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Ask Slashdot: How Best To Deal With a GPLv2 License Infringement?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the napalm-solves-many-problems dept.

GNU is Not Unix 240

cultiv8 writes "I am a developer and released some code at one point under GPLv2. It's nothing huge — a small Drupal module that integrates a Drupal e-commerce system (i.e. Ubercart) with multiple Authorize.net accounts — but very useful for non-profits. Earlier today I discovered that a Drupal user was selling the module from their website for $49 and claiming it was their custom-made module. I'm no lawyer, but my perspective is this violates both the spirit and law of GPLv2, most specifically clause 2-b: 'You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.' Am I correct in my understanding of GPLv2? Do I have any recourse, and should I do anything about this? I don't care about money, I just don't want someone selling stuff that I released for free. How do most developers/organizations deal with licensing infringements of this type?"

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ddos (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486554)

posting on slashdot is like a DDOS for their site.

Re:ddos (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486760)

Kill them! We MUST KILL THEM!

Oh, wait. No, we do that for a GPLv3 infringement.

For GPLv2, we just send them a nasty email and egg their mother's house.

Re:ddos (5, Insightful)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487360)

Actually, just politely asking them to comply with the license is probably a better way to start. It may very well be an honest mistake from their side.

Re:ddos (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487284)

The only thing worse than being slashdotted would be space crowbars. I don't know why cultiv8 bothered with slashdotting, when the crowbars would have been so much faster.

Come over to gpl-violations.org for help! (5, Informative)

Qubit (100461) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486556)

Post your question on the gpl-violations mailing list and we'll try to help you work through the details of any (perceived) GPL violation.

Short answer: Selling GPLed software (even software you did not personally author) is okay. However, you must correctly attribute the copyrighted work re: the upstream author(s), and you must comply with the terms of the GPL license, including providing the complete source.

Where is your license mentioned? (4, Informative)

Qubit (100461) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486622)

Hi,

I need to run off in two shakes of a lamb's tail, but I took a quick look I don't see the GPLv2 (or any GPL license) mentioned anywhere in your code.

I suggest that you

1) Put a copy of the GPL (v2, v3, etc...) at the top level of your project. I usually make a file LICENSE.txt that explains that the project is using the GPL, and then put a copy of the GPL at the end of that file.

2) Put license headers on ALL of your files, so that even if they get separated there is no confusion about either the license or the author. They should look like this:

UC Authorizenet Multi
        Copyright (C) 2011 Cultiv8 (put your real name here...duh!)

        UC Authorizenet Multi is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
        it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
        the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License, or
        (at your option) any later version.

        UC Authorizenet Multi is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
        but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
        MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
        GNU General Public License for more details.

        You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
        along with UC Authorizenet Multi. If not, see .

Here's a quick link to more information: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-howto.html [gnu.org]

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0, Redundant)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486676)

Did the guy mention that he copyrighted his work? If he put it out there with nothing indicating that, there's an argument that he put it into the public domain, but if he copyrighted the project in a README file or in the core code files, he's covered. If someone is violating the GPL license and selling a modified version of his work, I'd recommend he contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who can help defend him, most likely free of charge.

Short answer: Selling GPLed software (even software you did not personally author) is okay.

Jesus... It's amazing what crap a first poster can say. No, you can not sell GPLed software you didn't write, though you may charge a distribution fee, and you must provide a way to access the source code you're distributing. If some a-hole is charging $50-ish bucks for your software, take him down.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (4, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486692)

Did the guy mention that he copyrighted his work? If he put it out there with nothing indicating that, there's an argument that he put it into the public domain....

On the contrary. The default proposition is that it IS copyrighted and that all rights are reserved. Under Common Law, anyway.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486714)

not under Common Law. Under US law since some point during the latter half of the 20th century. Before then, you had to explicitly copyright stuff by sending a copy to the Library of Congress and receiving a copyright registration number or it was public domain by default.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486730)

I would say under "common" copyright law, to whit the Berne Convention in the US, though that was also the practice elsewhere long before it was adopted in the US.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (5, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487256)

Under just about all national law, actually - it's one of the terms of the Berne Convention. It requires all contracting companies make copyright grants automatic, even if the author didn't explicitly put a notice on.

There was a valid reason though. It was to prevent incomplete works from leaking and being legally redistributed, before the creator(s) put the copyright notice on.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486858)

Uh no, copyright and other monopoly grants are not common law concepts. You may be thinking of Constitutional copyright, but the truth of it was just the opposite of what you wrote so I dont think so. What you must be thinking of is under the Berne convention which is about as far from common law as you could possibly get.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (4, Informative)

James_Duncan8181 (588316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486708)

Jesus... It's amazing what crap a first poster can say. No, you can not sell GPLed software you didn't write

Ironic. Yes, of course you may.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (-1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486776)

So... you're saying, that other than charging a distribution fee, that anyone may sell GPL software for a profit for themselves? What a total crock.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486884)

See what GNU has to say [gnu.org] . Note this quote from the second paragraph:

Actually, we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as much as they wish or can.

You are right that you can only charge a distribution fee, but that doesn't mean you can't charge as much as you want. The only limitation is that if you distribute the binary separate from the source, then you cannot charge customers extra for the source beyond what it costs to ship/distribute it (see 3b in the GPL v2 [gnu.org] ).

