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MS Pulls Windows 7 Tool After GPL Violation Claim

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the least-they-could-do dept.

GNU is Not Unix 186

Sam notes an Ars story on Microsoft pulling the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool from the Microsoft Store website after a report indicating that the tool incorporated open source code in a way that violated the GNU's General Public License. Whether the software giant is actually violating the GPL, a widely used (including by the Linux kernel) free software license, is not confirmed. "We are currently taking down the Windows USB/DVD Tool from the Microsoft Store site until our review of the tool is complete," a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. The fact the company pulled the tool doesn't bode well, so we'll have to watch closely to see what the company puts back on its servers.

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So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't it? (2, Insightful)

rekenner (849871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057182)

MS is practically saying, "Oops, we violated the GPL!"
Oooopsies.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (5, Insightful)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057228)

Now now, calm down a moment. Imagine what would happen if they *didn't* pull the code- there would be a veritable shitstorm in the Free Software community. This is the smart, rational thing to do.

On a side note, this really acknowledges the power of the GPL- if even a single report says that there is a GPL violation and this causes Microsoft (its 'arch nemesis) to pull a tool for their newly launched apple-of-their-eye.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (4, Insightful)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057236)

Replying to my own post here, but also remember that this is exactly what ReactOS did when there was a similar allegation by Microsoft- and were largely applauded for it. Again, it's the sane, rational thing to do and in my eyes doesn't admit any guilt whatsoever. That doesn't mean a GPL violation isn't there, mind, but it means that if there is one this is exactly how it should be handled.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (5, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057370)

Dear Sir or Madam,

The responsible Anti-Microsoft Troll that should have replied to this post by now is on sick leave and was unable to prepare a custom flaming reply to this particular post. In lieu of that, attached is our generic template which we use to write all our flaming responses.

1. Make a general anti-Microsoft jab
2. Blame Microsoft for it's stance against Free Software (and also for lack of network neutrality, the current state of patent laws, the Iraq war, and the extinction of the dinosaurs)
3. Accuse the poster who wrote something positive about Microsoft of being either a fanboy or a Microsoft employee. If the poster in question made a comment about Microsoft's actual support of Free Software in a particular instance, accuse the poster of being an oblivious idiot unable to see through their Embrace-Extend-Extinguish approach
4. State that the Linux revolution is inevitable
5. Finish off with another outpour of flames

We hope you will be able to infer the potential content of the post that should have been done by the respective Troll. Please accept our apologies.

Sincerely,

Assistant Secretary,
Anti-Microsoft Trolling Association, Ltd.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057418)

This is original...

Let me have a go at it (-1, Troll)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057642)

Let me have a go at that trolling.

1. Make a general anti-Microsoft jab

Microsofties' mothers are all hamsters, and their fathers smell like elderberries.

2. Blame Microsoft for it's stance against Free Software (and also for lack of network neutrality, the current state of patent laws, the Iraq war, and the extinction of the dinosaurs)

Microsoft is evil for not enjoying watching their competitors make progress, for not supporting initiatives potentially bad for their business, for supporting systems beneficial to their business (by raising the bar to entry), for ... what the heck do they think about the iraq war, again?

Anyways, even though I routinely wear the XKCD "No raptors" t-shirt, shame on microsoft for their (crucial, I'm sure) involvement with the extinction of the dinosaurs!

3. Accuse the poster who wrote something positive about Microsoft of being either a fanboy or a Microsoft employee. If the poster in question made a comment about Microsoft's actual support of Free Software in a particular instance, accuse the poster of being an oblivious idiot unable to see through their Embrace-Extend-Extinguish approach

GP is a fanboy or MS employee (really?). Also, gP is an oblivious idiot unable to see through MS's EEE-approach (wait, is that what Microsoft's new EEE PC is all about?).

(sorry, but I have to say it. See the quote).

4. State that the Linux revolution is inevitable

The probability of year n being the year of linux on the desktop approaches 1 for n approaching positive infinity, eventually reaching 1 after a finite number of steps.

5. Finish off with another outpour of flames

Burn, baby, burn. Disco inferno.

We don't need no water; let the motherfuckers burn. Burn motherfuckers, burn.

One two three FIRE!!!

Through the fire and the flames we carry on!

I'm your firestarter!

We hope you will be able to infer the potential content

No need, I've filled it in. How am I doing?

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (0, Troll)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057648)

You've posted this like 3 times now, that I know of. It's getting tiresome. And no it's not enough to pull the application, if you've distributed the binary and you've used GPL code you're obligated to release that code. Your mistake, your mess. MS wouldn't be so forgiving, why should the GNU community be? You'd think that the worlds largest software producer, in 2009, would have a better understanding regarding the GPL.
 
I have no objections to proprietary software, but if you want others to follow your licenses, you are expected to follow others. It's not so fucking difficult now is it?
 
