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Dealing With a GPL Violation?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the enforcing-it dept.

GNU is Not Unix 204

Sortova writes "For many years now I've been maintaining OpenNMS, a free and open source network management framework published under the GPL. A couple of years ago it came to our attention that a company called Cittio was using OpenNMS as part of their proprietary and commercial network management application. I talked with Jamie Lerner, the Cittio founder, and he assured me that Cittio was abiding by the GPL. However, we were recently contacted by a potential client who was also considering Cittio's Watchtower, and it appears that they are not disclosing that they are using GPL'd code or at least not in the clear and concise fashion required by the GPL, including the offer of source code for all of the code they are including and any changes being made to that code. Since the copyright for OpenNMS is held by a number of commercial companies, the Software Freedom Law Center is not able to help us defend or even investigate a potential violation. I was curious if anyone here on Slashdot had experienced anything similar or has any advice?"

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You don't know they are in violation (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22631988)

For a start you claim:

When I brought up the fact that parts of Watchtower are based on OpenNMS, the client replied "I could not find one ounce of mention on their website to OpenNMS or any other Open Source code that is running on this product. That really irritates me."
So what's all this then? [cittio.com]

You also make the claim:

I should also mention that this client is in final negotiations with Cittio (they dropped their initial price considerably) so we're not talking a first contact cold call here - they are ready to close this deal without a single detail concerning their use of open source.
Yes, and? They are not required to make any such disclosures. The GPL requires them to provide the source code or an offer to provide the source code when they distribute the software. As they haven't distributed any software yet, they are not required to provide any source code or offers to provide the source code.

FAIL.

Would Cittio go for libel? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632140)

Legal matters belong in the hands of lawyers. Most lawyers I talk to, their first bit of advice is "shutup, don't say a word and let me handle it".

Re:You don't know they are in violation (3, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632152)

Not only that, they only have to provide the source code to the person they're redistributing to under the same license if they changed anything, that doesn't include you, because you're not their customer.

If there's something they've changed in your project then purchase a copy and put the changed code in your version, since any modified GPL code must be re-distributed as GPL code.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (2, Informative)

rsax (603351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632174)

From the linked site [cittio.com]

"postgresql-8.0.2.tar.gz ... GNU General Public License (GPL)"

Wrong license. As mentioned on the PostgreSQL site [postgresql.org] page, the project uses the BSD license.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632200)

So they got it wrong. This matters why? Off-topic BSD users trolling as per usual..

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632510)

It looks like an honest oversight. It is an important distinction, but anybody that's going to use the code or binaries really ought to be looking at the license included in the distribution rather than what a third party says the license is.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632254)

Well, let me say i hope things turn out well for Tarus and the OpenNMS team and that they can curtail such problems in the future.

However, i wanted to say that while i have been using OpenNMS for sometime now, i feel that the project is stagnating and that it also has a very dated interface compared to other modern NMS systems (e.g. Hyperic).

They have confusing and spotty browser support where some sections of their tool work well in Firefox (reports and graph zooming) but others require IE (maps).

OpenNMS has fallen behind in many areas and needs adopt a modern toolkit that would bring all they hidden potential to the surface in a way that enhances the "curb appeal" of the product.

By adopting more modern interfaces (whether flex,DHTML,etc) and ensuring that users have the ability to easily (and in a consistent manner) update or edit the many config/xml/properties files , i believe that this powerful tool will once again see a resurgence in customer adoption.

-Anon

NB. OpenNMS (or OGP) members should try to be a little less abrasive when responding to question of frustrated users on the mailing lists (mainly due to shoddy documentation and the problems with interface consistency)

Re:You don't know they are in violation (2, Informative)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632276)

Very true. A simple Google search for OpenNMS on cittio.com [google.com] comes up with two pages (one linked in the parent). Each lists, with licenses, the open source projects they use. At the bottom of both pages they have "Contact us" info, one of them (not the one linked above) even has a mailto: link for questions about their open source components.

I'm a little surprised they don't provide links to the projects directly - either by project site or downloadable tarball - but it doesn't exactly look like they're hiding their use of OSS code. Technically just announcing that they use OSS (especially without linking to the projects, let alone any modifications they made) isn't enough for compliance, but the summary gave the impression that Cittio gave no indication that they use any OSS. This is patently false.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (5, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632316)

You're not their customer so they don't have to give you anything.

Only Cittio's customers (the ones receiving the product) could ask for the source code, because they're redistributing to them, not you. Cittio's customers could then re-distribute that GPL code however they wished.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (2, Interesting)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632590)

I'm aware of that. I'm just surprised that they bothered to list a bunch of OSS projects they use, but not link to them. I wouldn't expect a commercial entity to redistribute their modifications to non-customers, but I just found it curious. If nothing else, I'm surprised they don't link to the (descriptions of the) licenses themselves.

On a vaguely related note, if it turns out that this company is purely on the straight and level with regard to the GPL and other OSS licenses, I'd like to mention that I'm very pleased to see this kind of thing. The more exposure OSS gets, the better; some purists might complain about people who don't make their modifications open to literally everybody, but overall I believe commercial interest in (and, hopefully, support of) OSS projects is a good thing.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633642)

This is not entirely true.