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486890)

A total crock of correctness. The GPL SPECIFICALLY (read it sometime) states that you may sell any GPL'd work as long as you follow the rest of the restrictions set forth therein. You must distribute source, in other words. If you don't like that... you talk to RMS.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486916)

GPLv2 yes. But the business model in it is very sketchy if it works at all since you still have to provide the source for free, in which case, anyone should be able to build the software anyway for free.The only thing you are selling is the time it took you to have a proper compile system setup, which the end customer/user no longer needs. This by the way, is the reason why the GPLv3 was created to explicitly remove this exact ability.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487276)

The same business model has been used to great infamy by many knock-off emule clients. You just missed out a key part: Don't tell the customer they can get it free elsewhere! If you have to mention gpl, do so in point-two font on a page no-one visits. If your page is a top rank on google (May have to hire a spammer for that) then you should be able to get a few suckers to pay up without even realising that your page is not the official one.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (2)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487364)

You are only legally required to provide the source code to parties you have sent binaries to. If I don't pay for the application, you are under NO legal obligation to provide the source code. The instant you give/sell/whatever the application (be it in binary form, etc), you are THEN required to hand of the source code upon request. Once you have distributed the binary, you may only charge a nominal fee to cover distribution costs, no more.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487414)

The GPLv3 also permits this. You can take someone else's GPLv3 code and sell it for $1,000,000 if you can find a buyer (although, since they could get it from someone else for free, good luck with that). What you must do, with both v2 and v3, is provide the person that you sell it to with a license to redistribute it, and with the source code (or a transferrable offer good for three years to provide the source code). The person you sell it to is then free to sell it for any amount or give it away, so selling GPL'd software more than once requires a ready supply of fools.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486928)

They're charging a $50 distribution fee. To cover the cost of charging a distribution fee ... like how the toll booths collect tolls ... to pay for the cost of the toll booths.

If you don't like it, then you have several options:

1 Distribute under a different license;
2. Don't distribute at all - run it as SaaS (Software as a Service) off your own server, and optionally charge a fee;
3. Distribute an obfuscated version [wikipedia.org] so that it's almost impossible for them to modify it.

Exercise your perl-fu by writing a script that reads in the source, strips out the comments and white space, replaces every variable name with a 2-letter combo in the range of A0 to ZZ, and every constant or string with a value from _A0 to _ZZ, and every function with a name from AO_ to ZZ_

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

ysth (1368415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487190)

No perl-fu required, B::Deobfuscate [p3rl.org] can be used to obfuscate symbol names (though it was written to allow easy reversal of such obfuscation).

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

ysth (1368415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487200)

Err, of course that only works for Perl code, which the code in question is not :(

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486710)

No, you can not sell GPLed software you didn't write

False

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (4, Informative)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486716)

"If he put it out there with nothing indicating that, there's an argument that he put it into the public domain"

All works are automatically copyrighted, notice or not. It is not a defense to claim you did not know. All works are copyrighted UNLESS placed into the public domain. That requires a disclaimer. The only argument might be that he didn't originally write, which is very iffy, and probably isn't going to fly in court.

In fact, if there are no notices, it is probably not GPL'd. Which is an interesting problem in itself...

"No, you can not sell GPLed software you didn't write, though you may charge a distribution fee, and you must provide a way to access the source code you're distributing."

False. The source must be distributed if it is changed. Otherwise, it is not your responsibility. He was right, you are not.

Anyway, this is a Drupal module for heaven's sake, AKA a PHP script. It is source. I'm wondering if you have any idea what you're talking about, or just felt like knee-jerking some.

"If some a-hole is charging $50-ish bucks for your software, take him down."

...or, don't, because using the GPL, if the guy actually did, gives gives this person the legal right to sell it, and he will be laughed out of court.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (-1, Troll)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486766)

Wow... "Because usin the GPL, if the guy actually did, gives this person the legal right to sell it..."

Are you one of those slashdot plants who gets paid to spread fud? Enough said.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486798)

Excuse me? Read the license before you run your mouth off. You seem to have not even the faintest clue as to what its terms actually are. Or hell, read the FAQ. Knowledge is power.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (5, Informative)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486820)

In case you are unable to use your browser's search function - I can understand the intellectually challenged might have problems with that:

4. Conveying Verbatim Copies.

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

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

link [gnu.org]

Troll elsewhere.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486824)

1. Person A releases GPL code
2. Person B takes it and does modifications. Puts it up on site to sell @ $50. The purchaser gets the program AND the source code (if they want the source code).
3. Person A is angry but has *no case*.

Person A only has a case IFF Person B sells the modifications without releasing the source code with the modified binary.

Person A cannot even demand the source code modifications from Person B unless they *legally* acquire the modified binary.

If you have issues with this, please read and re-read GPL license or alternatively use non-GPL license.

PS. I do not know the details of this case are. But GPL does not imply "freeware" of any kind. It only affirms that GPL freedoms are passed to the user of (modified) GPL software.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (3, Informative)

Arker (91948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486854)

You seem to have learned all you know about the GPL from listening to its enemies. Try reading it sometime. It's not anti-commercial, it's quite explicitly the opposite in fact. It considers the right to sell the software to be one of the package of user rights that the license is here to protect.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486910)

The "Greater Good" part of the GPL v2 is that _at the very minimum_ someone who pays for that component will know or be able to easily learn that exactly the same thing can be had for free. Doesn't stop whoever already paid for it. Does stop people claiming it was made by themselves (but of course this won't stop an enterprising seller who can avoid such references completely).

There's also a notion of fairness in there - if he is selling something that is 20% his own work and 80% someone else's - then yes, he is benefitting from the value of the full combination when he only contributed a small part. However this also means that anyone can take that 80% and produce and open source implementation of the 20%. The smaller part he has produced himself (and hence the worse the problem) the easier this would be to replace in OSS.

The GPL v3 is different, where in practice someone who contributes x% of the joint product will benefit 0% from direct sales. Turns out that getting exact amounts of fairness is pretty hard.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487264)

Does stop people claiming it was made by themselves

Neither copyright law nor GPL stop plagiarism. They are about the right to copy, not misrepresentation or fraud. It's a common misconception that copyright stops plagiarism. It can be used against plagiarism, yes, rather like using tax evasion against drug dealers. Copyright extremists use this misunderstanding to further their own agenda of extorting money from us all for our own art and science.

