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Author of ATSC Capture and Edit Tool Tries to Revoke GPL

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the no-takey-backsies dept.

GNU is Not Unix 472

The author of ATSC capture and edit tool has announced that he is attempting to revoke the licensing of his product under the GPL General Public License. Unfortunately it appears that the GPL does not allow this particular action. Of course in this heyday of lawyers and trigger happy litigators who can tell. What successes have others had in trying to take something they once operated under the GPL and make it private? And the more pressing question, why?

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May I be the first to say (5, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190652)

FORK IT!!

Thank God for the GPL!

Gee, what a *GREAT* idea (4, Interesting)

mdenham (747985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190730)

He may be attempting to revoke the license for liability reasons (i.e., someone has made noises about suing him for having this software out there). Forking it means he's still liable, even if he's not associated with the fork at all.

The fact that the GPL doesn't allow you to limit your liability in this manner is why I don't like the GPL. It's just another means to make the software non-free, despite its supposed intent.

Re:Gee, what a *GREAT* idea (5, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190770)

Actually, there's a good question in there.

The GPL states that if you are restricted from distributing a work due to other encumbrances, you must refrain from distributing under GPL as well. It's not intended to be a rights-laundering license.

So the question is (or rather my question, since I'm sure actual legal scholars have already debated it to death) if it turns out that someone up the chain did not have the right to distribute under GPL, does that propagate down the chain to all those who unknowingly redistributed software for which the authority to actually do so was never transferred to them by someone who had it?

Re:Gee, what a *GREAT* idea (5, Informative)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190892)

Actually, there's a good question in there.

The GPL states that if you are restricted from distributing a work due to other encumbrances, you must refrain from distributing under GPL as well. It's not intended to be a rights-laundering license.

So the question is (or rather my question, since I'm sure actual legal scholars have already debated it to death) if it turns out that someone up the chain did not have the right to distribute under GPL, does that propagate down the chain to all those who unknowingly redistributed software for which the authority to actually do so was never transferred to them by someone who had it?

Yes, it propogates. If the first person was not authorized to distribute the code, then the GPL does not make it valid. As the GPL prohibits licencing encumbered code, it does not apply, thus any distributions were not made under the GPL, and thus those distributions cannot be redistributed under the GPL as the original copy was never validly released under the GPL. Of course, IANAL.

I read 200 comments at threshold -1 (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191090)

And no one has posted the mirror?

Is this Slashdot... or Wired? :-)

Re:Gee, what a *GREAT* idea (3, Interesting)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190918)

Kind of, Or at least thats what AOL claimed. See: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/05/31/1259206&mode=thread&tid=120&tid=126&tid=187&tid=95 [slashdot.org]

Short version: Justin Frankel/Nullsoft creates WASTE, an encrypted IM and p2p file transfer system. Releases it under the GPL.
Next day, AOL's lawyers wake up and find out. They say Frankel made it on AOL's time so it is AOL's code, and that he did not have the authority to release it and any distribution is copyright infringement at this point.

Not sure what happened to it then, I think the current version is a clean room implementation. It's kind of a moot point because theres better software out there from a security standpoint, but legality its kind of the exact precident you're looking for.

Now that I think about it, didn't Nullsoft's gnutella have a similar backstory, only without sourcecode release?

Re:Gee, what a *GREAT* idea (1)

smartr (1035324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191050)

IANAL, but you would not have the right to redistribute it, even unknowingly. I don't like the comparison to theft, but it is similar in that you're not going to be able to hang onto resold stolen goods if it goes to court. Then again, this would be more like a case trying to take something back that was already given, or at least appears to be. I'd imagine the burden would be on the "owner" to show monetary loss being caused down the chain, not from the original pirate. Still, if you were heavily redistributing something, my guess is you would do well to act as a common carrier or to pay attention to what is happening up the chain.

Re:Gee, what a *GREAT* idea (4, Interesting)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190776)

someone has made noises about suing him for having this software out there

That's a pretty good theory. This whole thing reeks of panic and trying to sweep something back under the rug. I don't really get why, though... from what I can tell, this looks like some drivers for a set of vid-cap cards, and unless he copied the source code itself, simply writing original drivers for something isn't really something you can sue over.

