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Is Sveasoft Violating the GPL?

simoniker posted about 10 years ago | from the gumby-time dept.

Wireless Networking 738

Ron Harwood writes "First, Linksys was violating the GPL by not releasing their source for their Linux implementation on the WRT54G wireless router and WAP54G access point. When this was rectified, third party firmware started showing up. Well, now it looks like Sveasoft (one of the third party developers) has decided to restrict access to their modified source code to subscribers - that also will need to pay $49 for a CD rather than being able to download it." The thread summary at DSLReports only makes it clear that this is all very complicated.

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Wake up SCO... (1, Funny)

baylanger (780885) | about 10 years ago | (#9766244)

Hey SCO, here's another court case for you guys!

Mr Berger is that your dick or a wad of papers? (0, Offtopic)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | about 10 years ago | (#9766447)

classified papers perhaps??

I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (5, Informative)

RLiegh (247921) | about 10 years ago | (#9766245)

The GPL FAQ on the GNU Site says: [gnu.org]

But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the program's users, under the GPL.

So, are the subscribers allowed to redistribute the modified source that they purchase? If so, there's no violation (at least, not on that point). If not, then yes; they are in violation of the gpl.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (1)

wulfwulf (262315) | about 10 years ago | (#9766272)

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you (I don't have a firm grasp on the GPL) but if what you're saying is true then theoretically one person could buy from Sveasoft and modify it, then redistribute?
I know i'm missing something.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (1)

RLiegh (247921) | about 10 years ago | (#9766300)

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you (I don't have a firm grasp on the GPL) but if what you're saying is true then theoretically one person could buy from Sveasoft and modify it, then redistribute?

As I understand the GPL it would allow someone to buy this source from Sveasoft and redistribute it; but Sveasoft may have try to get around that by putting licensing conditions on the purchase of the CD. I don't think that would hold up in court, but I Sveasoft may be willing to take a chance that it will.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (1)

49152 (690909) | about 10 years ago | (#9766303)

That person would not have to modify it, the GPL would allow redistribution anyway.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (4, Informative)

efextra (673412) | about 10 years ago | (#9766292)

I am a subscriber and they allow you to redistribute, but it seems thats not what they want you to do. From the code download page:
This file is distributed to Sveasoft subscribers only. Redistribution is allowed under the GPL license. However, redistribution terminates Sveasoft subscription rights.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766306)

You are NOT none o' no subscriber... ain't no * by your name.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (1)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9766322)

He's not saying he's a /. subscriber, he's talking about Svesoft's forums.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (1, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9766340)

That's actually legal enough... you're basically being offered two licenses when you get the code, and you're allowed to pick you can either:

A: Take the GPL, and waive away your Sveasoft forum and subscriber rights.
-or-
B: Take the Sveasoft license, and agree to waive off the GPL rights you were offered.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766403)

No it isn't - the code isn't theirs to license. If it was exclusively Sveasoft code, they could offer whatever license they want, but they aren't entitled to relicense other people's code (like, say, Linux) under their own license and ask you to waive the GPL rights.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (5, Informative)

efextra (673412) | about 10 years ago | (#9766417)

you're basically being offered two licenses when you get the code, and you're allowed to pick you can either:
Wrong! Sveasoft is not the owner of the source code. They got it under GPL and they *have* to release it under GPL. If they were the original copyright holder they could have released it under 10 different licences, but this is not the case.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (0)

black mariah (654971) | about 10 years ago | (#9766462)

You're wrong. The code is still GPL. They are simply putting a restriction on being one of their subscribers.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (2, Interesting)

droleary (47999) | about 10 years ago | (#9766404)

However, redistribution terminates Sveasoft subscription rights.

How would they know? Any subscriber can just give the CD to a buddy to distribute. Regardless, it seems they're definitely trying to skirt the spirit of the GPL, and for that I hope they sink into obscurity, at which point their subscription isn't worth squat anyway.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (2, Informative)

Spy Hunter (317220) | about 10 years ago | (#9766414)

This clause is not allowed under the GPL. Here is a quote from section 6 of the GPL (italics mine):

Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.

By attatching conditions to the redistribution of their code (namely that distributing it revokes your subscription rights), Sveasoft is attempting to restrict people's free distribution of their code. This is explicitly not allowed under the GPL. It is claimed in the forum thread that the FSF says this is not a violation, but I can't see their reasoning. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Also their practice of charging $49 for a CD of the code is questionable. The GPL puts no limit on the amount you can charge for distributing the program itself. However, if you have already distributed the binary to somebody, then if they request the source you are not allowed to charge them more than the actual cost of distribution. Somehow I doubt their CD-Rs cost $49 each...

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (2, Informative)

black mariah (654971) | about 10 years ago | (#9766484)

They're not putting restrictions on the redistribution. They're putting restrictions on their own subscriptions. In order to be a subscriber, you have to abide by their terms. One of those terms is not redistributing the source. If you choose to distribute the source, it simply terminates your subscription. This may not be in the spirit of the GPL (not that I care much), but at least from my interpretation is is well within the letter of the GPL.

Re:I believe that GPL is pretty clear on this (1)

Otter (3800) | about 10 years ago | (#9766490)

You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.

