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What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the how-would-you-do-it dept.

Software 511

DeadSea queries: "When you find that somebody is violating the GPL by distributing your code or a derivative of your code as a closed source product, how do you go about handling it? I have found two violations of the GPL for my Java Utilities, in the last month. The Free Software Foundation says that the copyright holder is the only person empowered to act. If you are the copyright holder, how do you communicate with the offenders? I know folks here must have dealt with this before: Linksys, SCO, Castle Technology, United Linux, and others. Personally, I would like to believe that with a little nudging (and without lawyers), I can resolve the things. As such, I would especially appreciate any example letters or other documents that might be effective."

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GNAA announces plans to bomb Christmas island (-1)

timecop (16217) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993781)

GNAA announces plans to bomb Christmas island
by GNAA Staff
Due to recent AUP policy changes at .cx NIC, one of the key GNAA sponsored websites, http://goatse.cx [goatse.cx] has been found "in violation of .cx AUP policies". This announcement delivered a huge blow to the GNAA organization.
Without goatse.cx, we lose an important piece of GNAA.
"We will not let this happen", GNAA representative goat-see said to the press. "GNAA will begin planning a terrorist attack on the Christmas Islands."
GNAA currently operates a back-up site, also located at the .cx TLD, http://goat.cx [goat.cx] . Users are welcome to use this website while we try to persuade .cx NIC to reinstate goatse.cx domain.
"In the event that our peaceful negotiations will fail, Christmas islands are sure to be gone off the face of this planet", added another GNAA member, penisbird.

If you would like to show support for goatse.cx domain, please visit the following links:
Petition to reinstate goatse.cx [petitiononline.com] (currently down due to attack)
nic.cx feedback forums goatse.cx thread [forum.nic.cx]

Thank you!


excerpt from an irc log

@b- The domain goatse.cx has been found in violation of .cx AUP policies, http://www.nic.cx/policies/pdf/cx.AUP.pdf [www.nic.cx] #5, page 7, and is therefore suspended.
@r- shit, that sucks
*** joey (joey@brodels.gngsta.com) has joined nologin
@s- yea i read, page 7 only talks about payment issues though
@s- nothing about content
@b- ya
@b- im confused too
@s- i dunno what the #5 means
@s- oh i see
@s- Communication publication or distribution of adult or obscene content
@s- or images by way of embedded links in unsolicited email, postings to
@s- news groups, internet forums, notices to instant messaging programs,
@s- where the internet user is not explicitly made aware that by clicking on
@s- the link they would be directly exposed to adult or obscene content.
@b- hah
@b- he'll have to make a splash page
@s- i already put the lawyer warning on there
@p- hah
@b- that amendment to thier AUP
@b- is like 100% goatse
@s- - Over the years we have received numerous complaints of this domain's
@s- - content, but no person filee an AUP violation form against the
@s- - domain. Recently the .cx board met and revised all .cx policies (December
@s- - 2003). One of the .cx policies that has not changed is that each domain
@s- - holder is required to review the policies every thirty days and make sure
@s- - their domain is in compliance (Please read part 1, page 2 of
@s- - http://www.nic.cx/policies/pdf/cx.registration.agr eement.pdf [www.nic.cx] ).
@s- -
@s- - We do not review web sites and cannot ensure every domain holder is in
@s- - compliance. But, if a domain is brought to our attention that fails to
@s- - comply with our policies, we reserve the right to suspend the domain.
@s- -
@s- - I am unclear if you change the content, the suspension might be
@s- - revoked. If you are considering this option, please send a note of inquiry
@s- - to info@nic.cx.
@s- -
@s- - Best Wishes,
@s- -
@s- - Elaine Pruis
This commentary brought to you by a proud GNAA member.

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| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | will
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` _______________________________________________' [1] [idge.net]

(C) GNAA 2004

I would suggest... (5, Funny)

DetrimentalFiend (233753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993782)

I would suggest sending an informal e-mail asking if they understand that they're violating the GPL. If that doesn't resolve the problem, the next step might be e-mailing someone at the FSF for advice. If you really serious about it and the FSF can't help you, you may need to get some advice from a lawyer.

