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444 comments

Its not such a big deal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497632)

As a consultant for several large companies, I'd always done my work on
Windows. Recently however, a top online investment firm asked us to do
some work using Linux. The concept of having access to source code was
very appealing to us, as we'd be able to modify the kernel to meet our
exacting standards which we're unable to do with Microsoft's products.

Although we met several technical challenges along the way
(specifically, Linux's lack of Token Ring support and the fact that we
were unable to defrag its ext2 file system), all in all the process
went smoothly. Everyone was very pleased with Linux, and we were
considering using it for a great deal of future internal projects.

So you can imagine our suprise when we were informed by a lawyer that
we would be required to publish our source code for others to use. It
was brought to our attention that Linux is copyrighted under something
called the GPL, or the Gnu Protective License. Part of this license
states that any changes to the kernel are to be made freely available.
Unfortunately for us, this meant that the great deal of time and money
we spent "touching up" Linux to work for this investment firm would
now be available at no cost to our competitors.

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any
products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to
its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

Although we had planned for no one outside of this company to ever
use, let alone see the source code, we were now put in a difficult
position. We could either give away our hard work, or come up with
another solution. Although it was tought to do, there really was no
option: We had to rewrite the code, from scratch, for Windows 2000.

I think the biggest thing keeping Linux from being truly competitive
with Microsoft is this GPL. Its draconian requirements virtually
guarentee that no business will ever be able to use it. After my
experience with Linux, I won't be recommending it to any of my
associates. I may reconsider if Linux switches its license to
something a little more fair, such as Microsoft's "Shared Source".
Until then its attempts to socialize the software market will insure
it remains only a bit player.

Thank you for your time.

Re:Its not such a big deal (0, Offtopic)

sp3tt (856121) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497674)

Sir, to put it lightly: YOU ARE A FUCKING IDIOT.

That lawyer set you up. There is no such thing in The GNU General PUBLIC License. If you change the product AND distribute the changes, you have to make it GPL or a compatible license.

Tools compiled with gcc have to be GPL'd? Who the fuck told you that? The boss of Microsoft's FUD department?

Get some facts.

YHBT ... YHL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497683)

HAND

FREAKIN' LOAL DUDES!!!!

Re:Its not such a big deal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497690)

YHBT. YHNL. HAND.

Re:Its not such a big deal (4, Informative)

Laurentiu (830504) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497706)

You, sir, are a troll. From the horse's (or, more appropriately, goat's) mouth [fsf.org] (aka the GPL FAQ):

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

Q: Does the GPL allow me to charge a fee for downloading the program from my site?
Yes. You can charge any fee you wish for distributing a copy of the program. If you distribute binaries by download, you must provide "equivalent access" to download the source--therefore, the fee to download source may not be greater than the fee to download the binary.

Does the GPL allow me to develop a modified version under a nondisclosure agreement?
Yes. For instance, you can accept a contract to develop changes and agree not to release your changes until the client says ok. This is permitted because in this case no GPL-covered code is being distributed under an NDA.
You can also release your changes to the client under the GPL, but agree not to release them to anyone else unless the client says ok. In this case, too, no GPL-covered code is being distributed under an NDA, or under any additional restrictions.
The GPL would give the client the right to redistribute your version. In this scenario, the client will probably choose not to exercise that right, but does have the right.

Re:Its not such a big deal (4, Informative)

justforaday (560408) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497759)

While your answer is correct, you don't seem to have addressed the OP's (OT's?) argument, which is that he's supposedly required to release the source code including his changes. This is only true if they were selling their modified versions to other people. Since they were in no way (that was mentioned) selling compiled binaries or modified versions of anything, they are under no obligation to publish those changes.

In short, feel free to do whatever you want with GPL'd code in house, just be sure you're ready to give all those changes back to the community if you decide to sell the product you made with it.

Re:Its not such a big deal (0)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497803)

he doesn't have to give changes to the community, only to the clients he distributes to. Selling has nothing to do with it.

Re:Its not such a big deal (0)

willgott (765108) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497793)

Don't waste your breath. The grandfather of this article is indeed a troll, albeit disguised. I have seen this post on several occasions here on slashdot. It's a simple cut-n-paste from a troll-text repository designed to provoce.

Re:Its not such a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497807)

However, there are always new folks reading who may not know this, and it's good to provide the correct information for their sake.

Re:Its not such a big deal (3, Interesting)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497854)

Some clarification. Many of the questions you selected apply to programs a potential GPL product's author is creating, rather than programs being modified by a GPL licensee. Based on some of the other FAQs, they're in trouble 1) for releasing binaries without an offer of the source code and 2) for distributing derivative binaries with a non-GPL license.

Does the GPL require that source code of modified versions be posted to the public?

The GPL does not require you to release your modified version. You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization. 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. Thus, the GPL gives permission to release the modified program in certain ways, and not in other ways; but the decision of whether to release it is up to you.

What does this "written offer valid for any third party" mean? Does that mean everyone in the world can get the source to any GPL'ed program no matter what?