For commercial distribution, the source has to either be included with every copy of the binary, OR the GPL requires a written offer which to any third party, including third parties who are not their customers.

If they chose option (b) for distribution of their source code, then they do have to give something to non-customers, in order to avoid violating the GPL.

That way their customers can re-distribute the binaries and pass along the offer to others.

See the GNU General Public license version 2 section 3.b: b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634324)

The operative words in the paragraph you quoted are "accompany it [the binary]". Thus, AFAIK (and as the GP stated), they only need to give this offer to people to whom they give the binary. But you are right that this offer needs to extend to third parties (it just doesn't need to be shown to them).

Re:You don't know they are in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632298)

Yes, and? They are not required to make any such disclosures. The GPL requires them to provide the source code or an offer to provide the source code when they distribute the software. As they haven't distributed any software yet, they are not required to provide any source code or offers to provide the source code.

question: who defines distribution?
answer: whoever has more money

Quoth the GPL:

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
*disclaimer* i am not a gpl nut, in fact i'm hopinh this is the beginning of a trend that will kill the gpl. i plan to follow this story

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632340)

Do you seriously not know what distribution and re-distribution means? It has nothing to do with money.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (2, Informative)

Azh Nazg (826118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632374)

question: who defines distribution?

answer: whoever has more money

-- Anonymous Coward

The GPLv3 is much, much more specific about that. Specifically:

c) You must license the entire work, as a whole, under this License to anyone who comes into possession of a copy. This License will therefore apply, along with any applicable section 7 additional terms, to the whole of the work, and all its parts, regardless of how they are packaged. This License gives no permission to license the work in any other way, but it does not invalidate such permission if you have separately received it.

-- GPLv3, section 6

The GPLv3 also defines what 'distribution' is, by using the terms 'conveying' and 'propagating', instead, and then defining those (for some reason, redefining distribution is not kosher, legally speaking). Thus:

To "propagate" a work means to do anything with it that, without permission, would make you directly or secondarily liable for infringement under applicable copyright law, except executing it on a computer or modifying a private copy. Propagation includes copying, distribution (with or without modification), making available to the public, and in some countries other activities as well.

To "convey" a work means any kind of propagation that enables other parties to make or receive copies. Mere interaction with a user through a computer network, with no transfer of a copy, is not conveying.

-- GPLv3, Section 0

Though I wonder why you are apparently anti-GPL, whatever your thoughts on it, I must insist that you at least discuss points relevant to the license itself. Thank you, however, for sharing your thoughts and opinions: if nothing else, you'll provide someone out there something good to think about.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632442)

The GPLv3 is much, much more specific about that. Specifically:

Yeah but what if the work is licensed GPL V2?

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

Azh Nazg (826118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632610)

In that case, my comment is fairly meaningless; I suspect the GPLv2 has something about that, but I can't remember right now, and I don't really feel like doing the research at the moment. I'm about to head off to bed, so I hope that other, more insomniac Slashdotters can provide a more useful response.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632344)

FAIL

The author has failed because you posted a link to source code? The snip from the above paragraph states:

"it appears that they are not disclosing that they are using GPL'd code or at least not in the clear and concise fashion required by the GPL, i"

Just because source code is listed doesn't mean they are making the information visible in their product. Also: including the offer of source code for all of the code they are including and any changes being made to that code.

There is only one OpenNMS file listed; the author states that there may be other files not being listed.

I am sure I will get mod'd down for being a troll.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632388)

They don't have to provide this information on the website.. they have to provide it to their customers or whoever they actually distribute the software to.

the author states that there may be other files not being listed.
He also states that he is not a customer and hasn't spoken to any customers.

You've achieved your desired goal (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632496)

You got your concern on the front page of Slashdot. That means that the company will make sure they're doing everything right, because all of their customers are going to ask them about it now.

That said, it's not at all clear that you had anything to complain about. If SFLC won't help you for the reason you gave, that means you don't have any standing in the matter. You can't sue anyone about it. So, there's not much use in complaining.

IMO, you should make real sure that you at least own the copyright of your own work before you contribute any more.

Bruce

Re:You've achieved your desired goal (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632528)

Dunno why you're replying to me instead of the OP but seeing as you are, I don't think he has no legal standing.. if he has been contributing code and not signing it over, then he owns the copyright on the work, period. The SFLC might not be interested because there are other contributors to the work and they'd have to get everyone together to have a strong case, but I don't think the OP even bothered to contact the SFLC.. everything he's said has the ring of a complete lack of research.. especially seeing as the first thing the FSF and the SFLC tell you when it comes to copyright violations is to make sure you have your facts straight and to not go sprouting your inexpert opinion all over your blog.

Re:You've achieved your desired goal (2, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632578)

Dunno why you're replying to me instead of the OP
It's slashdot strategy. If late to a discussion, a reply to a high-ranked post will apppear higher than a reply to the article. But yes, it's really a reply to the article.

if he has been contributing code and not signing it over, then he owns the copyright on the work, period.
SFLC appears to have treated him as if he did not have a very significant portion of the program under his own copyright. I know that they have represented other authors who did not own the entire copyright of a program, but did own a significant portion of the work.

