsuit is reasonable. And if it is about a the AFPL version of Ghostscript, it's not a GPL issue, obviously.

Bad new for Diebold (0, Troll)

The Late BP Helium (997125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632489)

This a major blow to Diebold. They'll have to make the election results public this year.

Well what do you know... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632507)

Apparently elections aren't the only thing they steal.

They don't have to make the source available . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632635)

. . . to everyone. People tend to forget that part of the GPL.

Only to those whom they distribute the software to and who request the source.

Thus, they only have to distribute it to those who request it and whom they have distributed the software to which, in this case, is whomever they sold the hardware to, since they do not distribute the software separately. Since it is a very limited group of organizations that have purchased the hardware, you'll have to get one of them to request the source.

And, if they are somehow "licensing" the machines, and not selling them (which I doubt) then they are not in violation at all.

Is there even a case? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632991)

Diebold probably didn't offer the source code or include it, but since they only need to make the offer to the recipients (i.e. the various states that bought the machines), there's really no way of knowing whether they did or didn't make this offer.

Even if Diebold completely and deliberately violated the GPL, without at least some sort of prima facie evidence that Diebold distributed the code without making this offer, a GPL violation would surely be hard to prove, or even provide sufficient evidence for the case not to be dismissed outright.
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