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WURFL Founders Fire Off DMCA Takedown Against Fork

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the we-didn't-mean-it dept.

Open Source 169

An anonymous reader writes "ScientiaMobile, the company formed behind the open source library WURFL, an API used to do mobile device detection for web applications, has issued a DMCA takedown notice against the OpenDDR project on Github. ScientiaMobile claims that OpenDDR is 'ripping them off' by forking their database, which used to be licensed under a liberal license. Newer versions of the device database are licensed under restrictive licenses which do not allow any modification or redistribution."

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let me wuphf that. (0, Offtopic)

MichaelKristopeit496 (2549132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638612)

WUPHF!! [wuphf.com]

Re:let me wuphf that. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639098)

You Are PaThetic

APK

P.S.=> Are you GAY? I am

Re:let me wuphf that. (0, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit496 (2549132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639150)

ur mum's face are pathetic.

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're an idiot.

Again (5, Insightful)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638678)

Just another example of the blatant abuse that is possible with these laws. SOPA will only make it worse if it passes.

Re:Again (4, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638936)

SOPA could also be used to take down closed-source uses of GPL'd software-- both instances are legitimate applications. The problem is the copyright claim, not the enforcement.

A problem here could be in the remedy, according to TFA the court may simply find that the database in question isn't copyrightable, as it's merely facts. That's a win for the fork, but it's a fail if you're release GPL software and commercial software vendors decide they want to copy static resources out of your distribution insofar as they can claim that they're "mere facts."

Re:Again (5, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639102)

No, the problem is that the law permits unsupervised takedowns.

Re:Again (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639126)

It will be the enforcement though:

Lets try a little thought experiment.
What happens under the SOPA when say Me (a nobody) has a little GPL app on their personal domain, that either $BIGMEDIA_GUY (where say Sony or Disney would be compatible types ) thinks infringes on their property or could be used to do so?

My guess is that my domain is yanked so fast my head spins and I can either drop the matter or spend years fighting in court to get it back.

Now lets say I think $BIGMEDIA_GUY is using my code and not complying with the GPL and lets assume I have some evidence like hey the device behaves in this out of spec way exactly my code does or something. Now I present this to ICE or FTC or whoever is supposed to be enforcing this thing. Do you think BIGMEDIA_GUY is going to see their domain yanked?

I don't...

Re:Again (0)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639308)

That's the thing about SOPA, you don't go to the government to shut down a site. You can already go to the FTC or a court to take down a site, or just write a letter to the owner of the host.

Not to necessarily defend SOPA, though I'm completely happy with it, but you have to admit that any regime that makes copyrights more enforceable will have the effect of making the GPL stronger and more defendable. For people releasing BSD or otherwise it's a wash.

Re:Again (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639558)

The problem is it doesn't make copyright more enforceable. It just strips out due process to make enforcement faster and abuse becomes much easier. It also becomes a lot harder to prevent or reverse abuse.

Re:Again (-1, Troll)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639692)

You're not entitled to due process of law on the Internet. Your rights on the Internet are approximately those of a visitor at a theme park.

Re:Again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639806)

The US government is supposed to be required to adhere to due process regardless of where it applies its power. That includes the portions of the internet that fall under US jurisdiction. So, yes you are entitled. But its not like the US government gives a damn.

Re:Again (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639958)

Actually, I am entitled to those rights. They're just not appropriately respected.

Re:Again (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640336)

People would certainly like that to be the case, but that is not reality.

Just because laws have not been clearly defined (aka the internet as a whole), doesn't mean you have no rights - it simply means they are not defined.

Overall, many nations including the US are finding that you have quite a lot of rights on the internet - in fact, SOPA is an attack on them. It doesn't mean you don't have them, and if you think so, it just proves you don't know what rights you have.

Re:Again (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640356)

As long as the ignorance of rights goes both ways, I'm happy. It's the perceived imbalance where those with money get no end of laws made for them, while those who don't can become collateral damage, whether they have infringed on somebody's rights or not.

Re:Again (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639936)

Well, it moves a lot of copyright cases out of civil into criminal court. So your dealing with a DA instead of an RIAA lawyer. Basically it's the RIAA's request to the US government to do its policing work, so they get paid, - the extra lawyer fees.

Re:Again (5, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639564)

Here's the problem. You are living in a world of theory. My GP is living in this world. Most GPL software has no money behind it. Trying to use SOPA against Sony or Disney will fail completely if they "borrow" some code off of github. They wouldn't go against IBM or Google, but they will feel no compunction against violating copyright of some dinky little project on github or sourceforge. Remember, laws are not enforced those who bought the laws.