I don't think the OP even bothered to contact the SFLC..
That's possible, but the reason for rejecting him sounded like it could be for real.

Re:You've achieved your desired goal (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632640)

Well, FSF have advised me in the past that any copyright is defensible, no matter how small it is in comparison to the rest of the work. Of course, if I asked them to defend me they would ask if I can assign them the entire copyright for the entire work and when I said no they'd bow out. That's just *their* policy, and one the SFLC has inherited it seems (which means it really was Eben Moglen's policy), but it doesn't mean you *can't* sue. I expect it is a cost saving measure. If you don't have copyright over the entire work then the defendant can file briefs claiming that the particular part of the work under dispute is not owned by the plaintiff and, even if it is trivial to show that they are in violation of copyright of a portion of the work that *is* owned by the plaintiff, it will take weeks and require the writing of very detailed, technical and lengthy briefs... i.e., it'll cost a lot of money.

So I guess if the only way you're going to afford to enforce your license is to get the help of the SFLC then you better get your ducks in a row.

Re:You've achieved your desired goal (3, Informative)

Sortova (922179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634264)

The history of OpenNMS is pretty long and convoluted. It was started by a company called Oculan, and I was an employee of theirs when they decided to stop publishing their code under the GPL. I wanted to keep the project alive, and thus I took over maintaining the code in 2002. So all of the original "1.0" code is copyright Oculan (and that IP is now owned by Raritan) while almost all of the other changes are copyright "The OpenNMS Group". Both companies are commercial entities, although OpenNMS is never licensed outside of the GPL. According to Daniel B. Ravicher at the SFLC (who I contacted in 2005): "SFLC unfortunately cannot generally represent for profit entities". The fact that the SFLC won't defend us doesn't mean that we "don't have any standing in the matter". We do own the copyright to our work, but it is a derivative work based on the GPL and it is very unclear how such things can be defended since it is based on the work of other (duly noted in every copyright notice in the OpenNMS code).

Re:You don't know they are in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632516)

Yes have to agree on the face of it there doesn't seem to be any GPL violations here. Looking at the list of components makes me suspect that Cittio is a Jave development house.

I would suspect that they are distributing unmodified versions of the software. with a Java Web App acting as a front ent. Granted I haven't seen it so I'm guessing.

As such they probably arn't actually required to list the products at all, any more than any other web App needs to state that it's running on an Apache webserver and talking to a Postgres database.

About the only kind of Licence that could have gotten them into truble would have been a MySQL style license (which they have steered clear of).

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632980)

Nice job sir!

FSF-style logical argument with a 4chan punchline!

You win many internets.

What's the menu path to that? (1)

ribman (1066628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633132)

So what's all this then? http://www.cittio.com/products/open_source_components.html [cittio.com]
Yes, that link works fine, but I stepped back up their menu to see how prominently they link to it for the public's sake and I can't find it ... ? Can you describe the menu clicks to get to it? If it's not in the menu or linked somehow, then it is not really a public page - it's only visible if someone gives you the direct link. (like you did)
(Not that I support either case regarding the greater debate raised here.)

Re:What's the menu path to that? (2, Informative)

ribman (1066628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633156)

Found the answer to my own question ....
It's not under Products - Watchtower
It's at: Technology - Open Source Components, so yes, that's up on the main menu, though sideways from Watchtower.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633226)

There are no links [google.com.au] to that page.

I agree there's no evidence they are violating the GPL. But they don't exactly appear eager to let their potential customers know that they are selling 100% open source software. I wouldn't be happy with that if I was a developer, or a customer.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (1)

AccUser (191555) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633404)

OK, so there is a page right there on their website that lists all the open source products that they use in their offering. How do I get to that page from their web-site? I googled, and whilst I can find that page, there doesn't seem to be a page that links to that page from in their web-site. I'm not saying that it is not there, it is just that I cannot find it, and I guess the OP couldn't either. The customer certainly didn't.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (0, Offtopic)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633446)

Please read the entire thread before posting.

Re:You don't know they are in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633536)

Worse, OpenNMS wouldn't be the only ones getting angry.

      http://www.cittio.com/technology/open-source.html [cittio.com]

The post would have been more appropriate if it read "We are a number of GPL software maintainers and there is this company that has refused...".

FAIL again.

And in any case, what's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633588)

If *some* of the code is yours, you can sue for it.

Unless all you want is to be paid, there's absolutely no problem persuing a GPL infraction if you own the copyright to even one line in the product.

If you want to be paid, you'll only be able to relicense the one line you wrote, which doesn't fix anything.

Is this someone fishing for an idea to bypass the GPL?

Re:You don't know they are in violation (2, Informative)

Sortova (922179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634288)

I never claimed to be unaware of Cittio's use of OpenNMS. If you read my post my claim is that potential Cittio "clients", not me, are being kept in the dark about what open source software is being used as part of Watchtower. It is not up to the end user to suddenly find out that the code they are purchasing is based on open source work. The GPL clearly states "you must show them these terms so they know their rights." This is, apparently, not being done.

Asked before -- the answer is the same (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22631990)

If you want legal advice, get a lawyer.

