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Sothink Violated the FlashGot GPL and Stole Code 312

Posted by kdawson
from the gentlemen-do-not-do-that dept.
ShineTheLight sends in news of two Firefox plug-ins: FlashGot, the original, and Sothink, the GPL-violating come-lately. "People at Sothink decided to violate the GPL by stealing a piece of core code from FlashGot and using it without even the decency of covering their tracks. It is an exact copy of a previous version of FlashGot. This deception came to light when users reported to the FlashGot support forum that their software was not working right. Some digging led to the discovery that the older module that Sothink stole and used verbatim was overriding the more recent engine on the machines of those who had both installed and it was causing the issue. It has been reported to AMO and the FlashGot developer is aware of it. The Sothink people have completely ignored and been silent on the subject. This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work, pass it off as their own, never acknowledge or give credit, and then shamefully stick their head in the sand and ignore the consequences." The three most recent reviews of Sothink point out this plug-in's dishonest nature. A number of earlier, one-line, 5-star reviews — expressed in a similar style — sound suspiciously like astroturfing.
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Sothink Violated the FlashGot GPL and Stole Code

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  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:01PM (#28412617) Homepage

    It's not like firefox extensions are compiled.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      who the hell modded this as troll?

      Firefox extensions are basically javascript in a zip file.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Ilgaz (86384)

        So, Javascript is not a language? Do you know how complex can a Firefox extension can be and the amount of time required to keep it trouble free for millions of users?

        • by rakslice (90330) <raksliceNO@SPAMgmx.net> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @07:35PM (#28415017) Homepage Journal

          You're missing the point. With GPLed software, when someone is distributing an altered copy of the software, it's whether they make the source code for their version available or not that makes _the_ difference between 'theft' (i.e. copyright violation) and them just taking advantage of their freedom to modify the software (what the GPL is all about).

          Aside: For developers and advanced users who have been dealing with GPLed software for years, and even for many hangers-on who have followed the details of GPL-related news stories on /. for years, this point is so basic that it usually goes without saying. But the quirks and emergent properties of the GPL aren't common knowledge in the broader software development world or the internets in general, and so when it does go without saying, it could easily result in a -1 Troll when a reader doesn't make the connection.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:04PM (#28412643) Journal

    This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work, pass it off as their own, never acknowledge or give credit, and then shamefully stick their head in the sand and ignore the consequences.

    [citation needed]

    I really don't agree with that sentiment. I mean, there have been a few recent cases (BusyBox) where the company is making money off of it but I don't think SoThink is making a ton of cash off of their plugin. I am not defending SoThink in any way and hope that FlashGot takes action but instead of opting to sue SoThink, I hope he first tries to force them to open up their own tool under the GPL if it is tangled into his code or at least realease all the modifications they have done to his code. He could always turn it over to the EFF for help if he really wants to prosecute to the fullest extent. I doubt that lawsuits are going to help this situation or deter others. They'll just get more crafty about it if they feel the need to.

    • by whiledo (1515553) * on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:09PM (#28412665)

      Dear lord. I was waiting for the story to post (seeing the un-commentable preview subscribers get) so I could quote that block and reply with the exact same "citation needed" cliche.

      It's an opinion, but it's one that's hard to justify. My own opinion is that open source programmers contribute to a project because they want a program that does a thing they need done, and because they want it done "just so." Witness the history of forking on certain projects.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:12PM (#28412683)

        From my personal experience, most of the really good programmers that I know don't contribute to open source for one main reason:

        They don't have the time to.

        • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:27PM (#28412797) Homepage Journal
          From the summary:

          This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work, pass it off as their own, never acknowledge or give credit, and then shamefully stick their head in the sand and ignore the consequences."

          THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.

        • by dstar (34869) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:40PM (#28412911)

          That's funny. From my personal experience, most of the really good programmers that I know _do_ contribute to open source. That's how they got to be really good programmers, in fact. They had the chance to do things right, rather than being pushed to meet some arbitrary marketing deadline, or simply being too busy fighting fires to spend time improving their skill.