Of course, the Passive Aggressive way would be to simply decompile the byte code. Java decompilers are quite excellent at producing almost exactly the same source code as was there to begin with (minus comments). You could then put the GPL license at the top, post a copyright for the work they did. After that, send them a letter telling them that you assisted their efforts at becoming compliant with the GPL. You could even bill them with a consulting fee if you really wanted to get a funny reaction from them. Of course, if you did this, you would almost certainly need to find a good lawyer ahead of time.

Great advice.. (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993809)

Truely the funniest OT advice I've read in ages!

Re:I would suggest... (5, Informative)

akpoff (683177) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993924)

I agree with the informal email but I would a) send copies of the offending code from your product and a copy of the GPL, and b) a link to the FSF GPL FAQ [fsf.org] . I would send the email to their General Counsel. You should word the letter in a conciliatory way and OFFER them the opportunity to remove the offending code. Do NOT tell them they must now releaes all their source code to the public. That will freak them out and cause them to into defense mode. Also, DO NOT ASK for money at all at this point -- they'll assume it's a shakedown.

It sounds like your goal is to get them to respect your license. Approach them with firm honesty and you may get what you're looking for. If that doesn't work then YOU have whether you want to fight it with lawyers. The cheapest way out would be to assign your copyright to the FSF and let them (as the legal copyright holders) handle it.

Re:I would suggest... (5, Informative)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993931)

In terms of copyright protection, in order to bring suit your copyright must be registered with the US Copyright Office [copyright.gov] .

Computer programs have their copyrights registered under the category of "literary work." For more information see The US Copyright Office website [copyright.gov] .

You may be able to do a 'cease-and-desist' type thing without it (hey, under the DMCA you can probably send a CaD to anybody you want for anything, without necessarily having cause) but I don't know what sort of proof you have to have that the work was originally yours.

This is a definite warning though -- if you're developing Open Source and want to be really sure you can enforce the freedom of your code, register that copyright!

Re:I would suggest... (1)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994020)

I'm curious, would you be able to file suit under contract law rather than copyright seeing as how they have broken from the license they agreed to when they were granted permission to use the source code?

Re:I would suggest... (2, Informative)

oo_waratah (699830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994053)

There is no contract. Take a look at http://www.groklaw.net there was a discussion about GPL and how to enforce it.

Re:I would suggest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993969)

"Just ignore it" doesn't count, right?

Sort of like SCO? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993973)

In A.D. 2101

War was beginning.

CAPTAIN: What happen ?

MECHANIC: Somebody set us up the bomb.

OPERATOR: We get signal.

CAPTAIN: What !

OPERATOR: Main screen turn on.

CAPTAIN: It's you !!

CATS: How are you gentlemen !!

CATS: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.

CATS: YOU ARE ON THE WAY TO DESTRUCTION.

CAPTAIN: WHAT YOU SAY !!

CATS: YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME.

CATS: HA HA HA HA ....

OPERATOR: Captain !!

CAPTAIN: Take off every 'ZIG'!!

CAPTAIN: You know what you doing.

CAPTAIN: Move 'ZIG'.

CAPTAIN: FOR GREAT JUSTICE.

Re:I would suggest... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994003)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of suggestions!

You insensitive clod! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994024)

I cant suggest, you insensitive clod!

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994041)

In Soviet Russia, the suggestions make you!

Blake Stowell "it's a contract issue." (not copyr) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994059)

Monday's response included no examples of copyright violations, Stowell said. "We've not introduced copyright infringement as part of our case with IBM. We've tried to make it clear that it's a contract issue."

BSD is dying (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994062)

BSD is almost dead
Doo dah, doo dah
BSD is almost dead
Oh doo dah dey

We can all suggest, as BSD is dying!

IN MEMORY OF GOATSE (-1, Troll)

ADOT Troll (687975) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993784)

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What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation? (5, Funny)

pantycrickets (694774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993793)

What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation?

Shoot on site!!

Re:What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation? (5, Funny)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993908)

Should I be worried that someone who can't differentiate between "site" and "sight" has a shoot first policy?

Re:What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation? (5, Funny)

BrynM (217883) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993920)

What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation?