But they're not! Their restrictions are not restricting the source code, they're restricting the subscription terms!

Certainly this violates the spirit of the GPL, and for all I know, it may violate the letter of the license*. But this is another case where it would have been a good idea to go through appropriate channels instead of proceeding from misgivings straight to full-blown Slashdot hysteria.

* Actually, the $49 CD is probably a more clear-cut violation than the subscription termination.

Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (4, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9766246)

I think this is right at the bleeding edge of where the GPL draws the line...

The GPL doesn't allow code modifiers to keep their code secret, but it doesn't reqire that the code be posted for free on the Internet either. They can charge a reasonable fee for the obtaining, making, and delivery of the disk and/or download service... you might be able to try to make a case that they're charging too much for such services, but the GPL doesn't say they have to provide such services at cost. This may be a bug in the GPL according to the purists, but the seem to be within the letter of the license.

However, here's the catch: The GPL requires that the people who get the software must also be given the GPL as a license option that they may apply to the copy they just got. (The redistributor can offer any other license they want too, but they have to give the striaght-up unmodified GPL as another option if they do.) Therefore, only one person needs to pay the fee, and then, they can post the code for free download.

No need to GNU/Worry. We'll be seeing this code being forked on Soureforge shortly I think.

True Enough (1)

mfh (56) | about 10 years ago | (#9766282)

> They can charge a reasonable fee for the obtaining, making, and delivery of the disk and/or download service... you might be able to try to make a case that they're charging too much for such services

Here's my $1.50 plus $4 USD shipping. Now give me the source code dammit. $50... think of all the beer and ebay treats I could get with that.

Re:True Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766483)

Stallman once charged $150 for a copy of the emacs source.

I also ship copies of GNU Emacs, and provide some services,
to people who pay for this.
I will send you a tape of the latest version of GNU Emacs,
including full sources, if you send $150 to
Richard M. Stallman
c/o Lisp Machine Incorporated
1000 Mass Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139.
(This price is subject to change without notice.)

Source [google.com]

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

baylanger (780885) | about 10 years ago | (#9766294)

We would be allowed to buy their CD and then put their work available for free download, BitTorrent?

Even better, we can resale a copy of their CD on eBay for 1$ instead of 49$ ;-) What do we do with the profit? Sue SCO?

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

Trejkaz (615352) | about 10 years ago | (#9766361)

Naturally since it's GPLed, we can redistribute it. I hope that the first person who pays money for it will exercise this right.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

BurritoWarrior (90481) | about 10 years ago | (#9766355)

Reasonable being no more than the cost of the media + distributing it. I think it would be hard to find an accountant that will show that as a $49 cost.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9766421)

No it isn't. You just have to buy your disks from a disk seller who's giving you a rebate, or you own.

Since the entity doing the distributing is paying that rate, that's the cost, even if it's not the market price of the materials.

I was once the sys admin for an office supply retailer that sold to the state. Justifying the markup on the "5% over cost" contract was part of the report writing...

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

RLiegh (247921) | about 10 years ago | (#9766367)

So, who is willing to throw their subscription to the wind and post the code to sf.net...and potentially face other litigation (malicious mischief? no idea, but I'm sure they'd come up with something) as well?

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

foidulus (743482) | about 10 years ago | (#9766369)

But where do you draw the line?
Now you or I(or better yet, 49 of our closest friends) may be willing to pay $49 to download it then distribute it, but what happens if the company decides it wants to make $100,000 off the modifications.
Now they make it available under the GPL for $100,000. Now it becomes much harder for you or I to buy it. And it makes anyone who bought it less likely to distribute it for free.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (2, Insightful)

gregmac (629064) | about 10 years ago | (#9766454)

It does say "reasonable cost", so it could be challeneged (likely by the EFF).

Sveasoft could probably justify $49 as being "reasonable". There is the cost of shipping and the media, of course, which isn't very much. But someone also has to burn it. They could very well be charging a normal hourly fee (say $50/hr) to have that person burn the CD. You could also factor in the cost of the cd burner itself (depreciated over x number of copies), or maybe a rental fee for using the burner. They could also being doing the same thing with a system dedicated to burning the CDs.

Although most people will think those claims are rediculus (and I'll admit, towards the end, they are ;) ). But I think at the least it's reasonable to bill out the time someone spends doing it. After all, the more time someone spends burning a CD, the less time they spend programming or otherwise making money for the company -- why NOT bill it out?

Now, that all said, $100,000 would be a bit extreme. While proving $49 is "reasonable cost" with the above arguments might stand up in court, I think you'd have a hard time saying your hourly fee is $500,000 or that you really REALLY needed that Sun Fire server to handle the burning.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (3, Informative)

RedWizzard (192002) | about 10 years ago | (#9766371)

The GPL doesn't allow code modifiers to keep their code secret, but it doesn't reqire that the code be posted for free on the Internet either. They can charge a reasonable fee for the obtaining, making, and delivery of the disk and/or download service... you might be able to try to make a case that they're charging too much for such services, but the GPL doesn't say they have to provide such services at cost.
Yes the GPL does say you must provide source code at cost. The relevant clause is (emphasis mine):
3b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge
no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;
$50 is unjustifiable as the cost of distribution of the source.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

bconway (63464) | about 10 years ago | (#9766406)

