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Did Microsoft Borrow GPL Code For a Windows 7 Utility?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the free-as-in-gimme dept.

Windows 493

Goatbert writes "Rafael Rivera over at WithinWindows.com has found evidence that Microsoft has potentially stolen code from an open source/GPL'd project (ImageMaster) for a utility made available on the Microsoft Store to allow download customers to copy the Windows 7 setup files to a DVD or USB Flash Drive. If Rivera's evidence holds up, this could be some serious egg in the face for Microsoft at a time when they're getting mostly good press from the tech media."

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I have a boner (0, Troll)

klipsch_gmx (737375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014672)

And it's poking through my pants.

Re:I have a boner (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015076)

Take them off your lap, put them on and zip them up... poof! No evidence of said boner.

not sureprised (0, Troll)

cryoman23 (1646557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014686)

for some reason it would not surprise me if microsft stole that and a bunch of other code... idk just a feeling

Re:not sureprised (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014786)

Yep - it's not like they have never done anything like that before (Stacker).

They never lie, cheat, or steal. Never, ever, ever.

Microsoft is evil. Always has been. Always will be.

Re:not sureprised (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014826)

Funny, that is my thought about the FOSS movement.

Re:not sureprised (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015178)

Funny, that is my thought about the FOSS movement.

I love how the parent is marked a troll, but the grandparent isn't... They both say the same thing, but because one is against the evil Microsoft, it is okay for that one.

Re:not sureprised (4, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014866)

Microsoft is evil. Always has been. Always will be.

Maybe you're very young, but I seem to recall that Microsoft was at one time held as a sort of liberator from IBM's hegemony. I guess it's all a matter of perspective...

Re:not sureprised (3, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014900)

That was a very short period of time. As soon as Microsoft had established itself - even before Windows - they started their campaigns against any competitors.

Re:not sureprised (1)

LinuxAndLube (1526389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015078)

Luckily IBM never lowered themselves to such despicable practices.

Re:not sureprised (3, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014914)

I seem to recall that Microsoft was at one time held as a sort of liberator from IBM's hegemony

By whom?

My memory of the early days of Microsoft was surprise that their nasty behaviour was tolerated.

Re:not sureprised (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014982)

I still see them that way. Have you ever *used* Lotus Notes? Can you imagine what work would be like if that was the only groupware option out there? Ugh.

Re:not sureprised (4, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015060)

Microsoft is evil. Always has been. Always will be.

Maybe you're very young, but I seem to recall that Microsoft was at one time held as a sort of liberator from IBM's hegemony. I guess it's all a matter of perspective...

Bill Gates' open letter to hobbyists [wikipedia.org] . Any questions?

Re:not sureprised (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015154)

>> Microsoft is evil. Always has been. Always will be.

> Maybe you're very young, but I seem to recall that Microsoft was at one time held as a sort of liberator from IBM's hegemony. I guess it's all a matter of perspective...

Maybe YOU are very young. IBM was taking a beating and didn't manage to get their own PC done.

So they assembled a task force and said go and get us an IBM PC.

They did it -- without IBM parts!

The processor was from Intel and the OS from a small company who had to buy it from someone else, because they couldn't do it in time (little did we know then what these guys were up to).

In summary, there were a lot of good computers with other OSes, the main ones being CP/M and AppleDOS (not necessarily the better ones).

So:

1) M$ actually helped IBM (for money, of course) and
2) M$ is known to innovate after others innovated first.

I could cite sources, but this way we can argue longer. 8-)

Not that anyone reads ACs here anymore...

Re:not sureprised (3, Insightful)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015036)

Ever think that if this code was stolen it was done by a lower level employee and not an executive. It is way more likely that a small group of employees couldn't hit a deadline or something and so they borrowed code form other places to get it done. I know executives and have heard many executives speak... they don't like legal exposure, they don't want to do things wrong because it is their neck on the line. It is way more likely that it was the average slashdot user who did this than it was a "Microsoft Corporation" decision.

I also don't know the validity of these claims but I read some posts saying that this stuff was outsourced. aka Microsoft didn't even claim to code it, they just bought botched code. Good going with your theory... it appears even more that the "evil" people in this situation are lowlife developers and not the "Corporate Suits" that your agenda is pushing.