"Valid for any third party" means that anyone who has the offer is entitled to take you up on it. If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive copies of the source code, along with the written offer. The reason we require the offer to be valid for any third party is so that people who receive the binaries indirectly in that way can order the source code from you.

The GPL says that modified versions, if released, must be "licensed ... to all third parties." Who are these third parties? ,p> Section 2 says that modified versions you distribute must be licensed to all third parties under the GPL. "All third parties" means absolutely everyone--but this does not require you to *do* anything physically for them. It only means they have a license from you, under the GPL, for your version.

Re:Its not such a big deal (2, Insightful)

McGruff (37593) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497757)

So, you don't want to allow others to see your stuff, but you want all the advantages of simply taking what they produce and do not want to follow the condition the many authors of the work ask? Very interesting. Now Microsoft will in fact let you have the source code. Citrix recompiled NT to make a very successful product. Microsoft only asks for money in return. That is there condition, that and you can't distribute the source. Oh, and a couple other things, hardly worth mentioning.

If you really want to use a freely available operating system but don't want to redistribute the source, look into a BSD licensed OS. I prefer OpenBSD myself but FreeBSD, NetBSD, Dragonfly and heck 4.4 lite are all sitting out there and are just waiting to be used. You may have heard of some of the smaller companies that use BSD code in their products; MSFT and Apple come to mind.

Everyone has some sort of restriction to what you can do with their stuff. While I don't believe your lawyer is correct with the gcc thing, directly modifying GPL code requires you to do X Y and Z. Z in this case is make your changes available so others can build on your nifty tool. Tivo releases some of their source, uses some LGPL code and simply has stuff they can't or are unwilling to release in their own complete binaries. Go figure, there are ways even if you can't use GPLed code directly with your stuff.

You really need to get a better grasp on the work that you do. I mean, it is not like you were shocked SHOCKED I say when Microsoft asked for money with their product were you? Linus, RMS and the rest just want their fair compensation too, just not in money.

Although the gcc thing sounds like garbage to me I will say theGPL font thing really needs to be hashed out for GPL3. I assume it will be.

I hate it when I feed trolls.

Re:Its not such a big deal (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497841)

Maybe you should have gotten better lawyers ;-)

Part of this license states that any changes to the kernel are to be made freely available.

This is not completely true. You are only required to give the modified source to people to whom you give the modified kernel, at no additional cost. Of course they have the right to distribute it further.

For internal projects (where you don't distribute binaries at all), this means that you don't have any obligations at all. Only if you distribute the compiled code, you have to distribute the source along with it.

But of course, if you base your business on distributing binaries based on secret proprietary changes of existing code, then GPLed code isn't for you.

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to
its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

And this one is completely wrong. There are absolutely no requirements on code compiled by gcc or other GPLed compiler, except if that requirement comes from elsewhere (if you link a GPLed library, compiling with gcc will of course not void the requirements from that). Moreover the libraries which come with GCC have an explicit exception so that linking to them (which is more or less unavoidable) will not cause your code to be covered by the GPL).

Although it was tought to do, there really was no
option: We had to rewrite the code, from scratch, for Windows 2000.

Why didn't you just use some BSD variant? This would have given you all you wanted: Ability to freely modify the source code, and the ability to distribute the resulting binary code without passing on the source modifications. Moreover, being also an Unix-workalike, you probably wouldn't even have had to rewrite most of your code from scratch (of course those parts dealing directly with the kernel would have to be rewritten anyway).

You know, there's more in the Open Source world than GPL and Linux. Sometimes you can have your cake (keep your changes for yourself) and eat it, too (get source code for free, with the right to modify as you please).

BTW, it's just silly to base development on some code before checking the license. You cannot blame the GPL for not making your homework of actually examining it. I hope for you that you didn't make the same error again, and this time asked your lawyers about the details of (now Microsoft's) license in advance.

I may reconsider if Linux switches its license to something a little more fair, such as Microsoft's "Shared Source".

So what exactly is unfair with the GPL? It didn't fit your business model, that's all. And what's more fair on MS's "Shared Source"? I don't think I'd be able to freely distribute modified versions of it in source form, so I could as well consider it unfair that I may not just distribute my own work based on it freely. If you want something with no strings attached, go BSD.

Frist psot!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497637)

in honour of anul secks!!!

yay

fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497638)

fp???

Hmmm... (-1, Offtopic)

Stu L Tissimus (873928) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497639)

This should certainly be an interesting read. I guess I have something to do during history class now, thanks! :D

Re:Hmmm... (0, Offtopic)

dawnread (851254) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497669)

This should certainly be an interesting read. I guess I have something to do during history class now, thanks! :D

I think this gives an effective proof of just *how* boring history class is ;).

Linux users are just as guilty (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497647)

The Linux community likes to hide behind the mantra of free and open
software for all and as such has the twisted mindset that all software
should be free for everyone. This should come as no surprise seeing
that the Linux community seems to take pride in stealing anything they
can get their hands on and breaking laws designed to protect IP at the
same time.

Linux users have been advocating downloading Microsoft True Type Fonts
for years mostly because their own fonts and font system in general
has been so horrific that Linux screen fonts in most stock installs
are almost unreadable. Of course they will claim that Linux fonts are
great but if that were really the case why is the internet clogged
with Linux Font DeUglification documents written by Linux users?

