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GNU is Not Unix Software

GPL Violations On Windows Go Unnoticed? 445

Posted by kdawson
from the not-in-my-back-yard dept.
Scott_F writes "I recently reviewed several commercial, closed-source slideshow authoring packages for Windows and came across an alarming trend. Several of the packages I installed included GPL and LGPL software without any mention of the GPL, much less source code. For example, DVD Photo Slideshow (www.dvd-photo-slideshow.com) included mkisofs, cdrdao, dvdauthor, spumux, id3lib, lame, mpeg2enc, and mplex (all of which are GPL or LGPL). The company tried to hide this by wrapping them all in DLLs. There are other violations in other packages as well. Based on my testing of other software, it seems that use of GPL software in commercial Windows applications is on the rise. My question is how much are GPL violations in the Windows world being pursued? Does the FSF or EFF follow up on these if the platform is not GPL? How aware is the community of this trend?" This new method of detecting GPL violations could help here.
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GPL Violations On Windows Go Unnoticed?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:32AM (#20410497)
    When asked for comment, Richard Stallman stroked his beard lovingly and said, "Soon, my friends. Soon the world shall be ours."
  • Bill Gates issued a response, but it was already issued by SCO under the LGPL, so it's wrapped in a DLL. Good luck interpreting it.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:33AM (#20410515) Homepage
    Did you try to contact the company? If not, that would be the first step.
    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by HappySmileMan (1088123) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:46AM (#20410681)
      I sent an email yesterday telling them that they were in violation of the GPL and that the story reached slashdot, didn't say much else and don't know much, but decided to inform them before they get a bunch of "OMG j00 r copyright n00b" emails.
    • Which company are you talking about? The violator or copyright holder? I'm no lawyer, but I would think notifying the copyright holder about the violation is the most appropriate thing to do.
      • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Atzanteol (99067) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:55AM (#20410787) Homepage
        Or at least asking them for the source. It's a common misconception that a GPLd app must be accompanied by source code. The company only has to make it available upon request.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DaHat (247651)
          More than that really as they aren't giving you the code outright, they need to offer (in writing) to give it to you if you ask... from the sounds of it neither is happening here.
        • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:05AM (#20410911)
          Yes, GPL software does not need to be accompanied by the source, but it does need to be accompanied by an offer to give you the source. The original article suggests that there was no such offer.
        • Re:Well.. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Arslan ibn Da'ud (636514) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:06AM (#20410919) Homepage
          That is all very true...selling GPL'd code is perfectly legal. If they refuse to provide sourcecode to their sw upon request, that is illegal, but that hasn't happened, yet.

          The violation comes in stripping the GPL off the code....definitely illegal.

        • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

          by petard (117521) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:28AM (#20411195) Homepage

          Or at least asking them for the source. It's a common misconception that a GPLd app must be accompanied by source code. The company only has to make it available upon request.

          It needs to be accompanied by a written offer for the source if it isn't accompanied by source.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by TapeCutter (624760)
            Speaking as someone who does this on a reasonably regular basis...

            1. Read "free" license.txt. (Some are surprising, eg: SQLite's original "prayer" or FractInt's "Got money - want admiration")

            2. Cut & paste the "free" license.txt into the appendix of your license.txt

            3. ???

            4. Profit!

            There are companies and individuals who are willfully ignorant of steps 1&2 particularly when talking about shrink-wrapped software but IMHO most corporate shops treat copyright issues with "due dilligence".
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ajs318 (655362)
          It doesn't have to be accompanied by the Source Code, but it does have to be accompanied by the text of the GPL -- which explicitly states that you are entitled to the Source Code and if you didn't find it included with the software, then you need only ask for it.

          The GPL is usually the only thing giving you permission to make copies of someone else's copyrighted work (unless your use constitutes Fair Dealing or you have separately-negotiated permission from the copyright holder or their authorised agent)
        • by sholden (12227)
          They have to include a written offer to supply the source, they just can't just not include it and hope no one notices and then send a copy of someone does.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Knuckles (8964)
        I would think notifying the copyright holder about the violation is the most appropriate thing to do.