Microsoft as a corporation is the victim here TBH.

Re:not sureprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015198)

How corporations always come up with excuses like "it was a low-level employee" or "an oversight" or "a honest mistake" to cover their corporate culture of evilness?

Re:not sureprised (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015222)

There's someone that has to vet the code. A few snippets could leak thru. I'd find it flattery by plaigarism.

Then I'd laugh at how a jr coder might do such a thing. After all, no one ever steals code, ever. That would be wrong.

Re:not sureprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014804)

People who use Microsoft software are so locked into it that they have to accept whatever Microsoft managers decide to do, no matter how abusive. Microsoft has been abusive for years, and the lock-in continues. Many publications depend on Microsoft advertising; they don't write negative articles about Microsoft.

Re:not sureprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014836)

Dollar to a donut - Microsoft DID NOT BORROW any GPL code.

Borrowing implies some intent to properly compensate, reward, or return something.

Microsoft STOLE GPL code.

Re:not sureprised (4, Informative)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014918)

Copyright infringement is not stealing. No mater who does it.

Re:not sureprised (4, Informative)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014972)

Ok, then... If MS used GPL code, then they did not "Borrow" it either

They used it in violation of copyright

Re:not sureprised (1, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015038)

Considering the existence of laws such as the "The Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005", the "The Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999", and various others, it seems clear that the US Congress disagrees with you.

Re:not sureprised (4, Interesting)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014852)

How many developers took code they wrote for their company and used it in a GPL project afterwards?

Re:not sureprised (5, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015000)

Probably those who get paid to work on GPL software...

Your point is? Do you have an accusation to make?

Re:not sureprised (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015112)

How many developers took code they wrote for their company and used it in a GPL project afterwards?

How many people speed without getting a ticket? How many people take a stapler from their employer and don't get fired? You imply that it's only wrong if everyone gets punished for it.

Besides, your example is flawed beyond that: There are cases where taking code from your company is perfectly legal and fine, like... If your employer decides to make the code produced open source. I understand that's not normally the case, but it's worth mentioning.

"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014698)

The code in question seems to be called into scrutiny because the two areas of code bear the same name (ReadBytes) and operate similarly.

The longer you work in the development of software, the less magical it all becomes. The first time you plugged some code into a terminal and it worked, it seemed like an amazing amount of wizardry and behind-the-scenes stuff that you could never fully fathom. Compilers, binary code, arcane source languages, electronic signals. It's amazing to a neophyte just how much stuff is going on.

But the longer you plug away at it, the more you realize that it's just code. Nothing special is really going on. You're mostly moving data from one area of memory to another. It's almost a form of Nirvana once you reach this point.

So when someone comes along and says "OMG YOUR READBYTES METHOD IS JUST LIKE THIS ONE IN SOME GPL CODE!!!!11", it kind of pegs that person as someone who doesn't really have much experience with real programming. Sure, they may use a lot of tools, and know how to recompile their kernel, but they really don't have a firm grasp of what and why they are doing what they are doing.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (5, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014746)

The code in question seems to be called into scrutiny because the two areas of code bear the same name (ReadBytes) and operate similarly.

(bold mine)

Actually, if the function is just something called "ReadBytes(char *buf)" or similar, then that's a bit strange. If it was truly Microsoft-written, it would be:
WINAPI DWORD ReadBytesW(LPCSTRWRAAXA szCharBufW_x, struct READBYTESINFO *srbinfArgs).

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (4, Informative)

jdkane (588293) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014784)

Except that a truly Microsoft-written ReadBytes method on the .NET Framework can be that simple, for example one int parameter http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.io.binaryreader.readbytes.aspx [microsoft.com]
So I wouldn't even jump to conclusions based on the signature of the method in question as to who it might have come from.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (4, Informative)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014806)

Except that a truly Microsoft-written ReadBytes method on the .NET Framework can be that simple, for example one int parameter http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.io.binaryreader.readbytes.aspx [microsoft.com] [microsoft.com]

There's a difference between a calling a method, where the object has internal state, and a C Win32 API function call, i.e., sans objects. I absolutely guarantee that you won't see many pretty signatures in the Win32 API. I'd bet that 99% of the Win32 API function SIGNATURES won't make it through a standards-compliant compiler without Windows.h. Anyway, my comment was supposed to be funny, but on second thought, it might actually deserve that informative mod.

