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GNU is Not Unix

Sony Violating GPL? 212

Posted by Hemos
from the bad-juju-for-all dept.
hub writes "One of the pilot-link main developers states on Advogato and on his site that Sony is violating GPL by distributing binary only version of POSE that has been customized for their Clie (their new Palm compatible device)."
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Sony Violating GPL?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    On Slashdot, you'll only see GPL violations made be big companies.

    Just like you won't see an article about John Doe murdering Jane Doe back in Alabama, but you'll see a piece about a meat company murdering someone to turn it into profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    that is correct, the "GPLing community" doesn't have the balls to sue.

    1) it takes money
    2) it takes effort
    3) it takes the chance that the GPL will be found to be bogus.
    4) you have to be an author of the infringed upon code.

    99.99% of the GPL Whiners fail on one of these 4 points.

    Look at the Virgin webplayer. 10,000 GPL violating units shipped, and no MENTION of any kind of legal action.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Aw crap, bring on the parade of geeks trying to K-whore all the 'Funny' mod points they can....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    GPL section (4) forbids sublicensing. IANAL, but Sony's EULA must qualify as a sublicense.

    Section (5) grants exclusive authority to obtain, modify, et al., any GPL'd code to those who agree to the GPL's terms. Sony, by using GPL'd code, agrees to the GPL's terms. And so they may not licence their modification under any terms but the GPL.

    So even if Sony released the source, should they do so under any terms other than the GPL's, they'd be breaking the GPL.

    I'm no expert. Don't take my word for it. [gnu.org]

    Anon. Cowherd

  • How can the binary be ready before the source code?

    The source could be very poorly documented or strewn with spaghetti code that is to be cleaned up. The binary could be completely usable even though the source is an unreadable mess.

    This is totally hypothetical in this case - I'm not saying that it is or isn't applicable to Sony, just that it is possible.

  • It may be precisely Sony's plan to use this as a test case for the GPL, and to throw enough star lawyers at it to outbid the FSF and win a ruling that invalidates or weakens the GPL to the point of uselessness. Sony is a company committed to a proprietarian model of intellectual property (i.e. trusted client systems, "secure" copy control systems), something that the GPL is at odds with.

    If the GPL was invalidated by a court ruling, it would open the gates to Sony making proprietary forks of Linux containing copy-control mechanisms (perhaps similar to MS's Secure Audio Path) at the kernel level, without the threat of being forced to reveal their secrets.
  • by docwhat (3582) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:38AM (#248254) Homepage
    If it doesn't have any source to verify the fact that the executable may be based on licensed code, or rather any testing or dissection to prove this, then anyone can claim all they want. For all anyone knows or cares, someone frmo the open source community can say MS' ProductX is based on source code X and create a ruckus.

    Yeah, right. If the allegedly infringing company says it's based on a known opensource project, it looks like the aforementioned opensource project, and behaves like the aforementioned opensource project; then you have enough to go to court.

    You can easily get a case to court if it smells, walks, sounds, and feels like a duck. Once in court, it's no problem to subpoena the source and find out.


    Ciao!
  • Ok, fair enough point on the time issue, but personally I appreciate that the binary is out so I can begin using their new APIs.

    As to the rest, I think Sony understands the GPL because they released the old POSE extensions, so there's little reason to believe they won't now.

    I'm all for someone official asking them for their source and politely reminding them of their responsibilities, but the average response in this forum has been "Let's sue their asses off!". Come on, just because you may not like the tactics of Sony's music division (and rightfully so IMHO), does not mean that you can't act in a civilized manner when it comes to something completely unrelated.

    Bottom line is I doubt Sony's trying to pull a fast one here because they have previous experience. Beside, the article was written in February which is before the 5/1 post of the new stuff anyway, so I think we're making too much of a big deal out of this because the source is in fact available for what was available in February.
  • I'm a registered Sony PDA developer, so I checked out this claim.

    It is true that Sony released a new POSE for the new Clie.