They even have documents that give a step by step procedure for
stealing the Microsoft fonts and installing them on Linux systems!
Notice in particular the instructions for the Tahoma font.

http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/mini/FDU/truetype.html [tldp.org]
http://corefonts.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Next we have Linux users violating the EULA for the X-Box and
tinkering with it so that it can run Linux.
Why on earth any sane person would want to take a bitching game
machine like X-box and ruin it by installing Linux is a mystery to me.

http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net/index.php [sourceforge.net]

http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net/faq.php [sourceforge.net]

Pay particular attention to the question about it being illegal and
how they avoid answering the question.

They are also doing the same thing with Sony Play station as well.

http://playstation2-linux.com/faq.php [playstation2-linux.com]

None of this is going to hold up in a court of law and the Linux
people who are leading these projects are looking for some serious
trouble should Microsoft and Sony decide to pursue this matter.

Finally we have the suit filed by SCO which claims that the Linux
community at large has incorporated stolen code into it's open source
programs.

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,936269,00.asp [eweek.com]

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Linux
movement from the day Linux wrote the kernel.

The Linux community has proven themselves to be a fight to the end,
steal whatever can be stolen from big business because it is big
business that is killing Linux.

The Linux community has absolutely no respect for the property of
others and will resort to any type of clandestine tactics to steal
whatever isn't cemented down all in the good name of Linux.

So if you are thinking of betting your business on Linux software, you
had better think it over carefully, because if SCO should win, Linux
will be out of business.
And if SCO should lose, do you really think it is wise to bet your
entire business on software that is supported by a community that
promotes stealing and in fact is full of thieves?

Food for thought.

Haven't we looked at this before? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497655)

I thought it turned out that they were following the GPL by providing source.

The source may have been provided in a locked filing cabinet inside a disused toilet with a sign on the door saying "beward of the leopard", but it was made available.

I'm intrigued by this offer. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497665)

I've been looking into aquiring a shit covered leopard. Where might I find this toilet?

Re:I'm intrigued by this offer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497716)

Watch Trainspotting. It was roughly the third scene. Watching a human being splash through his own filth for drugs (refined filth) was more than I could handle, nearly as horrifying as the current political scene in America.
Maybe, at the end of my life, when all else is done, I can go back and pick up the balance of that film.

Re:I'm intrigued by this offer. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497812)

I've been looking into aquiring a shit covered leopard.

Perhaps you need to look up the definition of the word disused?

Re:I'm intrigued by this offer. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497876)

I wan't aware that disused implied clean.

Re:I'm intrigued by this offer. (1, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497924)

In the basement of the town hall. Be cautious, there is no stairs and the light is out.

Re:Haven't we looked at this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497709)

Even if they provide source, they're claiming that they wrote it all -- which is a breach of copyright, plain and simple.

Re:Haven't we looked at this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497751)

Maybe so, but that's not part of the terms of the GPL. If they are following the terms, then allegations that they are not could be considered libelous.

Re:Haven't we looked at this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497761)

The terms of the GPL require attribution. If you provide code and no attribution then you are violating the GPL.

Re:Haven't we looked at this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497765)

Unless he went through the documentation and removed any attribution, then the chances are he's attributing.

interesting read (3, Interesting)

justforaday (560408) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497666)

I believe Arben. He just seems like such a trustworthy, honest person.

Just kidding obviously. I read through this last night (skipped a few parts here and there), but wow, talk about talking out your asshole! I can't wait to see if Maui X-Stream launches any lawsuits against drunkenbatman (or anyone else). Should be entertainment on the level of the SCO fiasco if it happens.

Re:interesting read (2, Insightful)

PeeweeJD (623974) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497961)

I also read it at lunch time yesterday (actually during and after lunch time but don't tell my boss).

I hope like hell this guy doesnt get his ass sued off. If what he says is true, he didn't do anything wrong. I like reading his blog so it would be a shame for him to be sued into oblivion.

And I also hope that something good comes out of it for him and all the projects these maui xtream guy ripped off. If that video streaming crap is true and they are selling it for $10,000 a pop, maybe there is some money to be had for some very worthy OSS projects.

Re:interesting read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12498008)

> selling it for $10,000 a pop, maybe there is some money to be had for some very worthy OSS projects.

Haven't worked w/ MBA's nor lawyers, have you?

What do you expect? (3, Interesting)

gmaestro (316742) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497680)

This smacks of that Phantom/HardOCP thing. As long as their lawsuit is "pending" or they're persuing "legal options," their customers (are there any? ok, fine, potential customers) will think this guy is lying. They're just trying to put off the unavoidable death of their pathetic company.

overwhelming evidence! Great article! (3, Informative)

xiando (770382) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497714)

This was a unusually well written, well-based article with a lot of good facts. The proof is overwhelming and is clearly accurate. Maui X-Stream, Inc. really got their pants pulled down like they deserve.