Don't even get me started on the dual-version ANSI and Unicode functions, although given the mess that the Win32 API is, it's probably an elegant solution.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (2, Informative)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014846)

Except that a truly Microsoft-written ReadBytes method on the .NET Framework can be that simple, for example one int parameter http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.io.binaryreader.readbytes.aspx [microsoft.com] [microsoft.com]

There's a difference between a calling a method, where the object has internal state, and a C Win32 API function call, i.e., sans objects. I absolutely guarantee that you won't see many pretty signatures in the Win32 API. I'd bet that 99% of the Win32 API function SIGNATURES won't make it through a standards-compliant compiler without Windows.h. Anyway, my comment was supposed to be funny, but on second thought, it might actually deserve that informative mod.

Don't even get me started on the dual-version ANSI and Unicode functions, although given the mess that the Win32 API is, it's probably an elegant solution.

I was under the impression that we were talking about a function in a program, not an API call.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (1)

tonycheese (921278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014896)

Aw... who labeled this "troll"? It's a joke, come on!

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014922)

Someone who knows that the real version would be called ReadBytesEx() because the first version didn't properly support some of the options required and they needed to maintain ABI compatibility.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014772)

Alternative theory: It was merely an example.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (1)

rescendent (870007) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014910)

If its reading a standard header of a standard format (e.g. iso) I assume there aren't that many variations - without starting to write weird unnecessary code

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (1)

tygreen (1612817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014952)

and as I understand the way copyright currently works, if a piece of code DOES the same thing, it's infringement. different language isn't a valid defense. but, Microsoft has stolen code before and not changed it just added it as is. Personally, I'll be REALLY happy if the Supreme Court does rule that software is not patentable and is free like free speech (i.e. it still requires some responsibility on your part and your can't just yell in the middle of a public place that someone is an effing when there are no facts) but that's my 2 cents.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (2, Informative)

cwebster (100824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015058)

You are getting copyright and patent confused. Copyright protects the words, not the process. Copyrighting a software program used to be registered with the same form a book was. If they cut and paste a bunch of copyrighted code, that is infringement. If they change it slightly, that is an unauthorized derivative of the work. They can however come up with a clean-room solution where someone who has never seen the code comes up with something that looks exactly like it, and that is not infringement because they did not copy the code.

Patents on the other hand dont protect the implementation, they protect the idea/process that is being implemented. In that case no matter what language/program/style/etc you wanted to use, if you implement a patented process you are opening yourself up to lawsuits. This allegation has nothing to do with patents though.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (2, Informative)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015080)

You misunderstand copyright. Copyright protects a particular expression of an idea, not the idea itself. You're thinking of patents, which are completely different. The GPL is copyright based, not patent based. A perfectly valid way to bypass the GPL is to, source unseen, re-implement the function to mimic the behavior of the desired GPL function. So no, if Microsoft happened to write the exact same function from scratch without reference to GPL source code, it's not infringement.

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015042)

The code in question seems to be called into scrutiny because the two areas of code bear the same name (ReadBytes) and operate similarly.

The ReadBytes code was just one example

If you read TFA (yeah, I know...) you'll see the author has updated that original example with others [withinwindows.com] .

It looks like Microsoft's defence will be that the EULA says "“You may not reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the software". They'll probably charge the guy with a DMCA violation...

Re:"Obviously lifted" not so obvious (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015110)

Which is great, because they themselves offer debug symbols and checked builds.

One hand giveth, the other taketh away.

Knee jerk (4, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014706)

So the evidence is a ReadBytes snippet?

I'll wait till there's evidence before even commenting about the ramifications of something like this. This is just wild speculation at this point.

Re:Knee jerk (3, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014884)

But this is Slashdot!

Without wild speculation there wouldn't hardly be any stories at all! And of course you have to get the 2-minutes hate for Microsoft going early.