        Right on. Using code that is available under GPL does not even always mean that there is a violation. It's possible that the copyright hold allowed them to use it under a different license. (Given the number of packages that are included in this DVD authoring application, this seems unlikely, though.)
  • by chalkyj (927554) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:34AM (#20410523)
    Should be linking to http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/0 8/25/1648253 [slashdot.org] I guess.
  • Misleading summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CogDissident (951207) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:34AM (#20410531)
    So, its a software violation on windows, but really its just one program thats not terribly popular that happens to have broken the GPL. I really don't think this is a "windows specific" issue at all. They can, and likely do, violate the GPL on linux or mac all the time. Infact, said company sells software for the iPod.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ivan256 (17499)
      I don't think the summary is misleading at all. The implication is that free software writers are less likely to notice when their code is used in violation of the license when the violation occurs in a Windows application instead of in an application written for an OS such an author is more likely to use him/herself.
      • I don't think the summary is misleading at all. The implication is that free software writers are less likely to notice when their code is used in violation of the license when the violation occurs in a Windows application instead of in an application written for an OS such an author is more likely to use him/herself.

        I would expect that software authors (free or not) are more likely than most people to use multiple operating systems, and free software authors probably as likely, or nearly so, to use Windows

    • by jkrise (535370)
      but really its just one program thats not terribly popular that happens to have broken the GPL. I really don't think this is a "windows specific" issue at all...

      I think this is Windows-specific. Companies who write software that works on Windows usually write non-GPL, non-Open-source, proprietary stuff... and it is reasonable to expect the GPL violations on Closed Source code would be harder to detect.

      Software written for Linux generally tends to be GPL / Apache / MPL licensed... very few firms write propr
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gray peter (539195)
        First of all, you forgot the Mac, which as someone else pointed out probably has just as many 3rd party apps using GPL code.

        Second of all, there are PLENTY of firms writing proprietary code for linux, most of it VERY expensive. Besides the obvious (Oracle, BEA, IBM) there are a huge number of high end scientific analysis, manufacturing and financial companies doing so.

  • Probably common (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:39AM (#20410597) Journal
    I hate being a pessimist, but packaging OSS in binaries without mentioning it is probably being incredibly common.
    • It's extrodinarily common. Especially in the custom software market. Small programs rip off GPL software all the time. If pushed, a lot of them could find free* alternatives, or find a cheap commercial product to license, but why bother. (*note, I don't use free in the RMS manner, but in the literal, truly free public domain manner)
    • by canuck57 (662392)

      I hate being a pessimist, but packaging OSS in binaries without mentioning it is probably being incredibly common.

      Quite common actually. I estimate at least 50% of I/T purchases today contain some amount of open source and do not disclose it. Worse yet, many deny it slamming open source. I often run "strings" on it, or compare outputs. ldd for which binaries it is linked to. It is often surprising what you can find.

  • by JeremyGNJ (1102465) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:40AM (#20410621)
    Here's the question to your question about whether violations are followed up on or being investigated:

    Who's going to follow up on it and why?
    Who's going to pay for the lawyers to do so?
    Is there *any* money to be made? Even enough to pay for those lawyers?
    Are you just penalizing the "spirit" of the GPL by making it a legal battle rather than letting the code proliferate?
    • Yeah, there is money to be made. LITIGATE the BASTARDS out of their PANTS.
    • by Bloater (12932)
      The spirit of the GPL is that if they've got any improvements at all (such as packaging them in a dll - nice) they *have* to offer to make them available on request and follow through on that offer. That is the whole point of the GPL - guarantee that distributers of improved versions don't devalue the versions that are more generally available by letting them fall behind.
    • by fsmunoz (267297)
      That "penalizing the spirit" part is very important... most GPL violations (around 90% IIRC) are not made on purpose, but stem from sheer lack of knowledge. I would think that this would be even more the case with freeware Windows developers. Generally a simple conversation with the authors fixes things (the termination clause in situations of non-compliance was made more lenient in GPLv3 due to this).

      In any event it's the copyright owners job to fix this... one should of course drop them a mail. One impo
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Synn (6288)
      Who's going to follow up on it and why?

      Whoever owns the software in order to protect their copyright claims. The Free Software Foundation recommends that GPL authors assign the copyright over to them, just for these reasons. They actively pursue copyright claims.