Of course, it looks like this is some HD stuff (I see mentions of 720p and 1080i on a few pages...), so I wonder if there could be some MPAA pressure about not supporting some HDCP or other copy-restriction idiocy? Even so, unless he has a contract/nda/etc with them to not reveal such information, I still don't see how he could be liable in any way.

Re:May I be the first to say (1)

sglider (648795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190738)

That would help... *IF* we had the source code. Anyone have it lying around?

Re:May I be the first to say (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190750)

If it is under the GPL, don't we simply need to ask him for it?

Re:May I be the first to say (2, Insightful)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190806)

That only works if you got a copy in binary format or similar.

If, by some miracle, he actually did succeed in removing all copies of it, this action would actually work. (the old GPL versions wouldn't be "distributed" and therefor the source code requirements are not relevant)

I highly doubt that he could succeed in such an endeavor, though, unless he had all of 0 people using his code. If that was the case, why did he give it as GPL in the first place? @.@

Re:May I be the first to say (0)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190866)

All he has to do is make a one line diff and take it closed source. Now it's not under the GPL. Until he does that, any copies randomly floating around are under the GPL until his copyright expires.

Re:May I be the first to say (5, Informative)

cas2000 (148703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190982)

> All he has to do is make a one line diff and take it closed source.
> Now it's not under the GPL. Until he does that, any copies randomly floating
> around are under the GPL until his copyright expires


wrong.

the new version, with the one line change, is under a new license.

the old version, without the change, is still under the GPL and always will be. The GPL can not be revoked, although (assuming that all copyright holders agree) there is no requirement that future versions have to be under the GPL. if there's only one copyright holder, then he or she can change the license on future versions at will. but they can not revoke the GPL on previous versions.

when the software was originally licensed under the GPL, the author said "here's what you can and can't do with it". note that there was no clause in there for revocation of that license, it was granted in perpetuity. that is a deliberate and well-publicised feature of the GPL.

for those who might like to argue that the GPL is a form of contract (a dubious proposition in itself) and contracts require value to be exchanged by both parties in order to be valid, therefore the GPL "contract" is invalid, consider this: value HAS been exchanged in both directions. the recipient receives the value of the source code, the author receives the value of open source critique and commentary as well as the value of free distribution and publicity.

Re:May I be the first to say (2, Informative)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190906)

If it is under the GPL, don't we simply need to ask him for it?
He is the rights holder of the software. The GPL doesn't apply to him, it applies to you. Even if you ever got a copy from him before he is under no obligation to provide you with anything ever again.

Re:May I be the first to say (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190954)

I have a copy of atscap-1.1rc9t3 which is now a couple months old and a few revisions behind what was "latest" just before he tried to revoke the gpl licence retroactively.

I'm for sure not going to delete or stop using my copy.

I would really like to find a copy of what was the latest revesion before his change of heart.

I would also very much like to know what brought on his change of heart. So far, there is no information as to why he is attempting this action.

Re:May I be the first to say (2, Interesting)

Azh Nazg (826118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190978)

Upload it somewhere. Share it with the world, as is your right.
I've really been trying to find any copy of this, just for the sake of it. . .
Actually, could you hand me a binary, so I can request source code from him? ;)

Re:May I be the first to say (1)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191048)

Since it used to be hosted on sourceforge [sourceforge.net] , it would seem an appropriate location.

Yes, but (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190856)

He needs to either get the permission of any other contibutors or re-write their contributions in a non-infringing way. This may be easy if not many others have contributed but could be a real bear if they have or if someone else made a fairly critical contribution. Any other contributors still hold the copyright to their contribution and may not like the idea of someone taking their code private.

BTW, I seem to remember that the author of Snort took it "private" not all that long ago.

Cheers,
Dave

Re:May I be the first to say (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190932)

FORK IT!!

No kidding. Mr. "Inkling", I'd like you to meet my old friend, Mr. XFree86. You two should have a lot to talk about.

Re:May I be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190966)

Nooooooooo!!! The GPL is about freeeedoooommmm, surely the GPL is not a binding contract, because that wouldn't be freeeeee.

GPL (4, Informative)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190974)

The author could conceivably release a *new* version under whatever license he chooses. There is nothing saying he has to continue to release under the GPL going forward. But the copies that have already been distributed under the GPL are out there and cannot be revoked. The people who have the code now can continue to legally modify and redistribute it under the GPL and there is nothing he can do about it. If the new version is closed source, people will simply continue developing the GPL'd version, and there is nothing the author can do about it.