Re:Knee jerk (5, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015012)

Moderated 'Flamebait.' 0 points left.

Seriously, whoever decided that we just get one dropdown and no 'confirm' button needs to be taken out back and shot. And I'd just used my other points on some actual trolls upthread, too. :(

Re:Knee jerk (1, Offtopic)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015120)

Mod up! This particular problem has survived too damn long.

Re:Knee jerk (4, Funny)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015026)

Oh no. Evidence is not required in this case. This failure to comply with the GPL means that Microsoft is governed by Copyright law in this matter.

Their Internet service provider must be notified so that their Internet connection can be terminated.

Readbytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014708)

really? they "stole" readbytes? can we have some different "damning evidence" please.

Re:Readbytes (1)

MartyBorg (1209490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015008)

A Google search on ReadBytes gives around 130,000 hits.

Dear Slashdot (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014712)

Stop being insecure about Windows' successes. It's fucking embarassing. Linux has it's place, and that place is nowhere near the average consumer's home computer.

Re:Dear Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014728)

Stop being insecure about your use of the language and swearing. If you were good at it it wouldn't be so fucking embarassing[sic]. Linux does have it'spsic] place. Nobody mentioned Linux so you can now get right off your high horse, get him into detox, and then go take English rehab yourself.

The "average consumer" may have a home computer which is nowhere near this "place" of which you speak, but they probably speak at a higher level.

Toodles. p> Dorf

Re:Dear Slashdot (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014752)

It's on my home computer as my primary OS, next to Windows XP for anything else that I am forced to use by third parties. It is indeed embarassing... If anything it could be just a lazy guy who did this...

I mean come on... Hackers 3 is a fictional movie. Microsoft didn't swap NT with Linux in Windows 7 or anything, or used Plasma for their desktop... _'

Gpl violation (1)

eXlin (1634545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014732)

Microsoft has had open source code earlier also. But it's been licenced with bsd kind of licence. The problem is that if there are gpl-licenced code taken (doesn't need permission of project owners) microsoft has to give all changes they made to public. Gpl can also touch so depends what they've done with/to that they might also need to distribute more code of theirs. There is also organisation who's trying to track down and sue corporations violating OS licences (can't remember name), maybe they get some job to do.

Re:Gpl violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014778)

...There is also organisation who's trying to track down and sue corporations violating OS licences (can't remember name)...

They won't sue themselves, silly!

Re:Gpl violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014892)

True, and it's interesting how the FOSS movement delightfully and intentionally has made every piece of GPL3 code a trojan horse that can destroy a company's business model if a single programmer without the knowledge of the business copies a snippet of code to make his job easier.

How about a new image licensing model where licenses are embedded in images, and someone who copies and publishes a square inch of an image in question without making sure the publication is free of any hint of "tainted license" loses all his possessions and are deported to a penal colony? That would of course be evil.

(Cue "that is what the RIAA does": No, the FOSS movement does not offer cheap settlements for license breaches and only targets high-rate offenders. It is similar to an RIAA that always goes for lawsuits and sues for a billion per song in every case).

Re:Gpl violation (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015064)

That's not how it works from what I understand. If a judge considers most code was not copied, the infringer just needs to replace those pieces of code. If, however, substantial amounts of code were copied, he will have to make the source available.

IANAL

Re:Gpl violation (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015132)

Don't change the code, and you have no changes to publicize.

Let's see... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014742)

...who the FUCK cares?!?

You know what... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014754)

I can't stand about Microsoft? Even though we don't have the source and can't prove it, Windows likely uses GPL code.

The GPL requires any company using GPL software to release their additions to the source. Everybody storm Redmond! Get it! Get the code!

It's .NET code (1, Interesting)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014758)

It's .NET code. It's already "Open Source" by virtue of tools like Reflector [red-gate.com] existing.

Re:It's .NET code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014798)

Thank you for failing to understand copyright licencing.

GPL code requires linked code modules to be GPL as well, ie. it is illegal for Microsoft to distribute any programs or libraries containing the code in question that are not available under the GPL (for use by anyone for any purpose on any operating system for no charge)

Re:It's .NET code (2, Interesting)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014938)

"(for use by anyone for any purpose on any operating system for no charge)"

Did you ever read the GPL?