Oh and the only troll I see here Sopssa is you for posting repetetive bullshit posts like the one above.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (5, Insightful)

Dahan (130247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057862)

And no it's not enough to pull the application, if you've distributed the binary and you've used GPL code you're obligated to release that code.

No, you're not automatically obligated to do any such thing. What happens is that you may be infringing on the copyrights on the GPL'd code, so it's up to the copyright holders to decide what to do: ignore it, negotiate a (presumably non-GPL) license agreement with you, or take you to court. And if the latter, the judge will decide what the punishment should be--most likely it'll be "stop distributing the software and pay the copyright holder $$$$$". It's unlikely that the punishment would be "publish the source code to your app that used GPLed code."

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057916)

The copyright holder only has grounds to go after the infringing user of the GPL'd code if they don't release their modifications under the GPL, i.e. in this case, MS - if they are using code from ImageMaster - can make the whole issue go away by relicensing WUDT under the GPL (and providing the source) *to those people who have already downloaded it* if these end users ask for the code. That's all, folks.

No, just infringing copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057938)

No, just infringing copyright. Which, as we've learned, can add up to 2.4 million dollars for non-commercial infringement.

Commercial infringement can result in criminal prosecution (see the FBI warning for "details").

How about a "three strikes" rule?

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (0)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058042)

And no it's not enough to pull the application, if you've distributed the binary and you've used GPL code you're obligated to release that code.

No, you're not automatically obligated to do any such thing. What happens is that you may be infringing on the copyrights on the GPL'd code, so it's up to the copyright holders to decide what to do: ignore it, negotiate a (presumably non-GPL) license agreement with you, or take you to court. And if the latter, the judge will decide what the punishment should be--most likely it'll be "stop distributing the software and pay the copyright holder $$$$$". It's unlikely that the punishment would be "publish the source code to your app that used GPLed code."

Yes you are obligated to do such a thing, and if you don't comply you can be dragged to court where you could be sentenced to pay for copyright infringement.

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:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058626)

Yes you are obligated to do such a thing, and if you don't comply you can be dragged to court where you could be sentenced to pay for copyright infringement.

You are wrong, in the case of unwilfull infringement, positive action to cease infringement is enough - you are not obligated to release the code, and you are not bound by the licence. The copyright holder can still persue damages for prior infringement, but thats it.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058750)

WTF is this "unwilfull infringement" and how is it supposed to apply to software that is always distributed with a copy of GPL attached to it and prominently shown in comments and executables? What is this defense, "I thought, it was in public domain"?

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058928)

Firstly I suggest you read up on legal cases - wilfull infringement is where it can be proven that the infringer knew at the time of infringement of said infringement, and did nothing to rectify their position.

In this case, Microsoft removed the tool in question from distribution pending an investigation, and there is no evidence to suggest that Microsoft as an entity knew of the infringement at the time of distribution.

Secondly there was no copy of the GPL involved here - the persons who received the potentially infringing code did not receive it under the GPL, they received it under a potential violation of copyright law. Thus there is no entitlement to the end users to demand code under the terms of the GPL.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (2, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058946)

Yes you are obligated to do such a thing, and if you don't comply you can be dragged to court where you could be sentenced to pay for copyright infringement.

You are wrong, in the case of unwilfull infringement, positive action to cease infringement is enough - you are not obligated to release the code, and you are not bound by the licence. The copyright holder can still persue damages for prior infringement, but thats it.

Unwilfull? You see that's where our difference is. You seem to be so naive to think that Microsoft developers are unaware of the GPL. And also, of course one can refuse to release the code, but then one would get fined. What did you think I meant? Somebody will force you to release the code with a gun pointed at your head?

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

RML (135014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059148)

Yes you are obligated to do such a thing, and if you don't comply you can be dragged to court where you could be sentenced to pay for copyright infringement.

Exactly: not complying, getting dragged to court, and paying is an option. You're not obligated to open the source, you can just suffer the consequences of copyright violation instead.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058984)

Looking at other comments, it appears the code came from a third party. Now they have the problem that releasing the code may also violate the copyright of that third party on the non-GPL portions. Granted if the third party comingled the code they probably don't have a strong non-GPL claim.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058100)

What do you want MS to do? Scour the interwebs for every licensed software to compare it with what Microsoft's coders produce? I'm by no means a fan of Microsoft, but this is the one time where the company appears to be acting in good faith. And yet people like you criticise them still! You're creating a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" atmosphere, which only encourages MS to do every illegal thing it thinks it can get away with.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058182)

What do you want MS to do? Scour the interwebs for every licensed software to compare it with what Microsoft's coders produce?

What? I don't understand your question. Why would this be relevant to the topic at hand?