Re:Asked before -- the answer is the same (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632022)

If you want legal advice, get a lawyer.
If you want good legal advice, get a lawyer.
If you want hilariously bad legal advice, ask Slashdot.

Re:Asked before -- the answer is the same (1, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632056)

The RIAA doesn't know that their lawyers are looking for jobs on Slashdot. :P

Additionally (2, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632796)

In addition to getting a lawyer, you also want to get other OpenNMS copyright holders (particularly the commercial companies) in the loop. This helps increase the leverage and the resources available to fight. And they will bring in more lawyers, in all liklihood.

Check out the SFLC guidelines. (5, Informative)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632024)

The SFLC's Legal Issues Primer for Open Source and Free Software Projects [softwarefreedom.org] covers this. You probably want to give it a read.

Still, if it's really important, ask a lawyer, don't ask Slashdot.

Re:Check out the SFLC guidelines. (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632106)

How about a lawyer on Slashdot? There's gotta be one who knows what he's talking about?

(I'm one that admittedly realizes that I have no familiarity with these issues)

Re:Check out the SFLC guidelines. (2, Insightful)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632180)

You you really listen to legal advice on slashdot? I wouldn't. I would not listen to advice that came from someone where I had no means of verifying their credentials, no recourse if they were wrong and no good way to show people later that I operated in good faith.

Re:Check out the SFLC guidelines. (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632234)

I completely agree. Believe me, there's no way in hell I'd act upon it. It would simply be interesting and a possible starting point for my own research.

Re:Check out the SFLC guidelines. (1)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632302)

That's a pretty fair response. I didn't even think of it that way. I guess slashdot could be considered a wikipedia type starting point for some more particular questions like that even if it does seem very much based on the luck of the draw.

Re:Check out the SFLC guidelines. (4, Informative)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632252)

They wouldn't dare admit it, for fear of being held liable for it as legal advice.

Bye bye my application (4, Insightful)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632034)

I understand the joy of coding and excitement of creating your own applications for free, but I can never understand how programmers stand to watch their creations being usurped for commercial purposes. Whether it's abiding by the GPL or not, somebody else is making money from your creation. You would think the original programmer would have the wherewithal to market their own creation instead of leaving it for someone else. Even if you don't take the money for yourself, donate it back to the FSF or to another worthwhile cause. Maybe it's a case of lack of resources to start your product running. Maybe we need a group that can fill this niche for open source products. Maybe they already exist. If so I'd like to see discussion about it.

Re:Bye bye my application (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632062)

Cause selling a solution is just as much, if not more, work than creating one?

And it is something that is done by sales people, not programmers?

Re:Bye bye my application (2, Interesting)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632086)

Also, most solutions aren't going to be "perfect" for everyone, and if you're a demonstrably good programmer, you can contract your services at fairly healthy price levels to provide all sorts of custom solutions to the people who really like your open source software, but just want "a few tweaks".

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633174)

I'll say. It's a big source of revenue for RedHat, SuSE, Xen, and lots of other open source software vendors.

Re:Bye bye my application (2, Interesting)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632076)

So long as they're not making it proprietary, what's the problem? We can both destroy markets and help the world by opening our source, and that's pretty awesome. If someone happens to make some money (maybe consulting, whatever), so be it.

Re:Bye bye my application (2, Insightful)

theophilosophilus (606876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632258)

So long as they're not making it proprietary, what's the problem? We can both destroy markets and help the world by opening our source, and that's pretty awesome. If someone happens to make some money (maybe consulting, whatever), so be it.
Why is destroying markets a good goal? I think a better choice of words would be "revolutionize" or "reinvigorate." OSS doesn't destroy a market - it just makes it more competitive. See this post [slashdot.org] .

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634102)

The "software-in-a-box" market is based on artificial scarcity, and we don't need it. We will probably always need folk like sysadmins (which companies tend to hire directly) and consultants (sometimes direct, sometimes using big companies like IBM) to fine-tune things to our needs, but the traditional software company will hopefully die within the next 20 years.

Of course, there are many ways to conceptualise these markets, and the difference between our conceptualisations is where the difference sits.

Re:Bye bye my application (5, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632182)

You would think the original programmer would have the wherewithal to market their own creation instead of leaving it for someone else

Why would you think that? People are usually good at some things, not at others. I think it's very likely that a person good at programming and software design wouldn't necessarily be good at (or even interested in) running a business, accounting, marketing, all the legal stuff, etc. It's also very hard to find people to come in with you who are, based only on your software/coding expertise. I speak from experience.

Re:Bye bye my application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632300)

Aye, that's exactly why divisions/services/you-name-it exist in any kind of respectable company (you can even name it a vice-presidency if it pleases you).

People have different skills, and that's why we each have a mostly specific job. As a geek, compare it to being a linux/windows/network/telecomm/security/integrity/ethical/sci-fi expert ..

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

eggbert.net (217798) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632364)

People who are good at business get paid.
People who are good at programming get screwed?

My time, knowledge, and skill are not worthless and I would want to be paid. The GPL is great but FOSS programmers could exclude companies that use their software from the license and require an that those companies take an additional license so the programmer can get paid.

Also ... a software patent would be useful here ... and potentially beyond :)

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633448)

My time, knowledge, and skill are not worthless and I would want to be paid.