Re:Again (-1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639594)

Remember, laws are not enforced those who bought the laws.

If you accept that, then free expression on the Internet is the least of your concerns.

See, I don't really care if Disney silences poor, destitute Crimson Tide Bittorrent peers. I just don't care about defending the Internet as a medium of free expression; it was never meant to be and it shall never be.

Re:Again (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640152)

I just don't care about defending the Internet as a medium of free expression; it was never meant to be and it shall never be.

Oh shut up already --- if you want to express yourself freely go stand on a box on the street corner. This is the Internet.

Re:Again (3, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640468)

Oh shut up already

You jest, but if Slashdot wanted to shut me up they'd be completely in their rights. I have no right to have anything I post appear here, moderation or no.

I think if people did more standing on soapboxes and spent less energy fighting for the hypothetical rights of someone to reproduce five minutes from The Daily Show on Youtube we'd certainly live in a better world.

Re:Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38640398)

I just don't care about defending the Internet as a medium of free expression; it was never meant to be and it shall never be.

[citation needed]

Re:Again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38640914)

I just don't care about defending the Internet as a medium of free expression; it was never meant to be and it shall never be.

Either you're a troll, or just really stupid to not see the irony in expressing that statement using the internet.

Re:Again (4, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639622)

"RE: [SOPA] will have the effect of making the GPL stronger and more defendable."

Under SOPA, Github and SourceForge will be gone within a month. You cannot defend GPL if you can't get to your source code!

Re:Again (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639712)

I would be inclined to agree with you I thought were getting a regime where all would be equal before the law.

Maybe I am a bit jaded but I just don't see it happening. What I do see happening is the media cartel are being given a draconian tool, an Internet death penalty if you will, to deal with anyone they don't like. Where those anyone's don't get much in the way of due process before the action initial action is taken against them. If domains were being seize after some sort of civial court process found an owner liable or criminal court process found them to be guilty it be different. That is not how it works though.

I also don't see these actions being used against the cartel members ever. What mid level bureaucrat is going to risk his job pulling the DNS glue records for Sony.com, Disney.com, or even a comparatively little guy like a Tivo.com?

Current law is not exactly applied equally? Remember Sony's root kit? There were no criminal proceedings against them, at all IIRC, and class action civil case where victims basically had to settle for discount CD.

Now had I distributed a root kit with some software I wrote, or media I published or whatever, it would have been correctly called a trojan and I am certain I would have been prosecuted as we have seen them do in plenty of Slashdot stories, about highschool kids where were just playing prank.

What Sony did was illegally convert the property of others for their use, executing code on people's computers without permission, and expose them to potentially serious security vulnerabilities that could have resulted in personal information leaking, which might have allowed them to be further victimized by others and the government did NOTHING.

So personally I'd rather see IP law, wire/electronic fraud laws weakened as much as possible; because they are not there for you and me.

Re:Again (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639912)

How is this different from if they were to take out a DMCA against you?

Re:Again (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38641032)

Well I am not fan of the DMCA either but this is much worse. If I get a DMCA take down requests, I have options.

I can simply comply, the offending material gets removed, I still have my domain, and control over my other stuff.

If I don't think the request is valid, I can choose not to comply, then go lawyer up. Again I still have control over my stuff initial and unless a judge issues some kinda of order or injunction, I have control until the process gets resolved.

With the SOPA, Most likely the first I hear about anything is when I get an alert from my monitoring service that my site is down. That is BIG difference. It may not seem like it but that could mean all kinds of follow on effects in terms of lost customers, reputation, and lost time. I am pretty sure even if things are eventually found in your favor you're getting compensated for none of it! Heck something like this can easily be abused just to disrupt upstarts they don't like.

Its wrong. Its un-American, its anti-freedom, its anti-free enterprise, it amounts just rent seeking on the part of the cartel's interests.

Re:Again (3, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640630)

I present this to ICE or FTC or whoever is supposed to be enforcing this thing.

That's part of the fun of SOPA too -- while the government does have to get involved with enforced takedowns, the bill also removes any liability for voluntary takedowns by ISPs. So if Warner Cable decides to censor any website hosting information on how to rip DVDs, they cannot be held liable despite the fact that they operate a communications service with the benefit of government granted easements (like cable rights of way) and, in many markets, government granted monopolies.

Re:Again (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640926)

Damn right, parent's post is insightful.
Want to fix that? Start here - http://movetoamend.org/ [movetoamend.org]
Take the money out of politics and $BIGMEDIA_GUY won't be able to buy horrid (for people) legislation like SOPA and the like.

Re:Again (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639194)

The problem is the copyright claim, not the enforcement.