      Who's going to pay for the lawyers to do so?

      The FSF has lawyers on staff and people like me, who pay yearly dues to the FSF, pay for these lawyers.

      Is there *any* money to be made? Even enough to pay for those lawyers?

      No clue, but you
  • by kebes (861706) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:41AM (#20410623) Journal
    At a minimum, document everything and send a report to the GPL-violations homepage [gpl-violations.org] (in particular, refer to contact info [gpl-violations.org]). That website tracks GPL violations and is in contact with the FSF. They will probably pass the information along to those whose copyright is being infringed, so that they can take direct action.

    The normal course of action is that the authors of the GPL code will send friendly "please comply with the license" messages. Usually the infringing party will comply with the GPL before threat of lawsuits are mentioned.

    It's definitely unfortunate that consistent policing of proprietary vendors is necessary (they, of all people, should know better!)... but ultimately I think most projects can be made to comply with the GPL without too much trouble, once they are uncovered.

    So, in short, document your findings and notify the appropriate people!
    • by Vulva R. Thompson, P (1060828) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:56AM (#20410805)
      This snippet from the FAQ is probably worth posting for others that run into this issue (before posting on Digg or Slashdot). Note the last paragraph, emphasis mine:

      "How can I help gpl-violations.org ?

      Firstly by not reacting to a technical GPL violation in an extreme fashion. Secondly by checking the violation is indeed a violation.

      Join the mailing lists, discuss issues there first. Be polite but firm when dealing with companies and remember that the goal is to ensure a company stops violating the GPL and does not violate it again, rather than to leave a smoking crater at the location of their HQ... at least not on the first offence.

      Keep records of conversations with companies. Co-ordinate with others. A company faced with eight different stories will find it hard to deal with. A company faced with a single accurate information source can respond better.

      Beware the "public shaming" bomb. It's easy to let off, but very hard to defuse if you made a mistake or the issue turned out to be minor and is rapidly resolved. In addition companies may become very defensive in such cases and decide to "tough it out". We want to build bridges and giving a company no way to avoid losing face hinders that, especially in certain cultures."

  • by Brett Smith (1081153) <brett@fsf.org> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:41AM (#20410635) Homepage

    The FSF investigates and pursues GPL violations on its software on all platforms. I've handled violations on Windows, MacOS X, GNU/Linux, and embedded devices. We provide complete instructions for reporting violations [fsf.org] on our web site; if you're finding any kind of violation on FSF-copyrighted software, please don't hesitate to contact us.

    -- Brett Smith, FSF Licensing Compliance Engineer

    • On its software (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fotbr (855184) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:51AM (#20410747) Journal
      They won't pursue shit unless they own the copyright being violated, which is as it should be.

      Your code, your responsibility to look after it, not some third party organization's responsibility. (yes, I know submitter isn't complaining about HIS code being used)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PhilHibbs (4537)
        OP wrote:
        The FSF investigates and pursues GPL violations on its software on all platforms.
        Its software - software owned by the FSF, such as the GNU project. The article is incorrectly tagged 'gnu' but this is not a GNU issue. Just because someone used the GPL for their software, doesn't make it part of the GNU project or owned by the FSF and the FSF have no obligation to do anything about this. (dsclaimer: I havent checked to see whether any of the software listed actually is part of the GNU project but it
        • by fotbr (855184)
          Which is exactly the point I was making.

          The person I replied to focused on the first part of the sentence, ignoring the bit about it being FSF software that the FSF defends, and tried to make it sound like the FSF was there to defend any and all GPL software, which is not the case.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Brett,

      I cannot give out my name, but a huge, giant US electronics and appliances corporation (a brand name that everyone has known for well over a century) is using Linux as the core OS and firmware in at least a couple of the products they sell... these products came from a smaller company they bought rather than developed themselves. The people running this division have no intention whatsoever of complying with the GPL and are probably right now trying to "sanitize" the identifying characteristics of th
  • by Speare (84249) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:41AM (#20410639) Homepage Journal

    The FSF will only work to enforce the GPL if the GPL code in question is signed over to the FSF. While I can understand that legal logic, I have a hard time with the concept of creating something, keeping a copyright in force, and then signing the copyright away for no benefit to myself. The only benefit would be that the FSF would then fight when someone uses it in an "unauthorized" manner. If I'm not going to hold my own copyright, why not just specifically disavow copyright and let it enrich everybody via the public domain?