Then FOSS isn't what you're looking for as far as a suitable license for your stuff.

The GPL is great but FOSS programmers could exclude companies that use their software from the license and require an that those companies take an additional license so the programmer can get paid.

We taking for FO out of the FOSS now?

I can absolutely agree that programmers deserve pay for code that they are commissioned to do. Or for code that they are selling. I have to take exception with releasing code under a *Free* and *Open* license, and then wanting to limit it and/or close it up from certain individuals. There are other licenses out there, other options for those wishing to limit who can use a particular piece of software.
*shrug*

Re:Bye bye my application (0, Troll)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633744)

No, good GPL programmers sign over their work to the collective farm, err FSF and patents are a tool of greedy kulaks. That is why the GPLv3 forces you to license them for free to everyone. You should work solely for the betterment of society - money is an obsolete concept in this new Socialist age of plenty.

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

soulfury (1229120) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634000)

People who are good at business get paid.
People who are good at programming get screwed?
Yes, people who are good at programming get laid. Fair enough.

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632368)

Considering how many programmers have trouble just covering all the tasks that go into producing a polished product (I'm terrible at user interfaces, for an extremely broad example - I'm far more comfortable with back-end code), I'd be amazed if even 10% of programmers who try to develop and market their own product get anywhere. I suppose there must be exceptions - Irfanview is a great program that AFAIK is backed by only one person (it's distributed for free and source isn't available, however; this probably cuts down on the extraneous headaches quite effectively) - but in general it doesn't work that way. What, do you imagine that everybody at the Mozilla Foundation is there to write code? Even if you ignore the related tasks (going through bug reports, running various forms of tests across the code, even writing documentation), you've got people who handle money, who handle marketing, who handle legal issues...

Don't ever fall into the trap of assuming just because you're a 1337 programmer who wrote some truly awesome program/utility/library/framework, you know anything about promoting its use in the real world.

Re:Bye bye my application (2, Insightful)

fr0st0 (1250426) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632694)

I agree [GrahamCox]. Also, the ultimate underlying motivation of the programmers and the GPL, CCL, etc. is to increase information. Open and Free programmers are like anyone else in that they do what they do for a multitude of reasons (social, relative notoriety, etc. [see the first few chapters of 'Wealth of Networks']) but at the end of the day it all serves to expand the knowledge horizon of everyone, indirectly or directly. That combination of selfishness(in that more information benefits you) and selflessness (in that it also benefits everyone else) is the underlying sense of purpose that attracts the users and motivates the developers alike.

Re:Bye bye my application (5, Insightful)

wolf87 (989346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632212)

I recently developed a small package of statistical tools & made it available under lesser GPL. I made the decision to open-source it for several reasons. First, I wanted to make it easily available to other researchers wrestling with the same problem I was. Second, I wanted to see if anyone could take what I had done and extend it into a better set of tools. Third, having it freely available, code and all, helps to get my name out there and build my reputation. There are plenty of reasons to put out applications without making money from it.

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632346)

So by this reasoning, Linus should be crying night and day because people and companies are making billions from using/selling Linux?

Show and Tell ( ... anyone? ) (2, Insightful)

remitaylor (884490) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632850)

You must have been absent all of those days in kindergarten when they emphasized *sharing*

Typical situation:
  * programmer needs X (to "scratch own itch")
  * programmer makes X and realized that, wow, other people might want to use it or contribute to it
  * programmer releases source
  * FIN

A few things might happen:
  * people contribute to X and make it better, for friggin FREE!
  * companies use X - programmer helped out other human beings
      * depending on license X was released under, if companies make their own improvements, they have to release the source code ... once again ... making your software better for FREE

You can be a douche bag and spend lot of time packaging EVERY projects you EVER make, and charging $19.95 for it ... or you can be productive, not worry about trying to sell every piece of code you've EVER written, and release the code as open source to help other programmers.

Make something seriously cool that's worth marketing and selling ... SELL IT.

But if you don't get how anyone might want to ... I dunno ... share with the community to help others ... then what the friggin Hell are you doing on slashdot? Seriously? Well. Nevermind ... I suppose we all need some flamebait, now and again, eh?

As a side note ... the more open source software you release, the better the chances of someone actually being helped by it, the better the chance of it becoming well known or used ... the more visitors your site gets ... the more you SELL SELL SELL to your visitors ( commercial software or support or consulting )

I follow a lot of what the writers of my favorite libraries do/blog and I'd love nothing more than to, one day, release projects that help others, as I've been helped by so, so, so many open source projects.

Finally, I'd reiterate that a lot of the open source projects our there are there because someone made something to scratch his/her own itch ... then released it. Many of these projects would be VERY hard to sell, and would take TIME to sell ... so, instead, people offer them up to others to use / improve / etc. But, for those of use who prefer licenses like the GPL, the code is offered up such that any improvements need to be open source, as well ... thus, everyone can work to make it better! If you want to be able to sell your own "Professional" or "Advanced" version of your software, release it under a license that lets you do so.

A lot of these projects would NOT SELL on their own. Other people use them because they exist, but, if they didn't exist for free, the companies would likely program it themselves. When a company uses your code in their software, you simply end up getting more exposure and ... hell ... they might even hire you for programming / consulting. Honestly, where's the downside?