How much do you think it costs the company to have a developer stop what he's working on and make a CD for someone that requests the code? Probably more than $50.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (0)

agurkan (523320) | about 10 years ago | (#9766487)

Then they should hire someone to do the copying rather than their highly paid developers. For instance, they can subcontract this to some cheap-linux-CD-seller. Sorry, if you claim something costs you $50 while equivalent merchandise is available cheaper, the burden of proof is on you.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (3, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | about 10 years ago | (#9766495)

Yeah, but by that logic they could just make the source avaliable only on special solid platinum CDs hand-carved by tibetan monks and charge three billion dollars each. Sure, it's the actual cost of distribution, but it's not reasonable. An FTP server would do the job for at least three orders of magnitude less money and be more convenient for everyone to boot. I don't think a judge would be impressed by that argument, even if it doesn't exactly violate the letter of the GPL.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | about 10 years ago | (#9766499)

I don't think that a software developer is the only person with the necessary skills to burn a CD. Even assuming that he was required to burn the first CD, any minimum wage person can burn copies of the originial.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (5, Informative)

black mariah (654971) | about 10 years ago | (#9766373)

The GPL doesn't allow code modifiers to keep their code secret
Yes it does. The GPL only kicks in when you DISTRIBUTE your modifications. You can keep them in-house all you want. This is a pedantic reply, I know, but it's an important distinction to make.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766392)

Ever since 1984 or so if you distribute a binary; you have to distribute the source. Clearly that is what the grandparent poster was referring to.

Your pendantic post served no purpose, other than to be a karma-whoring jackass. :)

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

47PHA60 (444748) | about 10 years ago | (#9766427)

No, it was not clear what the parent post implied.

The replay was not merely pedantic; the distinction is relevant to any discussion of the GPL, because critics of the license state that it forces developers to involuntarily distribute their changes, which is not true.

Re:Bounces on the line and kicks up chalk... (1)

black mariah (654971) | about 10 years ago | (#9766497)

Exactly. And to the grandparent, check my recent posts. Karma isn't exactly important to me.

Sounds like some people never learn (1)

AnotherFreakboy (730662) | about 10 years ago | (#9766247)

They were only able to write the third party firmware because the source was made available to them under the GPL, why is it that they cannot comply with the terms then?

GPL (2, Insightful)

mfh (56) | about 10 years ago | (#9766248)

Say it isn't so!

The thread summary at DSLReports only makes it clear that this is all very complicated.

There's nothing complicated about this. It's all smoke.

Sveasoft can track the subscribers who redistribute their binaries by attaching some kind of tag to each firmware binary (as demonstrated by the different MD5 sums found so far). This makes sense, considering Sveasoft thought TheIndividual was someone else at first. Arno Nym has done some work to try to find what the unique identifier is. It is unknown wether this is allowed under the GPL.

This is not allowed under the GPL.

Neither subscribers nor non-subscribers have any right to future code Sveasoft has not yet released. It is "his" code, and he can choose not to distribute it. But once he does distribute it, wether publicly or privately to his subscribers, it is under the GPL and is free for *anyone* to redistribute.

Not true. If he made his code using a GPL base, it's not his property exclusively. Fruits of the tree become trees of the fruit.

Sveasoft has changed their minds about offering the source code as a free download, and now only offers it on a CD sent through the mail for a price of $50. This seems to be a violation of the GPL, but we need to hear back from the FSF about that.

Total violation. Off with their heads.

Sveasoft has accused several people of "pirating" the Sveasoft pre-release firmware and posting it online illegally, and has had websites shut down because of this. This is unbelievable considering Sveasoft says they allow this (see above).
Sveasoft is also ending the subscriptions (but refunding their money) of people who have posted their MD5 sums of the binaries. It says nowhere in the subscriber contract that they can't do this.
There have been a couple of nasty e-mail exchanges between forum members (TheIndividual, joakimsen) and Sveasoft. Sveasoft acts almost holier-than-thou (IQ 170) and seems to think the GPL doesn't apply to him [disclaimer: my personal opinion].
Sveasoft is now charging $50 for the source code, which is just rediculous considering it costs almost nothing to distribute it over the internet.


Now this reminds me of the SCO, but on a much smaller scale. Microcosm as Macrocosm, I guess.

People: don't use GPL code if you can't RTFM.

Actually (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 10 years ago | (#9766324)

Everything was fine, up until they tried to prevent peopel from redistributing code. Last I checked, you had to pay to get the binary AND the source code. Nothing in the GPL says you have to give out the source, or binary, for free. It says that if you give out a binary, you have to give out the source. So you are free to charge for your software, but the source had better be on the disk as well (or available on the web).

Where they cross the line is in trying to stop people from distributing modified version. Nope, sorry, can't do that. That's the "viral" part MS complains about. Even if your product costs money, someone is free to make their own version that does not for free, the GPL gaurentees that.

This is really the thing that commercial companies worry the most about. Source distribution, though generally not done, isn't a big threat to most of them. The threat is then that with that source people are allowed to make their own versions of the product for free.

However, as you said, if you can't deal with the GPL's rules, don't use GPL code. I have no sympathy. The redistribution part is real, real clear.