Mirrors (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191024)

Everyone that has the source, mirror it. Everyone that can get it, get it. Distribute it as far and wide as possible under the GPL.

Solution (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190656)

Change the name, start a new project, abandon the old. Problem solved.

Re:Solution (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190742)

Change the name, start a new project, abandon the old. Problem solved.

I don't see how that solves the problem - he wants to revoke the license granted on previous versions of the software, abandoning it doesn't accomplish that. If all he wanted to do was change the licensing for future release, he certainly wouldn't need a new project for that.

Could fuel anti GPL fire (1)

LinuxInDallas (73952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190678)

I have no clue if this will turn out to be enforceable or not. If it is then it will certainly fuel concerns we have heard before about using GPL'd software in commercial applications.

How is it specific to GPL? (1)

Typoboy (61087) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190828)

IF this is enforceable, it would fuel concerns about ANY kind of software license, if the author can arbitrarily revoke it at will. I just re-read a standard commercial EULA, it says that 'they' reserve to terminate the license IF you breach the terms of the party of the first part, the party of the 2nd part, etc.

I think a more likely scenario is that it will show an actual benefit of using open source software: if the original owner dumps/restricts it (and it's worth someone's while) it could be picked up and supported. If you use non-free software, you had better hope the company stays around, or you have their code in escrow..

Re:Could fuel anti GPL fire (5, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190844)

Why would it raise concerns about the GPL in particular? If the GPL can be revoked after the fact, then *any* software license (proprietary, FOSS or whatever) could likewise be revoked. Any 3rd party code of any kind in commercial applications would be at similar risk.

Come on guys, it's not hard. (4, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190692)

READ the license before putting your code under it. I know the GPL is big, but you only need to do it once. You can change the license on future releases (assuming you own the copyright), but you can't revoke the rights the GPL grants to people using past releases.

Re:Come on guys, it's not hard. (3, Insightful)

AdrocK (107367) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190938)

I find myself saying "RTF[Insert Acronym Letter Here]" every day. People sign acceptable use agreements, employment contracts, EULA's, policies, and a lot of other things without reading them. When they violate them they scream foul or "I didn't know I couldn't do that".

People have always done this, but recently it seems that they are getting away with it. Expressed penalties or consequences are softened or overturned with an "Oh, no one actually READS that stuff".

I'm not saying I read every single thing word for word that I agree to or put my name on, but I know I will need to live with the consequences if I violate the agreement. Something of this scope, though, I would imagine you would read and understand the entire license that you are releasing your code under. I can understand accepting the EULA as a user without reading it, but not as a publisher.

Ignorance of the rules isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Re:Come on guys, it's not hard. (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191114)

What your whole argument ignores is the question of the person releasing a program under a license that they had no rights to release. In the closed source world that person would be sued off the face of the planet and the program goes with him. In the case of the GPL, the person is sued off the face of the planet and the true rights holder is screwed. Again, it goes back to the question of what do you do when the genie can't be put back into the bottle?

Re:Come on guys, it's not hard. (1)

dila813 (1085573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190952)

he got paid off by the media corps??

In my country, we have saying (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190700)

we say "is good if man eat lots of pussy but if he suck one cock then he will always be cocksucker." GNU is like being cocksucker, always GPL

Re:In my country, we have saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190990)

you are stupid.

Don't you mean... (1)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191086)

Don't you mean GNU is stupid?

why such incompetence? (4, Interesting)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190702)

How is it possible that people still don't get how the GPL works, and still think they can treat it like a contract or something?

I would think that it would be obvious, after reading the FSF web site or even just the news about the GPL, that stupid tricks like this not only don't work, but are the very thing the GPL is intended to prevent.

Even more strange is that people seem to think they can write up these fancy-sounding letters as if they were a lawyer. Did they somehow miss that law is complicated and we have lawyers go to school for many years to properly understand all this? (note: if it actually /was/ a lawyer that wrote this, that's even more insane. Fire that incompetent freak!)

Re:why such incompetence? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190890)

Considering all the differences of opinion when two or more people read the same statement, it seems the law can be interpreted, but never understood or defined clearly. A good lawyer can make any word in the dictionary mean anything he wants it to.