          At $employer[-1], we had a suite of software which put any commercial SRM suite to shame (not just my opinion -- we evaluated all the ones we could find, as we were being pushed to use a vendor-supported system), but it could have been much better if we'd had time to go in and clean up parts of it that had been written over a decade ago. On the open-source stuff I write, I don't _have_ that problem. I can do it right. (I also have that luxury at my current job, at least so far, which is _really_ nice.)

          If all you're doing is writing the same sort of code the same way, you aren't going to improve your skills, at least not in a reasonable timeframe. You have to stretch yourself, _and_ you have to be exposed to better (or at least different) practices. You have to have people pointing out not just where you've done things wrong, but where you could have done them better, and even -- no, especially -- where you could have done things 'better', even though 'better' is a matter of opinion and theirs differs; having to defend _why_ you think your opinion is right makes you think about it. It certainly does me, anyway. Heck, sometimes I even change my mind!

          I've found that the best way to get that sort of exposure and criticism is by contributing to open source software. At work, I'm being paid to get things done, not to sit and argue the merits of one approach over another if either is 'good enough'; a little of that is reasonable, because it helps make sure they _are_ both 'good enough', but at the end of the day, I'm being paid to produce, not study. I'm being paid to write software to get things done, in a manner that other people on the team can maintain, not learn Erlang or Haskell to broaden my understanding of programming.

          And I think that's perfectly reasonable. Improving my programming skill benefits _me_ primarily, and my employer secondarily, just as exercise benefits me primarily (by improving my health) and my employer secondarily (by reducing the number of days missed to illness). They don't pay me to exercise, and they don't pay me to improve my programming skill. They pay me to get things done.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by PaganRitual (551879)

            Throw ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException();

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ilgaz (86384)

          Imagine you are a professional developer and sometimes considering to contribute to open source stuff which many of them does, in fake names or nicks. Why would you do it for? For yourself and community.

          How would you think if you browsed this very story comments and seeing "oh but it is not stealing", "stop whining", "citation needed" junk? I know several people who are very advanced developers, contributed to open source and got sick of the never thanking, understanding community and gave up. They now enjo

        • From my personal experience, most of the really good programmers that I know don't contribute to open source for one main reason: They don't have the time to.

          Open sourcing a closed source code base is not a question of time. It hardly takes any. It's a question of ideology, or it's a question of ownership, but it's not a question of time. If anything, I've done it both ways, and it's a hell of a lot faster to work on a public repository than to work on a secure repository that you won't let anyone else outs

    • by Filter (6719) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:19PM (#28412735)

      If my code gets 'stolen', used without my permission, breaking the terms of the license; what difference does it make as to the license I chose to release it under.

      • The GPL and similar licenses have been carefully crafted for the purpose of encouraging development and innovation. If you steal some Microsoft code, you have stolen from an immensely wealthy corporation who probably can't be hurt by the theft. If you steal from open source, you have stolen from humanity. Compare the former to passing gas in an executive meeting, compare the latter to spraying nerve gas in a city subway.

        The worst thing about all this is, the people who "own" the open source code ask almo

    • I also thought that this was a very false and stupid statement.

      I will not stop contributing, just because someone steals my credit. First I will ask him friendly and fairly, that I think what he did is wrong, that I want it fixed, and that we should work it out. (Ex clarify misunderstandings.) But when he is ignoring me for too long, acting stubborn, or just being an asshole, I will kick his ass. Hard. I then have no problem with suing him, driving over there and storming the building, or DDOSing his server

      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @03:54PM (#28413479) Homepage

        But when he is ignoring me for too long, acting stubborn, or just being an asshole, I will kick his ass. Hard.

        Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter [wiki365.info].

        I then have no problem with suing him, driving over there and storming the building,

        Storming the building? Seriously?!

        (Let's be honest... no.)

        or DDOSing his servers, if I have fair proof that what he did was illegal/wrong.

        Make up your mind. Are you going the legal route, the Hollywood fantasy "opening a can of whupass" that'll (at best) land you in the shit in real life and solve nothing route or the Internet geek vigilante route?

        FWIW... this sort of thing is a PITA, as the legal route (#1) isn't always practical for jurisdictional and financial reasons, and the thieving, weasellish pricks might get away with it if relying on that alone. But suggesting #2 is just downright silly and makes you look like an ITG.