Re:Actually (2, Insightful)

mfarver (43681) | about 10 years ago | (#9766472)

Everything was fine, up until they tried to prevent peopel from redistributing code.

I do not see any evidence they are trying to prevent people from redistributing the code. The Seavsoft follks see to be upset about other sites that make the seavsoft binaries available without the source.

I just logged into seavsoft's site and as a paying licensee I can still download both the binaries and the source. Sveasoft is doing nothing wrong. as far as I can tell (and in fact already has a letter from the FSF blessing their business model).

The sites that have reposted the seavsoft binaries without offering source are violating the GPL... Now its probably not Sveasoft's place to go after these guys but OTOH the violators are trying really hard to piss off Sveasoft.

Sveasoft is using the GPL in a creative, but legal way. Put this way: if you pay them for a license you get access to prerelease binaries and sourcecode. You then have a choice of licenses: you can choose to continue to follow the Seavsoft license, which will get you access to future revs of the code, or you can redistribute under the terms of the GPL which results in termination of the Seavsoft license and access to future revs.

Mark

Re:GPL (2, Insightful)

dorlthed (700641) | about 10 years ago | (#9766348)

Sveasoft has changed their minds about offering the source code as a free download, and now only offers it on a CD sent through the mail for a price of $50. This seems to be a violation of the GPL, but we need to hear back from the FSF about that.

Total violation. Off with their heads.

What the fuck are you talking about? This is not even 'a little' violation. There's nothing in the GPL saying that you have to make the source code available through the cheapest way possible, or through the Internet. You are and always have been allowed to charge for the cost of procuring and making the source code available. It's just that they're allowed to redistribute it as well, for free if they want.

Maybe you're the one who needs to RTFM, before you make an accusatory post on Slashdot.

What "manual"? It won't stand up in court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766505)

Unless your criteria for a reliable accountant to provide expert testimony is "worked for Enron", this doesn't have a chance of standing up in court. And when it does not, Sveasoft will lose all rights granted by the GPL and their business will be up the shit creek.

But for just these reasons, our forthcoming RDBMS visual query building software will be released under a GPL incompatible license which requires as a condition for distribution of modified versions that the modifications be made available - at the option of the licensee - us, or the FSF, under the original license so long as either entity exists.

Re:GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766382)

This is not allowed under the GPL.

The GPL says nothing about distributing different binaries to each person. You just need to provide the source, including the tracking tag, on request.

Not true. If he made his code using a GPL base, it's not his property exclusively. Fruits of the tree become trees of the fruit.

That is true. He only needs to give the source to anyone that he gives the program to. If he doesn't give a program with the code in it to anyone, he doesn't have to give that source to anyone.

Total violation. Off with their heads.

The only problem is the amount charged for getting the source. The amount is supposed to be "for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution." $50 is definitely more than the cost of physically distributing the source.

In any case, if anybody has bought the source, then since that source is under the GPL they're free to redistribute it to anyone they want to for cost or less (such as free). Any attempts to stop people from redistributing GPL code is futile.

Oh, and yes you can pirate GPL code. If those pre-releases include code that was not distributed yet (basically, the code was somehow stolen from a private system), they are pirated. The undistributed code is not under the GPL yet. It still retains the full protection of copyright. If, on the other hand, the pre-releases come from distributed code, then tough cookies. Once it was distributed, it had to fall under the GPL.

Re:GPL (1, Insightful)

black mariah (654971) | about 10 years ago | (#9766413)

This is not allowed under the GPL.
Tracking who you sold the code to, and what they did with it, may be a bit unethical but it is in no way against the GPL.
Not true. If he made his code using a GPL base, it's not his property exclusively. Fruits of the tree become trees of the fruit.
But he's still right. Until you distribute your modifications, nobody has any right to them whatsoever. Read the GPL a few more times.
People: don't use GPL code if you can't RTFM.
Don't comment on the GPL unless you understand it. The only thing that Sveasoft is doing that is even a little bit out of sync with the GPL is the cost of the source, but even that isn't outlined in the GPL. After you get the source, you are free to do whatever you want with it. There is absolutely nothing here that violates either the letter or spirit of the GPL. It is a total lack of understanding of the GPL that makes you THINK there is a problem.

Re:GPL (2, Interesting)

Cecil (37810) | about 10 years ago | (#9766501)

After you get the source, you are free to do whatever you want with it.

Tell that to the people who have had their websites shut down for posting the source.

It is a total lack of understanding of the GPL that makes you THINK there is a problem.

It is a total lack of understanding of THIS CASE that makes YOU think there isn't a problem.

None (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766250)

FUCK THE GPL.

Re:None (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766376)

I saw YOUR MOM getting FUCKED BY A GNU!!!!

Is Sveasoft violating the GPL? (0, Redundant)

jgerry (14280) | about 10 years ago | (#9766251)

Certainly, almost probably 100% for sure. I think.

Its easy to charge and not violate (4, Informative)

taylortbb (759869) | about 10 years ago | (#9766252)

If you read the GPL closely you will notice that it says that in exchange for adding a warranty you can charge for the product, it does not require you to make a version without a waranty availible. This is both a strength and weakness of the GPL, its what I've always hated but its why its commercially viable.