Re:why such incompetence? (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190926)

While this is certainly true, and there are always lots of finer points to argue about in the GPL, I am still amazed when people seem to completely miss the point of the whole thing. The fact that the entire point of the GPL is to guarantee access to the source code of a project makes statements like this guy's rather insane.

Maybe I can blame ESR for this, actually... with all his dilution of the Free Software Movement with his new "open source" terms and such. It has created a huge new group of people that don't seem to understand that there's a major political motivation behind the GPL, not just some software-access pragmatism.

Re:why such incompetence? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191054)

My statement has more to do with the deficiency of language in general when trying to impose such precision. I do indeed understand the necessity of the GPL as long as copyright remains on the books, even with my belief that public domain can accomplish the same thing, with the added benefit of avoiding the license bloat that we are currently being burdened with. Well, this might be a good test in the ongoing attempt to validate the GPL in the courts. At the same time, like everything else, it will never be completely resolved. Somebody will always try to challenge it. Even if it is to reach the supreme court. Just like Roe vs. Wade. Please, people, don't carry off onto that wild tangent with that. I'm just trying to say that nothing is absolute. Hell, there are folks that can "prove" that 2+2 does not equal 4.

Re:why such incompetence? (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191112)

the deficiency of language in general

Sure, but you can recurse such skepticism out to infinity, and that's not really useful. In physics, you can apply reductionism to everything and end up using quantum mechanics to solve macro-scale events, because you aren't really certain that the macro-scale even is true. Newton's laws of motion are deficient approximations only. Except that you don't. That's insane. In the same way, you can doubt the definition of every word in every language (and some lawyers certainly try), but at some point you have to accept some things a fundamental and obvious, or you will never have a proper "meeting of the minds".

Well, this might be a good test in the ongoing attempt to validate the GPL in the courts.

No way. The reason there hasn't been a lot of action in the courts with regards to the GPL is that it IS such an obvious and strong license. No sane lawyer wants to touch it, as it's fairly obvious most challenges would lose unless you rewrote large sections of copyright law.

If this guy actually tries to sue over this, a real lawyer should warn him away from such futility before it gets anywhere.

I'm just trying to say that nothing is absolute. Hell, there are folks that can "prove" that 2+2 does not equal 4.

Of course. And if you feel like arguing philosophy or abstract math, then such attitudes are great fun. In the real world, though, there is a minimum level of pragmatism necessary or nobody would ever get anything done.

Re:why such incompetence? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191026)

Even more strange is that people seem to think they can write up these fancy-sounding letters as if they were a lawyer.

What I think is strange is that some people seem to think there is some magical property of lawyers, that makes whatever they write special. If the letter written is true and correct, and legal, then it has all the value of one written by a lawyer. If the letter is false, then it's just as useless no matter who the author is.

Re:why such incompetence? (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191074)

If the letter written is true and correct, and legal

Sure, IF it's true and correct. The problem is that many non-lawyer types tend to fail on that, thinking they know the law.

It's the same idiocy as, say, someone with no plumbing training going and re-piping their house, or someone with no medical training trying to cure their own cancer. They may get it right, and more power to them if they educate themselves and do it properly, but most people will screw things up.

As is obvious in this case. It's more an issue of consulting with experts so you don't end up looking like an idiot like this guy.

(as an aside: using a lawyer does have one extra advantage over just writing the letter yourself, even if the letter ended up exactly the same: liability. If the lawyer wrote it, you can blame them if it's a total fuck up...)

Good luck with that (1, Informative)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190716)

IANAL, but I don't believe that you can change the license of an existing version of your software. Every case I've ever seen a software license change has resulted in the developer releasing an updated version for the new license, even if there were no other changes in the code.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190784)

You don't "change" the copyright on something. You just grant a different type of license for newly made copies (copyright - right to copy). This is where this guy has lost touch with reality. Once you've allowed a copy it stands alone. As some other posters mentioned, it's not a contract.

The licence is quite explicit. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190718)

He can't do that, just not possible, full stop, etc. The more interesting question is "why?". Did somebody piss him off? make him an offer? Did a lawyer bite him?

Does anybody have any background on this?

GPL is not the issue (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190722)

If you release code under any license that version is still that license. Any new versions can of course be any new license you want, but people can continue to use and indeed fork the old one if that license allows it, which in this case it does.