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058438)

At least 3 moderators disagree with you.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058482)

I hadn't read it before and I enjoyed it. Looking at his posting history he hasn't posted it for a while, so fuck you.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058522)

You mean those that stretch back an incredible 5 days? [slashdot.org] That's some nice invesigative background checking there Sherlock.

copypasta, not funny (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058888)

sopssa is a gay faggot

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058414)

Agree. Pulling the tool (so to speak) is more a reflection of a smart legal department than any admission of a problem (at least at this point). If they issue an interim press release identifying whether there was a GPL violation, it could be out as early as Monday. But more likely, if there IS a violation, they'll want to make a decision regarding whether to a) release the source code of the tool, b) rework the tool with proprietary code or c) just leave it offline. THEN they'll issue a statement. Could be December.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

bekkra (743830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058766)

The discussion in this tree gets nasty at times (deeper down), but I wonder: do we *really* want Microsoft to let go off free software ? In my opinion it would be wonderful if Microsoft could deliver its operating system and core products and use free software wherever possible. The clash in licenses only appears when you try to apply the Microsoft license to the whole bundle, which can be easily avoided as it is already done in the software industry. Do we *really* want to teach Microsoft to always use exclusively (well, that down not happen, as we see later in the tree) in-house products ? Anyway, I think it would have been a braver action to add a download link for the sources for the little tool (how proprietary can it get with such a tiny thing?) and remove the license, or even swap it for a GPL. //

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1, Flamebait)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057552)

It's also a ringing endorsement of open source. Microsoft can't do any better so they steal it, as usual.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

shacky003 (1595307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057592)

No, the "smart, rational thing to do" would be to validate your code and status of it in whole before you post it for the world to take..
The only reason why they pulled it is because *someone else* looked into it..
Putting out any type of release stating that they took down the tool/code so they could review their own work isn't exactly
a tip of the hat to confidence either..

*Disclaimer - I am neither a fanboy or automatic hater of anything - I like common sense too much


PS.. "...acknowledges the power of the GPL..." uhm not so much - remember how MS is trying to market themselves
as starting to be OSS friendly? This is the marketing machine at work with damage control..

No, it isn't (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057786)

The rational thing to do is to check first the licensing of any software you are not writing yourself.

Of course the most rational thing would be to use GPLed software as needed and comply with the requirements, but it is Microsoft we are talking about here.

Re:No, it isn't (0, Flamebait)

mydn (195771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057970)

Or the rational thing to do is to not use software with a viral license.

What? Like Microsoft's Open Source licenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058238)

What? Like Microsoft's Open Source licenses?

The ones where you lose your rights to the code if you sue MS for *anything*?

Re:No, it isn't (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058752)

What AC says. MS's "open source" license is the viral license.

And, as GP said, all MS had to do was COMPLY WITH THE LICENSE. Tell me, WTF did MS have to lose by complying with a wide spread, commonly used license?

I haven't lost anything. I just go to any Linux box and convert DVD or CD to a USB anytime I need to. Did it three nights ago when I couldn't find a CD to burn Karmic. Phhht.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (5, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057244)

Right... or they are being smart, pulling the tool, and investigating whether they are violating the GPL. Like they said.

It was a "Jump to Conclusions" mat. You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor... and would have different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO.

Re:So, this is about as damning as you get, isn't (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057268)

MS is practically saying, "Oops, we violated the GPL!"

Marketing would say "those coomies are ruining our business"

Seriously, preview your own posting editors! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057198)

Seriously, preview your story summaries editors!

"...so we'll have to watch closely to see what the company puts it back on its servers."

Who thinks that "it" makes sense?

Re:Seriously, preview your own posting editors! (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057272)

Or the "what". Substitute "when" or "whether" and "it" makes sense, too.

Re:Seriously, preview your own posting editors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058938)

Gollum..."Precious....wants it back..."

No way! (0)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057210)

the GPL, a widely used (including by the Linux kernel) free software license

Woa, woa, woa. Next you'll tell me it wasn't created by Linux Torvalds.

Re:No way! (1)

nanospook (521118) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057868)

Did you mean "woah, woah, woah"?

Re:No way! (1)

darien (180561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057926)

Presumably he meant "whoa, whoa, whoa".

Re:No way! (0, Offtopic)

nanospook (521118) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058068)

I'm so fcsked!

Re:No way! (1)

Arielholic (196983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058320)

Actually, it wasn't. It was created by RMS.

Re:No way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058384)

****WHOOSH****

Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (0, Troll)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057218)

This is a very good example of one of the reasons Microsoft hates the GPL so much. GPL makes it difficult to take other peoples hard work without giving anything back, or as in MS case, while doing everything they can to kill open source in general. Microsofts version of open source is that i develop and they take the code, the credit and the ownership. No thanks.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (3, Insightful)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057368)

This is actually a good example of why Microsoft (and others) may dislike the GPL - how precisely do you determine that it is not a GPL violation? Clearly people like the parent will not be convinced no matter what Microsoft says (yeah, that post was pretty insightful...), so how can they possibly win here, other than by releasing the code, something they do not typically want to do? Even if they do that, they still get a black eye (i.e. that recent kernel code fiasco).