Re:Its easy to charge and not violate (1)

liquidpele (663430) | about 10 years ago | (#9766329)

It's not that big a deal really.
NO matter what they charge, someone can get it and resell it cheeper (or even give it away) since it's legal to do so once they get the source.

They can charge $1000 for a warrenty if they want. Someone will pay it, and then pass it around though (just to spite them for charging $1000 probably)

Lawyers win (3, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | about 10 years ago | (#9766253)

There is no way out of this cycle. The lawyers will be getting rich, the "small" guys will still not have the $$$ to protect their GPL licenses in court, and the circle will continue, albeit viciously.

Many ways to get around GPL (2, Interesting)

Dozix007 (690662) | about 10 years ago | (#9766258)

There are sadly many ways to get around GPL. One being the method they use by offering to ship the source only. This can be done in many different shapes to get around anything. You simply charge an irrate fee for packaging, documentation, or something of the sort. There are a few liscences that will not allow this, sadly they are not widely used.

Re:Many ways to get around GPL (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 10 years ago | (#9766343)

Well, regardless of that being allowed, they clearly cannot stop redistribution. The GPL is painfully clear that that you MUST license your software under the GPL, it use GPL code. PArt of that is allowing people to redistribute their own versions, as you have done.

The GPL doesn't say you can't charge for your derivitive work, you can, and people do. It just says that if someone wants to make a derivitive of your derivitive, they must be allowed to do so, and you can't control that.

Re:Many ways to get around GPL (1)

bigberk (547360) | about 10 years ago | (#9766353)

There are sadly many ways to get around GPL ... You simply charge an irrate fee for packaging, documentation, or something of the sort.
My understanding is, the point of the GPL isn't that everything has to be a free download! Rather, that once you acquire a copy of the source, you are free to redistribute it -- post it anywhere you want, etc. Or modify it, etc.

Re:Many ways to get around GPL (1)

KimiDalamori (579444) | about 10 years ago | (#9766384)

Not really.

Think about it... Borrow a copy of the CD from some poor schmuck who bought it. Then post the code on the internet. It's legal, the GPL says so. Problem solved. Sheesh...if it was this easy to get around the GPL, You'd already be paying for SCO's next round of lawsuits.

Yes this is off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766433)

But use words you fucking understand. Jesus.
"irrate", better spelled "irate", pertains to anger. You're saying the fee is angry? How about "absurd" or "irrational" or "irritating" or one of a thousand other adjectives that don't personify the fee.
Oh yeah, and it's "licenses"
I certainly hope you don't have a high school degree or equivalent...

Re:Yes this is off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766459)

Settle down there pronto. Irate can be used to mean excessive, or out of the ordinary. You must use context when reading, and then you can understand the specific use of the word "irate". And why do you honestly care about spelling ? It is not as though this is a spelling-bee or contest, but merely a forum to display opinions. You understood well what was being conveyed, which was the entire point of th e comment.

GPL rules (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766262)

yeah

First post? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766264)

*GASP!* I'm first post _and_ anonymous!

Its not so complicated (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766268)

They're stealing.

Re:Its not so complicated (1)

wirelessbuzzers (552513) | about 10 years ago | (#9766496)

They're stealing.

No. They're infringing copyright. Theft is a criminal offense.

Not a violation (2, Insightful)

CptChipJew (301983) | about 10 years ago | (#9766269)

Nowhere in the GPL does it say they HAVE to offer their software as a free download on the Internet.

Furthermore, they are allowed to sell disc media based on "cost of materials". Yes 49.99 is a bit exorbitant, but well within their rights.

This is why I've always felt the GPL needs to either be replaced or improved. Downloads on the Internet ought to be a requirement, as all GPL'd software involves an advanced enough audience that knows how to download software.

Re:Not a violation (1)

black mariah (654971) | about 10 years ago | (#9766344)

Forcing people to put their software up for download is, oddly enough, a violation of the spirit of the GPL. You are not required to make your code publicly available, EVER. In fact, the only time you have to give anyone your code for any reason is when you distribute binaries, and you don't even have to do that for free.

MOD PENDANT POST DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766405)

PENDANT POST is WORSE THAN GOAT.CX!!!

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!

Sveasoft? (4, Funny)

JohnTheFisherman (225485) | about 10 years ago | (#9766270)

Isn't that a specific model of pillow at Ikea? :)

Easy.. (1)

vurg (639307) | about 10 years ago | (#9766273)

They'll just stop redistributing the modified code and turn their programmers into "consultants".

Are many of you in violation for downloading MP3s? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766275)

I can't hear you! IP laws work both ways, bitches! Of course, this will get modded down by hypocrites, but then again this is Slashdot.

Re:Are many of you in violation for downloading MP (1)

jb_02_98 (636753) | about 10 years ago | (#9766317)

I'm not. I usually use something like bittorrent and/or mutella to download ISO images. That appears to be legal (as long as the owners of the ISO files allow it.) Stereotypes are usually wrong.