        #3 has a lot of problems, mainly related to vigilantism in general. But yeah, I appreciate why people might be tempted to go down that route if legal recourse wasn't practical.

        Anyway, you're right that people shouldn't cave in in the face of bullshit like this, but you're not doing yourself any favours with the ITG nonsense.

  • RIAA (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) *

    Sic the RIAA on them, then they'll have to pay a million bucks too.

    • Are you kidding? There's absolutely no double standard here, and I'm sure everybody agrees that they should get fined 80,000 times the retail price of that GPL code in order to punish them. After all, no doubt everybody here agrees that copyright infringement equals theft.

  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:19PM (#28412729) Journal

    "People at Sothink decided to violate the GPL by stealing a piece of core code from FlashGot and using it without even the decency of covering their tracks."

    Stealing? A digital artifact?

    • Yes, they stole , hours or perhaps days/months of work. Also others work as they reported issues, donated etc.

      It is stealing. They stole a digital artifact, they stole "information", "knowledge". They took something without doing something required or giving something required (credit). It is 2009 already and you people have issues with understanding the difference between "virtual" and "real" things. Virtual things can cost money, time and even health and they don't really differ from real things you can h

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Travelsonic (870859)

        Are we being politicians now?

        Nice straw man

        Yes, they stole , hours or perhaps days/months of work.

        If nothing went missing, it isn't theft or stealing. Logic dictates that. Emotions do not.

        is stealing. They stole a digital artifact, they stole "information", "knowledge".

        You can't just repeat "it is, it is, it is." You have to prove it, especially since the burden of proof is on you. Data, knowledge, information is non-tangible, it can't be stolen. You REALLY like stretching definitions to rediculous lengths, don't you?

        hey took something without doing something required or giving something required

        That is a dangerously BROAD definition that nobody in their right mind would accept (and is why the legal codes internationally require depr

  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:21PM (#28412751)

    People at Sothink decided to violate the GPL by stealing a piece of core code from FlashGot

    It's not theft, it's copyright infringement and plagiarism. It's not theft when the RIAA are the victim, and it's not theft when programmers are the victim. Two completely different illegal actions. It's also not a number of other offences - it's not murder, it's not speeding, it's not jaywalking, and it's not theft. Different names for different offences. Get it?

    • it's stealing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @03:13PM (#28413159)

      You're right, it's not exactly the same as other forms of stealing. But the general term for this is stealing. Presumably this would be listed as another definition in a dictionary.

      If you can steal someone's heart, if you can steal a kiss, if you can steal cable, if you can steal an identity, there's no reason this cannot be stealing also.

      It has been this way a long time too, stealing cable started in the 70s.

      • by selven (1556643)
        Stealing requires you to be taking something away from someone else. "Stealing" code doesn't take it away from the programmer.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772)

          The GPL requires copyright notices and attributions to remain intact. Taking those out is in violation of the author's moral rights, and "stealing credit" for someone else's work. Also, donations, and ad revenue that may have been obtained, if the user downloaded FlashGot instead, are lost.

          I believe the phrase for the second part is: "Unfair competition." The first part is commonly referred to "Theft of Intellectual property," which means you rip off someone else's ideas (or work) and present them a

      • by HiThere (15173)

        No. Stealing cable started when the telegraph operators started stringing cables between different locations.

      • It has been this way a long time too, stealing cable started in the 70s.

        So that's when the "stealing by copying" bullshit started. I'd rather kill off the incorrect use of the word than try to justify it with the "been happening a long time now" excuse.

        Yes language evolves, but this isn't evolution, it's corruption by those with a vested interest.

        As the GP said, this is copyright infrigement and plagiarism, not stealing. If someone made a clone of you without your permission, would it be murder?

  • by nausea_malvarma (1544887) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:23PM (#28412763)

    This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work, pass it off as their own, never acknowledge or give credit, and then shamefully stick their head in the sand and ignore the consequences.

    This is not a bad thing. It's a good thing. It's a good thing that code can be borrowed from one program and used in another. Why re-invent the wheel after all? I thought that's why we wrote open source software - not to receive credit, but because we want to share our work with the world.