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057396)

how precisely do you determine that it is not a GPL violation?

Lawyers. Lots of Lawyers.

I doubt it even cracks their top 20 complicated legal issues.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (4, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057528)

The same problem applies to any license? Suppose MS accuses someone of using their code, how can that be determined? If an author or musician accuses someone of copying them how can that be determined? It is an intrinsic problem of copyright, not a problem with the GPL.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057630)

Well, if it became a problem they could have someone sign an NDA and allow them to review the code. But it probably won't need to come to that.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057636)

... how precisely do you determine that it is not a GPL violation?

Exactly the same way you determine that your code does not violate a software patent held by any of the big players. You cannot do it with certainty. You do your basic checks and then act in good faith should something be identified.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1)

mixmatch (957776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057684)

How much success has there been comparing object code to determine whether source code copying has occurred?

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1)

Chatterton (228704) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057724)

Because object code contain a lot of debugging informations and the functions names in clear if not stripped (and it is rarely done). If an object code contain lot of function names equal to a well know library, then there is a very good probability that it use the library.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (4, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057696)

When I was working in an MS technology shop I found many cases of our programmers cutting and pasting code from other sources on the internet. Quite a lot of it came from MS itself and explicitly said that it could not be used. What do you do now? Rip the code out? But we've already shipped the code. Should we demand that the customers give it back until we can rip the code out? What if we still want to use the code? Should we approach MS and try to negotiate a different license? What if they say no?

There's no difference here. The GPL is quite easy to understand as licensing documents go. I think we can all agree that if code licensed only under the GPL was in the application, it would be a breach of the licensing terms; just like when various people in my company appropriated MS code. The resolution is exactly the same.

The moral of the story is: don't use code whose licensing terms are unacceptable to you. It doesn't matter what the license is. It doesn't matter what political forces caused the terms of the license to be created. If you don't agree to it, don't use it. This is the one thing that is the same for all licenses.

You could say that about any software (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057720)

This is actually a good example of why Microsoft (and others) may dislike the GPL - how precisely do you determine that it is not a GPL violation?

You could say that about any software, not just GPL and not just FOSS. Sure it's easier to pass off publicly available source as someone else's code because it's much easier to get hold of, but that doesn't mean it can't be done with leaked or stolen code.

This isn't a "reason" for any company not to like open source. "Lame excuse" would be a better discription.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (2, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057948)

how precisely do you determine that it is not a GPL violation

How? By reading the complaint and checking that the evidence given in the complaint matches what is in the code. Then if there is any grounds for complaint it's a matter of talking to whoever was responsible for the code - all this should be blatantly obvious. If there is nothing I really can't see baseless conspiracy theories being a problem as it will fizzle out without evidence. The SCO fiasco required expenditure of money for PR to get their baseless rumours out so it's not a relevant example.
Some people may recall when Microsoft was shipping developers CDROMs with gcc along with a copy of the GPL. They didn't always hate the GPL it was just another set of rules to follow to use other people's stuff. The BSD licence of course even allowed them to put "copyright Microsoft" in the etc/hosts file as if it wasn't copied from elsewhere but who really cares, it's just amusing and wouldn't stand up in a court anywhere.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058124)

How? By reading the complaint and checking that the evidence given in the complaint matches what is in the code. Then if there is any grounds for complaint it's a matter of talking to whoever was responsible for the code - all this should be blatantly obvious.

Sounds good when you say it fast.

The evidence seems to be that some symbol names are the same. There are many reasons for this to happen, including but not limited to

o They are common names for a common technique.
o They are names used in the official specification.
o The code which is claimed to be GPL is actually the code that is in violation of a license.
o The code was really public domain but got lumped into a GPL'd project (this happens a lot, really.)


Hand waving and declaring "blatantly obvious" is obviously blatantly disingenuous.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1)

mydn (195771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057984)

What if they don't have the code? What if it was developed by a third party under contract?

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (3, Insightful)

icydog (923695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057394)

Microsofts version of open source is that i develop and they take the code, the credit and the ownership.

Yes, because Microsoft's mode of operation is to steal GPL code and try to claim it's theirs until they get caught, at which point they fess up and pretend it was a mistake. Right... I mean, just look at all the other times they stole GPL code!

If in fact that tool used GPL code, it was just some lazy or dishonest developer who used a bunch of code from the Internet and pretended it was his. No proprietary software company would let that slide. Yes, that includes the company we all love to hate.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057660)

unless, of course, it was a dirty contractor.