I find the GPL idea of charging for distribution naive. The Internet has made distribution into a trivial problem, with negligible costs. Have to change to some other method.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487418)

Note that the above only applies to US Federal copyright law. In some states (although generally only for a subset of types of work), and in most of Europe, copyright also includes the concept of Moral Rights. These include the right of the author to be identified with the work, so in many jurisdictions plagiarism (i.e. not giving the author credit) are explicitly covered by copyright law.

At the Federal level, the USA does not recognise moral rights - make of that what you will.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (4, Informative)

Arker (91948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486844)

Your post is mostly correct, but I spotted one huge glaring error.

False. The source must be distributed if it is changed. Otherwise, it is not your responsibility. He was right, you are not.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. You have two options to distribute software under the GPL. You can either: ship the full code with every binary or you can ship the binary alone but commit to provide the source code to anyone who requests it. Whether you are distributing the code unmodified, or have extensively modified it, doesnt matter in the least.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486862)

It is rather convoluted; I partially misremembered that section. However, it is entirely irrelevant here, since PHP is source.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486954)

In the case of perl, php, and javascript, they ARE getting a non-linked "program" - not a binary (even if it's run through an obfuscator, it's still neither object code suitable for linking, nor a binary). Of course, with some languages (perl ...) it's sometimes hard to tell if it's been obfuscated intentionally.

And if you DO run it through a good obfuscator you can reduce the size by up to 80%, so it downloads quicker.

READ THE LICENSE-that clause is not applicable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486934)

"False. The source must be distributed if it is changed. Otherwise, it is not your responsibility. He was right, you are not."
Here's what the GPL2 says (/usr/share/common-licenses/GPL-2):
        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.)
In case you didn't notice, selling the module doesn't qualify as noncommercial distribution.
Other than that, you're mostly right... except, the distributor
(a) must preserve copyright notice
(b) make rights under the GPL clear: the right to redistribute without royalty is included.

Re:READ THE LICENSE-that clause is not applicable (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486948)

I was misremembering the GPL2 while reading the GPL3 (somehow missed that fact). However, it is still irrelevant in this case because PHP comes as source.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (5, Informative)

Qubit (100461) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486900)

Due to the truly amazing amount of information in your post that is inaccurate, I assume that you are either
1) a troll, or
2) 13 years old ...nevertheless, I'll provide some answers. Maybe it will be helpful for the OP.

Did the guy mention that he copyrighted his work? If he put it out there with nothing indicating that, there's an argument that he put it into the public domain,

If you don't trust me, how about the US Copyright Office [copyright.gov] ?

Q: Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
A: No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”

You go on...

If someone is violating the GPL license and selling a modified version of his work, I'd recommend he contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who can help defend him, most likely free of charge.

While the EFF [eff.org] are a bunch of hoopy froods who protect our rights in cyberspace, they are certainly not the first people I'd contact about a GPL infringement. They're not even the 4th or 5th on my list.

Here's my list:
1) GPL-Violations.org [gpl-violations.org] - Volunteers, knowledgeable folks who will answer your questions pretty quickly
2) The SFLC [softwarefreedom.org] (Software Freedom Law Center) - Volunteer lawyers (much slower to respond due to demand, but they know their stuff)
3) The Software Freedom Conservancy [slashdot.org] (if you want to align your FOSS project with a "non-profit home and infrastructure for FLOSS projects.")
4) The Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] , if you have a specific question about some of their GPLed software
5) Bradley Kuhn, Harald Welte, etc..

Jesus... It's amazing what crap a first poster can say.

Have you even read the text of the GPL(v2) ?

No, you can not sell GPLed software you didn't write, though you may charge a distribution fee, and you must provide a way to access the source code you're distributing. If some a-hole is charging $50-ish bucks for your software, take him down.

Here's an exact quote from the on the FSF's website: [gnu.org]

Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money? (#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney)

Yes, the GPL allows everyone to do this. The right to sell copies is part of the definition of free software. Except in one special situation, there is no limit on what price you can charge. (The one exception is the required written offer to provide source code that must accompany binary-only release.)

When you mention a "distribution fee," I believe that you're talking about clause 3(b) [gnu.org] of the source requirement of the GPLv2 (relevant section italicized):

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,

Section 3(b) is talking about a requirement to provide source code to people you've already given binaries. You can still charge them a bunch of money up front for initial access to the program.

It's not always easy to understand parts of the GPL, and the GPLv3 made the whole darn thing a bunch longer. I totally understand that. But if you're going to talk about a FOSS license on Slashdot with any authority, please think about what you're saying and be able to back up your position.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (3, Funny)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487436)

Did the guy mention that he copyrighted his work? If he put it out there with nothing indicating that, there's an argument that he put it into the public domain, but if he copyrighted the project in a README file or in the core code files, he's covered. If someone is violating the GPL license and selling a modified version of his work, I'd recommend he contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who can help defend him, most likely free of charge.

Short answer: Selling GPLed software (even software you did not personally author) is okay.

Jesus... It's amazing what crap a first poster can say. No, you can not sell GPLed software you didn't write, though you may charge a distribution fee, and you must provide a way to access the source code you're distributing. If some a-hole is charging $50-ish bucks for your software, take him down.

You sir just won the award for Slashdot's 2011 Posts With Highest Percentage of Factually Incorrect Statements. Congratulations!

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

claar (126368) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486828)

Actually, Drupal modules should not include a LICENSE.txt -- the GPL is already included at the root of the Drupal install, which the module is installed under.