    The crime here is not that one programmer "stole" the work of another. The crime is that one programmer took advantage of an open resource, but kept their modifications closed.

    • by bky1701 (979071)
      Exactly. People who use the GPL and then use the term "stole" to refer to violations of it are to me far more vile than even the RIAA claiming copyright infringement is "stealing". Doing so makes us all look bad; how can us sane open-source developers argue against the misapplication of that word when a strange fringe of us really are the hypocrites that we are usually called?

      If you want to ever make these dishonest claims, do the people who actually understand open source a favor: don't use the GPL. Or
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      Yes, if anything, it's this dramatized "he's a meanie" kind of Slashdot article that puts programmers off. I feel like I'm in a primary school playground again. When I release my code open-source, it's to make the source code available to others. The only way to prevent my primary goal is by taking down the server the source code is hosted on. Using it in violation of its license is minor in comparison.

      Project A's code was licensed under the GPL. Project B used A's code in violation of the license (they d

      • When I release my code open-source, it's to make the source code available to others. The only way to prevent my primary goal is by taking down the server the source code is hosted on. Using it in violation of its license is minor in comparison.

        That's nice, but not everybody thinks the same way.

        I release source under copyleft licenses, the more copyleft the better (AGPL3 preferably), so that:

        If people like it, and want to modify it without releasing their changes, they must come to me and pay for that privi

    • by Vellmont (569020)


      I thought that's why we wrote open source software - not to receive credit, but because we want to share our work with the world.

      I think there's a lot of different reasons people write open source software. That's the core reason there's so many different versions of open source licenses. Some people DO write it for credit and feel cheated when it's not given.

      The rest of your post I agree with. The original author calling this "stealing" adds nothing to the argument, and only serves to inflame.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mwvdlee (775178)

      So anything that's free, is automatically public domain?
      Or do you think there's actually a reason why those open source programmers use licenses?
      If they wanted their code to be used by anybody, they could have chosen pretty much any open source license except GPL.
      But they chose GPL and other people can choose to either not use the code, or use the code under the GPL license terms.

      • So anything that's free, is automatically public domain?

        No.

        But they chose GPL and other people can choose to either not use the code, or use the code under the GPL license terms.

        Well....

        The crime is that one programmer took advantage of an open resource, but kept their modifications closed.

        Mmm Hmm. That's thats what I was saying.

  • by dissy (172727) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:25PM (#28412773)

    This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work, pass it off as their own, never acknowledge or give credit, and then shamefully stick their head in the sand and ignore the consequences

    It's not stealing, it's a copyright violation :P

    • So... can we more accurately say that it was a copyleft violation?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by dstar (34869)

        No, wait. If it's a copyright violation, doesn't that mean it's a copyleft... um... anti-violation?

        And if a copyright violation and a copyleft violation collide, do you get mutual annihilation and a burst of BSD particles?

        You know, now that I think about it, that would explain what happens in most debates about the GPL...

        • by MooUK (905450)

          I think you just end up with mutual violation. Which sounds potentially painful.

    • by trifish (826353) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:56PM (#28413047)

      > It's not stealing, it's a copyright violation :P

      Actually, it's copyright infringement. The word violation is used with the word license (as in GPL violation).

    • This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work, pass it off as their own, never acknowledge or give credit, and then shamefully stick their head in the sand and ignore the consequences

      It's not stealing, it's a copyright violation :P

      It's $80,000,at least, one would imagine.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ok here is the correct URL to slashdot Sothink [sothinkmedia.com]. Don't bother the Mozilla server linkeded above.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:36PM (#28412867)

    Inquiringmindswanttoknow !!

    If it's okay to download movies and CDs and herpes, what is all the hoopla about gpl ?? Either it's okay to STEAL or it's not okay. If you want it both ways, just say you're BI and get on with the rest of your life.