Shoot on site!!

I can't resist....

Offsite shooting is much better since the trouble of cleaning it up can be left to others. Onsite shootings are disruptive to the office and can litter equipment, clothes and furniture with exit wound debris. If you can't decide which method would be optimal to your manslaughter needs, you can just shoot them whenever and wherever you see them first.

Re:What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993967)

Sniper rifles are generally the best compromise.

On site shooting of an off site target.

I say we nuke the site from orbit... (1)

DrunkenTerror (561616) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993949)

It's the only way to be sure.

oh my (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993799)

oh my

THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993800)

Hello, and THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING

Yes that's right, THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING. Why you might ask? Well it's simple!

Your brain usually takes care of breathing FOR you, but whenever you remember this, YOU MUST MANUALLY BREATH! If you don't you will DIE.

There are also MANY variations of this. For example, think about:

  1. BLINKING!

  1. SWALLOWING SALIVA!

  1. HOW YOUR FEET FEEL IN YOUR SOCKS!



In conclusion, the THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING troll is simply unbeatable. These 4 words can be thrown randomly into article text trolls, into sigs, into anything, and once seen, WILL FORCE THE VICTIM TO TAKE CARE OF HIS BREATHING MANUALLY! This goes far beyond the simple annoying or insulting trolls of yesteryear.

In fact, by EVEN RESPONDING to this troll, you are proving that IT HAS CLAIMED ANOTHER VICTIM -- YOU!

whoa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993847)

I just realized I had stopped breathing until I read this post. Thanks TAYB Troll!

Re:THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994029)

*clap clap*

This is definitely one of the best trolls I've seen in a while... I laughed so hard. Bravo, kudos, etc.

Damn you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994039)

I just about wet myself laughing at this, /and I'm at work/!

You are so funny.

Still trying not to giggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994066)

Not working.

simple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993802)

Let RMS bend them over in a dark alley once or twice. They'll cut it out right quick after that.

Send Luca Brasi (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993806)

Not even the Godfather will be able to call him off.

Tell us the offenders (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993812)

And we'll, uh... check out their websites... until they stop responding. That'll get their attention.

If you gave the code away for Free (-1, Flamebait)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993813)

I don't mean to stir up a hornets nest with this question, but if you intended to give away the code for free in the first place, why are you so concerned that someone is taking it and profiting off of it?

You could sue them, or contact a lawyer to send a C&D letter to them, but isn't it your own fault for choosing a license that turns you into an Indian Giver (no offense to Indians) instead of a truly beneficent code donor like the BSD licenses do?

Don't get me wrong, the GPL has its place, but if the main point was to be generous with your code in the first place why would you choose something as restrictive as the GPL?

Or in the first place did you intend to demand that changes be rolled back into your project?

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (1)

pantycrickets (694774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993836)

...if you intended to give away the code for free in the first place, why are you so concerned that someone is taking it and profiting off of it?

I think the Rap Dictionary would call that a case of "Playa' Hatin'"

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (5, Interesting)

Otto (17870) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993862)

Or in the first place did you intend to demand that changes be rolled back into your project?

Well, duh. If I gave something away for free and then someone uses it to make a profit and doesn't even bother to help you out in the way you've helped them, I'd be pretty pissed off too.

Don't get me wrong, the BSD license has it's place, but if the main point is to keep the code free, what would you choose something that lets anyone take the code and make it non-free?

Not everybody misunderstands the thrust of the GPL. When I release code under the GPL, I do so for a very specific reason: I want to keep that code free. If I were to release something under the BSD license, it would likely only be because I don't much give a damn about that code anymore.

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (4, Interesting)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993863)

He's more concerned that they are STEALING his work without obeying the terms of the license under which they accpted the work. When you use a work, expect to follow the license, other wise don't use the work. Not releasing the code is a violation of the GPL and thus IP theft. They didn't have to use his code. They could have written their own or used a BSD equivalent.

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (4, Insightful)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993996)

Actually, as people are so quick to point out on Slashdot (especially in relation to music sharing), they are not stealing. They are infringing his copyright. I know it is a truly minor, pedantic thing to gripe about, but it's accurate.