It's considered a module bug in the Drupal community to include a LICENSE.txt.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486880)

Uhhh... that's not how it works. The license only "counts" for the module if you provide some sort of Drupal+modules package. Modules still must include it to be properly licensed when distributed alone. If it is considered a bug, you need better license people... which would not surprise me, considering I know one of Drupal's so-called license experts, who seemed unable to discern what exactly the Creative Commons was all about.

"4. Conveying Verbatim Copies.

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

Program -> Module.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (2)

Donwulff (27374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487036)

If you take a quick look at the Drupal repository itself, you'll find the statement "Please note that all code which is committed into a Drupal repository must be covered under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or greater; the same as Drupal itself."
The only halfway interesting question out of this post seems to be, if you submit your work to a repository which requires all submissions to be GPL, will it be GPL even if you don't explictly declare it as such? I would assume not, as most high-profile GPL projects have been requiring signed GPL assignment papers from any major contributors.

This whole argument about the works license is, of course, mostly moot since obviously as the Drupal licensing FAQ http://drupal.org/licensing/faq puts it:
"Drupal modules and themes are a derivative work of Drupal. If you distribute them, you must do so under the terms of the GPL version 2 or later."

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487260)

I need to run off in two shakes of a lamb's tail

Is that the time it take a Volkswagen to cross a football-field diagonally?
Or is it 1 score (As in 4 scores and 7 years) divided by the books in the library of congress?
I get a bit confused with all these measurements.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487368)

The headers are important. I've seen many pieces of code where people only put a copyright in a LICENSE file, and a subsequent package manager stripped it (it should be assumed that unless it's being downloaded in binary format only, that neither the LICENSE nor the headers will be read, but can be referenced.)

You could always do what php non-free software do and put a key into the software so that someone who tries to sell it and doesn't really know anything can identify from the compiled or distributed module who wrote it. eg, no free licence key, it has a reminder to obtain a key for free from your site. Even if the key does nothing but make the message go away.

But you shouldn't even have to do this. It's just a way to make sure that users have the latest version.

Re:Where is your license mentioned? (3, Interesting)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487458)

The headers are important. I've seen many pieces of code where people only put a copyright in a LICENSE file, and a subsequent package manager stripped it (it should be assumed that unless it's being downloaded in binary format only, that neither the LICENSE nor the headers will be read, but can be referenced.)

For reference –those package managers are in violation of the GPL –to redistribute GPL'd code you must make sure you preserve the copyright notice. This is in fact probably the single most important bit of the license!

Re:Come over to gpl-violations.org for help! (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486794)

I thought Slashdot was against copyright. How confusing.

Cognitive Dissonance: My Favorite Term (4, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486918)

People cry about groupthink, which is one thing; but then people like you cry slashdot doesn't follow its "groupthink" on all possible matters in the way they expected slashdot to follow it. Essentially, you're complaining slashdot is not the stawman you keep making it. The fact slashdot has people with opposing views on it is not a flaw. The fact slashdot has people on it with a more nuanced view on the matter than outright-shameless-pirate or RIAA-media-executive is not a flaw. I would say the problem is cognitive dissonance in the people who keep complaining about slashdot, not in slashdot itself.

Before you complain about my signature; I oppose the existence of copyright and am for its immediate and total abolition. I support the GPL until that happens to turn the system on itself and avoid allowing copyright holders to abuse software I write or contribute to. These positions do not conflict, but to some people, they are taken to in order to complain.

Re:Cognitive Dissonance: My Favorite Term (-1, Flamebait)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486982)

All I'm doing is pointing out that Slashdot clearly has an anti-copyright position when it conveniently aids in the acquisition of things that its readers want--music, movies, and software--but is pro-copyright when it conveniently aids in the acquisition of free software as well as benefits an anti-commercial software position. Slashdot clearly has this position based on the consistent rate of pro-piracy/pro-GPL stories combined with the majority of highly-rated comments that are posted to those stories. This article, as well as your own post and its anti-copyright signature, are clear examples.

Slashdot's job is to cater to a specific kind of tech demographic in order to sell ads related to those topics. You are just a product--the customers are its advertisers. This site will always be posting anti-copyright articles, GPL violation articles, pro-Google articles, pro-Linux articles, Star Wars articles, etc. It's not even on the forefront of tech news--nearly every single link is posted on Hacker News and Reddit days before Slashdot publishes it. The so-called "Slashdot effect" also no longer exists as it once did, as the readership has diminished since the rise of user-voted content submission sites. The point being that most of the people still lingering on this site hold the more extreme viewpoints that Slashdot caters to, or else they would have left along with everyone else years ago. Just try legitimately praising Apple or Microsoft and see what happens to your karma. You used to be able to do that; not anymore.

As for your claim that your positions do not conflict, they most certainly do--you are in favor of the abolition of copyright, yet you are also in favor of a copyright license that requires copyright law to have any legal power. Without copyright, the GPL would have no legal power and would be unenforceable.

Re:Cognitive Dissonance: My Favorite Term (3, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487134)

"As for your claim that your positions do not conflict, they most certainly do--you are in favor of the abolition of copyright, yet you are also in favor of a copyright license that requires copyright law to have any legal power. Without copyright, the GPL would have no legal power and would be unenforceable."

Really? That's amazing. You must know my position better than I do - since that is obviously not what I said:

"I oppose the existence of copyright and am for its immediate and total abolition. I support the GPL until that happens to turn the system on itself and avoid allowing copyright holders to abuse software I write or contribute to."

I don't know how you got what you claim I think out of that, so I am inclined to say you're lying about what I said in order to attack my position as a stawman, and I don't take kindly to that. The rest of your post is basically the same, so you're full of shit. Go away.

Re:Come over to gpl-violations.org for help! (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486944)

Slashdot is, as far as the hivemind can be said to hold any position, in favor of copyright reform. There is no consensus on what that should look like, generally either abolishing it altogether or restricting it to a term similar to that of patents. In either case, free and/or open licenses are considered a useful middle ground, though proponents of abolishment tend to favor BSD over GPL.