    This is the root of my problem with GNU in general: why show everybody how you achieved and developed a certain technological capability, without letting people actually use that method? If you only want certain people to be able to use that method, then only show those certain people how it's done. I think it's just a bit petty to show the code but not authorize its use. The "unauthorized" user can't steal it because you will always have it. The "unauthorized" user can extend it and keep those extensions hidden, but I fail to see how that really hurts me: I can extend my copy too. If I give an ice cream cone to my brother, I can't dictate to him how he eats it.

    • by Tiger4 (840741)
      If the next guy "steals" the code for his own purposes, it may or may not hurt you. Assuming you really did give it away, then presumably you don't care about compensation, so no harm done. Unless he does something really stupid and blames you for it.

      But it harms the third person in line. That guy is getting your good stuff, the second guy's questionable stuff, and has no way to distinguish the two. Or to give credit where credit (or blame) is due. The second guy in line took that opportunity away when
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aram Fingal (576822)
      The point of the GPL is to keep the project, which you wrote code for, going in a publicly available form. The main complaint of TFA is that these people using GPL code aren't making their snapshot of code (with any modifications they made) available to the public. Without the GPL, public domain code for a project can be taken, modified and close-sourced. If some people start using the closed source version, then you have development forks which can't be synced and your version of the project can suffer
    • by 00_NOP (559413)
      Parent is more than a little unfair. FSF has no locus in the case unless it is assigned the copyright. And something in the public domain has no copyright and so cannot be protected or kept free/open.
    • by kebes (861706) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:25AM (#20411173) Journal

      I have a hard time with the concept of creating something, keeping a copyright in force, and then signing the copyright away for no benefit to myself
      No benefit to yourself? If you're putting code under the GPL, it's usually because you believe in the principles of the GPL (keeping code open source, encouraging freedom, etc.). In such a case, the benefit of signing copyright over to the FSF is that they will take care of enforcement on your behalf.

      If I'm not going to hold my own copyright, why not just specifically disavow copyright and let it enrich everybody via the public domain?
      If you want your code to be public domain, then you would release it to the public domain in the first place (or use a BSD license). Using the GPL is not a substitute for public domain: it is a license which guarantees certain things, namely it guarantees that the code will remain open and shareable ("free"). If you don't care about code remaining open and shareable, then don't license it under GPL. If you do care about it being open and shareable, then license it under GPL. If you further don't want to deal with the hassles of protecting said license, sign over the copyright to the FSF, who have much experience in such matters.

      This is the root of my problem with GNU in general: why show everybody how you achieved and developed a certain technological capability, without letting people actually use that method? ... I think it's just a bit petty to show the code but not authorize its use.
      You are basically saying that you prefer BSD to GPL. That's fine. (So, go ahead and license your code that way.) However, understand that the purpose of the GPL is to encourage all code to be "free," where free means: open source, shareable, and guaranteed to remain so.

      You appear not to care about the "guaranteed to remain so" part. That's fine. But understand that many among us find closing the source of code that was freely distributed to be rather unfriendly... and we're using copyright law as a tool to help guarantee that the code remains free. This guarantee helps encourage more people to create and to release (because many people would not release their code if they knew that others would commercialize/extend it without giving back). That is, copyright law is achieving, in this case, its stated goal: to encourage the production and dissemination of content.

      That, in my mind, is the brilliance of the GPL: it co-opts copyright law, uses it in an unconventional way, and thereby achieves the fundamental purpose of copyright law: to give an incentive for creation and free distribution of creative works.
      • by Speare (84249)
        This is exactly my point: I don't release things under GPL because I don't believe in the GPL ideals (to fight people who want to use a published method alongside an unpublished method). I do release things to BSD-like or public domain as I see fit. The incentive to creation is either financial or feel-good. I don't get any feel-good by fighting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)
        Two words: Dual license.