The problem is that enforcement occurs before the validity of the copyright claim is established.

Re:Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639240)

And likely in some cases before the claim is even made.

Re:Again (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638980)

IF it passes???

Re:Again (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639258)

I believe some are still hoping that the Congress can be reasoned with, or that SOPA is designed to be the bone thrown to us to make up for the NDAA. Kind of a "Oh look, you guys convinced us on SOPA! What a good little constituency. See, we listen to you. Yes we do, yes we do. Now go in the corner and sit for a while."

Konami needs to issue a takedown notice too (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638686)

Konami once sued Roxor Games for infringing Konami's patents on Dance Dance Revolution. Why can't Konami just send a takedown notice to OpenDDR for using a confusingly similar trademark?

Re:Konami needs to issue a takedown notice too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638966)

Maybe because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act applies to copryights and thus is not applicable to Konomi's trademark lawsuit against Roxor. And considering the issue at hand was physical arcade machines, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act would not have applied even if the issue had been copyright. Now, why you brought up patents, I have no idea.

Re:Konami needs to issue a takedown notice too (0)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639120)

They could try to, although that is A COMPLETELY SEPARATE ISSUE here. Konami doesn't care at all about WURFL and WURFL doesn't care about Konami. Konami could attempt to send a cease & desist (not a take-down) if DDR is indeed trademarked, don't know the specifics there or if Konami cares about suing some small non-profit non-commercial project. That said, plenty of companies do, and maybe Konami could. Or maybe they couldn't IANAL. Sounds like you aren't either :P

This story was all about OpenDDR using open-sourced code that changed licences, and the permissions and licences involved therein. It has nothing to do with the DDR brand and so nothing to do with Konami, its purely about the software implementation of OpenDDR.

TLDR: DMCA is about copyright of software intellectual property. Trademark is about protection of consumer brand names. You're mixing the two. Konami might have a trademark infringement claim, but that is seperate from WURFL's code copyright claim.

Meaning of "takedown" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639202)

Konami could attempt to send a cease & desist (not a take-down) if DDR is indeed trademarked

To answer your question, no, I am not a lawyer. Does the term "takedown" refer exclusively to notices under 17 USC 512 and to no other notices requesting that something allegedly infringing be made unavailable? If so, then perhaps I just got my words crossed.

It has nothing to do with the DDR brand

Unless this lawsuit and the Streisand effect surrounding causes Konami to become aware of OpenDDR in the first place. Watch the lawyers initially think it's some fork of StepMania.

DMCA is about copyright of software intellectual property. Trademark is about protection of consumer brand names. You're mixing the two.

Did I say "DMCA" or "copyright" in my post? If I implied it, I didn't intend so.

Re:Meaning of "takedown" (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639402)

The article was all about a DMCA notice, so it feels like you implied it. I suppose you were just asking a totally different question that this article brought up. Yeah, its possible this could bring it all to Konami's Lawyer's attention, and get them cease & desist'd.

I'm not sure if "takedown notice" applies explicitly to the DMCA, but the DMCA does have a specific "take down" section, "DMCA take-down notices" have become popular in the common tongue and it isn't really applied to other things. There are probably lots of uses a lawyer could tell us are called "take downs", but you wouldn't call a subpoena or a lawsuit or a C&D a takedown.

Re:Konami needs to issue a takedown notice too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639246)

Wooooosh

Re:Konami needs to issue a takedown notice too (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640144)

Konami once sued Roxor Games for infringing Konami's patents on Dance Dance Revolution. Why can't Konami just send a takedown notice to OpenDDR for using a confusingly similar trademark?

Trademarks work very differently than Copyright. For starters, they are limited to a field of use. So DDR would be trademarked in the Gaming community. If OpenDDR tried to enter that field of use, then the trademark would apply. So long as they are not in that field of use, they are free to use the term as they like.

The same applies for Microsoft per Windows - field of use is the software operating system market, and it bares no burden on Anderson Windows to use the term. The same would apply for an automaker if they named a vehicle Linux - the Linux trademark is in the same kind of field of use as Windows for Microsoft.

Could I sell Kodak shoes? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640218)

Trademarks work very differently than Copyright. For starters, they are limited to a field of use.

The most famous trademarks for consumer products are protected independently of a field of use. See trademark dilution [wikipedia.org] . "Super Mario" would probably qualify as famous, but I'm not so sure about "DDR".

Re:Could I sell Kodak shoes? (1)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640364)

"Super Mario" would probably qualify as famous, but I'm not so sure about "DDR".

The Deutsche Demokratische Republik might disagree.