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993883)

My guess, if he didn't want to promote (through requirement) the open sharing of software he would have chosen a BSD-style license so others could do what they want with it. I don't think he's concerned that others profit from it - in fact I'm sure he'd encourage it. He's more concerned about being part of a movement where it is desired that information is to be freely shared.

My $.02

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993902)

if you intended to give away the code for free in the first place, why are you so concerned that someone is taking it and profiting off of it?

What if you are mysql and you are selling commercial licenses for closed source software. (if people are distributing the source... then that's fine... but if anyone makes money without improving the project you should get a share so that the project still benefits)

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993903)

thats the communistic aspect of the GPL.

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (2, Insightful)

Bifurcati (699683) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993918)

Hmmm. If he had chosen to give his code away for free, then that would be fine. But he didn't - he released it under the GPL, which has at least a partial aim of encouraging open sharing and development of code.

They're earning money off his hard work - why does being "generous" mean you have to make them money? You can release code as public domain, and let people do what they will, but that's fairly obviously not his aim - (and pardon me if I've got this wrong) - he wants to share with those willing to reciprocate the sharing.

Maybe do some reading on the aims and goals of the GPL, and try and see what they're getting at. (And I also hope I'm not stirring up a hornet's nest here - just two (for now) nice, diplomatic posts :) Bifurcati

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (3, Insightful)

Ted Williams' Frozen (697843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993933)

GPL does allow someone to take code and profit off of it, as long as they release the source code. Simple, right?

Placing the code under GPL helps to build the code for the benefit for all and is less restrictive than propriatary means. The companies using the code without agreeing to the GPL are in violation of copyright law, period.

If the companies in question do not agree to the GPL, than do not use the code.

You are blaming the victim here for "asking for it".

And yes, you did mean to stir up a hornets nest.

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (1)

thebes (663586) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993939)

but if you intended to give away the code for free in the first place, why are you so concerned that someone is taking it and profiting off of it?

But that is his point. If he gave it away free, why should someone else profit off it?

Re:If you gave the code away for Free (1)

Dairyland.Net (547845) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993952)

You just don't get it, do you?! The GPL guarantees that derivatives of a work will be shared with the public and those derivatives can be used as the basis for further derivatives. Freedom of information, dude! Share the knowledge!

jealousy (1)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994035)

there really isn't any other explanation, is there? I mean come on... open-source coders release code and don't make a dime off it... Company comes along and profits off it... $$$ ---> company, ___ ----> OSS coders. Jealousy.

Easy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993818)

Easy: hire the mob to track them down and break their knee caps. If they persist, let 'em sleep with the fishes.

Open-source ninja squad? (4, Funny)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993824)

Terminate with extreme programming?

/got nuthin

Simple (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993827)

Get a lawyer. Asking for legal help on slashdot is about as dumb as asking us for medical advice. (It's possible that the advice might be good, but you could end up neutering yourself)

Tips (5, Informative)

chunkwhite86 (593696) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993829)

Call the company and ask for the contact information of their legal department.

Pay a lawyer a small fee to have him write a letter to the offending company suggesting that their GPL violation will result in litigation if they don't work with you to resolve the problem.

The offending company's legal department will probably ignore you if you address them directly, so it helps a lot to have a lawyer write the letter (and send it certified mail with return receipt - that always scares people)

Re:Tips (1)

pantycrickets (694774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993867)

1) Pay a lawyer a small fee to have him write a letter to the offending company suggesting that their GPL violation will result in litigation if they don't work with you to resolve the problem.

2) The offending company's legal department will probably ignore you if you address them directly, so it helps a lot to have a lawyer write the letter (and send it certified mail with return receipt - that always scares people)


3) Pray they don't actually call you on your shit and put your company out of business.

Re:Tips (2, Funny)

Cecil (37810) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993946)

<sarcasm>Yeah, that's good advice. Last time I threatened legal action against a company, they responded by filing a lawsuit against me for threatening a lawsuit against them, and won so much money that I had to declare bankruptcy.</sarcasm>

precedence, that's what you need (1)

ultrapenguin (2643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993830)

a large case of GPL violation needs to be proven.
in court.
creating a huge stink.
preferably with a large corporation.
then perhaps other companies will think twice before copying GPL code.