But then, given how long you've been around, you already knew that.

Re:Come over to gpl-violations.org for help! (-1, Flamebait)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486986)

Piracy is not copyright reform; it's complete rejection of the copyright system. Slashdot is clearly pro-piracy in both the number of pro-piracy articles it publishes (particularly about Pirate Bay--the most recent submission conveniently included a link to a mirror of the site) and the upvoted comments that are posted to those stories.

The problem with dismissing the copyright system is that the GPL is a copyright license that depends on copyright law to have any legal power. Ironically, it's also a EULA for developers--yet Slashdot is also anti-EULA. The point being that Slashdot as a company doesn't care about being consistent; it only cares about riling up its readers and generating page views. And because readers are so riled up, they don't notice how inconsistent their own positions are.

Re:Come over to gpl-violations.org for help! (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487150)

All you can do is attack stawmen with hyperbole. I bet you'll cry about groupthink when you're modded down...

"Slashdot" and copyright (2)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487204)

"Slashdot" (by which I mean the majority of site members, not necessarily the site operators themselves) is probably pro PirateBay because PirateBay does nothing that Google doesn't. It is a search engine, pure and simple, and identifies available torrents. You can in fact find exactly the same links on Google as PirateBay puts on its site.

Since it is not based in the USA it does not have to follow US based DMCA requirements. It was originally based in Sweden, and until recently successfully fought off legal challenges to its operation. From what I can gather, Swedish law changed or the interpretation of it did, and PirateBay was unable to be successful in its defence of its activities.

What concerns Slashdot about PirateBay is that whilst the owners of PirateBay may have made statements supporting "piracy", the actual operation of the site complied with the law at the time, and it seems that there was a determined attempt to "get" the site, and their opinions were used against the site operators. In the US this would raise freedom of speech issues.

You are probably correct in saying that "Slashdot" is anti-EULA. The GPL, however is is not a EULA. A EULA restricts your rights beyond normal copyright, whereas the GPL gives you greater rights than copyright provides, but you are expected to comply with the whole of the GPL in order to have those rights. There is nothing inconsistent in Slashdot supporting something giving you greater freedom than allowed by copyright.

Personally I am not "anti" copyright, and I don't think that "Slashdot" is either. What "Slashdot" probably would regard as a reasonable compromise is a restriction of the duration of copyright to somewhere between 15-20 years. One of the intents of copyright is to permit artists to be paid for their work, which it does, but also to ensure that ideas and thoughts get out into the public domain. In software that doesn't happen, because software is not supported for 70-90 years (the approximate duration of copyright at present) and becomes lost to public knowledge.

Drone strike (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486558)

You can buy a scale Predator drone for less than $1000 and a basic AI package for it for maybe half that. A few flybys and maybe a leaflet drop should be sufficient.

Re:Drone strike (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486914)

Yeah but see where they get you is the weapons. You ever price a hellfire or a maverick? Them damned things ain't cheap friend, hell it'd be cheaper to buy a brand new ford Mustang and just drive it into someone's house than it would be to fire a single missile! I mean where's the damned Chinese knockoff when you need them huh? How the hell are you supposed to get rid of that crazy ex or deal with the asshole boss if you can't even get affordable heat seeks? This is America dammit, what good is the second amendment if I can't even get a good deal on some rockets for my drone!

As for TFA I'd say he's SOL. they are selling support and installation which is 100% fine and dandy by the GPL, just ask Red Hat. If you didn't want others to be able to profit from your work you should have released as a proprietary module and not the GPL.

The flip side of this though is why i think we'll never see a truly kick ass Linux desktop that can stand toe to toe with the polish of OSX and Windows, and that's because it takes millions of dollars worth of code to put that level of polish and with GPL somebody could just offer all the work you did for free if you built in on Linux which is why Jobs used BSD for Apple. that's why at least for me every time I try to deal with a Linux desktop it feels like a bazillion little programs all built without a care in the world in how they were gonna integrate together beyond CLI because...well that's pretty much what it is, tons of coders scratching personal itches instead of working together for a solid unified whole.

In the end the GPL is a double edged sword in that on the one hand it ensures that if you hand out code under GPL then under GPL it will stay but the flip side is nobody is gonna invest the insane levels of money it would take to make a truly integrated world class desktop out of it because like with Ubuntu there would be 50 free knockoffs and it would be damned hard to recoup your investment much less make a profit. i mean has Canonical even made a profit yet?

You can sell GPL software (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486562)

Why do people release software under a license and then ask basic questions like this? Particularly, why do they need to ask Slashdot all the time?

The guy can try to sell your module all he wants, provided that a) He hasn't altered the copyright you placed on it (You did put a valid Copyright on each source file, in the GPL header, right?) and b) He makes the GPL sources available to anyone who has purchased a copy of the module and has then requested them, or anyone who has received a copy of the module and has requested them.

Basically, he can't claim its his and he can't change the license, but if anyone is dumb enough to give him cash for something they could get for free elsewhere, that's their problem. If you're still not sure, contact the FSF. Or, hell, just read their damn website!

Re:You can sell GPL software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486878)

Why do people release software under a license and then ask basic questions like this? Particularly, why do they need to ask Slashdot all the time?

That's a good question. I've got another to go along with it: why do people snidely offer wrong information and then get modded "Insightful"?

The guy can try to sell your module all he wants, provided that a) He hasn't altered the copyright you placed on it (You did put a valid Copyright on each source file, in the GPL header, right?) and...