Re:Could I sell Kodak shoes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38640420)

Trademark protection outside the field of use isn't as clear cut as trademark protection inside the field of use. For example, try to sell a Kodiak camera ("Kodak" with a tiny little "i" inserted), and watch how fast Kodak takes you to court. But you could easily sell Kodiak shoes. In fact, someone does [kodiakboots.com] .

Re:Could I sell Kodak shoes? (2)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640778)

Trademarks work very differently than Copyright. For starters, they are limited to a field of use.

The most famous trademarks for consumer products are protected independently of a field of use. See trademark dilution [wikipedia.org] . "Super Mario" would probably qualify as famous, but I'm not so sure about "DDR".

Trademarks outside of the field of use are more rare than those inside a field of use. There is also nothing to prevent multiple fields of use. However, it is a far harder burden to prove trademark dilution outside the field of use - you first have to show that your trademark was somehow hurt in the field of use by the use outside the field of use. Duable in some cases; not so doable in others. This is also typically more the case when the term is very unique - e.g. there are no other known uses in other fields.

For example, if you used "Super Mario" in a porn flick, then Nintendo would probably go after you as it would hurt the family friendly brand (supposing Super Mario was only in the gaming industry - it's not, it's in the move and TV industries too...)

Konami have a problem with DDR the outside field of use infringement as there are other uses already out there (e.g. DDR Ram), so they can't argue the uniqueness factor and would have to explicitly argue that that use hurts their games, which would be a lot harder to do as the use has nothing to do with games.

Success (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638688)

So it's like this,

When the software is born look look at us, help our community were are open source blah blah blah.

Suddenly the cow fattens , Oh no this is proprietary code blah blah yes open source , but our work business model etc.

Seen this movie a lot of times, sadly

Re:Success (3, Interesting)

galaad2 (847861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639100)

oddly enough their support forum is called "Community Support Forum"... shouldn't that be "Proprietary Support Forum" now?
http://www.scientiamobile.com/forum/ [scientiamobile.com]

Also, Scientiamobile itself is in breach of SourceForge's Terms of use (they use SourceForge for file distribution!) because the Terms state:

http://geek.net/terms-of-use [geek.net]
"Except as otherwise expressly permitted by these Terms, any Code submitted to SourceForge.net must be licensed to Geeknet and other licensees under a license that is: compliant with the Open Source Initiative ("OSI")'s Open Source Definition (http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd) or certified as an "OSI-Approved License" (http://opensource.org/licenses)."

imho, the license that they are using now is in COMPLETE VIOLATION with sourceforge's terms.

i already submitted an abuse report with sourceforge for this... but i'm not sure if only one abuse report is enough

Re:Success (2)

TheRealGrogan (1660825) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639526)

Nah, sourceforge probably isn't going to do anything about that even if it does violate their terms. The code is compliant, it's just proprietary data licensed only for use with the project. All they'd have to do is distribute the XML database separately from their own site to comply, and that would just inconvenience people while accomplishing nothing. (Moreover, it would make it inconvenient for people to even look at the XML file)

Is sourceforge going to remove open source games as well? They quite often have data (e.g. artwork, textures, sounds etc.) that is licensed differently than the source code. For convenience, the data is provided in the same bundle yet there may be restrictions on how you can use and distribute that data, if you read the license.

Ultimately, if the source code and its use are free you can use it to create your own project with your own data. That is often the intent.

Note that I am not sticking up for $bigbadcompany. In my eyes they are a pack of jackals for doing things like that (the DMCA takedown notice), I'm just commenting on what might be a "grey area" at sourceforge.

Re:Success (3, Insightful)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640594)

Is sourceforge going to remove open source games as well?

I don't know, but they should if they aren't really open source.

They quite often have data (e.g. artwork, textures, sounds etc.) that is licensed differently than the source code. For convenience, the data is provided in the same bundle yet there may be restrictions on how you can use and distribute that data, if you read the license.

I'm really sick of this dilution of open source. If, "for convenience", you make a "bundle" to distribute a complete game, then unless the whole game is open source, it isn't open source. You can claim the engine is open source, but to say the whole game is, that's lying for marketing purposes.

Everybody wants to fly under the open source banner to get the warm fuzzies and marketing buzz, but then they want to add in the proprietary parts to get exclusive benefits. You wouldn't accept this behavior from Microsoft.

Re:Success (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639178)

It usually ends in pitchforks.

Re:Success (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639274)

Hello Joomla, hello X.org, hello LibreOffice. There is usually a span of 3-6 months between "we need your help" and "we demand your money". Then there is a shift, followed by the words "Hey, where did you go? We can still be friends, its just that I want money from you now in order for you to be my friend." Then there is remorse, and a wish for the old ways. Occasionally, the greed sets in hard, and they *insist* that there can be no other option (they are trying to enforce an artificial monopoly). Usually there are lawyers involved. Thats what is happening here.