Re:It's .NET code (1)

neaorin (982388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015002)

You are confusing Open Source with Free Software.

Re:It's .NET code (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015098)

That isn't Open Source under the OSI definition [opensource.org] either. No free redistribution, derived works, or anything. Just because the source code is available doesn't make something open source.

Re:It's .NET code (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015104)

GPL code requires linked code modules to be GPL as well, [...] (for use by anyone for any purpose on any operating system for no charge)

"for any purpose" no longer applies since everyone overreacted to Tivo.

Re:It's .NET code (5, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015070)

It's .NET code. It's already "Open Source" by virtue of tools like Reflector [red-gate.com] existing.

I do not think that that is what "Open Source" is generally taken to mean.

no big deal (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014780)

in the worst case, they could publish the full source of the application in order to comply with the gpl... I mean, it is just a tool to copy files from a to b, right? so it is kind of a silly article.

Re:no big deal (1)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014844)

in the worst case, they could publish the full source of the application in order to comply with the gpl... I mean, it is just a tool to copy files from a to b, right? so it is kind of a silly article.

"Oh I'm sorry officer ... I didn't mean to speed 85 in a 35 School Zone. No one's injured so just let me go... "

Just because there are no apparent damages doesn't mean that it was in the right. MessySoft should pull a mea culpa and offer to license the code under a non-GPL license if they so choose from the author. He should add a penalty percentage when coming up with his quote for MessySoft not asking first.

Re:no big deal (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014874)

well i think that the gpl only requires you to serve up the source code *upon request*, so MS has not yet broken the law, i suppose.

Re:no big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30014888)

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.)

Re:no big deal (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014962)

you got me there,

but let's be realistic... if MS would publish the source, I don't think any judge is going to fine them...

Re:no big deal (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014928)

well i think that the gpl only requires you to serve up the source code *upon request*, so MS has not yet broken the law, i suppose.

You also have to offer the source code - you can't keep your mouth shut and hope nobody ever asks for it.

Re:no big deal (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015170)

No, but if they were REALLY smart they could find somewhere convenient (like the middle of an EULA) that someone would be highly unlikely to read.

Re:no big deal (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015034)

That only applies if they provide a written offer to do so.

Re:no big deal (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014912)

Uh, they kind of have to *prove* that Microsoft actually copied their code first. You're missing a crucial step to the process in your scenario.

Re:no big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015056)

"Oh I'm sorry officer ... I didn't mean to speed 85 in a 35 School Zone. No one's injured so just let me go... "

Bad comparison, as it ignores the thousands upon thousands of times a day a police officer does let somebody go for doing something like, I dunno, 36 mph in a 35 school zone, or heck, even 40.

Yeah, believe it or not, they will let you go, they won't even blink their lights at you.

Is this a case more like yours, or like the ones they ignore?

I'd say it's not the former.

Just because there are no apparent damages doesn't mean that it was in the right. MessySoft should pull a mea culpa and offer to license the code under a non-GPL license if they so choose from the author. He should add a penalty percentage when coming up with his quote for MessySoft not asking first.

And that'll just cause more people to run away from the GPL, because that'd be vindictative and punitive. The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers.

Re:no big deal (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015184)

Actually, that part about going 36 in a 35, is because there is a tolerance of 10% variation at 60mph (exact numbers might be off) to cover for mechanical imperfections in the car's speed measurement system. It has nothing to do with the officers being nice.

They COULD peg you for it, but since even the most useless lawyer could render it a waste of everyone's time, they tend not to.

Re:no big deal (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015054)

It's too late for them to publish the full source under the GPLv2. The GPLv2 termination clauses have already triggered, so they can't ever distribute (parts of) ImageMaster under the GPLv2.

Assuming that ImageMaster is under the GPLv2. I can't RTFA, because it is Slashdotted. The GPLv3 is more lenient.

Re:no big deal (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015130)

two questions:

1. are these clauses actually respected in a court of law?
2. can't microsoft just "rebrand" the imagemaster tool? i.e., some other tool using the same source.

ps: i'm not a microsoft fan, but i can imagine getting in a similar situation myself since linking to a gpl library just is too easy to do by accident these days (any linux distribution comes loaded with this stuff).