        By signing away the copyright, you've signed away the ability to relicense your code. In short, many are of the opinion that if you'd like to contribute your changes back under the GPL that's fine. If you want to close source and make money off our code, mine and yours, then I want money off my part too. To put it in real world terms. If you asked me for help moving a piece of furniture I'd certainly do so. If I learned you were hired and paid to move said furniture, I'd want to get
    • by quanticle (843097)

      I have a hard time with the concept of creating something, keeping a copyright in force, and then signing the copyright away for no benefit to myself.

      The entire point of the GPL is that you use the terms of your copyright to ensure that all the users of your software have the same rights to it that you do. You (the creator) have the right to use, and the right to modify. With the GPL your users have the same rights. The GPL goes farther than that, though. It also says that neither you nor none of you

    • The FSF will only work to enforce the GPL if the GPL code in question is signed over to the FSF. While I can understand that legal logic, I have a hard time with the concept of creating something, keeping a copyright in force, and then signing the copyright away for no benefit to myself. The only benefit would be that the FSF would then fight when someone uses it in an "unauthorized" manner.

      So hire your own lawyer and keep that gigantic statutory damages award for yourself. Of course, there is a risk that
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      If I'm not going to hold my own copyright, why not just specifically disavow copyright and let it enrich everybody via the public domain?

      Works for SQLite.

      This is the root of my problem with GNU in general: why show everybody how you achieved and developed a certain technological capability, without letting people actually use that method?

      The GPL (conceptually); lets people use the software freely, but requires that they "pay" you if the change and distribute the software. Now, they don't pay in money, they

    • by dcollins (135727)
      Free as in speech, not free as in ice cream.
    • > If you only want certain people to be able to use that method, then only show those certain people how it's done.

      Replace the "source code" with words like "music" or "movie" or "book" and your sentences make a lot more sense. Books are available on the library, so certainly I have the right to copy a book and then sell it with profit, right? If I didn't have this right, the book wouldn't be public. Right?
  • by Shados (741919) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:07AM (#20410931)
    I used to work for a very large (not software) company (somewhere in fortune 20) that was using GPL stuff left and right without complying to the terms and redistributing.

    I personaly don't care much for the GPL, but I do care for complying with licenses and copyright, so I mentionned it to them. Their answer was "GPwhat? No, its free code people give away on the net!". My reply was a long explaination of the difference between "free to do whatever" and the GPL, and even repeating several time, I'd literaly get the same answer: "But...its free! What conditions could there be?".

    Eventually I got through by explaining to a project manager, who essentially said that the day someone asks for the source, we'll give it, and that will be that. I still don't think they realised what it meant considering the amount of trade secrets that were in the code, but...
  • 1.) Contribute something critical to one of the projects.
    2.) Add a GPL violations fee notice for commercial exploitation of GPL violation for code you commited. Something like half a million dollars or something.
    3.) Wait till they update their product with your code.
    4.) Sue them into next wednesday.
    5.) Profit.

    If you get a lawyer with some advice to join you before you rev up your code contributions you could easyly prep a lawsuit that kills of the entire company and leaves you both with a nice mound of cash
  • Rentacoder & others (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drspliff (652992) <harry.roberts@NOSPAM.midnight-labs.org> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:14AM (#20411033)
    I've noticed that on a lot of the rentacoder style sites where people are asking for clones of this or that or just a general program (e.g. I want a DVD writing application), in order for developers to remain profitable they cannot write everything from scratch - like Nero and others have have done (just an example).

    On a few occasions when I used to freelance, I've warned people that in order to deliver something on time they'd need to buy-in external components, and to deliver something on budget they'd need to use existing GPL/LGPL or BSD licensed components along with some suggestions and a full rundown of the licensing requirements.

    In response to atleast one of these I was just told to strip the copyright from a GPL component and hide it in the application.

    The problem isn't really in the violations themselfs, but in the commercial commodity software ecosystem (mostly Windows) where people build up software portfolios as fast as possible for the lowest cost just to try and get market share (and profit). In this desparate effort to get products to market most are just a re-branded combination of existing software, which usually end up violating source code licenses.