Re:Success (2)

nman64 (912054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639324)

"Ooh, ahh!" That's how it always starts, then later there's running and screaming.

Read the comments in the posted link (1)

Elgonn (921934) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638710)

Perhaps we'll get the same posters here as well. I'm really not sure what could stop a fork of a GPL project.

Re:The data is not GPL (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638786)

I'm really not sure what could stop a fork of a GPL project.

The database is the problem, not the code, and the data is not GPL.

And, it would be easy to argue that while the database is commonly known or available information (like a phone book), the collection as it is constitutes a copyrightable work. Extracting the data might be a workaround, but the dataset is so huge it almost requires a hierarchical data organization. Any reasonable attempt would be derivative.

Re:The data is not GPL (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638872)

I'm really not sure what could stop a fork of a GPL project.

The database is the problem, not the code, and the data is not GPL.

And, it would be easy to argue that while the database is commonly known or available information (like a phone book), the collection as it is constitutes a copyrightable work. Extracting the data might be a workaround, but the dataset is so huge it almost requires a hierarchical data organization. Any reasonable attempt would be derivative.

There is no argument. A collection of facts is not copyrightable. It is that simple.

Re:The data is not GPL (1)

robbieosfriend (66811) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638950)

It's not a collection of facts unless you remove all the property names, hierarchy and subjective properties from the data.

Re:The data is not GPL (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639322)

Subjective properties I may agree with, objective properties not so much. The country that calls its copyright takedown provision "DMCA" doesn't have a "sweat of the brow" doctrine; instead, it has Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service [wikipedia.org] . To what sort of "property names" and "hierarchy" do you refer?

Re:The data is not GPL (1)

robbieosfriend (66811) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639476)

The properties are at http://wurfl.sourceforge.net/help_doc.php, and the hierarchy is the way the WURFL builds its devices on top of one another, like the device apple_iphone_ver1 get's it's brand name 'Apple' from its parent device, generic_apple.

Re:The data is not GPL (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639106)

There is no argument. A collection of facts is not copyrightable.

One would have to first prove that the WURFL database is in fact a collection of facts. Until that is established, the legal system does not assume it is the case.

And as long as a court exists, and at least one lawyer, there is always room for an argument. Even worse, with the DMCA, no argument even needs made.

And that is the answer to "I'm really not sure what could stop a fork of a GPL project" which is what I responded to. I'm not saying it's correct, but that explains the situation reasonably enough.

Re:The data is not GPL (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639168)

And as long as a court exists, and at least one lawyer, there is always room for an argument.

If there is a court and a lawyer, there is room for a minimum of two arguments, probably more.

Re:The data is not GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639284)

Incorrect. There can be copyright in the arrangement and selection of facts, which is probably what is being claimed. In fact, many jurisdictions have specific rights that apply to databases of information that are accumulated. Although it is correct that a statement of fact is not copyrightable, in many jurisdictions a database of facts is copyrightable.

Re:The data is not GPL (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640022)

in many jurisdictions a database of facts is copyrightable.

Unless its a phone book

Re:The data is not GPL (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639000)

And before someone with poor reading comprehension crucifies me on nitpicks, the latest original liberally licensed data was used as a base, not the current explicitly restrictive data.

That means the whole case depends on how effective the included disclaimer works The data is meant for use with the WURFL API available on the official WURFL website at http://wurfl.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] . If it serves to tie the data to a specific implementation, OpenDDR is hosed. If not, no worries.

I'm just answering the question, not claiming which way the situation will go. I happen to agree that WURFL compiled contributions from a number of parties without ownership being assigned, and so if anyone owns the data it is the contributor, not WURFL. And further, if we poll each contributor, they would likely disagree with this restriction and choose a more permissive license. "Contributing means you agree" type of claims are probably not enforceable, since inclusion in WURFL is the only way to get your additions in widespread use.

Time to get the EFF involved (4, Insightful)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638724)

There are far too many disputes in tech these days around formerly-open-source stuff that some bastard decides to co-opt and pretend he owns. This case strikes me as simple, clear-cut, winnable, and potentially precedent-setting. It would be good if the EFF brought its weight to bear on this issue - it could be crucial to the future of FOSS.

Re:Time to get the EFF involved (2)

robbieosfriend (66811) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638780)

It's not the GPL OpenDDR API that was in question: https://github.com/OpenDDR-org/OpenDDR-Java, but the device database, which was never GPL to begin with: https://github.com/OpenDDR-org/OpenDDR-Resources

Re:Time to get the EFF involved (2)

Grave (8234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638800)

Which is irrelevant as I understand it, because you can't copyright a database (at least in the US).