IANAL, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190724)

I would think that as the copyright holder, he can do whatever he damn well pleases, since the GPL is not a contract.

Re:IANAL, but... (1)

schon (31600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190768)

he can do whatever he damn well pleases
Well then, let's see him put toothpaste back in the tube, or travel backwards in time.

He can *try* to do whatever he damn well pleases, doesn't mean he actually *can*.

Re:IANAL, but... (4, Funny)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190808)

Well then, let's see him put toothpaste back in the tube,
So you are saying that if he can put toothpaste back into the tube then we'll let him change the license on the software?

Re:IANAL, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190998)

No. Stop being a fucking moron.

Re:IANAL, but... (3, Informative)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190854)

He can in fact DO anything he wants. He just can't UNDO things unilaterally. Its his privilege to cease distributing the code under the GPL. However, he probably* can't unilaterally revoke his PRIOR release of the code under the GPL.

* Courts frown on indefinite contracts and licenses. They can be enforceable but generally must meet more stringent criteria to be legal. Also if he can find a way to void the original grant of license then he doesn't need to revoke it because legally it never existed. For example, if he was under 18 or included a copyrighted work for which he had no permission to grant the license.

I hereby declare myself the king of Slashdot! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190728)

I'm still waiting.

Seriously, under what legal theory is this proceeding? With all due respect for the author, I just read the original license.. We, uh, probably should have gone with a "this license may be revoked at any time" sort of license rather than the GPL.

Didn't Tatu of SSH fame [seifried.org] attempt to suppress previous versions? Lot of respect for SSH and Tatu, no respect for changing of minds on licenses.

Information doesn't want to be free. Commercial/Open/Public domain licensure is a decision we all must make

Re:I hereby declare myself the king of Slashdot! (3, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191098)

Seriously, under what legal theory is this proceeding?

Without knowing any background besides the linked info, I'd guess its one of the following:

The "you wankers didn't respect me so now you can suck wind" theory, or
The "I sold the code and they made me do this to get paid" theory.

Both theories have been very well tested in court. Very well tested.

Even if (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190734)

IANAL. Even if the code is relicensed, as I recall, copies obtained legally remain legal. I am not sure if the copies remain under the license they were obtained under, but I suspect so.

But again, IANAL. YMMV. Consult a real IP lawyer.

GPL can't be both revokable AND useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190736)

If you could revoke the GPL the way this guy's trying to do, then there'd be no point to the GPL in the first place.

Moving forward, sure... (3, Informative)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190740)

But the horse is out of the barn insofar as existing code goes, if it's been distributed to anyone. Probably (I don't have the GPL in front of me, but I've worked with it a lot; IIRC the grant of rights is for the duration of copyright and is non-revocable). There's no tool he can use to rescind the rights so granted, and anyone who has a copy of the source from before this change of heart can continue to distribute under the terms of the GPL, as can anyone who gets a copy from one of those distributors.

As the owner of the copyright in the code, he doesn't need the GPL to make derivative works, etc., so anything he works on moving forward he can license how he chooses.

Re:Moving forward, sure... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190774)

so anything he works on moving forward he can license how he chooses
Methinks it is time for a *very* small bugfix.

Why? many possible reasons... (2, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190754)

For example, he could have been approached about buying his project and continuing it as a closed source under some corporate umbrella. Or he is one of the founders of a new startup and needs to throw something in to get some shares. One thing is likely, though - money is involved somehow.

Re:Why? many possible reasons... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190786)

Why would that create the need to revoke the GPL? Just license new releases differently.

Re:Why? many possible reasons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190924)

So there isn't a free version of the software out there competing with the paid version he/they want to sell, is my guess.

Re:Why? many possible reasons... (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191108)

We are completely speculating here, but if the guy wants to sell the software or show it as some kind of investment he needs to demonstrate that he, and he alone, is the owner of it. By owner here I mean a person who can do anything he wants with it. GPL specifically disallows that, as this incident illustrates, and the author is somewhat constrained in his dealing in the code.

money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190962)

Not very much money, or they would have competent/real lawyers.

Or, too much money, and they want to follow in Darl's footsteps.

I'm leaning towards column A.

-
1. Write software
2. ???
3. Mass distribution due to Barbara Streisand-slashdot effect
4. Profit!