    However, the POSE used for the previous Clie is still available, AS IS ITS SOURCE!

    Looking at the new emulator, it was just posted 2 days ago (5/1/01). My guess is that they'll release the source real soon now, but it probably wasn't quite ready for prime time just yet.

    Personally, I'm glad they released the new emulator and ROMs in a timely fashion. Sure, they are required to release the new source as well, but before we jump all over them, let's give them a few days at the very least.
  • There are several problems with getting a lawyer to help us in the Open Source / Free Software community.

    1) Who is going to pay for the lawyer? It's going to cost a ton of money to fight against Sony's lawyers.

    2) Damages for a Free Software product are going to be minimal and hard to prove. The only punitive damages you can get is $10,000, and only if you register the work with the Library of Congress.

    That said, there are some lawyers already involved in the community who are already helping us. The FSF has a lawyer, and the EFF has been very helpful with similar court cases.

    I think the best use of a lawyer in this case would be to send Sony a Cease and Decist letter. It's cheap, and usually quite effective. Why not give the big corporations a taste of their own medicine?
  • by booch (4157) <slashdot2010@cra ... com minus distro> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:27AM (#248260) Homepage
    Yes, there is a big difference. TiVo provides the source and patches to the GPLed programs that they use in their products -- you can download them off their web site. And TiVo doesn't require you to agree to a license saying that you cannot modify the GPLed programs.
  • by Hulver (5850) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:08AM (#248265) Homepage
    http://www.tivo.com/linux/index.html [tivo.com] gives you the source code for their modifications to the Kernel. No violation there.
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:27AM (#248266) Homepage
    *We* don't do anything. It's up to the copyright holder to write to Sony, remind them that he owns the copyright on the code, and ask that they stop distributing it. But they may distribute it under the terms of the GPL.
  • by jjr (6873)
    Becomes a real test case for GPL in this will show people the the FSF takes violations very seriously. I do not think sony will let it get that far though
  • by mandolin (7248) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:13AM (#248271)
    So as I'm sitting here working and playing with my Palm, people tend to whip theirs out and play with it, as if to say "Hey, I'm one of you, look, I have a palm too..!"

    ... in my native tongue we don't call it a "palm", but you're very warm...

  • Now maybe I am totally misinterpreting the GPL, but it's my understanding that when you use GPL'd code and *change* it, that you have to provide those changes to anyone you *asks* for them. I am under the impression that it is not mandatory to distribute source code along with the binary but you have to give your changes to anyone who asks for them.
  • by Raptor CK (10482) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @10:25AM (#248273) Journal
    Its great to see the power of Non Disclosure Agreements.

    He decided to let me in on the secrets of Sony using Linux full-time on their "Internet Appliance PS2" machine, called the GSQ. They have a cluster of them in their research group with 16 in series, doing *REAL TIME* "matrix-style" video editing.

    ====

    Well, first off, Mr. Ego who posted that story wasn't listening very closely. What Sony's got is the GSCube, and all it is is a cluster of the original PSX CPU and some added logic to glue them all together. And yes, it runs Linux. And yes, it's massively parallel to the point of doing Matrix effects in real time or so. Sony's publically admitted to having this piece of hardware around, since they see a massively parallel architecture as the Holy Grail of console gaming, once programmers learn how to use it well.

    Regardless, there's still an important point here. We're foaming at the mouth here over a GPL violation mentioned on an airplane, without any legal counsel available whatsoever.

    What's next? Taco's 3 year old cousin (I'm guessing) says that there's GPL code in a cell phone, and they'll post a story? Maybe we need a few more facts before going off on people.

    Of course, if Sony is in violation of the GPL, then they deserved to be hauled into court. Not because of any supposed superiority of Free Software, but because it's a flat out license violation. GPL, BSD, or proprietary, Sony has to learn that they have to play by the rules.


    Raptor
  • Looking at the new emulator, it was just posted 2 days ago (5/1/01). My guess is that they'll release the source real soon now, but it probably wasn't quite ready for prime time just yet.