Re:Time to get the EFF involved (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639008)

Yes you can, your copyright just doesn't protect the facts. You cannot photocopy a cookbook and sell it, but you can rewrite all of recipes it contains (in your own words) and then sell that. So in this case, not every field in the database is necessarily a "fact" so it may be a copyright violation to just copy the entire thing. But it all depends on the specifics.

Re:Time to get the EFF involved (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639188)

you can't copyright a database (at least in the US).

Citation needed.
While I grant you the ability to copyright facts is limited - e.g. the geographical topology of the earth cannot be copyrighted, an individual map (and the intentional flaws introduced by the cartographer) can be - the ability to copyright your interpretation of the facts, your method of storing them, your dataset, is fairly unlimited. Likewise just because you create something yourself does not mean it is wholly yours, if it refers to things that are the property of someone else or covered by their IP rights then you are going to at best struggle.
Daft example I could create a database of harry potter characters, their links to each other, their histories and activities and they would all be facts but my database would be wholly in infringement of copyright.

Feist v. Rural; Nester's v. Hagstrom (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639412)

you can't copyright a database (at least in the US).

Citation needed.

Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991). Is this citation in the correct format?

an individual map (and the intentional flaws introduced by the cartographer)

Flaws like so-called "trap streets"? Nester's Map & Guide Corp. v. Hagstrom Map Co., 796 F.Supp. 729, E.D.N.Y., 1992. "To treat 'false' facts interspersed among actual facts and represented as actual facts as fiction would mean that no one could ever reproduce or copy actual facts without risk of reproducing a false fact and thereby violating a copyright. [...] If such were the law, information could never be reproduced or widely disseminated." (Id. at 733)

the ability to copyright your interpretation of the facts, your method of storing them, your dataset, is fairly unlimited.

To what extent does this copyright in the method of storing them survive automated conversion to another method?

Re:Feist v. Rural; Nester's v. Hagstrom (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639758)

I stand corrected; I had never come across this before, my apologies.

To what extent does this copyright in the method of storing them survive automated conversion to another method?

One would hope it is not the automated part that is of interest (after all it could be a very clever shell script) but of what is added by the conversion and if there is significant value added by said conversion. (I believe that was the crux of the JKR Lexicon case that I was alluding to in my post) The important thing is the author/shell script has to add something of substantial original value to make it a new work protected by copyright (or safe from copyright infringement).)
Anyway back to the original story, the complaint WURFL have against the fork is that it maintains the same database which they are saying is protected as an original work, if it is a database of facts then it sounds like they have no protection, if it is a database of fiction would they not still have a case?

Re:Time to get the EFF involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639696)

you can't copyright a database (at least in the US).

Citation needed.
While I grant you the ability to copyright facts is limited - e.g. the geographical topology of the earth cannot be copyrighted, an individual map (and the intentional flaws introduced by the cartographer) can be - the ability to copyright your interpretation of the facts, your method of storing them, your dataset, is fairly unlimited. Likewise just because you create something yourself does not mean it is wholly yours, if it refers to things that are the property of someone else or covered by their IP rights then you are going to at best struggle.
Daft example I could create a database of harry potter characters, their links to each other, their histories and activities and they would all be facts but my database would be wholly in infringement of copyright.

You daft example is false because otherwise Wikipedia (along with probably hundreds of more specialized sites) wouldn't have that information today.

Copying the database form another source would be infringement. Creating your own is not.

Re:Time to get the EFF involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639556)

Look up "unfair competition" to see why this is (and should be) illegal. If you want to make your own data, collect your own data from the original sources. Otherwise anybody at all could publish phonebooks for any price and the phone company wouldn't have any incentive to make more. Nowadays we don't really need them as much (because they've moved online) but it mattered back in the day.

Re:Time to get the EFF involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38640128)

It's not the GPL OpenDDR API that was in question: https://github.com/OpenDDR-org/OpenDDR-Java, but the device database, which was never GPL to begin with: https://github.com/OpenDDR-org/OpenDDR-Resources

Yes, it was GPL. The WURFL versions after August 2011 are no longer GPL. OpenDDR used GPLed data. Additionally, facts aren't copyrightable.

Benefit of the doubt (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638742)

To give ScientiaMobile the benefit of the doubt, it is possible they simply don't know how the licensing system works and don't realize that changing the license later on doesn't restrict uses of earlier versions that had been distributed under GPL. This would make them idiots, however. Presuming, of course, that OpenDDR doesn't use the newer version of the database (which I am assuming they don't and seems to be the idea from skimming TFA.)