Re:overwhelming evidence! Great article! (4, Interesting)

harrkev (623093) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497829)

True, but it takes a judge to administer the paddle once your pants are down.

The people in charge of the groups that own the code should get together and give permission for something like FSF to pursue this case in court (FSF has a few lawyers, I believe), and FSF gets to keep any money won in the suit. This appears to be an open-and-shut case. X-Stream gets shut down, FSF can try to get a lot of money from them, and the general public gets the source code to this nice (if stolen) software. Sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

The problem is the penalty (4, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497719)

That's why this keeps happening.

If I do this, and get caught...so what? What's the penalty? Exactly who is going to prosecute?

What if this CEO came right out and said "Yup, copied the whole damn thing from Sourceforge. What are you going to do about it?" What happens next?

PS: Not trolling, genuinely curious. All the focus seems to be on "Is the GPL enforcable", not "Who shall enforce it". And IMHO, both are important.

Re:The problem is the penalty (2, Interesting)

Dehumanizer (31435) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497735)

Nothing but the GPL allows usage or distribution of a GPL'ed program, so a GPL violation is a standard copyright violation - exactly like one concerning proprietary software.

Re:The problem is the penalty (2, Insightful)

dawnread (851254) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497772)

Yes but the point is with propretary software someone will sue and put money behind it.

It's like in the 'real world' - if there are laws that no-one enforces, people just ignore them.

Re:The problem is the penalty (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497811)

Which is really the point of this whole exercise.
When awareness is raised, and people support the 'right' thing, and shun the 'ronngg', then we can spend more time enjoying life, and less time feeding the sharks.

Re:The problem is the penalty (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497789)

I've violated copyrights dozens of times. I don't see any bars around me, and don't remember any fines I had to pay. It may be against the law, but without anyone actively enforcing it, we can get away with breaking it. That's the point the GP post makes.

Re:The problem is the penalty (1)

burris (122191) | more than 8 years ago | (#12498024)

Nonsense, a license is only needed to make copies. No license is necessary to use a legitimate copy of software.

Re:The problem is the penalty (5, Informative)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497784)

This has happened multiple times, and the infringing company usually ends up posting the source.

The original MPlayer devellopers wanted to dual license MPlayer because they felt exactly the way you do after the MPlayer vs Kiss debacle. When it was discovered that Kiss had stolen GPL'ed code from MPlayer, they first flat out denied it, they even went as far as to imply that MPlayer had somehow stolen code from a KISS DVD-player. But in the end Kiss where forced to comply [kiss-technology.com] with the GPL and offer source downloads.

Re:The problem is the penalty (5, Informative)

hacker (14635) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497840)

"PS: Not trolling, genuinely curious. All the focus seems to be on "Is the GPL enforcable", not "Who shall enforce it". And IMHO, both are important."

Its simple. Once violated, your rights to continue to use the GPL are revoked. This means every copy you allow to be downloaded, sold, or given away is now a US Copyright Violation, subject to $20k to $200k in penalties per-copy. Its easier to enforce if they filed their copyright with the US Copyright office (we did to fight just the same thing).

Most GPL violations settle out of court because the costs associated with going to court are enormous. Its hard to assess "damages" against a GPL project where the code is given away, copied, shared, downloaded, etc. for free.

In some cases, if the project taken by a commercial entity is used to "compete" with the free version (i.e. they claim they wrote it), it is also a "Lanhan Act" violation, or "False designation of origin".

It gets really ugly when the GPL is violated, but the good thing is that once violated, the GPL is no longer even an issue, its a clear-cut US Copyright violation.

Re:The problem is the penalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497981)

It gets really ugly when the GPL is violated, but the good thing is that once violated, the GPL is no longer even an issue, its a clear-cut US Copyright violation. And for non-US people this would mean...?

Re:The problem is the penalty (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497855)

This is the thing - the GPL basically has no teeth. Who is going to stop CherryOS? Is Linux Torvalds going to dress in traditional Viking battle gear and bash down their front door?

I don't think so.

Re:The problem is the penalty (0)

emidln (806452) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497878)

You know, I have a lot of respect for the man, but if he did that, he would replace my deity.

Re:The problem is the penalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497885)

There's an interesing part to this as well. Both products seem to have been created by an offshore outsourcing company. If they claim that they've never seen the source to it, then it makes it a bit more tricky.

They can also claim the source was 'lost'.

eMule, eMule+, MetaCafe and the GPL (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497726)

GPL violations seem to be getting more and more common. Take for instance eMule, where an eMule+ developer is knowingly breaking the GPL while working for a proprietary company called MetaCafe:
http://forum.emule-project.net/index.php?showtopic =72668 [emule-project.net] (login probably required)
http://forums.metacafe.com/viewtopic.php?t=139 [metacafe.com]

The worst part is probably that the eMule+ folks, who forked the eMule codebase and should be well aware of how the GPL works, are directly contributing to this violation.

But this is a problem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497733)

Our company was considering using open source tools and applications as part of the suite we develelop. The beancounters were intrigued by the idea that we could use huge swathes of exisiting code with our own, and charge for support and customisation, but felt it was worth an experiment.