A lot of companies now-a-days seem to have problems with letting out source code. The market has been moving to support services and away from actual software production except for the game market, so letting out the source code should become easier and easier as time passes. Also, as many have already mentioned, since the cd will be bought by a few and then mirrored all over the internet (which the GPL will allow) maybe we will all be able to download it for free anyway. I doubt that the company will be able to really make and profit off of this not-so-intelligent move.

Choose wifibox instead (4, Informative)

toupsie (88295) | about 10 years ago | (#9766278)

I run wifibox [sourceforge.net] instead of Sveasoft. Its GPL compliant and has SNMP. Hmmmm, pretty graphs [raxnet.net] .

what about the wap54g? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 10 years ago | (#9766432)

I run wifibox instead of Sveasoft

Okay, now that works for the WRT54G, the router version. What about the access point, are there any choices for that?

The GPL aint about money (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | about 10 years ago | (#9766281)

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

  • b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

Yes, you can choose to distribute using an ftp server, but how exactly does one go about recovering their distribution costs that way? By putting it on a CD and charging for snail mail at least you can break even on your distribution costs. Of course, why they don't just put the CD in the box with the router is beyond me.

Re:The GPL aint about money (1)

Erwos (553607) | about 10 years ago | (#9766449)

They could always claim the physical cost of distribution was $50 - after all, there's the handling charge!

But, if this went to court, no reasonable jury would believe an argument that it costs $50 to make and ship a CD. I mean, AOL does it for pennies, SveaSoft can do it for $10. It is SveaSoft's decision to decide how they want to distribute the source, though, so them not putting it up for download is fair game.

However, it seems to me that the bigger problem is that they're supposedly tagging the binaries they distribute. Unless SveaSoft is distributing the code to generate the tags as well, _that_ is absolutely against the GPL, as far as I can tell. The GPL specifies that you need to release all the source to the binaries.

There is a peripheral issue that SveaSoft is yanking subscriptions from people who distribute the binaries, but this is actually OK according to the GPL (so says the FSF). It _is_ against the spirit of the GPL.

So, the two real legal issues I see:
1. Tagging code, or lack thereof.
2. Outrageous source distribution charge.

-Erwos

Re:The GPL aint about money (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 10 years ago | (#9766468)

Except that when they distribute the object code to subscribers, it *IS* accompanied by the source code (another file available from the same server in the same directory). This satisifies section 3a of the GPL.

A distributor only has to satisify ONE of sections 3a, 3b, and 3c. Since Sveasoft satisfies section 3a, they are not required to satisfy section 3b, and 3b is the only section that requires that an offer be made to third parties.

Re:The GPL aint about money (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 10 years ago | (#9766494)

That's pretty cool, I'll have to remember that one.

Re:The GPL aint about money (1)

MrWa (144753) | about 10 years ago | (#9766491)

what shipping method are they using that costs $49 to ship a CD?!

OT but... (1)

NeoGeo64 (672698) | about 10 years ago | (#9766308)

I wonder if DSLreports can handle a slashdotting. I guess we're about to find out. I've Been going there for a few years and the site has always been up.

Check out the large increase of traffic here:

http://www.broadbandreports.com/stats/mrtg/eth0/et h0.html [dslreports.com]

Re:OT but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766396)

That looks like the standard nightly traffic increase to me. Nothing out of the ordinary from yesterday.

Re:OT but... (1)

xenocyst (618913) | about 10 years ago | (#9766473)

not even a real blip, no one read the summary ;)

spell checking (0, Offtopic)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | about 10 years ago | (#9766331)

...by not releasing their source for their Linux implentation...

seriously, does slashcode not have a spellcheck? it's not that hard, people. i hate to nitpick, but poor spelling, even that written by the most capable person, adds an air of incompetence.

/me hopes i didn't make too many spelling errors in the post

Re:spell checking (0, Offtopic)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 10 years ago | (#9766394)

poor spelling, even that written by the most capable person, adds an air of incompetence.
So does the inability to capitalize the first word in a sentence.

Re:spell checking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766456)

Move on.

i[sic] hate to nitpick, but poor spelling, even that written by the most capable person, adds an air of incompetence.

I hate to nitpick, but pointing out poor spelling, even that read by the least capable person, adds an air of arrogance.

Now, please mod both of us "-1 Off Topic"

Oh, and another thing... (0, Flamebait)

NeoGeo64 (672698) | about 10 years ago | (#9766360)

I'll probably get modded down as a troll for this...

Just because something is open source, doesn't mean it's free as in free beer. They're offering the source at a cost; you still have access to the source, just at a price. This doesn't violate the GPL license.

What's wrong is that you open-source hippies expect everything to be free and downloadable. Under the GPL, I could take the Linux kernel and re-write most of it and make my own OS and charge $699 (pun intended) for the software and source, which would be fine and dandy, because I'm still making the source available.

Of course, if you're Microsoft, just let the source code blow out of the window...

Re:Oh, and another thing... (1)

Billobob (532161) | about 10 years ago | (#9766380)

Yeah, and we all know that it the cost of distribution for each set of code is going to be $699...

Re:Oh, and another thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766410)

FINALLY ... someone with a morsel of common sense about them.

Read this.