The alternative is that they are simply assholes deliberately trying to abuse the system. So they are either idiots or assholes.

Re:Benefit of the doubt (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638846)

So they are either idiots or assholes.

Or both.

Re:Benefit of the doubt (2)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639268)

Idiotic assholes gets my vote.

Re:Benefit of the doubt (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638894)

To give ScientiaMobile the benefit of the doubt, it is possible they simply don't know how the licensing system works and don't realize that changing the license later on doesn't restrict uses of earlier versions that had been distributed under GPL

Well, that makes them ignorant of some basic legal principles, and if they received any legal advice which suggested you could retroactively change something like that, their lawyer is incompetent.

In many places it's illegal to pass a law that is ex post facto [wikipedia.org] , and licenses are no different.

There is no 'benefit of the doubt' to believe they simply didn't know this was the case -- this is either gross lack of knowledge about the legal system, or a blatant abuse of it. It's a pity the DMCA doesn't really have redress for abuses like this. Because I fail to see how this can be classified as an honest mistake.

And, I don't see why they have to be either idiots or assholes -- in my opinion, they can be both, and if they sent a DMCA takedown, they likely are.

Re:Benefit of the doubt (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639250)

Ex post facto is not quite what you're looking for here. They're not passing laws. I think the relevant legal issue is promissary estoppel [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Benefit of the doubt (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639686)

Ex post facto is not quite what you're looking for here.

The fact remains that you can't retroactively change a license. Ex post facto doesn't mean they've passed a law merely that they're trying to make a new license retroactive.

Much like I can't now say that anybody who read my previous post owes me $50.

Now, of course, IANAL ... but that doesn't mean any lawyer who told them they could retroactively change a contract isn't a complete idiot. Even EULAs say "by continuing to use this service you agree to the terms" ... even they know you can't say something like "and you owe us back fees for this service which is no longer free".

Re:Benefit of the doubt (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639190)

simply assholes deliberately trying to abuse the system.

And the DMCA seems written explicitly to be abused.

Re:Benefit of the doubt (0)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639670)

Close. The DMCA is designed to abuse. The system is not being abused. It is specifically designed for this kind of purpose.

Hostile posturing vs hostile action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639368)

Giving people the "benefit of the doubt" is wise when conflicts are low-level, but when someone uses force against you, it starts to get dubious. Hiring lawyers to attack people through the legal system, especially when they use mechanisms where a certain outcome happens prior to any judicial review taking place (and that's exactly what DMCA takedown notices are for -- to force things to happen prior to the justice system getting involved) is a type of force.

If someone sends you a C&D letter, you can maybe still give them the benefit of the doubt. This is beyond that; this is not merely hostile posturing, but hostile action. It's more like someone shooting at you, rather than giving you a nasty look while putting their hand on their holstered weapon handle. "Benefit of the doubt" is not appropriate.

Re:Benefit of the doubt (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639394)

Or they could be using the "sue them even if we we'll lose and they'll be bankrupted" tactic.

Bletch (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638820)

Having had to integrate that horrible thing into a web application, I can only wonder why OpenDDR didn't just start from scratch with a new API. They would have had to have gone some way to create a worse implementation than the original.

Fork was legal. WURFL is just whining. (1)

pimpsoftcom (877143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638860)

Basically they forgot that forking is perfectly legal. Then they complained and whined and now the fork will have the full support of the apache foundation.. oops. Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:Fork was legal. WURFL is just whining. (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639002)

I took a slightly more removed view from this and am observing that it was forked while the license was less restrictive, and then they didn't like that and tightened up their license, and appear to believe that their license changes are retroactive?

Re:Fork was legal. WURFL is just whining. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639420)

Therein lies a key point that lies at the heart of the problem with the US Legal System.
WURFL can cause the people on the other end of a takedown to incur significant costs.
WURFL can then keep this up at very little expense to themselves.
The recipients of these cases have very little recourse in the law except to sue the living daylights out of WURFL most people don't take this course of action.
Under the US system if WURFL fails, they don't lose anything except their own legal costs.
If other jurisdictions and they lost, the other side would get their costs awarded against WURFL. That make for fewer spurious cases IMHO.

The DMCA is a bad law enacted by bad Politicians some of whom might well have been receiving brown bags of cash from businesses based in Hollywood.

hang on.... (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638884)

the DMCA, afiui, requires some form of [potentially entirely and utterly useless] encryption. this is _data_. in an unencrypted, unencumbered and freely-licensed format. sounds like one for the SFLC....