But then our boss did some more research, lurking on the community boards for free software. He was shocked by the attitude and venom caused when users noticed someone infringing the GPL. Most of the time the people who wrote the code weren't even involved in the discussion. He realised that if we made the slightest mistake under the terms of the GPL, even if it was only a perceived mistake, we'd have to spend the next 10 moonths dealing with these people. He canned the project immediately.

Stop the hysteria, people. You're harming open source!

Re:But this is a problem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497806)

In the same way that he got rid of all Microsoft products after finding out how the BSA will (with the help of armed police officers) raid the place looking for un-accounted-for copies of Microsoft products (or other big manuracturers products), on suspicion (even after an anonymous tip) that some copies are not paid for?

Re:But this is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497826)

We're a Unix shop. Don't use a lot of Microsoft products. Any letters from the BSA would go to legal for them to deal with.

Re:But this is a problem (3, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497827)

He realised that if we made the slightest mistake under the terms of the GPL,

If you use GPL code, admit it, and release it.
It's pretty simple, there is no reason to make mistakes.

You're harming open source!
I prefer the term helping.
If people who don't want to follow the intent of the GPL are scared to use it GOOD.
We don't need to waste time and energy enforcing the GPL. Better to have those who would violate it not bother from the start. It's better for us, it's better for them.

Re:But this is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497846)

If you use GPL code, admit it, and release it.

And if we're not but someone thinks we are?

If people who don't want to follow the intent of the GPL are scared to use it GOOD.

We do. We also want to follow the intent of all our other licences, some of which are incompatible. If someone claimed our heuristic optimisation software contained portions of GCC, what could we do? It does't but we can't prove it. We can't release the source because it uses third party code under a licence that does not allow this.

Re:But this is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497917)

And if we're not but someone thinks we are?

Let me get this straight: you avoid using GPLed code because if you don't use GPLed code, somebody might think that you are, and you'd get bad publicity? That makes no sense whatsoever.

If someone claimed our heuristic optimisation software contained portions of GCC, what could we do?

What's stopping somebody from claiming that right now, without you having used GPL software?

You know, there's this thing called common sense. A lot of people have it. When somebody says "they are illegally using GPLed code", that common sense will expect a little something called proof.

If somebody claims you are using code that you aren't, the response to that is very simple - ask them to give evidence.

Re:But this is a problem (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497982)

What's stopping somebody from claiming that right now, without you having used GPL software?

Nopthing at all. But there's no reason for them to consider that we might be. If we start releasing the source to some of our software, people will ask what we're hiding.

You know, there's this thing called common sense. A lot of people have it. When somebody says "they are illegally using GPLed code", that common sense will expect a little something called proof.

Common sense... Interesting. I'll suggest this to the braying mod of zealots who are screaming "release the source" to code they have no right to.

Re:But this is a problem (2, Insightful)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497837)

your boss is an ass hat

it's *very* simple to have an ftp server with the source code

it's very simple to use CVS to host your project on source forge

so, we'll keep shouting, thank you very much, we don't need no stinkin' favours

Re:But this is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497870)

It's not easy to provide source code that we have no right to distribute. We're keeping away from it as much as possible jsut to avoid any allegations. False allegations are just as damaging, and we can live without that shit.

Why would we need to use an FTP server? We're not going to give the software away. We charge people to set it up and configure it. If we used GPL code, we'd simply include the source on the hard drive or on a CD.

Re:But this is a problem (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#12498019)

"Why would we need to use an FTP server? [...] If we used GPL code, we'd simply include the source on the hard drive or on a CD."

Then instead of posting the URL _if_ someone flames you about GPL, you post something like "The sources are in the 'sources' directory on the CD." Problem solved, and it didn't take 10 months.

Heh (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497910)

"our boss did some more research, lurking on the community boards for free software. He was shocked by the attitude and venom caused when users noticed someone infringing the GPL. Most of the time the people who wrote the code weren't even involved in the discussion. He realised that if we made the slightest mistake under the terms of the GPL, even if it was only a perceived mistake, we'd have to spend the next 10 moonths dealing with these people."

So lemme get this straight: he actually _plans_ to break copyright law, and is shocked that people would not take to it kindly?

Would he prefer the way the BSA treats copyright violations with other software? Yeah, I don't think those would post flames on a board. They'd just show up for an audit and sue his pants off. Very professionally and without any flaming or venom involved.

Also it seems to me like there aren't many ways to make just "the slightest mistake" or "only a perceived mistake" under the GPL. Either you publish your own source code under GPL too, or you don't. I don't think it's possible to get flamed or "spend the next 10 months dealing with these people" if you did publish your code.

And if someone did post a bullshit thread, you just point them to the FTP or HTTP URL where they can get the code, and that's the end of it there and then. Hardly takes 10 months to cut and paste an URL.

It seems to me like all the flames I've seen so far on this subject were on stuff that was a _very_ clear case of GPL violation. I.e., people who hadn't released any code, and/or outright lied about using GPLed code at all. There's nothing "slight" or "perceived" about it.

So your boss's problem is...? Was he planning to be in that category, or? Lemme guess... He wanted to just "slightly", "mistakenly" forget to comply with the GPL, right? I.e., again, copyright law violation.