Anyone have source? (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190760)

Anyone have the previously GPLd source they could share with the rest of us?

From the various screenshots and etc that I've found, it doesn't look like anything groundbreaking. Am I missing something, or are all of the features already covered by other media libraries?

Even if the FSF did not explicitly state so-- (1)

Vanyali (1146181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190762)

--and they do--it is common sense that a person who licenses their code under the GPL should not be able to revoke that license. If it were allowed, then what would happen to any forks of the software, or people that merely had a copy of the source code? It would be an irresolvable legal situation. Don't give us the right to modify and view your code, and then try to take it away.

Wiggle room (4, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190766)

Its not entirely impossible that he could make it stick, just unlikely. For example: Was he over 18 at the time he released the code under the GPL? If not, he might not have been competent to enter in to a licensing agreement. If that's the case then the original grant of license under the GPL is void. Technically that's not the same as revoking it, but it has the same effect.

Re:Wiggle room (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190810)

A very good point. If, for whatever reason, the author's original grant of the license was bad...

A good lawyer would look long and hard for such a technicality.

copies already obtained (-1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190778)

This appears to be another stupid non story.

This guy has every right to stop licensing his software under the GPL (note the whole revoke thing is spin from the GPL crowd). the only thing he can't do is expect to change the license of anyone who has a copy already, from that standpoint he granted them a copy of THAT software under the GPL which is a binding contract. this means you are free to carry on as normal with your GPL copy, he can't try charge you money or demand you take down your own distributions.

Re:That is what he is trying to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190790)

That is exactly what he is trying to do. If you were to read the site he says you are not allowed to use or distribute it any longer and must delete any copies you have.

Re:That is what he is trying to do (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190852)

Funny that he exempts some files also; are these files others helped with? (Blowing his entire sole author argument out of the water).

Re:That is what he is trying to do (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191008)

Prior posters are correct. He cannot do this. I'd actually never heard of this program, but I'm going to download it and put the source up for download on my website (and I'm sure what I download will have the GPL files in it).

Re:copies already obtained (3, Informative)

RattFink (93631) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190816)

...he can't try charge you money or demand you take down your own distributions.

Read the post, that is exactly what he is trying to do. Near the end he writes:

If you are currently using the atscap or pchdtvr packages,
or any part thereof, it is in your best interest to remove
the software from your system(s) and destroy all copies in
your possession.

If you have incorporated the atscap or pchdtvr codebase, or
any part thereof, into any of your projects, it is in your
best interest to remove any and all of my code from your
project(s).

If you are currently distributing the atscap or pchdtvr
packages, or any part thereof, it is in your best interest
to destroy all copies in your possession and notify all
recipients of either the atscap or pchdtvr packages, or any
part thereof, that the licensing under the GPL for both
packages has been revoked by the author.

Re:copies already obtained (0, Redundant)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190818)

From the article/letter:

If you are currently distributing the atscap or pchdtvr packages, or any part thereof, it is in your best interest to destroy all copies in your possession and notify all recipients of either the atscap or pchdtvr packages, or any part thereof, that the licensing under the GPL for both packages has been revoked by the author.

Re:copies already obtained (0, Redundant)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190824)

"I have also revoked the licensing under the GPL for the pchdtvr version 1.0 codebase, all prior versions of the pchdtvr codebase and all release candidates of the pchdtvr codebase"

You didn't bother reading TFA even the tiniest little bit, did you?

Re:copies already obtained (1)

schon (31600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190834)

the whole revoke thing is spin from the GPL crowd
Umm, so the author of the software is "the GPL crowd"??!?! Because if you bothered to read his post, you would see these words:

"the licensing under the GPL for both packages has been revoked by the author", followed by "PUBLIC NOTICE: atscap and pchdtvr GPL revoked"

How does that foot of yours taste?

Re:copies already obtained (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190940)

oh please, your quote doesn't prove jack shit, because it doesn't place a time on when he is removing the GPL from his software.

however, it appears i'm still wrong since one of the posters above points out in his last paragraph at the end of his post he's telling people to remove the software from their computers, which he just can't do as i've already stated.

Re:copies already obtained (1)

schon (31600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191096)

oh please, your quote doesn't prove jack shit
Yeah, except for the part where the author uses the word REVOKE, which you said was "spin from the GPL crowd", right?