Re:Excellent example of why MS hates GPL. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057550)

Well, I'd generally say that Codeplex is MS's version of the open source community, and it looks like that didn't stop the GPL from doing its thing. Ignoring their somewhat-slimier licences that no one pays attention to these days, the MS version of open source appears to be that the GPL holds true, and they'd rather take it down than have a PR incident starring Microsoft as Emperor Palpatine and Codeplex as the Galactic Senate. Most likely the program was something that developers were passing around the MS offices, as a fork of the original Codeplex project that they felt was more useful. It fell through the cracks enough for someone in a different department to pick it up and say 'hey, this is great!', and it ended up on the 'net without its heritage by accident. There are so few MS products where you can find a list of developers for them--it's not surprising that they'd have trouble tracking the ownership of one little internal tool, either.

Not a bad move (1)

delta98 (619010) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057224)

'We are currently taking down the Windows USB/DVD Tool from the Microsoft Store site until our review of the tool is complete,' a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. Well at least they are doing something.

Re:Not a bad move (5, Insightful)

blowdart (31458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058090)

Indeed. The summary assertion that "The fact the company pulled the tool doesn't bode well" is really daft. Of course they'd pull it, there's been a claim made against it - if they keep distributing it whilst they investigate the potential for damages rises with every download. Pulling the tool is not an admission of anything other than the fact that an accusation has been made and they're investitaging it.

Who knew... (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057250)

Whether the software giant is actually violating the GPL, a widely used (including by the Linux kernel) free software license...

Widely used? Really? Who knew...

!Widely used , Widely despised.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057312)

Widely used claim is laughable. The OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of software on the planet is proprietary software (What I mean by software here doesn't include the deluge of hobby projects on sourceforge. I mean professional software.) Which means.. It isn't infected with the GPL trojan horse. Its a good thing GPL V3 is outright rejected by the Linux devs. Otherwise the usage of Linux would drop to 0.0% if it was V3 ever used in the kernel.

BSD = good. GPL = evil.

Re:!Widely used , Widely despised.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057474)

Widely used claim is laughable

Pft. Clearly even MS are using GPL software. Doesn't get much more mainstream than that.

Re:!Widely used , Widely despised.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058280)

Which is weird because according to Ballmer, Linux infringes on Microsoft IP :P

Both sides have been known to lie and spread FUD. I guess its a tie then...

After developing (Off the top) NT, SQL Server, Visual Studio, Office, helping create the blueray VC-1 Codec, and countless other successfull endeavors (in the commercial and research space), nobody sane is going to believe that they intentionally stole GPL code for some random free tool. You must be really retarded to believe that..

more info (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057364)

A friend of mine works at the borg. He's a penguin at heart and generally a good guy. This is what he told me. I believe him, but you can make up your own mind. There is/was a GPL violation, but MS didn't do it directly. They licensed some code from a third party. The third party was responsible for the GPL violation (they licensed the GPL code under a non-GPL license).

Re:more info (4, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057536)

If this is a GPL violation, I'm sure it wasn't deliberate by Microsoft. People around here no doubt think differently. I'd be interested to know what processes they have in place - at our company, any use of third party code (whatever license) has to be sign-off by the CTO, and the details get put away in a file somewhere. There's more to it than that, but in theory, something like this would be a screw-up by somebody or a break-down in the process.

Re:more info (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058172)

If this is a GPL violation, I'm sure it wasn't deliberate by Microsoft.

That doesn't reduce their guilt however. If they got something written by a 3rd party, they need to have strict auditing practices in place. The responsibility solely vests with Microsoft.

Re:more info (4, Insightful)

black3d (1648913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058824)

They do have strict auditing practices in place, specifically regarding interoperability, buffer overflows (and the like), and checking to ensure the code hasn't been wholesale copy/pasted from public libraries.

However, they cannot ensure that someone hasn't copied a dozen lines of code from some other obscure program. They don't have the worlds entire source-code archive sitting in a database waiting to do comparison searches.

Furthermore, i find the ENTIRE situation very, very unlikely. It's almost as if it was all orchestrated. The story that we're supposed to buy is that:
1. Some random pundit was rooting through Microsoft functions because he "felt there was too much code there".
2. Pundit noticed some code that, despite it not having any reference to ImageReader, and despite this individual having nothing to do with ImageReader, immediately recognised that a dozen-line ReadBytes method was "obviously lifted from the CodePlex-hosted (yikes) GPLv2-licensed ImageMaster project".
3. No evidence is ever produced that there are any references to ImageReader, CodePlex, or anything else in the source. The researcher simply magically recognised the source code from a project that he'd had nothing to do with and never seen before.

I'm not buying it at all. This feels intentional.

Re:more info (1)

QuestorTapes (663783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058290)

> If this is a GPL violation, I'm sure it wasn't deliberate by Microsoft.
> People around here no doubt think differently.

Yes and no.

> I'd be interested to know what processes they have in place...in theory,
> something like this would be a...break-down in the process.