"Stop the hysteria, people. You're harming open source!"

I'm not even too pro-open source, yet I fail to see how this is harming anything. That it stops some people from breaking the license? I hardly consider _that_ to be any harm.

Look, as I've said before, I'm not even really pro-GPL, but like any other license it's a case of "take it or leave it". You get someone's code, there is a license to observe and a price to pay for it. In this case, the price is _your_ code. If you can't pay the price, don't use the product. It's that simple.

It's not even about GPL. I think the same about any other software and any other license. And especially for people making a living from software, I find it _lame_ when then they go and steal someone else's software. Whether it's by working with pirated copies of Visual Studio or breaking the GPL, I find it inherently abhorrent that someone would show so little respect for the very field they work in.

So again, the damage is...? That it caused someone to think twice about theft? I hardly think that stopping theft ammounts to causing harm.

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497948)

So lemme get this straight: he actually _plans_ to break copyright law, and is shocked that people would not take to it kindly?

No. He plans to use both GPL and non GPL software and only wants to provide source for the GPL software. Some GPL fans can be overzealous about these things and may accuse us of using GPL code in closed applications.

So you're totally missing the point. He doesn't want the GPL obsessives to pressure him to release code that he has no obligation to release.

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12498004)

The funny thing is all these arguments kind of prove his point. Nobody is acutally reading what you said in the first place, only that "you need to open all your source".

Re:But this is a problem (3, Insightful)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497965)

Strange, I can't imagine the "community" reacting very strongly when a company that openly and honestly uses GPL code and makes a best effort to comply with the licence slips up. "Of course we use xxxx code, it's right there in our documentation. We thought we were complying with the licence, but give us a few days to review this and if we made a mistake, we'll correct it as soon as possible."

It's these companies that sneak around like weenie-waggers and wave their cartoonie lawyers instead when they get caught that get the flames.

Re:But this is a problem (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497979)

A shame you're posting as AC, but I suspect you had to in this case.

Interestingly, this is why I put my source out under the BSD licence, because I know that I quite often need (and use) equivilantly licenced source, two such examples are Henry Spencers' regex lib and the SQLite engine.... do onto others what you expect others to do onto you.

Re:But this is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497996)

My real name can't be traced from my user name. I just find objecting to the GPL can cause a karma hit.

Harming OSS by making your boss respect licences ? (1)

file-exists-p (681756) | more than 8 years ago | (#12498012)


So what you call "harming OSS" is to make Mr. Corporate understand that if he messes with OSS licence he will be in trouble ?

It is pretty amusing to see (often) comments of that kind which basically state that OSS has to be used in closed software to reach another level of success. This is first grade bullshit.

--
Go Debian!

cherryOS (1)

deego (587575) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497741)

Wow, These cherryOS guys have no shame. They turn up everywhere with their GPL violatons and lawyer threats.

I hope trghat a big party, say FSF, gets involved and sues them bad once and for all.

Join in the supposed slander and libel (4, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497749)

If they want to sue this man for slander , well then they can also sue me for libel. From what i have just read it is fairly aparent that the *cough* makers*cough*/gpl-violaters of chery OS have done it again and are trying to abuse the gpl once more .

To MXS
To me your company (MXS) is nothing but a bunch of liers and plagerists .Anyone buying your products should realise this and realise that they are funding an organisation with no ethics and a dubious reputation .
If i am wrong and your honest(which i doubt) then i apoligise but from what ive seen today just shows more evidence that you should be taken to court for this .

Your Sincerly
Fidel-catsro(A.K.A G.T.K) .....
If they want to take Drunkenbatman to court then i say we all join in and acuse them and see who far they get trying to take us all to court .
I havn't had time to fully read overevery last bit of his findings (fairly lengthy read and rather well done) but from what i have seen it looks like they didn't learn the first time.

Re:Join in the supposed slander and libel (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497903)

Fidel, you're such a tease; how are they going to convict you in a Cuban court, much less extract you from the Buena Vista Social Club?

Re:Join in the supposed slander and libel (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497920)

Perhaps i should be quiet i dont fancy another "Bya of Pgis" invasion by a bunch of angry Plagerists(MXS Are plagerists..)

Re:Join in the supposed slander and libel (1, Funny)

harrkev (623093) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497939)

That is what the Copyright Commandos are for. They are a special branch of the military.

In the immortal words of Bill Lawry... (4, Funny)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497752)

Got him, yes, piss off, you're out!

Re:In the immortal words of Bill Lawry... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497760)

Australians will immediately moderate this as funny... otherwise, it's just not cricket!

Re:In the immortal words of Bill Lawry... (0)

Bigthecat (678093) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497888)

Jesus, a 12th Man quote on Slashdot moderated so quickly... *sniff* I'm so proud!

Legal Shmotice (4, Funny)

rakolam (138019) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497756)

Dear drunkenbatman:

It has come to my attention that you have acknowledged the giant pink elephant in the room. As you neither asked for nor received permission to acknowledge my client's said pink elephant nor to publish any information describing or defining said pink elephant, I believe you have willfully infringed my client's rights under 17 B.S. Section 1 and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $99,(many zeros) as set forth in Section 1234 therein.