Sveasoft RELEASES ITS SOURCE CODE!
Sveasoft RELEASES ITS SOURCE CODE!
Sveasoft RELEASES ITS SOURCE CODE!
Sveasoft RELEASES ITS SOURCE CODE!
Sveasoft RELEASES ITS SOURCE CODE!
Sveasoft RELEASES ITS SOURCE CODE!
Sveasoft RELEASES ITS SOURCE CODE!

Got it? They always have, and always will!

There is NOTHING in the GPL that says they have to provide (a) bandwith, (b) support, (c) media, or (d) shipping at no cost to anyone.

WTF do you people think Redhat is charging $$$ for?

Thanks, NeoGeo64 (672698), for not spouting more drivel!

Re:Oh, and another thing... (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 10 years ago | (#9766451)

They're offering the source at a cost; you still have access to the source, just at a price. This doesn't violate the GPL license.
Actually they provide the source code at no charge, to everyone that pays them $20/year for access to the binaries. Since the binaries are only provided to people who pay, and the source is provided to those people, they are under no obligation to make the source available to third parties (GPLv2 section 3a), though they cannot forbid those who receive the software from redistributing it.

And that's just for access to "prerelease" code. The official releases are available for no-charge download of both object and source code.

Re:Oh, and another thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766475)

They're offering the source at a cost; you still have access to the source, just at a price. This doesn't violate the GPL license.

You can sell your program for whatever you want, yes. BUT, if you sell someone a binary, you have to provide source (in a useable format) at no more than the cost of reproduction. He's charging $49 to give the source to people who have the binary. He could argue that that's the cost of reproduction, but he's lying. That's what they charge for a lot of commercial software (development and profit included). It doesn't cost that much to burn and mail a CD, so he's in violation.

The other part is that he's taking steps to prevent (or discourage) redistribution. That is also specifically against the GPL. He's making a living off of modifying and redistributing someone else's code, you'd think he'd understand that bit.

I wouldn't say it's a simple case that wouldn't require argument in court, but if it went the distance, he'd lose.

Sveasoft is a unique situation (4, Interesting)

oasisbob (460665) | about 10 years ago | (#9766362)

As the (amazed) owner of a Linksys WRT54G, I've been following this issue for a while, but not as closely as some other have, I'm sure. Here are my impressions.

Sveasoft is indeed walking the line of GPL compliance, but they're doing a good job at it. The firmware they produce is quickly adding features with very fast release cycles. They welcome community involvement with the firmware and accept new features and patches readily.

Because the firmware is being used by many people who don't use Linux normally, the GPL is new to most of them. Early posts in the Sveasoft forums confirm this, calling the original whistle-blowers "GPL whiners," as if people asking for GPL compliance were simply cheap. Little did they realize that Sveasoft is building on Linksys who built upon GPL software to begin with.

Why should Sveasoft get money for something which is mostly configuration and frontend polishes of what the original programmers created?

Because they do it really well. They provide the service which falls perfectly into a "profit for the service, not the product" business model. I use Linux heavily, but I'm really not interested in cross-compiling source code which could easily turn my $70 router into a brick. Yes, I can reflash it by cracking the case and setting up a tftp server -- but It's just not something I want to mess with. To me the $20 they ask for an annual subscription (including informal tech support) is worth it.

I would check out a sourceforge fork if it was created and developed, but I am skeptical that it could match the features of the Sveasoft firmware.

They've developed a good community, and I'm not too bothered that it's slightly off the beaten path of the normal Open Source development process.

Re:Sveasoft is a unique situation (2, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | about 10 years ago | (#9766452)

I used to work for a company that provided a customised Linux distro as part of our service offering. On a fairly regular basis, someone would start screaming in our forums when we wouldn't give them our source code for free. These people didn't read the GPL, which clearly states:

* that you can charge a fee for the transfer of the source,

* and that you only have to distribute the source with the binary.

Others, of course, can do what they wish with the source. So James seems to be skirting the intent, if not the letter, of the GPL by telling people that they can't redistribute the binaries.

--
Think ... or thwim

It is complicated (0, Redundant)

zaxios (776027) | about 10 years ago | (#9766390)

Regarding the charging-for-source thing, I don't think they're violating the GPL because they are actually making the source available. Granted, chutzpah to be charging $49 for it, but not in conflict with the GPL. But that's not the meat of the issue...

Sveasoft also states that if a subscriber redistributes pre-release firmwares, they will lose their subscription. Some people have argued that this goes against the GPL, but the FSF has decided this is *not* a violation.

The essential point is then that Sveasoft stopped people distributing source. And the question there is whether this "unreleased" source is GPL'd. One would expect that anything based on a GPL'd codebase would be GPL'd if made available officially or unofficially. In this case, pre-releases are available, and the distribution of pre-release source should be protected by the GPL. If we consider released pre-releases to be releases, then, Sveasoft's actions against those distributing pre-release source are illegal - but it's a complex 'if'.

OK. Here's the deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766411)

Sveasoft is publishing prerelease software, but only to subscriber channels. It costs $20/month to subscribe. Every prerelease is tagged for a unique md5 sum that maps to the subscriber. If the subscriber releases that binary and Sveasoft finds it, then his subscription is yanked. That subscriber is free to distribute whatever GPL'd works he wants, and Sveasoft is free to terminate his subscription. Nothing illegal or in violation of the GPL.