Re:hang on.... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639276)

The DMCA is a pretty broad piece of legislation. The bit enabling DMCA takedowns is entirely separate from the bit prohibiting circumvention of copyright protection devices.

Re:hang on.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639300)

The DMCA had more than one provision; the encryption shit is about "circumvention devices" and the like, the takedown notices are a completely different sack of pigshit that requires nothing more than claiming you own the copyright and it's being used without your permission.

Not being ripped off at all... (5, Informative)

MrWeelson (948337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638916)

From http://openddr.org/takedown.html [openddr.org] , the original file had terms of use as below
Seems clear to me - as long as OpenDDR are making public any changes.

"All the information listed here has been collected by many different people from many different
          countries. You are allowed to use WURFL in any of your applications, free or commercial. The only thing required is to make public any
          modification to this file, following the original spirit and idea of the creators of this project."

YES! FP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638934)

sux0r s7atus, *BSD open platform,

Summary (4, Informative)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638954)

OpenDDR used the last snapshot of WURFL that had very liberal licensing. This snapshot dates from April last year. In July, the wording on the database file became a bit more restrictive, stating it was only for use with the WURFL API, but not in the terms of anything approaching a formal license. The subsequent version was the one that had the legalese restricting modification or redistribution. So the OpenDDR people were actually pretty careful about this.

The sad thing is that most of the WURFL data came from third party contributions. These were probably submitted with a belief that the data would remain available the same way it had always been. The the WURFL developer (essentially one guy) decided to commercialise it. The moral of this would appear to be:

  • Don't submit to projects with unclear licensing
  • Don't host open source projects on sites that are subject to US jurisdiction

Re:Summary (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639212)

Don't host open source projects on sites that are subject to US jurisdiction

Agreed, although, god help us.
This is NOT going anywhere good in the long run...

Re:Summary (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38640994)

Don't host open source projects on sites that are subject to US jurisdiction

Actually, the situation might be worse elsewhere, because the US in general doesn't allow you to copyright databases unless there's some creative element, unlike the European Database Directive [wikipedia.org] .

Also, a DMCA takedown can easily be responded to, and if it's frivolous, you can sue [wikipedia.org] for damages.

person responsible (4, Informative)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639058)

it looks like this person is responsible for the stupidity: https://twitter.com/#!/luca_passani [twitter.com]

i've advised openddr to contact the SFLC but this is twitter: can i recommend that people also advise openddr on twitter to contact the SFLC, as well as pressurise the moron who doesn't understand what the DMCA is for.

Re:person responsible (4, Insightful)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639500)

pressurise the moron who doesn't understand what the DMCA is for.

I think he understands that very well - harrassing inconvenient competition.

The GPL is starting to make more sense. (4, Interesting)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639266)

I used to release works that I made under MIT or artistic - thinking the GPL was too extreme for my tastes.
It is becoming clear to me that businesses _predictably_ try to "proprietize" anything they can - morals are never part of the equation. The only defense you have when writing software for the public (and keep it that way) is the include clear, strong, and pervasive licenses such as the GPL.

The legal framework we live in, at least here stateside, basically demands we protect our works' right to be free and shared in an active fashion. Corporations only have incentives to try and lock down and monopolize anything they can - it makes sense and history continues to repeat itself. Looks like RMS was right; everything I write is GPL from here on out.

Re:The GPL is starting to make more sense. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639726)

Too bad the FSF and RMS insisted on GPLv3's anti tivo and patents clauses -- what we need is a modernized fork of GPLv2 that is acceptable to the Linux Kernel Mailing List. Oh, and RMS needs to stop calling it GNU/Linux -- it just makes him seem pathetic and crazy.

Re:The GPL is starting to make more sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38640006)

If a US public corporation has a choice between what is morally right and what is morally wrong but legal and profitable, they [b]ARE REQUIRED BY LAW[/b] to choose the profitable option! Choosing to do morally right can land the company's officers in jail! That's what kind of a [b]horseshit[/b] system we have.

GPL is a byproduct of experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38640130)

In a perfect world, MIT would be sufficient. But, we live in a world where GPL makes more sense. If a company takes anything under the MIT, they give nothing in return. Just ask what ratio of Apple-products are open source. But, I think the real moral is to use a GPL when you work with public things, and use a standard copyright-license when you're working for a company. When donating to the open, be open. When giving to companies, get payed.

Re:The GPL is starting to make more sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38640576)

Baastarrds! The only solution is to DMCA all those weakass other licenses to ensure only the clear, strong, morally upright and pervasive licenses (GPL v3) survive! Heil!

My name is Luca: (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639834)

Is it just me, or does the photo of Luca Passani on the sourceforge page look a bit like an aspiring axe murderer?

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