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "copyright". Copyright isn't something you "put" on a file, and what would a distributor even do that could "alter" someone else's copyright? If you don't understand the difference between a copyright notice and copyright itself, why are you lecturing others about saying stupid things on Slashdot?

b) He makes the GPL sources available to anyone who has purchased a copy of the module and has then requested them, or anyone who has received a copy of the module and has requested them.

If he's selling it for $49 and telling people it's his original work, he's presumably not telling people it's GPL'ed, which is also a violation. (You have to provide both the source code AND the license information, so recipients know they're receiving code they can do things with).

Basically, he can't claim its his and he can't change the license, but if anyone is dumb enough to give him cash for something they could get for free elsewhere, that's their problem. If you're still not sure, contact the FSF. Or, hell, just read their damn website!

Actually, if anyone is dumb enough to give him cash for something he's selling without complying with the upstream license, it's the original author's problem as much as the unwitting customer's problem. Because he's selling someone the original author's property without permission. The GPL gives him permission to copy until the GPL's terms are violated. Under the law, it's the original author, not the unwitting customer, who has been harmed. (actually, the customer might also be considered the victim of fraud, but that's more speculative)

Re:You can sell GPL software (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486922)

(reposting to correct formatting errors)

Why do people release software under a license and then ask basic questions like this? Particularly, why do they need to ask Slashdot all the time?

That's a good question. I've got another to go along with it: why do people snidely offer wrong information and then get modded "Insightful"?

The guy can try to sell your module all he wants, provided that a) He hasn't altered the copyright you placed on it (You did put a valid Copyright on each source file, in the GPL header, right?) and...

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "copyright". Copyright isn't something you "put" on a file, and what would a distributor even do that could "alter" someone else's copyright? If you don't understand the difference between a copyright notice and copyright itself, why are you lecturing others about saying stupid things on Slashdot?

b) He makes the GPL sources available to anyone who has purchased a copy of the module and has then requested them, or anyone who has received a copy of the module and has requested them.

If he's selling it for $49 and telling people it's his original work, he's presumably not telling people it's GPL'ed, which is also a violation. (You have to provide both the source code AND the license information, so recipients know they're receiving code they can do things with).

Basically, he can't claim its his and he can't change the license,

Well, the question specified that he WAS claiming it was his, and implied that the questioner knew this was a violation, and asked what to do about it, but apparently you felt the need to lecture him on what he clearly already knew rather than actually offer solutions...

but if anyone is dumb enough to give him cash for something they could get for free elsewhere, that's their problem. If you're still not sure, contact the FSF. Or, hell, just read their damn website!

Actually, if anyone is dumb enough to give him cash for something he's selling without complying with the upstream license, it's the original author's problem as much as the unwitting customer's problem. Because he's selling someone the original author's property without permission. The GPL gives him permission to copy until the GPL's terms are violated. Under the law, it's the original author, not the unwitting customer, who has been harmed. (actually, the customer might also be considered the victim of fraud, but that's more speculative)

Re:You can sell GPL software (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487020)

No, you're wrong. The GPLv2 does not require that you include the source code. You have other options, instead you may: [gnu.org]

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.)

In this case, it's irrelevant. This is a Drupal module (PHP), so it *is* the code.

Re:You can sell GPL software (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487252)

> This is a Drupal module (PHP), so it *is* the code.
Not necessarily ; see http://www.ioncube.com/ [ioncube.com]
That's a source code encryption tool that I've seen used several time in websites from clients of my hosting company.

Not selling his module (5, Informative)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486568)

They aren't actually selling his module.. it says:

We are providing complete support, configuration and installation for this module.

Not the same thing at all. Besides the FSF says selling GPL'd software is ok [gnu.org]

You would have a case if they were claiming it was their module.. but I wasn't able to find even that on their site.

Re:Not selling his module (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486636)

Exactly. I did not see anywhere where they claimed it was their own custom module. It is completely legit for them to sell this module and/or support for it. I assume that the code is all in PHP, so when they provide it to their customers, there is no additional "source" code needed since it's already not a binary.

So yeah, sorry to break this to the author, but it looks like those guys aren't actually doing anything wrong.

Re:Not selling his module (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486780)

Do they have to provide the source upon request for free, or advertise the source in some way?

Re:Not selling his module (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486868)

...it is a Drupal module, which are programmed in PHP. The executable is the source.

You need to contact... (2)

telekon (185072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486570)

...the Software Freedom Law Center [softwarefreedom.org]

They exist specifically for evaluating and defending against this sort of infringement. They're experts, and their services are generally free.

Re:You need to contact... (0)

telekon (185072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486580)

And you should absolutely do something about this. Unless GPL infringement is met with at least the threat of legal action, it will continue unchecked.

Re:You need to contact... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486590)

What GPL infringement?

Re:You need to contact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486704)

Or you should do nothing because what they are doing is fine and in accordance to the law.

Re:You need to contact... (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486966)

Yeah, because no one can profit from selling other peoples gpl'ed code. Got that redhat, suse, debian, etc?

DEATH TO INFIDELS (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486576)

Two words: Stallman sword [xkcd.com]

And you're an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486582)

GPL just says they have to provide the source code. They can sell it, no question.

Claiming it's their own might be a copyright violation but good luck fighting that one. They are not doing anything wrong by the GPL from selling it though.

License code and not understand what the license really means? Unpossible!

Licensed at no charge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486584)

They can still charge anything they want for the download. Well that was easy, next?

Re:Licensed at no charge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486834)

Well that was easy, next?

Is there something other than Windows I can use to run my computer?

Understand your choice of license... (4, Informative)

HTMLSpinnr (531389) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486586)

This is probably a bit of hindsight advice, but try to understand the license you choose for your work before releasing under said license. Releasing code under GPLv2 w/o understanding how downstream "users" can legally use it doesn't help when you have to question the legality of someone charging money for the work. If they provide the source and attribution to your work, they're good to go.