    Fact is, NO CODE WAS STOLEN !! It still exists right where it was before. Only, maybe, somebody has a COPY of this. NOTHING WAS LOST !! IP is a figment if COPYRIGHT HOLDERS imaginations !! NOTHING TO SEE HERE !! Move along !!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Mod parent up. You're absolutely right. No code was "stolen". Code can't be stolen. This is just a small license violation. Not a big deal. The perpetrators are at best ignorant, and at worst, selfish, yet the summary paints them out to be the scum of the earth.
      • by dstar (34869) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:53PM (#28413017)

        No, the perpetrators committed a crime much worse than theft -- plagiarism. Don't believe me? Go ask any tenured professor at your nearest university.

        Steal something from a lab where you work, you'll probably lose your chance at tenure and the job. Commit plagiarism and you'd best start looking for a new career.

        • So you think whoever made Flashgot is fuming right now, saying "HOW DARE THEY TAKE CODE OF MINE WITHOUT GIVING ME PROPER CREDIT FOR CREATING IT?" Honestly, I'm sure they care more about their code being closed than whether or not they got credit.

          It's different in the academic world, where your job depends on your reputation. If people discover that you plagiarized a journal article, they won't be able to trust anything you write. How can you be sure a source is credible if the author can't even be bothered

        • Commit plagiarism and you'd best start looking for a new career.

          Didn't Joe "I 3 the media companies" Biden have a big problem with commiting plagerism?

          I think your presumption is tenuous at best.

          • by dstar (34869)

            I should have said 'a new career outside academia'. Politics, of course, is the sort of cesspool where plagiarism seems perfectly normal....

  • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@nOsPam.marcansoft.com> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:37PM (#28412881) Homepage

    There are all kinds of unscrupulous people who will happily take other people's work and pass it as their own. For example, there's an entire bunch of websites devoted to bundling free Wii homebrew utilities with warez-loading apps and a torrent client and selling it as the ultimate Wii softmod get-all-your-games-for-free package. Examples: homebreware.com, playbreware.com, homebrewinstaller.com, mywiidownloads.com... the list goes on. They have sales numbers that are a sizable chunk of total homebrew users and mainly cater to the clueless, earning large amounts of cash for basically nothing.

    Our "core" software (specifically, the Twilight Hack, Homebrew Channel, DVDX, BootMii, HackMii Installer, etc) is mostly distributed under a closed-source restrictive "download it from our site and use it, don't redistribute it" license precisely due to these kinds of websites. For example, ordinarily we wouldn't care at all about people mirroring these apps, but one of the favorite excuses from the aforementioned scamsites is that "they're just linking to some third-party mirror". the I've tried to get some of them taken down but it's damn near impossible and their payment processors (Plimus and ClickBank typically) move very slowly and do nothing at all (which is not surprising; after all, they get a cut of the profits). These sites tend to work on affiliate programs and therefore there are dozens of "affiliates" happily buying Google Ads and setting up spam blogs just to promote the scams.

    What's even worse is that the warez utilities work backwards too - they let the scammers "pirate" our freeware and sell it for money. For example, our installer includes a large full-screen "if you paid for this you were scammed" warning, but the scammers have now used tools for Wii Channel piracy to distribute the Homebrew Channel without the installer, bypassing that screen. Every time this happens they get a nice 3-6 months until Nintendo puts out another update that would force them to use updated hacks and tools.

    This is one of the reasons why I gave up on Wii development. And I don't have plans to touch any console or system where piracy might become a big incentive to run homebrew. Piracy brings in hordes of clueless idiots who just want free games, generally poisons the homebrew community, divides it due to the differing opinions on it, and also comes with dollar-eyed scammers who want to make a quick buck of it all.

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)
      Why doesn't the HBC have a warning like that the first time you launch it, instead of at the installer?
      • Then they would just distribute a version that was already run once.
      • I came up with a way of tying the install to a particular console, so the latest version won't work with their new channel-rip scheme. But these cycles last a long time and somehow they always come up with some kind of work around. I highly doubt they'll be able to bypass this latest trick (the scammers themselves have no development or reverse engineering skill whatsoever, so it won't happen unless someone helps them), but there are better chances that someone will figure out a way to make things work on n

  • Underestimation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrankDrebin (238464) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:41PM (#28412925) Homepage

    This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work...