Re:precedence, that's what you need (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993878)

well Linus didn't think twice before he copied SCO's intellectual property

hypocrits (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993832)

slashdot gets worked up whenever a gpl violation is even RUMORED, but they call bullshit on SCO's owenership of code within the lunix kernel.

YOU'RE FUCKING HYPOCRITS SLASHDOT.

Re:hypocrits (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993865)

At least we can spell Linux, motard.

What Wikipedia Does (3, Informative)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993834)

Over at Wikipedia (which is distributed under the GNU-FDL), there's a page [wikipedia.org] that lists other sites using Wikipedia's content.

Whatever you do, don't try this! (4, Funny)

weeboo0104 (644849) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993839)

#1 Send a threatening letter to users claiming a violation

#2 Demand $699 from the users

#3 ???

#4 PROFIT!

Re:Whatever you do, don't try this! (0)

Stu Catz (728228) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993910)

#3 Get the offending company to prove your case for you

Same results in only 3 steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993989)

Four steps is too complicated

Step 1: Steal their underpants

Step 2: ???

Step 3: PROFIT!

That's only 3 steps.

I hate to say it... (5, Insightful)

rm -rf $HOME (738703) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993842)

...but get a lawyer. They do this for a living. They're not all scum. Why, I bet you've got at least one lawyer friend. Pay them (yes, pay -- even if this is a friend) to write up a letter and send it to the violator.

DIY is great for things you enjoy doing. Writing letters to copyright infringers isn't fun for many people.

Re:I hate to say it... (0, Troll)

110010001000 (697113) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993917)

Good idea. Now with the GPL you can not only not make any money, you can spend all yours on lawyers.

I wonder why it is OK for lawyers to charge for their work and not OK for programmers to do so.

Re:I hate to say it... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993978)

Nice troll.

People should do things they enjoy for free. Plenty of lawyers take interesting cases pro bono, and programmers work on fun projects and release them under the GPL. I program for a living, writing code that isn't always exciting. I also count programming among my hobbies -- but I only start projects I enjoy working on.

If a friend asked me to program something that wasn't fun, I probably wouldn't do it for free (I'd just say "no" -- unless they offered to pay). If I asked a lawyer friend to do uninteresting law work, I certainly wouldn't expect him or her to do it for free.

Re:I hate to say it... (4, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994060)

I know that the best thing to do is to call a lawyer, but I find it quite unsettling to think that when I'm creating something and giving it away to the world for free, I would need to pay a price to protect my work?

There is something inherently wrong in that - there must be a better way to protect works that have been created for the benefit of others out there than having to pay to protect whats rightfully yours and whats given out in goodwill.

If not, we're just a really fucked up society.

This may or may not work... (3, Funny)

xSquaredAdmin (725927) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993851)

Just find any of their e-mail addresses that you can, and submit them to any porn mailing lists that you can find. It may not work, but it's fun to do.

Re:This may or may not work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993890)

I do this for michael@slashdot.org all the time. It has really worked well.

How do you DETECT a GPL violation? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993853)

Forget handling the violation... What about finding the violation in the first place? If they strip all comments and change the execution order (with a script), how would you be able to know it was the same? It would seem approperiate to do a statistical analysis on the code to detect similarity... but does such a method even exist? However, before you can even do analysis on the binary you must gain access to the binary. With many products, unless they offer downloadable firmware or tftp/ftp/etc access, the firmware can be almost impossible to access. In this case, is there any way to even know without figuring out how to extract the information from the ROM? It could even be encrypted, only allowing a certain chipset to access it. (CSS for example) It would take a DMCA violating reverse engineering job to find this out, which could result in a counter-suit to any GPL violation you found. And they would most likely have more money.

Shoot the bastards (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993854)

This is how I always handled spammers and GPL violators, and it worked for me. Plus, now I have a lot more time to work on Open Source projects!

--
Notice: The contents of this post were not screened by the Rikers Island correctional facility.

I remember... (-1, Troll)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993858)

...evaluating your Base64 encoder for my wife's recipe database software [webhop.biz] . When I saw the license tho, I decided it wasn't worth the hassle. I ended up ripping an encoder from some apache software.