If this wasn't the intended use, then consider a different license that more agrees with the ideals which the code was released under. Granted - if you reassign your code to AGPL or something of that sort, many people will either not comply or avoid the work entirely to avoid needing to disclose *their* surrounding source too.

Re:Understand your choice of license... (4, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486790)

Heck, they can even do something cleverer, like Redhat does: they are free to cancel any subscription/service agreement that you may have with them if you exercise your rights to further redistribution. It does not violate GPL, for GPL is about distribution and distribution only, and they are not hindering your right to that. If you subscribe to RHEL, you are of course free to redistribute any source RPMs you downloaded from their network, but if you do so, they are free to cancel your subscription. And they will if you're a big enough fish (say, if you'd try to run your own "clone" distro based on their SRPMS).

This seems to be a sensible business model even to people who'd wish to sell their stuff for big bucks: who the heck will abandon a multi-$k subscription by exercising their right to redistribute GPL code? No one sane; in most cases, unless they have plenty of money to burn. Ah, and IIRC Redhat will not renew your subscription if so terminated: you're essentially blacklisting yourself for life.

Re:Understand your choice of license... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487018)

It's a Drupal module. He *has* to license it under the GPL2 because he links to GPL2'd code.

GPLv2 allows for commercial use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486588)

Because you were not so clear: Selling GPLv2 software is explicitly allowed to whatever price one wishes, you just have to ship the source (and the license information) with it. If you want that any user of a web application may have cost-free access to the source code, you should have licensed your work under the Affero GPL.
The infringement here is the false claim that the module was written by them. If they removed all license information from your software that would be an infringement as well (even if they attribute you as the author) because the GPL also demands that the license is shipped with the product.

As for dealing with infringement, I'm no expert, sorry. You should probably contact GPL Violations [gpl-violations.org] . They might help you.

Re:GPLv2 allows for commercial use (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486612)

I don't think you have to ship the source, you just need to make it available to anyone who's received the executable.

Re:GPLv2 allows for commercial use (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486804)

It's actually an either/or and you got the ship later option wrong. Ship a copy of the source with every executable, or ship source to anyone that requests it later.

Selling GPLv2 software is not an infringement (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486594)

Earlier today I discovered that a Drupal user was selling the module from their website for $49 and claiming it was their custom-made module. I'm no lawyer, but my perspective is this violates both the spirit and law of GPLv2

It is perfectly fine to sell someone else's GPLv2 module for $49; the GPLv2 specifically allows you to sell software.

There's also no GPLv2 problem with the part about "We are providing complete support, configuration and installation for this module."; the GPL doesn't restrict what extra services can be bundled with software.

Now there would be a problem if they distribute the GPLv2 software, with your copyright notices remove, or attempt to redistribute under more restrictive terms than the GPLv2.

If what they are selling is USE of a GPLv2 module through their drupal hosting service, where the software is not actually ever distributed to the end user, then well, the GPLv2's redistribution requirement that redistributions be under the GPL doesn't come to bear until they actually distribute the code.

Re:Selling GPLv2 software is not an infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486706)

Also in addition if the guy incorporated it into his software then his software is probably now GPL (LGPL lets you do that).

Also his only other restriction is he distribute to whomever he gives the software a copy of both the exe and the source.

Boo hoo booh oo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486608)

You're a dumbass for releasing your source code and then expecting no one to profit off of you.

Maybe you'll think twice about giving up your code next time.

Talk to God (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486634)

God is just. You get some blessing if you deserve it. This might be punishment for past sins -- like pirating. Did you pirate? Maybe, it's because you used Linux. God likes fairness and getting something for nothing is an abomination.

God says...
C:\LoseThos\www.losethos.com\text\YANKEE.TXT

It is just as I tell you. I did not find out these things at once,
but I found them out finally. Did you send me verbal information,
by the commander of the ship, to the effect that upon his return
to you, with supplies, you were going to leave Cadiz--"

"Cadiz! I haven't been at Cadiz at all!"

"--going to leave Cadiz and cruise in distant seas indefinitely,
for the health of your family? Did you send me that word?"

"Of course not. I would have written, wouldn't I?"

"Naturally. I was t

You're wrong. You lose. Good day sir. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486698)

"I don't care about money, I just don't want someone selling stuff that I released for free."

You have completely misunderstood the license. You can do nothing.

Guys, no need to speculate about what GPLv2 says (4, Insightful)

Dwonis (52652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486756)

To everyone here who writes comments like, "I think the GPL says such-and-such", just read the fucking thing [gnu.org] . Seriously, it's not a hard document to understand.

The level of discussion in this thread is sad. (1)

TheEmperorOfSlashdot (1830272) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487054)

Even though copyright law is one of the most widely-discussed topics on Slashdot, almost no one here can bother getting their facts correct in even the broadest details. To wit: several posters have already claimed that, "unless copyright notices were attached to the headers of each and every source file," the source code may have been "public domain." In fact, the Berne Convention states that copyright protection is granted automatically to all eligible works at the time of their creation, and the United States is a signatory of the Berne Convention. Our Imperial Subject "cultiv8" claims that his source code was copied without following the terms of any license he offered; the GPL describes what happens in this situation explicitly:

5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it.

Only by following the terms of a valid license does one gain the legal right to redistribute copyrighted code. In this case, the only valid license available was the GPLv2. The license has not been followed, therefore the redistribution is copyright infringement. This interpretation was confirmed in Jacobsen v. Katzer, a case of such critical importance that every educated Subject of the Emperor who professes an interest in copyright law is obligated to become familiar with it.

Unfortunately, the infringing party described in the summary claims to be located in Pakistan. If this is true, Our Subject "cultiv8" will not be able to pursue a legal claim against the offender; copyright enforcement in Pakistan is notoriously lax, with many vendors openly selling "bootleg" videos, music and software. The ordinary remedies that would be applicable in US copyright infringement cases (DMCA takedown notices, Cease-and-Desist letter, or copyright infringement claims filed in a US court) are unlikely to succeed.