    Basically when consumers start caring about ethical software the industry will start changing. Until then we still have a problem :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PitaBred (632671)

      In response to atleast one of these I was just told to strip the copyright from a GPL component and hide it in the application.
      I hope you told them to go fuck themselves with a metal rasp?
    1. Really make sure that you are right, ie something much better than "this has the same name as a GPL bit of code"
    2. Write to the company - write to the Managing Director or CEO
    3. If they do nothing, write and tell them what you will do next
    4. Write to their auditors and the stock exchange were they are listed; point out that there is a big risk that their flagship product may need to be pulled because of copyright infringement. Say that you have told the company and that they are hiding this important informatio
  • patent and GPL? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pruss (246395) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @09:51AM (#20411475) Homepage
    I wonder if they have the proper mpeg-2 visual patent licenses for mpeg2enc. They may be caught in a bind. If they obtain the patent licenses for mpeg2 encoding, then they may be violating the GPL since they are not allowing their users to pass the patent licenses on (they can't allow that, as the mpeg2 encoding license won't allow them to allow them that). And if they don't obtain the patent licenses, they're likely to get sued. Since I suspect they're more likely to get sued by someone with money for good lawyers for patent violation than for GPL violation, they may be making a shrewd--though immoral and illegal--decision to pay for the patent licenses but to violate the GPL.

    Or they're just careless.
  • by Scott_F (19754) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:04AM (#20412533)
    Just to address a few comments so far:

    - Selling GPL and LGPL software is fine ("nominal fee" clause). The issue is that some of the packages that they are using are GPL'd and the company is LINKING against them. When you link to a GPL package when compiling your software, even if it is a DLL (same address space, symbols resolved in memory), the work becomes one as a whole and the whole package must be GPL. If the package is not GPL'd, it is a violation, even if you provide a license file (which they don't). When you link to a LGPL package, you do NOT need to LGPL your software BUT you need to provide a copy of the LGPL, a way for them to download the source to the LGPL package, and the object files used to link the software as a whole (this last one is heavily overlooked).

    - It doesn't matter how popular a software package is. They are still violating the terms of the GPL and LGPL at $60 per sale. "But the code is free!" ... no. Someone else wrote it and copyrighted it. If you want to sell software, you had better properly license or write everything yourself or you're cheating people out of their time.

    - I did not contact the company because I am not a copyright holder in any of the packages whose licenses are being ignored. I contacted all of the projects to let them know of the violations. I have also contacted the FSF for ANOTHER software package (Wondershare DVD Slideshow Builder) who is using vcdimager in addition to most of the above named packages (ffmpeg, dvdauthor, mplex, spumux, mencoder). There are still a few others who I've found just in this category of software who are using GPL/LGPL software.

    - The spirit of the GPL isn't just to let code proliferate (not that I am a spokesman for the GPL.. I don't know how it wants to be remembered... :-P). It is to let code freely proliferate (free as in speech, not beer). Any time a copyright issue comes up, it will always be a legal one because that is the nature of the beast. Copyrights exist due to laws. You can also argue that the company is bottling up the spirit of the GPL and selling it. (OK, that last one was rediculous).

    This company and a couple others I'd seen make no mention of the GPL, LGPL, or any other licensing terms and provide no means to download the source code for the LGPL packages.

    The reason this came up is because almost every package I installed seemed to contain these exact packages. The companies are profiting from GPL / LGPL software without respecting the licenses.

    -Scott
  • I've been curious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jessecurry (820286) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @12:22PM (#20413655) Homepage Journal
    I've often been curious about how copyright would really work in regards to the GPL if the source code is sent to a country where copyright laws don't apply, or where anyone with a right to use something could relicense it.
    Once the source code gets to this country "John" says, this source code is now licensed to "Mike in the US".
    Now "John" e-mails the source code(under a new license) back to "Mike"
    Is there still a problem if "Mike" decides to make a derivative work closed source?
  • Simple solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @03:52PM (#20416373)
    There is a simple solution. Say you take a GPL'd MP3 encoding library. You compile it as a DLL.

    You then release a frontend for the library, a program that uses the library for the compression.

    The GPL says that your frontend need NOT be GPL'd so long as you distribute them separately. So if, on your webpage, you have a link to the EXE ("Download program here") and the library ("Download required files here"), you ONLY need to provide GPL'd source for the library.

    The GPL only requires you to GPL your own code when you distribute your code with GPL'd code as a "whole", and it specifically mentions the separation bit.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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