What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation? (4, Funny)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993860)

I have two options at my disposal to get you punies to share your source
  1. Castration
  2. Crucifixion

You guys have no idea how the glimmer in your eyes can scare the average CEO, especially when holding a set of garden shears.

With a Gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993861)

n/t

the BEST way... (-1, Flamebait)

Dagrush (723402) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993864)

copy SCO's every move.
closed source, open source, whoever you're trying to make pay, it'll be the same.

How can Java be closed source? (2, Interesting)

Fefe (6964) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993871)

I have all the sympathy for people suffering from GPL violation, but I find this case ridiculous for several reasons:

1. Java can be trivially decompiled, so I don't see how this can be regarded as "closed source" with a straight face.

2. Your library does not look like rocket science to me.

That does not lower the formal legal bar, but come on, how many ways are there to do Base64 encoding and circular buffers? I don't know what exactly you think someone took from you, but this looks to me like one of the junk patent cases where someone gets a patent on something blindingly obvious, like using names in urls, and the tries to sue others.

If some non-trivial code of yours was stolen, then, by all means, sue the bastards. First, I would talk to them, then I would talk to my lawyer, and then I would tell my lawyer to sue them. If you don't want to do that, you can sign over your copyright to the Free Software Foundation, and they will do the enforcement for you. But please, don't make the whole free software movement look like SCO by trying to enforce rights on trivial pieces of source code.

Your library offers a Swing dialog box for entering passwords, for crying out loud! That's like "my first programming project", it's the hello world of Swing programming. My opinion: come back when they took something worthwhile from you. This way you only make yourself look bad and give SCO and Microsoft ammunition on why free software people are communists and morally corrupt people.

That's easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993876)

Whine about it on Slashdot.

This is why teh BSD lincense is better (-1, Flamebait)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993879)

It is very rare to find violations of the BSD license. In fact, I cannot think of a single one.

Why is this, when examples of flagrant GNU abuse abound? I think it's a simple matter:

respect.

individuals, particularly corporations, don't have much respect for hippies and hackers; whereas they do respect academic institutions and the authority thereof.

So, I imagine the thinking process goes like this:

BSD Product: "hmm, I better leave that alone, wouldn't want the university of california after me"

GNU Product: "ok, we'll snag this, this and this. What? License? fuck 'em. what are they gonna do - make me sit in an unventilated room with dick stalman?"

DICK STALLMAN - HAHAHAHAHAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993905)

good one.

Re:This is why teh BSD lincense is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993916)

The BSD license is a lot less restrictive. Just print a copyright notice somewhere, and all is well. I think it's less a matter of respect than it is of how easy it is to take BSD code, stick it in your product, and do absolutely nothing that benefits other people.

Re:This is why the BSD lincense is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994051)

So you believe in compelling people to do something that "benefits other people?" That's fine, but I can understand why some folks find this repugnant.

Trash 'em in public (2, Interesting)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993884)

I think that unfortunately, most developer who release GPL code do not have the resources to make a legal response (i.e. hire a lawyer) unless it's a very high profile application. This essentially leaves us with trashing / embarrassing the culprit in a public forum.

It would be nice if there where some endowed fund managed by, say, the FSF, that developers could turn to, but I don't see that happening. So, in my mind, public whipping is the only realistic alternative.

Re:Trash 'em in public (3, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994011)

The "real alternative" is to turn over copyrights to the FSF and let them handle these violations. Of course that also means giving up rights to ever 'taking back' your code at some future date.

But if your goal is to promote Free Software, that's the way to do it.

Assign your copyright (1)

oo_waratah (699830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994012)

If you wish FSF to act on your behalf then you must assign copyright to FSF in order for them to proceed. I don't see any real downside if you need their help but follow the gently gently approach first to get it resolved.

Re:Assign your copyright (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994038)

The question is, would they actually put up a fight for you? Is there any evidence they will "walk the walk" or do they just talk about it.

how about (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993888)

a bullet to the kneecap?
eh, no, perhaps not..
Ah, a baseball bat to the kneecap..