    That's rather a bold statement. It might even be true if there were no possible redress. But publicizing the wrongdoing and ousting the offenders is quite a powerful part of the community. Of course any similarly-wronged author, proprietary or open-source, also has the law on their side. Hardly an abject situation.

  • ...but has the copyright owner confirmed that this was not done with permission? I doubt that it was, but you really should make sure before making accusations of copyright infringement. After all, enforcement is entirely up to the copyright owner.

  • by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @03:00PM (#28413073)
    Over the last few years a lot of companies have sprang up using ffmpeg as a backend while shoving some putrid gui over the top which somehow justifies the pricetag (in this case "Video Encoder Engine for Adobe Flash" costs $600!).

    They tend to fall into two camps, those who attempt to use the lgpl parts of ffmpeg and publish the license; and those who outright ignore the gpl or pretend they've followed it.
    ffmpeg keeps a "Hall of shame" [ffmpeg.org] for these violaters but sothinkmedia have not yet been added.

    I downloaded their videoconverter and ran it through wine. It gave me a eula with some non-gpl/lgpl terms which I duly said yes to "You may not make or distribute copies of the Software, or electronically transfer the Software from one computer to another or over a network. You may not recompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or otherwise reduce the Software to a human-perceivable form".

    Program installed what's this, avcodec.dll oh dear. Compiled in with x264, xvid etc. so GPL rather than LGPL. For a token gesture it created a folder called xvid with the GPL placed in there even though they violate most of it.

    Stealing code from flashgot is a minor issue compared to that of ffmpeg.
  • by Qubit (100461) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @03:18PM (#28413187) Homepage Journal

    Fifty comments in this thread and no one has mentioned the Software Freedom Law Center [softwarefreedom.org]? Amateurs!

    The lead developer for FlashGot needs to contact the SFLC. Right. Now. The SFLC has lawyers on staff who eat companies like this for breakfast. Or at least, you know, they'll give them a very stern talking-to.

    He shouldn't contact the supposed violators (that could cause legal murkiness), he should not go fishing around for evidence of the violation (again, more lawyerly problems), he should not pass Go, and in no way shape or form should he try to collect $200 from anyone.

    Once he talks to the lawyers then he'll know what steps he should take to document the violation and then to approach the violators. By putting his ducks in a row first and by communicating with a lawyer, he'll have a much easier time approaching the Sothink company and getting the violation resolved.

    Pro tip: The last time I emailed the SFLC it took 13 days for them to respond, so in order to get the ball rolling on resolving this problem I'd suggest picking up the phone and calling them.

  • If there is no native code in Sothink, then it's effectively source-available. So, the only question is one of license. But if it incorporates GPL code, it automatically falls under the GPL.

  • by BlueKitties (1541613) <bluekitties616@gmail.com> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:06PM (#28413567)
    One of the reasons I've never been a fan of the GPL -- you can use GPL code and get in trouble over it; software isn't truly free until anyone can use it freely, without worrying about legal trouble. The forced reciprocation, IMHO, has hurt the open source movement severely. Companies actually have good reason to fear "free" GPL software, because unlike speech, GPL comes with strings attached.
    • by DaleGlass (1068434) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @06:25PM (#28414559) Homepage

      As I said in another post here, different people have different motivations.

      My own isn't to altruistically release stuff for everybody else, it's to derive a benefit from what I release. I'd rather you not use my code at all than infringe the GPL, and I'm being completely serious. If I couldn't release it under the GPL, I wouldn't release it in the first place, and you'd still have to write your own.

      For me the forced reciprocation is the whole point, and having the whole world use it without not having to give back is not attractive in the slightest.

  • Fine them (Score:5, Funny)

    by koreaman (835838) <uman@umanwizard.com> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:35PM (#28413777)

    $80,000 per line.

  • I'm curious. When people discuss illegal downloads via bittorrent or other P2P, numerous pedants jump on anyone who dares say the downloads are "stealing" music. They are quick to point out that making copies doesn't deprive the copyright owner of his song, unlike the situation when someone, say, steals a car. Calling downloading "stealing" is just propaganda from the RIAA to brainwash people, yadda yadda yadda.

    Interesting how the same standard doesn't apply when the copied item is source code.

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