Perhaps you should refrain from posting until you grow up a little bit. You'll make yourself look like much less of a fool.

Re:copies already obtained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190836)

RTFM, asshole

Body: I have revoked the licensing under the GNU General Public
License
(herein after referred to as "the GPL") for the
atscap version 1.1 codebase, all prior versions of the
atscap codebase and all the various release candidates of
the atscap codebase.


You really outed yourself as an idiot.

Re:copies already obtained (0, Redundant)

Ghostworks (991012) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190858)

FTA: : I have revoked the licensing under the GNU General Public License (herein after referred to as "the GPL") for the atscap version 1.1 codebase, all prior versions of the atscap codebase and all the various release candidates of the atscap codebase.

I have also revoked the licensing under the GPL for the pchdtvr version 1.0 codebase, all prior versions of the pchdtvr codebase and all release candidates of the pchdtvr codebase, including all of the various interim pchdtvr versions after version 1.0 and before the name was changed to atscap.


He used the phrase "revoked". Furthermore, he said it would be in everyone's best interest to unistall and/or destroy all copies of his code that they may have. While this demonstrates his tenuous grasp on the ideas behind the GPL, he still made those claims in his post

Re:copies already obtained (1)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190874)

Please, allow me to be the twelfth person to encourage you to read the article, and to make accusations about your intellect, sexual prowess, and/or parentage!

Re:copies already obtained (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190958)

whats your point, that i'm some how the first person in the history of /. to skim TFA and miss something at the end of it?

Re:copies already obtained (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22191034)

whats your point, that i'm some how the first person in the history of /. to skim TFA and miss something at the end of it?

I doubt you even skimmed TFA, because it's not only at the bottom, it's at the top:

Subject: PUBLIC NOTICE: atscap and pchdtvr GPL revoked

Please, just stop posting on Slashdot, and go choke on a bucket of cocks.

FUD all around (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190838)

The author is trying to spread FUD all over the interwebs.
See:

http://www.pchdtv.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=19528 [pchdtv.com]
http://www.penlug.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/DigitalTelevisionAtscap [penlug.org]

I think someone should educate these people.

Re:FUD all around (2, Informative)

awehttam (779031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191012)

It's kind of weird this would happen. Assuming this isn't a result of legal pressure, I wonder what (happened to have) changed the authors perspective of:

The following archives are released under the GPL. This is because the GPL helps people learn for free. You may or may not find these archives helpful. Respect the GPL and give credit, and source code, where it is due. Good Luck!
web.archive.org [archive.org] .

Request Denied (4, Insightful)

ewhac (5844) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190942)

If revoking the GPL were possible, Microsoft could simply buy the copyright to any GPL project it deemed a potential threat and revoke the licensing (existing users would get a license pricing break 12 months later on Microsoft LS, Microsoft CAT, Microsoft FIND, Microsoft IFCONFIG, etc...).

Frankly, I wonder what the causative factor was. Did someone threaten to sue him unless he pulled the code down?

Schwab

Re:Request Denied (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191004)

"Did someone threaten to sue him unless he pulled the code down?"

Unknown. I do find it interesting that any trace of the project has apparently been erased from SF. Making a project inactive on request is possible, but that doesn't remove all traces as far as I can recall. Even the SF search engine turns up nothing. It seems like active work was done by SF staff to remove the project and associated artifacts (release files, forums, mailing lists, CVS) entirely. That suggests compliance with a takedown request of some sort, one that had to be taken seriously.

Might work, might not (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190948)

I know the FSF likes to say that the GPL is not a contract so the ordinary contract rules don't apply, but the courts have tended to see free software licenses as in fact being contracts. So I think we need to operate under the assumption that it IS a contract and this is a contract issue.

It gets interesting then. If he sues someone for copyright violation, I think it might end up coming down to whether they had already started using the software before he attempted to revoke the license or not, and if not, whether or not they were aware of the attempted revocation. If they had already started using the software, they could maybe make a good promissory estoppel argument that the license should continue for them.

All these branches lead to some puzzling legal questions, but let's just go down the promissory estoppel path. Say the defendant gets a continued license via promissory estoppel. Can they then redistribute? Or does this license from equity just extend to the use they were making of the software? What if a big part of their business was based on the fact that their product was built from GPL software, so getting a non-GPL license would not be the same for their business?