Your pal, Tony S.

Simple really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7993897)

Write to the violaters (preferably after you have enough
evidence against them) and tell them it would be
a good idea to release the sources to the files in violation.
If they do nothing or tell you to bugger off, put
it up on your www site and and submit a story to
slashdot mentioning the companies by name. Watch
as their www servers burn up (don't forget to turn
yours off before it burns up though).

According to gnu.org... (3, Informative)

xankar (710025) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993909)

Did you notice... (3, Informative)

Beolach (518512) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994001)

That link is already in the /. article?

Re:Did you notice... (0, Offtopic)

xankar (710025) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994019)

Shh, don't tell anyone.

My suggestion.... (5, Insightful)

UrGeek (577204) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993929)

1. Call the phone. Talk to them on the phone and explain the oversight. Be polite and approach the situation purely as a problem solver with a helpful attitude. But take notes and pay close attention to how they response.

IF THAT FAILS,
2. Craft a letter. Be professional but firm.
IF THAT FAILS,
3. Get a lawyer. A good one but one that will take the case for a percentage of this company that you are about to own.

How did you find this out? (4, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993935)

How did you find out they where using your code? That might help us help you.

Offer to sell (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993936)

First, make a call. Navigate your way to someone senior and offer to sell them a license to use your code as they see fit. After all, why shouldn't you make some money off your code too?

Follow up with a letter in which you inform them that you have determined that your software appears in their code without a license. Offer to sell them a license for some reasonable amount. Point out that you have also offered them use of the software under the GPL license if they prefer.

Direct your letter to their legal counsel if they have one. Otherwise, look for someone near the top. The head of the salesforce is generally a good bet; they're very vocal within the company and will tend to get the necessary folks to deal with you.

do this... (2, Funny)

Amyloid (306245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993943)

when in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!

Or... (1)

FreemanPatrickHenry (317847) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993947)

You could charge them $699 for use of your code...

Simple (5, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993983)

First of all, and perhaps most important, do *NOT* bring up the term "GPL".

Second, inform them that you are the author of the material that they are distributing, and that they have not fulfilled their obligations in order to obtain legal permission from you to distribute their changes to your code without making the source available, since the combined work (your code plus their changes) still contains your code and that code is still copyrighted by you and therefore still subject to your distribution requirements. They can comply with your copyright by removing every last line of code that you wrote or by releasing the source of their entire product. You can, at your option, also make alternative arrangements with them to grant them permission to distribute without the source in exchange for some compensation that you specify.

Doing it this way takes the focus off the fact that it's the "GPL", and it's viewed simply as a matter of straight copyright infringement, removing any possibility of potential discrimination against the GPL.

Sign your rights over to the FSF (4, Insightful)

femto (459605) | more than 10 years ago | (#7993984)

If you trust the FSF, and you know you only ever want to release your code under the GPL, ask the FSF if they will accept your code as a donation. That way they become the copyright holder and are authorised to take action.

You are able to continue devlopment as before, since the code will still be GPL'd. You will have lost the right to sell your software under a license other than the GPL though.

What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994000)

... To ignore it because no one can do anything against it anyways. In all the years I haven't seen that the FSF has forced any lawsuits to those who abused the GPL. There was some blah blah every now and then on various places even on /. but there was never any physical attempt from them. The only ones who tried to protect their IP was those who got stolen their code.

... The best way imo to protect is to NOT RELEASE ANYTHING open source and protect the IP with patents. I know this sounds totally oposite of what this community is meant to be but thats how real life works.

... You offer the source ? Live with it that others rip it off.

steal things!! (-1, Troll)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994004)

Don't shop, it only encourages them. RMS and Marx where right. We must stop the bourgeoisie exploiters before we are all slaves again!!!!
http://www.AnReabhloid.org THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS!!!

is selling linux legal? (1)

nabetse (742070) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994010)

Are sites selling Linux, like cheapbytes or paypaldownload legal?

I've got 4 current "investigations" open (5, Interesting)

hacker (14635) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994013)

Two projects I contribute heavily to, and one of them is a project I am the primary maintainer of, are being "tentatively" violated by 4 commercial companies, and there may be a 5th on the way.