People like you would rather have an apple rot than give it away to others. If your apple's ripe and you're not going to eat it ... see if someone else wants it. If you're a programmer, I bet you've got atleast a dozen finished or half-finished project that you're not making ANY money from, nor are you ever likely to. Don't you understand that you could open source them and ... maybe someone'll find them via google one day and you'll have helped someone else? You might even get a patch in the email one day from someone who's dramatically improved your code ... or just from someone thanking you for releasing it! At the very least, it'll make you feel good about yourself whereas, if you hadn't released the code, you never would've felt good about helping that person. It's really that simple.

</rant>

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632852)

Whether it's abiding by the GPL or not, somebody else is making money from your creation.

This is a stupid, juvenile concern. If it offended me that others would use my code, I would not release it. The only purpose of releasing code under GPL or any other communist license is personal gratification and egotism.

Re:Bye bye my application (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634308)

I think you are muddling things up here. There is a lot more to making money than having an idea and a lot more to having a sellable product than just having a product. Just looking at the Cittio website, their own product is based on dozens of open source components, most of which are fairly major pieces of work. Cittio has taken the extra step of building them all together and putting on nice front ends that allows someone to do a task easily. They have made something that people are willing to pay money for. They have also no doubt invested money in marketing and selling the end result, and providing support and guarantees to their customers.

Isn't the idea that an idea is worth a lot of money exactly why we all get so riled up about patent trolls?

During the day I develop commercial software - sometimes I make use of LGPL / BSD licenced software. I'm reasonably good at this and am paid more than I need to get by. When I have the spare time and inclination I also contribute to open source software. I don't feel any need to be paid for this as I am already benefitting from other free software, and I hope other developers benefit from my own freely provided work. If someone can make money off it, good for them.

Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (4, Informative)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632082)

First issue: are you SURE they're in violation? This could be as simple as calling their support line and asking how you can get the source code (this assumes you've confirmed that GPLed code is included). If you can't get to the support people without being a customer, search their website for any indications and/or try and get a demo.

Once you're reasonably sure they're in violation, consult a lawyer who knows IP law, preferably one familiar with the GPL in particular. Even on Slashdot, I'm not going to try giving you advice beyond that. It's not cheap, but there's a decent chance of getting legal expenses awarded in court.

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (3, Informative)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632104)

Oh, and document EVERYTHING. Every email, every phone call (you may need to tell the other party if you record the call, I don't know the law in your area), every letter, every step of your research. I'm guessing a single subpoena would get all the evidence you need, but no point taking risks when money is at stake (as it will be if this goes to court).

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632146)

He's already screwed himself by posting to Slashdot. If he is lucky Cittio will just ignore him. If he's not, they'll probably sue him for libel. His only defense then will be to show that he is right, and that will be pretty hard to do after Cittio have cleaned up any discrepancies they might have had in their distribution.. which they are sure to do before calling the lawyers.

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632272)

This moron is going to have his ass sued off. It helps to have some concept of basic legal wrangling before taking on another legal entity. Regardless of whether you wrote the software or not. This person is going to end up "pwned" by the larger entity. Idiot.

You supposedly want "freedom" and yet you throw a fit when some entity takes your software and uses it to their advantage. I'm laughing at you, as are thousands of others. Fucking patchouli-stinking communist.

I have personally bypassed the entire issue by releasing my code under the BSD license. Use it as you see fit. I'm not so goddamn arrogant as to think I can dictate how you use my inventions. If I didn't want you to profit from them, I would not have released them. Those who release under GPL are nothing but egotistical assholes.

BSD troll strikes again.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632530)

More off-topic crap from the BSD user/troll community..

Re:BSD troll strikes again.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632538)

Ironically, I use Linux, and have never, ever touched BSD. But hey, whatever it takes to argue, eh?

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632884)

You supposedly want "freedom" and yet you throw a fit when some entity takes your software and uses it to their advantage.

When "freedom" is defined as freedom for the end-user, I think they do pretty well.

Fucking patchouli-stinking communist.

Must be trolling hour. My turn! Fucking long-haired, crack-smoking, Metallica-wannabe anarchist.

I'm not so goddamn arrogant as to think I can dictate how you use my inventions.

Cool! So what do you do for a day job? Where did you find a company that's not so goddamn arrogant as to think it can dictate how the end-user can use your inventions?

For that matter, why the fuck did you use BSD, then? If you really want us to "use it as you see fit", follow sqlite's fine example and release public domain. I might even maintain the GPL fork.

Let me know when you want to have an actual discussion. Or we can just flame each other like retards.

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633042)

Let me know when you want to have an actual discussion. Or we can just flame each other like retards.
Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633292)

He's already screwed himself by posting to Slashdot.
Perhaps not. Now everyone knows that Cittio is open source software based on NMS, which is all he wanted in the first place.

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633620)

He has another defence - That the harm caused by the post was negligible.