My conclusion is that it may be possible to in theory revoke the license, but it is fraught with practical problems. If you have GPL (or any other free software license) software that you've written, and want to take non-free, don't bother with the existing and past releases. Just make the license change going forward.

Tuxracer (2, Informative)

ashridah (72567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190956)

This has already been tried. Tuxracer was originally licensed under the GPL [wikipedia.org] . After it became a bit more complete, the original author formed a company, and tried to make it closed source. End result: fork. He commercialized the code he owned, legitimately, and others took the GPL'ed source, and continued with it.

Summary says (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190960)

Unfortunately it appears that the GPL does not allow this particular action.

Only for him, maybe. For the rest of us, just the opposite is true. It is quite fortunate that this isn't permitted.

Maybe I'm missing something.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22190964)

but isn't this exactly what Jörg Schilling did with cdrecord a year or two ago?

Revoke your right (3, Insightful)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190968)

I hereby give you the right to read and/or reply to this post.

By reading this post and/or replying to it you agree to the terms.

, um, no. I've changed my mine.

You are no longer allowed to read and/or reply to this post. If you have already read and/or replied to this post "it is in your best interest to remove the" ..... memory ..... "from your" ..... brain ..... "and"/or destroy all ..... memories of it ..... "in your possession".

Re:Revoke your right (1)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190996)

I forgot what I was going to do in this space here....

Don't assume GPL takes precedence over owner (0, Offtopic)

n2rjt (88804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190970)

A copyright owner can revoke outstanding licenses. The only way the GPL is non-revokable is if the original copyright owner has assigned the copyright to the FSF, as is recommended by FSF. If the original owner retains copyright, he can do as he pleases:
He can revoke licenses on existing and distributed copies.
He can modify the license after distribution.
He can (gasp) refuse to distribute source code for GPLed software.
Remember that the copyright owner owns the software and all rights to it. The license, even the GPL, doesn't ever take away rights of the copyright owner.

Can you explain this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22191040)

Are you telling me that Yanni can, as the copyright holder, send me a C&D ordering me to destroy all copies of his albums??

Re:Can you explain this? (1)

n2rjt (88804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191070)

That would be the moral thing to do. :-)

Seriously, though, it's a crazy scenario, and IANAL (I don't know what I'm talking about) but I believe he could, or more likely, the record label that owns copyright of his works could. But of course they wouldn't.

I'm not trying to say everyone else is wrong and I'm right, but I wanted the Slashdot millions to stop and think about this a bit.

Re:Don't assume GPL takes precedence over owner (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191068)

Bullshit

Linus Torvalds to revoke everybody's Linux license (4, Funny)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 6 years ago | (#22190976)


On a similar note, I (Linus Torvalds) have revoked the GPL license for my code in the Linux kernel, effective immediately. If you are selling Linux, you are required to destroy all copies of unsold software and contact all your past customers and get back the copies you sold them and destroy those as well. I you are running workstation or servers even in critical enviroments, you are required to immediately turn off the power to these systems and destroy the hard drive on them. If you are selling or have sold systems with Linux embedded in them (e.g. Linksys routers and Tivos etc) you are required to destroy all unsold systems and re-acquire all systems sold in the past and destroy those too. If you have a Tivo or a Linux based router or other Linux based embedded systems at home, you are required to immediately power these off and destroy them. Please keep ample evidence of the destruction of this property so that you are properly able to defend yourself in court at a later time.

Thanks and God bless America.

America #1.

-Linus

A little more info (2, Informative)

Lightn (6014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191014)

I've been wondering what happened to the project. I upgraded from pchdtvr about a month ago and shortly thereafter the project was deleted from sourceforge. Is that even normally possible? I though I had heard comments to the contrary. His web page is also gone. The only remaining info that I can find is here [penlug.org] .

The software is not bad, but I've found it a bit buggy, especially compared to pchdtvr, which was pretty solid. It is surprising that he would do this now, pchdtvr has been out since at least 2005. I notice that it is still available from pchdtv.com [pchdtv.com] .

Dependencies? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191100)

Does this software have an dependencies on other GPL code? Did it ever? If so then the author needs to call a whaaambulance and shut up about the whole idea before he gets sued for copyright violation.

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