It's not "stealing"...right? (5, Insightful)

Tankko (911999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014856)

Come on people, you can't have it both ways. If you can't "steal" music, you can't "steal" code. MS "stealing" this code didn't deprive the Open Source community from using the code (i.e. stealing my car), or at least that's the argument /.er use whenever the word is used in conjunction with music and movies. Eat your own dog food.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

tonycheese (921278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014920)

Well, I'm sure the justification is something like, "well, MS is a company making money from it..." or something. I don't know, I didn't really ever get the argument for why downloading music isn't stealing.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (0)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014932)

I'm fairly sure that by accepting money for someone else's property, you are stealing money from that person, whether you deprived that person of the property or not.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (2, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015108)

No, you are defrauding whoever you sold the property to.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (4, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015140)

I'm fairly sure that by accepting money for someone else's property, you are stealing money from that person, whether you deprived that person of the property or not.

The actual code isn't anyone's property, only the copyright on the code is.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015162)

This is a free tool to transfer Windows 7 to a different installation medium. Even if this was infringement (and I'm skeptical on that point, the functions "infringed" look pretty standard and trivial to reimplement), they still aren't making a profit on this "theft." The OS is sold as is, they're just providing an additional tool to work with it for free, and separately.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (0, Troll)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014946)

There is a distinct difference between infringing on someone's copyright and infringing on someone's copyright and trying to pass their work off as your own.

Your pathetic trolling aside, I seriously doubt Microsoft would do something nearly this stupid. What would they have to gain from it? Certainly not enough to offset the damage caused by it being found out.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (2, Insightful)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015010)

I seriously doubt Microsoft would do something nearly this stupid.

Please stop anthropomorphizing corporations. They get really pissed off when you do that.

I agree there was no corporate agenda to steal a dozen lines or so of code from the open source community. However, I could see the following:

1) Product A is behind schedule

2) Code Monkey B is under huge pressure to complete some feature for Product A. Luckily he finds some code on a blog which finishes off the routine he's working on. He doesn't perform due diligence to determine if this is GPL'd code or not. The blog doesn't provide references.

3) Manager C forgoes the code review process to ship Product A on time.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015102)

Yes, corporations are made of individuals and these individuals can technically do as they please. However there is a strong incentive (i.e., not losing their jobs) to not do certain things, and I'd think Microsoft of all places would certainly make sure their employees avoid doing that sort of thing. I'm not saying it's entirely impossible, I'm just saying it seems rather unlikely.

And there's already a standard protocol in place for dealing with projects that are behind schedule at Microsoft: "drop WinFS".

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (4, Insightful)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014978)

I don't think everyone here believes you can't steal music, first off. I believe you can steal music, books, printed art, all kinds of artwork. I come from a fairly serious artist background, and I know folks personally who have been scraping by for years on the meagre earnings of an average artist. It's not a fun life.

I believe large record syndicates are creeptastic and digital media is equation-changing, but that doesn't mean there's no evil in stealing non-physical works. Artists, unless they happen to be the pretty-close-to-literally one in a million shot, make almost nothing and they make a huge difference in how livable a society is. That's not changed by the fact that they can deliver media via digital channels; only people's expectations of the cost involved is changed. The number of consumers shrinks, but so does their expected price point. It's one of the reasons why there are still a lot of physical-media artists (the others including nobody's come up with good, cheap 3 dimensional sound, graphics, or texture delivery systems, physical media still work in some contexts, and art is large a physical act).

And if you can steal art, you can certainly steal code. Of course, in this case it's probably going to have no repercussions because you'd have to educate people on the struggle of open source in terms that wouldn't make a lawyer cry before you could really even get into it, but those of us who've self-selected have at least a notion of the violation and its meaning. And, happily, the irony - if MS really is using open source in its first "better" product in a long time, that's a fun little fact to know.

Plagiarizing != stealing != copying. (4, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015196)

I don't think everyone here believes you can't steal music, first off.

Speak for yourself. I do believe you can't steal music.