Microsoft doesn't have a great history with "process", of whatever sort, being followed by all business units. This is true with security, and using "other people's code", not specifically open source.

They don't seem to be that organized. I suspect if this is a true GPL violation, this isn't part of a grand evil genius conspiracy. But it's quite possible, in my opinion, that someone lifted this and that there really isn't much in the way of controls on this. Rules, sure; but no real process to ensure it happens.

I'm not saying, "Linux Rules, Microsoft Drools!" Just that MS, among commercial software companies, focuses on marketing aggressively, not process control.

why blame malice? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058416)

If this is a GPL violation, I'm sure it wasn't deliberate by Microsoft.

Precisely.Why blame malice when plain incompetence would suffice?

Re:why blame malice? (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059066)

Because malice from Microsoft creates a lot more SlashDot nerd rage.

I didn't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30059118)

I didn't know that there was a defence against copyright infringement of "incompetence".

You learn something new each day...

Re:more info (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057974)

I worked once for a company where I was ask for a common stack implementation that would be ready to be used, I recomended to modify a BSD implementation instead of developing it ourselves from scratch or to buy one from a third party.
Answer was "no no no, no free code in our software". I tried to explain the various free licenses policy that are currently used and to describe avantages of the BSD one, but finally my employer of that time decided to buy the stack it needed from a third party.

So we received the stack sources from said third party, which were from the BSD one I recommanded in the first place.
It is in fact quite common for a software producer who have to put its name over a piece of code to prefer to buy every pieces of code it does not produce itself rather than directly borrow and adapt it from the adequate license.
Sometimes third parties are kind enough to really implement required code themselves or to at least borrow it from the right license for the job, sometimes they are not.

If you want to make money in embedded software, for instance, just take every BSD implemented stacks, like TCP/IP, FTP, SNMP, adapt them to embedded use then just build a minimal company to sell them once properly tested over different architectures, finally, sell them to companies that produced embedded software. Such a stack can be sold between 50000 and 100000 euros, that corresponds more or less to the third of what a software engineer whould cost to the buyer to produce the stack itself, not to mention the time it would take.
Then if in your day job someone ask you about a such a stack, kindly indicate her/him the appropriate company which sells it ;)

What if it IS a violation? (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057406)

What if it IS a GPL violation?

Will they release the source code?
And if not, if they just replace the GPL parts and release a new version, will people who downloaded the first version be legally able to demand the source code? Will the mere tainting of the code with GPL code cast a shadow on any future releases; "did they really replace the GPL parts or did they just refactor it"?

Re:What if it IS a violation? (4, Informative)

msimm (580077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057640)

If it is a violate they'll remove the code and put the application back up. The same thing that usually happens in a GPL violation, I don't see any reason to treat Microsoft differently.

Re:What if it IS a violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058148)

How come other people accused of copyright violation don't get this "free pass"?

In the UK they are planning to cut off anyone *accused* of copyright infringement three times.
Microsoft has been accused before, so if we are living in a just world where everyone is treated equal shouldn't Microsoft be cut off the internet if they do this again?

Re:What if it IS a violation? (1)

heffrey (229704) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058260)

So which other repeat GPL violators have been cut off the internet?

My guess (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057710)

And if not, if they just replace the GPL parts and release a new version, will people who downloaded the first version be legally able to demand the source code?

Here's my guess, but I'm only a lawyer in the armchair sense (i.e. not at all, but I try picking up an understanding of the law).

If it's found to be a GPL violation, Microsoft has violated the law regarding copyrights.

It'll be up to the party (or parties) who can sue Microsoft (only the copyright holder? Only the people who have lost something by MS breaking the (C) law?) to either settle the matter between themselves, or to take it to court and have the matters settled by a judge.

The FSF's position is that they're usually happy as long as compliance is enforced. If the FSF has the copyright, you might expect the result to be that MS has to come into compliance with the license, also retroactively (i.e. give source to those already having the binaries in question or a written offer or however the GPL says you can satisfy that obligation).

If it's not the FSF who's the copyright holder, I don't know. Someone might be thinking they can get the RIAA-style million-dollar damages, and so refuse all settlements Microsoft are (realistically) going to offer and take them to court. (I don't think the free software / open source community attracts those kind of people, but then again we're a varied bunch.)

It all comes down to what the copyright holder can convince Microsoft to do (or convince the system to force Microsoft to do).

Will [...] cast a shadow [...]?

Yes, but you can't sue people for having shadows ;-)

It might make people more likely to look here for another GPL violation, but being biased by selective observation doesn't mean your observations are wrong (only your statistics; or rather, your predictions about observations not similarly biased).

Re:What if it IS a violation? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057910)

If it is a GPL violation, then Microsoft is guilty of copyright infringement and must pay $150000, because they didn't think of the poor coder whose potential for fame and glory they undermined, depriving him of a live in luxury.