Re:Do a little digging yourself, get a lawyer (1)

Sortova (922179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634328)

I wasn't really asking for legal advice on Slashdot. While I am at times stupid, I am not that stupid (grin). I was actually looking to see if there were other suggestions and other courses of action. If you read my post, I make two claims: that it appears that Cittio is not making clients aware of their rights under the GPL (it was a client who was unaware that OpenNMS was used as part of Cittio, not me) and that it appears that at least one of their developers is doing more with the OpenNMS code than just packaging it, which suggests (and note I say "suggests") that they may be using OpenNMS code as part of their application. Neither claim is libelous.

GPL. Hahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632132)

GPL? Legal action? LOL! My lawyers and I wipe our asses with your silly license.

-Bill Gates.

Quick response then Off topic observations on OGP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632186)

Well, let me say i hope things turn out well for Tarus and the OpenNMS team and that they can curtail such problems in the future.

However, i wanted to say that while i have been using OpenNMS for sometime now, i feel that the project is stagnating and that it also has a very dated interface compared to other modern NMS systems (e.g. Hyperic).

They have confusing and spotty browser support where some sections of their tool work well in Firefox (reports and graph zooming) but others require IE (maps).

OpenNMS has fallen behind in many areas and needs adopt a modern toolkit that would bring all they hidden potential to the surface in a way that enhances the "curb appeal" of the product.

By adopting more modern interfaces (whether flex,DHTML,etc) and ensuring that users have the ability to easily (and in a consistent manner) update or edit the many config/xml/properties files , i believe that this powerful tool will once again see a resurgence in customer adoption.

-Anon

NB. OpenNMS (or OGP) members should try to be a little less abrasive when responding to question of frustrated users on the mailing lists (mainly due to shoddy documentation and the problems with interface consistency)

The first step. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632210)

The first step in dealing with a GPL violation is making sure that you are not a fucking asshole. So you wrote code, released it, and made some stupid restrictions on it? That makes you a fucking asshole. Guess you're going to have to deal with the repercussions. Fucking capitalist swine.

Post it on slashdot!!! (1, Offtopic)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632294)

1. Write GPL software
2. Discover GPL software license has been violated
3. Post all over slashdot asking legal advice
4. Whine about why no lawyer will touch your case with a barge pole
5. ????
6. Profit

If you're in a situation that might need a lawyer, contact one. Asking for help on /. is going to do your case more harm than good.

Are you suprised? (0, Troll)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632338)

Are you suprised? Come on, you publish the SOURCE code. That's a lot easier to steal than DRM software and media.

What are you trying to accomplish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632372)

Do you want money? Recognition? Revenge? Perhaps you should begin a PR campaign to get the word out. Their website has lots of big corporations listed as clients, I'll bet those companies would would be interested in knowing that the product that they paid big money for could be taken away from them because Cittio is in violation of the GPL. What about calling their Investors and having a chat with them?

This is well documented already!!! (4, Informative)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632376)

The instructions for what to do if you think you have found a gpl violation are here [fsf.org] . There is no mention of posting to slashdot on that page. There is a mention of checking your facts first... some companies get a bit cross (eg they'll take you to court) if you write anything bad about their product which isn't completely true. (i'm not saying it isn't, i'm just saying you don't appear to have done your homework yet).

Contrary Opinion (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632504)

When you place something into a public commons, other people will take advantage of it without contributing back. That's the nature of reality. There's even an economic term for this: the tragedy of the commons. The core of the FSF's philosophy is that software should not be owned, but that it should be a public common. By using the GPL you are implicitly agreeing with this. That is fine, so long as you know what you are getting into. But to get all pissy after the fact that someone is taking advantage of what you have given away is pure arrogance.

If you don't want people abusing your software, then don't release it into the commons. Be honest with yourself and keep it proprietary. But if you do release it as Free Software, then don't start suing people of trivial legal details. Save the lawyers for the truly egregious stuff.

Life is too short for lawsuits.

Re:Contrary Opinion (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633162)

I think you've misread the tragedy of the commons. It's when a few or even many user begins to take slightly more than their share that you get "the tragedy of the commons". It's what the GPL is designed to avoid, and is precisely why the GPL is often more effective in protecting the commons than the BSD or Apache licenses. There is no "giving back" requirement in the original story of the commons, although "giving back" can extend the lifetime of the cocmmons by quite a lot, even making it permanent and avoiding the tragedy if done properly.

That said, he hasn't sued, so get off the high horse. Documenting *everything*, and a simple cease and desist letter from a competent intellectual property lawyer may be all that's needed if they're really in violation. If they are in violation, that competent lawyer needs to help drag their butt into court. If it were my code, I wouldn't ask on Slashdot, I'd ask the EFF and the FSF for recommendationsn for lawyers, and I'd ask over on Groklaw, not Slashdot.

As has been said: They don't have to give the code (5, Informative)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632520)

...out on the web. Nothing in the GPL says that a licensee has to freely offer the code to absolutely anyone free of charge, to anyone that asks, in the manner the asker chooses. It says that they have to offer the code, in a manner of their choosing to anyone that asks.

In a commercial hardware product, that means that the company can insist on only distributing the code by sending it to you as a bunch of floppy disks, for all the GPL cares.

Now, once someone has the code, that person can then re-distribute the GPLed code however they feel.