Our Subject may consider speaking with a free legal advocacy group (such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the Software Freedom Law Center), or consulting a "law clinic" (freely available at many US courthouses on a regular schedule); however they will be unlikely to provide any effective recourse through legal channels. NEVERTHELESS, a solution is available that is so simple and so elegant that only a genius or a master of the obvious would suggest it:

"CrossMediaGlobal" uses PayPal as their payment processor. So contact PayPal's abuse department. Then wait while they (probably) do nothing.

As Emperor, We are glad to serve Our Subjects.

Occupy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486784)

Simple, just get Stallman to sit in a chair in front of their office with a sign protesting their actions. The sheer stench alone will drive the company to the bargaining table.

maybe legal, not really fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38486812)

This person modified development code and then doesn't release the completed version back to the community. Not only that, they're undercutting the original authors most likely because their cost of living is probably much less. It might be legal, but they ought to learn how to contribute or else this attitude will eventually erode opensource.

No GPL breach here, move on (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486830)

From the website the third party is offering "support configuration and installation" for $49 and does not appear to be claiming to be the author.

The module is a Drupal PHP module and is therefore making the source code available to the end user. Because it is GPL software they are allowed to modify it for their own purposes. He or she is therefore completely compliant with the GPL.

It is perfectly OK to sell services or even the actual GPL software for a billion dollars whilst a white persian cat is sitting on your lap, as long as you provide the source code to the party that pays for it.

End of (non-)story and a Merry Jeebusmus to you all.

How best to deal with GPL violation?..... (1)

kakaburra (2508064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486846)

Ask Slashdot for help

This isn't a violation (4, Informative)

raster (13531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486856)

If your software were a compiled language (eg c/c++/java etc.) then if they didn't provide the original source OR didn't provide it on request by you AS A CUSTOMER (the license is granting rights to the people they distribute to - ie customer), then they violate. If they have put the php through some code obfuscator and don't provide the original source before obfuscation, then this would come under the "compiled" category i'd say. What they are doing is perfectly legal under the GPL.

If it's nice to do or not is another matter, but it doesn't violate GPL unless they do the above.. and this ONLY applies to people they distribute the product to - i.e. that person gains the rights under the GPL and if they do not follow through with them they violate the GPL as the license was distributed to them.

The idea that everyone must make the source of their GPL product available for free is not enshrined inside the GPL at all. It's simply something many do because its simply easier and more practical, less work, or it is nicer to the community that provided them with the source to begin with, but nowhere in the actual legalities of the license does it require this (3rd parties in this case means only 3rd parties you distribute the program to, not all 3rd parties in the world).

According to the summary, you missed one point. (4, Interesting)

TheEmperorOfSlashdot (1830272) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487228)

If your software were a compiled language (eg c/c++/java etc.) then if they didn't provide the original source OR didn't provide it on request by you AS A CUSTOMER (the license is granting rights to the people they distribute to - ie customer), then they violate. If they have put the php through some code obfuscator and don't provide the original source before obfuscation, then this would come under the "compiled" category i'd say. What they are doing is perfectly legal under the GPL.

The code was stripped of its existing GPL and redistributed under a new license. Even though the source code is available (because PHP is distributed in source form), it's no longer clear that the code is still covered by the GPL - someone purchasing this package wouldn't know that they were entitled to redistribute or modify the code. That's the crux of the violation:

I'm no lawyer, but my perspective is this violates both the spirit and law of GPLv2, most specifically clause 2-b: 'You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.'

Dear Diay (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38486908)

Dear Diary,

Today I learned that some programmers attach licenses to their code, without ever reading the text of the license. Sadly, I find it to be on par with many congressmen, who vote for bills they've never read.

Who knows what I will learn tomorrow?

Tell it to Homeland Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487014)

They need a reason to bomb Pakistan some more.

but seriously...

I got nothin.

No case, I'm afraid... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487026)

If you are licensing your software under the GPL, then you are granting permission to everyone who abides by its terms to create derivative works of your software and distribute them however they desire, including selling them. The provisions of the GPL require only that one not charge any additional fees for the source code itself beyond, perhaps, material costs that might be involved in sending that code to them. They further are not under any obligation to distribute the source code to anyone who does not also receive a binary.

So they've made a derivative work of your GPL product, and as long as they provide the source code at no additional charge to anyone that they send their work to, and it is covered under the same license, then... well... that's what the GPL licenses them to do in the first place. If you wanted to piss the company off, and kill their business model, you could, if you really wanted to, purchase the license from them to obtain their modifications.... and because it must be GPL'd you could safely merge their derivative work into the main distribution tree and distribute it for free, and end up competing directly with them. In fact, actually, anyone even could do this... not just you. Of course, this is the chief reason why a lot of companies dislike the GPL in the first place, because they perceive it as "viral".

How to get free website clicks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487278)

SEO/Website click optimization lesson 1

1. Post a false GPL violation story to slashdot (by muppet)
2. Complain about DDOS due to slashdot effect
3. ?
4. Profit

rgds

History has taught us... (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487304)

.. that you'd probably be able to sue them to the very pits of inferno if you'd get one of the MAFIAA lawyers to sue them. Whether you actually have a case or not is not relevant for that. Before you ask yourself how to deal with this situation, ask yourself what your legal standpoint is and what you want out of this. As other posters have pointed out, legally you may not have much if anything to complain about. Have you tried contacting the "offenders" yourself to ask what they are doing and where you come in? You'd be surprised how often people actually positively react on such a query.

If he wanted a license that forbid selling (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487420)

He should use CC-BY-NC.

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