Re:What if it IS a violation? (1)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057986)

you can't demand the source code. It was never offered to you.

The only thing that can be done is that the copyright holder of the original software could sue. However, you can't sue for the software to be released, you can only recover monetary damages.

That's a big thing that people think that you can be forced to release your source code. The only thing you'll be forced to do is pay money to the copyright holder.

Re:What if it IS a violation? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058072)

What if it IS a GPL violation?

Will they release the source code? And if not, if they just replace the GPL parts and release a new version, will people who downloaded the first version be legally able to demand the source code?

I doubt that. Replacing the GPL'd code ought to be enough; especially if the incorporation was accidental or the result of a third party's actions (as another poster pointed out it may be code they licensed from another company who claimed ownership of the rights.) I would not want someone to be forced to relseas code for such violations.

Why? Because it would be a bad precedent - what if someone used copyrighted code without permission in a GPL'd project? Should everyone who subsequently uses the code be held liable for a copyright violation, or would removing the code in question be enough? I prefer the later, simply because, IMHO, it a reasonable response in a case where the violation was not deliberate since the code was used in good faith based on the GPL.

Now, if it was code licensed from a third party, whoever wrote the code in question should be required to release the source, since one could assume they knew using GPL code required compliance with the GPL, and they distributed the derivative work. IANAL, but I would think MS has a reasonable case to sue based on the damages from the code.

If MS wrote the code, I still think a company should have the chance to fix a violation, especially if the code snippet is small - where a reasonable argument could be made that it was an unintended violation; unlike the blanket use of a major portion of a GPL'd product. Again, IANAL, but I think at some point even GPL'd code no longer is considered an original copyrighted work; much in the same way that a few words or sentence from one work that is incorporated in another is a copyright violation. YMMV on that concept.

Re:What if it IS a violation? (-1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058166)

will people who downloaded the first version be legally able to demand the source code

Depends on the jurisdiction. Third world communist hellholes like Germany and France have whack copyright laws, but in the USA, only the copyright holder has a legal stick to wield. All recipients can do is to rat out the distributor to the rights holder. All together now: the GPL is explicitly a license from the rights holder, not a contract between them and the distributor, or between the distributor and the recipient.

Defining GPL? (3, Funny)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057546)

the GPL, a widely used (including by the Linux kernel) free software license

Good thing they cleared that up. I never would've known what the GPL is without this explanation.

Re:Defining GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30058254)

The GPL is a "viral free opensource license", as some define it.
Viral? Why? The point of the GPL is that free software STAYS free software, in the difference to I.E: BSD license(public domain), where the software can be pulled of at any moment and lots of worse things.
  The creator may do a relicensing if he/she pleases, in most cases to sell a product.I.E: Company wants game engine, there is a superior FLOSS engine out there, so what they do is asking the author for a re-licensed version. And that is one way to earn more money.
You can also sell GPL software, so there is many ways to also earn money on it.

But the core concept is that free software you make is suppose to stay free, that is what is really is about.

Re:Defining GPL? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059074)

the GPL, a widely used (including by the Linux kernel) free software license

Good thing they cleared that up. I never would've known what the GPL is without this explanation.

I wonder if its time to stop referring to the GPL as a "widely used free software license" and refer to it as "THE most widely used software license".

A combination of

http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/ [dwheeler.com]

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_lines_of_code [wikipedia.org]

would seem to indicate "around 180 million LOC in Debian" vs maybe 50 MLOC for windows. Not everything is in Debian (believe it or not) and not everything MS is in Windows, but everything else that is MS licensed probably doesn't add up to more than 3 times the size of windows... Also, some stuff in MS products is BSD licensed and has to be subtracted.

The number of lines of GPL licensed code is probably larger than any other license, free or nonfree...

What if it IS a GPL violation part II? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057586)

What if it is a GPL violation and microsoft just comes out and says "ya, plenty of GPL'd code in there. We just took it and used it."

Who, exactly, sues them in this case?

Seriously - I don't understand the answer to this question. Somebody please explain it to me.

I have a very strong intuition that GPL'd code is used every day by all sorts of software places, including a lot of embedded developers who simply think that the GPL is a toothless naive nothing of a license. Red hat and many others seem to have built multi-billion dollar businesses on brightlining the GPL. Can somebody explain to me how the GPL is NOT actually toothless, other than the teeth of potential derision on slashdot?

Re:What if it IS a GPL violation part II? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057634)

Your legal confusion is not about GPL, it's about copyright. Sueing and any other legal proceedings would happen just like with any other source license (or lack of one).

Regarding your wild suggestions about toothlessness: Microsoft just took the software off their site for investigation -- they don't even know if it infringes or not and they still removed it on suspicion. That should tell you which way Microsoft leans on this.
 