Re:OK. Here's the deal. (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 10 years ago | (#9766434)

It costs $20/month to subscribe.
$20/year, actually.

I've figured it out James Ewing is Derek Smart! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766412)

James Ewing is really Derek Smart!

Let's compare:

1) HUGE Ego - check

2) Marginal talent - check

3) extremely sensitive to criticism - check

4) greedy - check

Anyone check if he claims to have a PHD?

Seriously, this guy has got issues. He bans people on his boards, he keeps changing the rules on what he wants, he IS violating the GPL and he just seems to be an all-around greedy dick. I was just ready to give him the $20 because I got some cash and Satori 4.0 works pretty well for me but fuck that.

To quote from his Linux Journal article - "...thanks to the power of Linux and open-source development" - No James - thank you for being a freak! Seriously, the guy is cock and I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire at this point... I'm posting AC because I'm afraid this guy will come burn my house down...

NOT violating the GPL (3, Informative)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 10 years ago | (#9766415)

The essential point is then that Sveasoft stopped people distributing source.
But Sveasoft has NOT stopped people from distributing source. They sell a subscription. Anyone who buys the subscription gets the opportunity to download binaries and sources. As per the GPL, Sveasoft does NOT prevent redistribution of the source. However, they will terminate your subscription if you redistribute the source.

That policy does not conflict with the GPL in any way, because the GPL does not require Sveasoft to provide subscriptions.

Re:NOT violating the GPL (1)

zaxios (776027) | about 10 years ago | (#9766503)

But Sveasoft has NOT stopped people from distributing source.

Sveasoft are terminating the accounts of those that redistribute source. This seems like an attempt to prevent people redistributing source, which I understand to be illegal under the GPL (if you accept that the GPL is valid on pre-releases), where people are supposed to modify and redistribute.

Re:NOT violating the GPL (1)

ghunza (669642) | about 10 years ago | (#9766507)

That's a very good and subtle point. The conditions of your Sveasoft subscription are not _necessarily_ related to your 'right' to distribute the source.

Just because Sveasoft is responding to someone who redistributes their source code in a tit-for-tat fashion doesn't mean this source code distributer is being prevented (in a legal sense) from releasing the code.

Of course, another question is if pre-release software should even be covered by the GPL. It seems a fair enough assumption that if it isn't ready for general consumption (ie it hasn't be "released" yet) then one shouldn't expect an entitlement to give it away. Of course, you don't want software perpetually in beta or pre-release either. I imagine there must be some break point after which something can be considered a de-facto release.

Put another way, if you sent some modified, half finished code you were working (whose origins were under GPL) to some friends for comment, would you want it released to everyone? Probably not. You'd want their feedback and then an opportunity to fix it up and then release it when it's good and ready.

Stupid Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9766457)

Im sure this isnt possible but i would like to know why..

QT from troll tech is under the GPL, can I take the code and disribute / change it?. would businesses be able to use my version of QT for free?...

Just a question.

I sense tableware (2, Informative)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | about 10 years ago | (#9766467)

If Sveasoft wishes to restrict access to their software, then it might be a good idea for someone to stick a fork in the project. [registers Sfreeasoft.com]

Haha Slashdot Strikes Again (1)

blackula (584329) | about 10 years ago | (#9766480)

Is Sveasoft Violating the GPL? We don't know, but damned if we're not going to make baseless, leading statements implying that they are!

My take on all this: (1)

vyrus128 (747164) | about 10 years ago | (#9766498)

It's very unclear what's going on here, but I think the confusion seems to be deliberate on the part of SveaSoft. The impression I get is that it's one guy trying to lawyer himself an end-run around the GPL, without actually involving a lawyer. I've seen references made to dual-licensing, with one license being the GPL and the other allowing for a subscription (which is terminated as soon as rights under the GPL are exercised). While that may be legal, it seems rather dubious.
In any case, it seem that SveaSoft is claiming to use the GPL, but trying to make life difficult for people who redistribute or ask for source. IMNSHO, that's just plain bad faith. Also, whatever legal mumbo-jumbo they may invoke is very questionable since I can't find a way to see their licensing terms without giving them my money first!

Not too friendly Sveasoft (0, Flamebait)

alephdelta (623512) | about 10 years ago | (#9766502)

1) If Sveasoft know that you are redistributing their "limited" firmware they kick you off and cancel your account.
2) If you make public in their forums that someone else was kicked off, then you get kicked off to and your post deleted.
3) You may not say good things about companies that Sveasoft people dont like. Or you get kicked off. And your post deleted.
4) If you complain about this or that firmware breking your router and tell them that you are writing a better one in base of a Satori/Samadhi/Alchemy or what else... gues what?, you get kicked off and your post deleted.

I think this f*king bastar*ds are becoming rich and they are violating the GPL when not releasing the source code and punishing good fella customers that reveal or redistribute firmware.

Man, they are more greedy than RIAA!!

I want to see the thay when Fedora guys send a hitman because of me duplicating the CD's go give them to my friends.

Remember, even though it is a firmware, it is just another Distro. It's linux, it has the freedom in its soul.

(Uhmm... hear that, i think it is a Hitman sended by Sveasoft).

PS: I will inform you if i get kicked off.
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