You could steal the original copies. You could steal a famous painting. But "stealing" music? For instance, what IS music? It's nothing but a mathematical concept involving harmonics and sound.

What are words? You can't "steal" what I said. This isn't like the little mermaid where you could steal someone's voice and leave him/her mute.

Non-physical works CANNOT be stolen. Unless you're talking about a PHYSICAL COPY, you cannot steal it by definition. Copying a work? That's completely different. But if it's a non-destructive process, you're not stealing it. You're just COPYING it.

If you want to use an appropriate term for what Microsoft supposedly did with this GPL code, it's called plagiarism [wikipedia.org] . Sure, it's called "stealing" nowadays, but using this word is oversimplifying.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014988)

Glad to see that you haven't even read what people are saying but rather making broad assumptions based on a very slim amount of "evidence."

If Microsoft did steal the code, then they should be punished. However, there really is no good evidence that they did indeed steal. Just because things are similar doesn't mean that one was stolen from another.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015048)

No, as the headline states, they borrowed it. And they promised to return it when they are done.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015066)

If you can't "steal" music, you can't "steal" code.

A quick question here. Would I be dragged into court and fined thousands of dollars because my child or a buddy stole open source licensed code using my machine? In other words, it's unlikely that people will have their lives turned upside down by stealing code (assuming generously that they're doing something where that is even possible). The war on "stolen" music is something that can affect the typical slashdotter even if they had no part in the theft. I suppose you could say that this is a shining example of hypocrisy in the slashdot audience. Everyone should have a chance to be right on Slashdot every once in a while.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015068)

I'm sure there are many people who hold both to be true. However, there are also people on Slashdot that realise that the two positions are to some extent, exclusive of one another.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (5, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015074)

This is the correct argument, but you have it backward. If it's OK for MS to "steal" (by the definition that MS accepts for the word) then MS should allow people to "steal" Windows, and stop complaining about, trying to stop, prosecuting, software piracy. They should amend their EULA to allow users to decompile, reverse engineer, and modify their binaries.

Besides, it's not as though GPL code is anti-copyright.

Re:It's not "stealing"...right? (1)

windsurfer619 (958212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015200)

Troll!

Copyleft was invented to counteract copyrighted code. People who use copyleft won't let people abuse the licenses until we can abuse copyright.

I, for one (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014898)

I, for one, welcome our newest open source project to the community - Windows 7.

In other news... (0, Offtopic)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014908)

Goatbert engages in anal stretching. My evidence: the names are very similar.

Wait, you mean similarities DON'T mean that they are the same thing? Damn. I thought I was on to something.

That's his evidence? (5, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014954)

Seriously, what he shows to be evidence looks like code that was written straight from reading the ISO disk image specification. Next up, school math class accused of mass cheating for solving math problems in similar ways.

They are both violating my copyright (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014968)

I've written subroutines called "ReadByte" several times, so obviously both the Microsoft code and the GPL code is in violation of my company's copyright! (BTW, if the ReadBytes routine doesn't have a buffer size parameter and return the actual number of bytes read, it is bad code.)

Re:They are both violating my copyright (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015146)

Try reading the article (yeah I know people in Slashdot don't read articles, but still...) It is not just the method name. The code for the method implementation is identical as well. There is more than one way of writing that method, so it means both pieces of code have the same origin. Which, is open to speculation.

Doesn't sound significant (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30014998)

Even if true, surely Microsoft would just need to perform minor corrective action (replace the code promptly and discipline or fire those responsible for inserting the stolen code). The software isn't a significant part of the system. Nor does it seem to be a difficult bit of code. So you can't really claim that Microsoft is making boatloads off of or even just saving money by stealing the code. And I think MS probably could make a good argument for saying that either they had a rogue developer or someone made a terrible mistake in inserting the code. It just doesn't look like "egg on face" to me unless the replacement of the code results in some high publicity drama like a recall of the OS.

Did a GPL project steal code from Microsoft? (4, Insightful)

Manfre (631065) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015018)

With the amount of "evidence" in the article, the same accusation could be made against the GPL project. Perhaps the author of that project illegally gained access to Microsoft code and used it as a starting point for ImageMaster.

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