Re:What if it IS a GPL violation part II? (2, Informative)

mixmatch (957776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057716)

That would be the Free Software Foundation ( http://www.fsf.org/licensing [fsf.org] ).

The Compliance Lab has been an informal activity of the FSF since 1992 and was formalized in December 2001. We handle all licensing-related issues for FSF. We serve the free software community by providing the public with a "knowledge infrastructure" surrounding the GNU GPL and free software licensing, and enforcing the license on FSF-copyrighted software.

Re:What if it IS a GPL violation part II? (3, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058264)

No - the copyright holder has to sue. The FSF recommends that you assign the copyright of anything you release under the GPL to them, so they can go after any violations, but if you don't then you're on your own. You can't sue for copyright violation on behalf of someone else, they have to do it themselves.

Re:What if it IS a GPL violation part II? (4, Informative)

lordandmaker (960504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057816)

Who, exactly, sues them in this case?

In theory, the author(s) of the code. In practice, they'd likely hand it over to the FSF who exist partly for the protection of GPL'd code.

This might be a double-edged sword (1)

Chousuke (1425315) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057598)

It worries me that this case has already been brought to the open.

In the previous post there were comments about contacting companies in private first and see if the problem could be solved, so that no undue negative publicity would be generated.

If this turns out to have been a false alarm, it won't reflect well on the GPL nor its proponents, and might even make more businesses wary of GPL code.

It would be interesting to see an account of the GPL violations that have been handled discreetly out of the public eye, if only to show that not everyone will be publicly shamed and vilified for breaking the licence, if they just remain cooperative.

Re:This might be a double-edged sword (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057752)

What you forget is that GPL code is owned by the author, not some magical GPL entity. One author might well want to kick up a fuss, while another may want to deal with it quietly. Others might go to the SFLC, whose policy *is* discretion first (and that's what I believe the earlier articles were referring to).

Whether or not to kick up a stink, demand compensation/removal of the tool, prosecution etc. is in the hands of the copyright holder, not the SFLC (although the holder may choose to hand it over to them for the purposes of dealing with the case).

Re:This might be a double-edged sword (1)

Chousuke (1425315) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058020)

I don't see how this concerns my point at all. I don't deny that it is the author's prerogative to respond however he wants, but public shaming or other abusive action right from the onset is almost always wrong.

That is, in my opinion everyone should follow the SFLC's example. If the friendly approach doesn't work, *then* you can start a campaign, and the infringing party deserves everything they get.

Re:This might be a double-edged sword (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058458)

A lot of code is voluntarily handed over to some magical GPL entity since the author doesn't have the time/resources to enforce it himself. My magical GPL entity, I of course mean the FSF.

!doesn't bode well (2, Informative)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057656)

I think taking the software down is a very boding/bodeable/bodeful/whatever thing to do. I wouldn't expect anything else unless they had concrete proof that there was absolutely no chance at all that there was even the remote possibility of a GPL violation, and unless the software was developed completely in house and the claim of GPL violation was made with no evidence at all they can't be sure of that.

Re:!doesn't bode well (2, Insightful)

Spudley (171066) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058322)

I think taking the software down is a very boding/bodeable/bodeful/whatever thing to do.

I completely agree. The guy who posted the original story was just wrong to say it "doesn't bode well".

By saying that, he was basically condemning Microsoft's actions before they'd even done then. I dislike MS as much as the next guy here, but - please! - what have they done in this case to warrant not boding well? As soon as they found out there was a potential problem, they pulled the software so they could investigate. Absolutely the right action.

What would you have preferred them to do? The only two other options were (a) ignore the problem, and (b) release the code. Ignoring the problem was clearly never going to happen -- even MS isn't that arrogant. And while I'm sure we'd have loved them to have just released the code, they would certainly need to check it first, because there's a very high probability that it also contains code which is licensed in a way that can't be released (especially since this is a DVD tool). So pulling it while they investigate is the right thing to do.

The most likely scenario I would suggest is that MS will re-launch the tool in a few months with the GPL parts replaced so they don't have to release any code. Not what the masses of slashdot would want, but likely to be the most sensible and pragmatic way for MS to deal with it.

hey beavis... (5, Funny)

crocodill (668896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30057700)

they pulled their tool

huhuhhuh

Re:hey beavis... (1)

beaviz (314065) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059034)

EH HEHEHE!!!

If anybody wants it before it is gone (4, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058276)

It is currently on Major Geeks [majorgeeks.com] , but who knows for how long. From the sound of it all it does is make a USB drive bootable like the HP format tool and then copy the ISO files to the drive.

Hell something that simple...why would they need to steal GPL code,unless they got themselves a seriously lazy programmer/contractor?

Can't do anything right (1)

muntis (1503471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058470)

Dam, and I was giving compliments to M$ regarding this tool. It was like a breeze of fresh air after Nero.
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