I demand that you immediately cease acknowledging the pink elephant and that you deliver to me, if applicable all pictures, descriptions, and big steaming turds you have unlawfully made notice of.

If I have not received an affirmative response from you by 1 second prior to you reading this, indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, I shall take further action against you.

Very truly yours,
Arden & Jim

MXS = Stupid (3, Insightful)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497762)

This whole subterfuge around CherryOS never was needed. If MXS understood the GPL, they CAN sell the code along with some NON-GPL'd code. That's perfectly legal. What isn't is what they did. They DID not distribute the code. They completely did where they got it from (and not that well) and never acknowledged the PearPC project at all. The fact that he's closing down proves he just doesn't understand. All he had to do was release source. THAT'S IT! End of story. He had to release the PearPC code and any modifications he made to the GPL'd parts. He could have still had his front end be closed.

Re:MXS = Stupid (1)

bw5353 (775333) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497817)

You are right in that they could have sold the product releasing the source code and giving credit.

However, from a marketing point of view it is probably not that clever to go out and say; "Buy our great product for a lot of money. By the way, it is almost identical to this other thing that you can download for absolutely free from another website."

Re:MXS = Stupid (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497956)

If you can't market it, its not the fault of the original author -- it just means you have no business plan.

I'm tired of hearing about these "poor companies" who can't market their software legally. If you can't sell it, don't cry to me, move on and write something you *can* sell.

If you can't figure out how to make money selling software, change industries.

Besides, all they have to do is provide download links for the sources they used from their own site to those customers they sell the binaries to.

They don't need to "publish" where to get it, or anything besides making a link available to the GPL. Its not hard to be in compliance.

Commercial software pirates (5, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497785)

Open source is so good so many companies claim it as their own in their products without credit. How tough is it to say "Built on Open Source with credits to...."? I know of dozens of "appliance like" devices that are like this. When you ask the vendor they say "we wrote it all" and just by the look and field you know Squid/BSD/OpenSSL/SSH are at minimum inside.

Make no mistake, the commercial software industry is the biggest pirate of code there is on the face of this planet. All developers routinely use google to search for code snipits and these programmers are from big companies like Oracle and IBM to little startups of all kinds. At least IBM acknowledges it's involvement and contributes to many like Linux.

Most companies should not be embarrassed, to me it is a selling point as no one company can do it all.

One un-named company actually had the gall to tell one of my managers they "Invented Spam Assassin". Needless to say I sufficiently set management straight by a few select web pages and suggested if they lie to us now what will the support be like?

Don't deal with companies that lie about the origins of their product.

Re:Commercial software pirates (4, Informative)

hacker (14635) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497879)

"I know of dozens of "appliance like" devices that are like this. When you ask the vendor they say "we wrote it all" and just by the look and field you know Squid/BSD/OpenSSL/SSH are at minimum inside."

This is called a "Lanham Act Violation" (false designation of origin), and can be prosecuted under the law. If some company takes your code and claims they wrote it, you have legal grounds to chew them into dust.

appropriate response to (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497796)

"Please provide me immediately a list of MXS customers contacted by you and the dates on which the contacts occurred. Please also supply me the name of your counsel."

not unless directed to do so by the courts

Make them spend the time and money.
If courts tell you to provide the list, then respond with a blank sheet of paper.

It's only fitting to use their own lawyers against them...

Patterns (1)

kaltekar (464545) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497819)

Not only is the article well written, but he shows the pattarn of innfingment, throughout MXS's current product line, future products, and past programs 'alegedly' written my Arben. At the bottum of the article (if you can get that far without geting just digusted with MXS) he mentions PDFConv which was a blantent ripoff of PDF2HTML. I certianally hope that all the projects that he contacted in his investigation attempt some form of legal recourse. Even if Jim Krates and Arben is loaded with cash, they will soon run out if everyone that was wronged files a seperate suit in seperate states, forcing them to have to fight mutiple battles simultaneously. Just look at the drain on SCOXs finances with their sue the world campain.

This happens more often than you think... (5, Interesting)

hacker (14635) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497822)

GPL violations are a lot more common than most people think.

Just because it doesn't hit the mainstream media doesn't mean that thousands (yes, thousands of OSS projects out there are being actively violated by commercial enterprises). A few years ago I caught Sony doing this [gnu-designs.com] and reported about it (picked up by Slashdot here [slashdot.org] based on my account).

But that was relatively small potatoes to another GPL violation we've had to deal with. The CEO of a mobile company (who shall remain nameless, thousands know who he is) took our code [plkr.org] , stripped our names and attribution out, removed the COPYING file (our copy of the GPL license), put his name all over it, and claimed he wrote it. He also waffled and lied over the years about which parts of our project he was and was not using. His stories changed back and forth (and I have all of the emails confirming these wishy-washy statements).