I've sent emails, asking for the reasons why snippets of our source end up mysteriously in their commercial applications. In one case, a company (in Germany) came back stating that they happen to have the 5 same exact function names in their application, and byte-for-byte identical perror() strings to our application, but they insist they're not using any of our code, but claim that they did use it "for documentation purposes" when writing their application. That one is still open and pending, and we'll be doing protocol sniffs to see if theirs match ours. We have certain "fingerprints" in our protocol, which can only be done by using the source directly.

Another company I just found several days after the one above, seems to be using our code in a commercial BeOS project. They responded to my email, claiming that our code was used "as is" in their project, and then goes on to say "the use was re-configured to allow for easier additions". I don't see how they can claim both, in the same project. Either the code was used as-is (impossible, our code doesn't build on BeOS), or they modified it (and they must give us back the changes to those sources).

Another company directly took our code, removed all of our names from the project, replaced them with their own, slapped their own (non-GPL) license on it, and sold it to "partners" for quite a hefty fee. When we confronted them asking for an explanation, they basically told us to piss off. When we escalated, the CEO came back with, and I quote "If we end up in court, I will bankrupt these guys".

We also contacted this company's "partners", and asked them for the source to the changes they were also distributing. Every time we would contact these companies, the original company would threaten to sue us if we contacted their partners.

The FSF is involved in all of the cases. The investigations are still open, and pending.

Companies seem to think that because they have money, and most Free Software developers do not, that they can just slap us around left and right. The other point companies seem to try to "leverage" when they are clearly violating the GPL, is that the common myth that the "GPL Has Never Been Tested In Court(tm)", and since it has no basis, they can take whatever they want, and not give back. They seem to forget that the U.S. Copyright system backs up all of this code.

So what do we do? There are dozens upon dozens of cases where the GPL is clearly being violated; the MPlayer [mplayerhq.hu] violation from KISS Technologies, the BusyBox [busybox.net] Hall of Shame, and many more.

Java sources (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994016)

Are you actually sure that they did not accidentally hit the same characters on the keyboard? I mean, if these tidbits are source, then I would not build a well on it.

Still, if they include it in their source tree then they are in violation I guess. Now go on and put them together into a real program or library.

GPL violation = FSF+Moglen (2, Interesting)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994021)

1. Assign copyright to the FSF
2. Sic Moglen on them

The only reason to refrain from doing this is if you wish to retain some proprietary interest in the code, for the purpose of perhaps producing a closed-source version of it. If that is your intent, I really don't give a flying fig what you do. If, however, you are pure of heart, you have absolutely nothing to lose by assigning the copyright to the FSF. You'll always be able to use, modify, and distribute the code, just as you can now. The only right you (might) lose would be the right to later create a proprietary version.

SUE THEIR ASSES!!!!!1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7994026)

THAT'S WHAT I SAID!!!!1

Kiss my a## (1)

mm0mm (687212) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994027)

I know folks here must have dealt with this before: Linksys, SCO, Castle Technology, United Linux, and others."

I wonder if FSF would aim their gun at KISS technology regarding thier GPL violation (MPlayer). [slashdot.org] I hope they will, and beat a crap out of Kiss' ass. It appears GPL is regarded very lightly in some part of the world, while it has presence in the US (except some part of Utah). If Kiss can get away with their GPL violation, others may follow. FSF shouldn't let this happen...

there is an option (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994036)

To write free software and not have this problem at all. It is the one that I use for my projects on sourceforge. In two words : BSD licence.
that is truly free software and you dont have to worry about things like this.

Do you have evidence of this violation? (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 10 years ago | (#7994050)

Or do you just suspect it is a violation? As many people said, Java byte code can be decompiled and compared to your code. If you did this and it matches, take the evidence to a lawyer who understands the GPL and take action. I suggest that if the offending company is selling the code as part of a closed source project that you ask for a percentage of those sales or at least that the company cease and desist from using your code.

Be very careful here because they can easily counter-sue you and overlawyer you if they are a bigger corporation. Your legal bills will run high and eventually you will have to settle out of court. Get a lawyer that does not get paid until you get paid and takes a small percentage of the settlement.
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