One example: My Toshiba HD DVD Player [toshiba.com] (don't laugh, it was a present,) contains GPL code. Toshiba doesn't make this fact obvious. It's buried in the manual for the product. Toshiba doesn't make the code available on their website, because they're not required to. To quote the GPL 2.0 that my Toshiba uses:

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


The internet isn't the only medium customarily used for software interchange. And they are allowed to charge a reasonable fee for duplication and distribution. (See GPL section 1.) If they really felt ornery, they would be perfectly within their rights to charge you for the physical cost of a bunch of floppies, and the time (at minimum wage, or even higher,) some flunky had to spend copying onto those floppies.

Re:As has been said: They don't have to give the c (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632584)

I think the time for floppies has passed. They are no longer customarily used to distribute software. But they could buy a hard drive and put the code on it and charge you for it.

Re:As has been said: They don't have to give the c (1)

elec1cele (764343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632818)

The internet isn't the only medium customarily used for software interchange. And they are allowed to charge a reasonable fee for duplication and distribution. (See GPL section 1.) If they really felt ornery, they would be perfectly within their rights to charge you for the physical cost of a bunch of floppies, and the time (at minimum wage, or even higher,) some flunky had to spend copying onto those floppies.

I think saying floppies are a "medium customarily used for software interchange" is at this point a bit of a stretch. I don't know of any major software that is currently available via floppies. Also the Majority of PC's no longer come with a floppy drive. Much like reel to reel tapes (yes I know some palces still have some but mostly for "legacy" support) floppies are now a thing of the past.

Re:As has been said: They don't have to give the c (1)

simong (32944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633572)

It's a good point. When GPL 2 was written, the Internet wasn't as mature as it is now, and the main method of physically transporting data would have been floppies. That's been superceded by CDs and now by the 'net, so it would take someone who was genuinely obstructive to break out the HD 1.44s and send out code in that way. Hmm, I really should bin that box of floppies one day...

Re:As has been said: They don't have to give the c (2, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633698)

In a commercial hardware product, that means that the company can insist on only distributing the code by sending it to you as a bunch of floppy disks, for all the GPL cares.

This goes against the spirit of the GPL.... To take your example to the extreme, suppose that they made the code available via 3of9 barcode in printed format? stone tablet (mailed to you via overnight delivery at your expense)? 8" floppy disks? download via modem @ 300bps at $19.95/minute? Maybe stone tablets aren't machine readable but the rest are.

It's the "complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code" and "a medium customarily used for software interchange" you quoted that explain it. How many computers have floppy disks these days? Mine doesn't. When was the last time you saw anyone exchange code on a floppy disk?

Re:As has been said: They don't have to give the c (1)

Androclese (627848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22634166)

Not trying to be a smart-arse, but BIOS updates and SATA drivers still have to be installed with a floppy.

Sony Mylo GPL source? (0, Offtopic)

Technomancer (51963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632570)

Sony has just released second generation device,Mylo-2, both Mylo-1 and Mylo-2 are Linux based and locked tight. Where are the kernel sources? GPLed userland sources? Nobody seems to notice or nobody cares.

Re:Sony Mylo GPL source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633014)

http://www.sony.net/Products/Linux/notice.html [sony.net] -> Personal Communicator

Re:Sony Mylo GPL source? (0, Redundant)

Technomancer (51963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633136)

Great! Thanks.

xda-developers.com GPL theft rampant on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22632642)

Here is a GPL violation handled with extreme prejudice

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=370796&page=29 [xda-developers.com]

half-way down the page, number 287

I note that the response from the majority of forum users is: stealing GPL is okay if it means I get what I want. The forum is a repository of ROM hacks and warez links mixed in so it is not an unexpected response.

Read and see how much of our source is stolen

Just write it up (1)

Ecyrd (51952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22632724)

I've found out that filing a ticket on the company's public issue tracker (so that their other customers can see it, too) helps.

Also, writing a polite email which details exactly how they are breaking the GPL and which steps they should take to correct the issue, might help a lot. It's sometimes just simple misunderstanding of the GPL. Sometimes on the part of the author, sometimes on the part of the user - but in any case, the act of detailing the alleged breach of license will clarify the issue.

Re:Just write it up (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633196)

You want this on paper as well, to keep a legally verifiable copy, and say that you sent it via email and paper. Even if it is not from a lawyer, a copy on paper shows you took it a lot more seriously than just a random email.

Re:Just write it up (2, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22633346)

Also, writing a polite email which details exactly how they are breaking the GPL and which steps they should take to correct the issue, might help a lot. It's sometimes just simple misunderstanding of the GPL. Sometimes on the part of the author, sometimes on the part of the user - but in any case, the act of detailing the alleged breach of license will clarify the issue.

Why go straight on the offensive? By detailing their offenses, you're pretty much saying you're already convinced they're in the wrong, which tends to put people on the defensive.

What's wrong with simply asking "Hey guys, i see you're using GPL'd software, which is great. Could you give me some more information on how you make the source code available to your customers?"

Yuo Fa1l It!? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633066)

Take a llok at the best. Individuals Product, BSD's Common knowledge We'll be able to Documents li4e a the official GAY you have a play

Call Stallman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633246)

Call Stallman. And tell him to bring his banjo!

yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22633564)

Yeah.....right............ most would think it does not matter
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