When we started seeing companies giving away binary versions of an application that looked suspisciously like ours (and I mean pixel-for-pixel identical) without any source, attribution or links back to the GPL, we started calling those companies and requesting the source for compliance. Since these companies had no idea who we were, they referred us back to the company they bought it from.. the original one who took our code from us outside of compliance with the GPL.

Then the threats started coming in... from the CEO of the company that originally took our source. My favorite quote from him:

"...if we end up in court, I'll bankrupt these guys..."

We were appointed an amazing attorney [harvard.edu] by the FSF, and she represented us well. I even went to NYC to meet with this CEO with Wendy to discuss how they could bring themselves into compliance. The CEO insisted that "..the GPL is not a license, its subject to interpretation... it was never reviewed by real attorneys or tested in court", and then proceeded to tell me to fire my attorney, right in front of her, because he said she wasn't giving me correct information about the law. Yeah ok, except she TEACHES law, and this CEO does what again? Oh yeah, steals other people's products for his own profitous gain.

He continued to threaten us for contacting his "partners" (who were also not transferred the GPL when he sold them "his" product [using our code]). Of course his threats fell on deaf ears, since it is our duty to require compliance with our code no matter who uses it.

The case goes on now, 4+ years later, but some interesting facts have come to light and we may have some official corporate backing from someone he believes is a partner of his... this is FAR from over, and he has absolutely no idea what mountain of legal stress is heading his way.

Wendy has moved on to the EFF now, and we have some new legal contacts at the FSF to try persue this further, but they're busy with lots of other cases.

If anyone is interested in hearing more details, feel free to contact me. If you want to support our case against companies like this, please visit our donation page [plkr.org] and contribute to help us fund more legal support (or just because your appreciate our work: Don't forget to check out our Plucker eye-candy page [plkr.org] ).

Same Jim Kartes? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497836)

There's a Maui Giclee [findarticles.com] , owned a Jim Kartes, that sells art reproduction prints. Umm, I'm sure that Maui Giclee has all their copyrights and licences in order, but ..

Sue the MPAA? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497842)

The software was used in the Golden Globe awards. Since customers of commercial copyright infringers can in turn be sued for copyright infringement, how about one of the copyright holders suing the MPAA? You have to admit that would be interesting to see :-)

Outsourcing aspect (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497845)

The outsourcing angle piqued my curiosity. What if, and this is a very big if, MXS had no knowledge of the violations.... what if all of the code theft was performed by shady outsourced coders?

Re:Outsourcing aspect (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497928)

According to the article, the outsourcing company was supplied with the PearPC source by Arben. The fact that they did not question its use is a much larger issue that needs to be addressed.

Could they be act 221 leaches as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497853)

Act 221 technology development tax credit recipients in Hawai are not public record. You can read a bit about it on this site [the-catbird-seat.net] by a rather enraged party.

If anyone has access to Act 221 recipient info, you might want to read the parent referenced article.

What a sec... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497882)

I'm sure this will probably be labeled Troll, but I really want to know the answer to this. I've thought about this a long time, and I haven't come up with an answer:

Why is it that people get upset at Gnu Public License violations, but think that downloading Music and Movies is OK? Shouldn't they either come down on one side or the other (GPL violations ok, music and movie downloading OK; vs GPL violations bad, music and movie downloading bad), but not both sides as seems so often the case?

It's all about intent and opinion (4, Insightful)

adzoox (615327) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497947)

Stealing code and claiming it's yours is quite different from downloading a song and listening to it.

By downloading the song and listening to it you are not claiming you wrote it, sang it, or even bought it.

Now, if you go out and sell said song at ANY price - there is the violation of the download.

Most people who feel filesharing of songs is ok - also feel as if it's promotion for the artist. I download rather infrequently - but MANY MANY of my friends buy music based on what they hear in my car and I also go to concerts and promote iTunes downloads on my website!

ShoutCast Usage (1)

ranson (824789) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497891)

Given that this guy has proven the VX30 components use ShoutCast code, doesn't that give AOL/TimeWarner and open door to sue these guys for GPL violations?

GNU GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497904)

Since the keyword is "gnu" and you mention "GPL", I suppose you're talking about the GNU GPL.

When you talk about the GNU GPL please refer to it as "GNU GPL" not just "GPL" unless it has been made clear that it is the "GNU GPL" that you refer to.

Uh oh (3, Funny)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497921)

Drunkenbatman is at it again...

Well, that would explain why Robin's been in the shower all day muttering "won't come off... so dirty..."

Even more LGPL violations than GPL (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12497922)

There are even more LGPL violations than GPL violations.

This is because people using LGPL falsely assume they don't have obligations if they merely link to the libraries.

LGPL Section 5 Paragraph 3 states that if you use material from the header files, your binaries become subject to LGPL even if your source files do not contain any LGPL code.

This means companies that link to c runtime libraries on Linux should be living up to LGPL requirements such as allowing modifications to the binaries, explicitely allowing reverse engineering, and so on.

Re:Even more LGPL violations than GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12498007)

I thought SCO owned those header files?

Libel/Slander (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#12497980)

I thought libel/slander required knowingly making false statements about someone. If you have good reason to believe your statements are true, then it's not libel/slanderous. Can anyone comment on this?
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