    The GPL doesn't say anything about giving them a few days. If the product was ready for release, then it should *all* be ready, and if it's not, then nothing should have been released. Even if they release the source soon, they require users to agree to a EULA which is not compatible with the GPL, and is not the license for that software, which is illegal. I do believe that Corel did that with their Linux distro not so very long ago. The community reminded them of their error, and they fixed it.

    The problem is that several companies don't seem to understand that the GPL is a license, and that its terms are every bit as binding as any license that they pay for. If they need reminders, we've got plenty of them.
  • ya. because everybody's so concerned with impressing this guy.

    Yeah, he came off as being quite a dick.
    I like smart people, but this sort of arrogance and pretentiousness [plastic.com] just annoys the hell outta me.

    Musta been fun chatting with 'im on the plane for 2 hours...

    C-X C-S
  • But what would be the motivation for a court to do that? I'll admit, if someone was to release code without properly marking it as copyrighted, it's possible for it to be declared public domain. I suppose. But it's hard to imagine given the reverence paid to copyright. Also, it wouldn't be a GPL matter at all. It's just as likely to happen with a shareware binary, or even a demo-only binary.
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:23AM (#248279)
    There is basically zero chance that Sony would try to get the GPL overturned in court. The reason why is simple. If they go to court and get the license declared invalid, they no longer have any rights to distribute the source of binary at all! This is why the GPL will never be tested in court. They will either comply, or they will stop distributing the emulator. But they won't go to court.

    Think about it. If not for the privilges granted to them by the GPL, they would be committing criminal copyright violations by redistributing the code or the binary! You would have to have the dumbest lawyers in the world to trade up from a civil suit (violation of a license agreement) to a criminal copyright violation. Duh. The GPL will never end up in court. Unlike a normal software license which only takes rights away, the GPL grants rights which Sony is relying on to redistribute the code. The same is true for every company which is redistributing GPL'd code.
  • What the heck is wrong with everybody today, why are the majority of the post of the "Sue now, ask questions later" varity? Remember "Lawyers don't sue people, people sue people." Instead of trying to get the facts of the case and trying to talk to Sony, most people are letting out Holy Hellfire based on rumors and heresay. Maybe the EULA presented before the download is bogus, that could be an honest mistake (Corel anyone?) and the source may be forthcomming. Lets give them time to correct the mistake before we go around speaking evil and hiring lawyers. They have shown clue before when they used GPLd software I doubt that are going to try to violate the GPL on purpose.

    Oh, and has anyone who is flaming Sony actually read the GPL? It clearly states that source only be made available to people whom you have distributed binaries, and even then it is permissible to charge a nominal fee. They would be well within their rights to charge $10 for source on CD, only to people who have downloaded the binaries from their website. The GPL does not say anything about putting all your source on an anonymous FTP server, but you cannot prevent someone else from doing so.

    Deep breath, calm down

  • Ok, sure you have a point, but look at the posts today. The majority of the posters, laymen not lawyers, are advocating lawsuits as the first defense against a possible GPL violation.

    To respond to your comment, lawyers wouldn't have such an easy time convincing people to sue if people weren't all gung-go about it in the first place. If you are in a position where a lawyer is trying to convince you to sue, you've already made the first step by consulting the lawyer in the first place. The lawyer can cajole all they want, the final go/no-go decision is in the hands of the plaintiff.

  • but I don't personally think as a photographer that I would make any attempt to locate every copyright holder whose work might appear in a photograph I took

    I can tell you're not a professional photographer! :P

    Yes, they really do go to that extent -- even though they don't necessarily have to. It depends on their (and their clients') exposure. No one uses a painting in the background of a movie without permission, but using it in the background
    of a photo on page 3 of the local paper won't raise an eyebrow.

    Most people have never really had to deal with copyright law before the internet, so I think that's why a lot of it is surprising in how much protection it gives creators.

    I don't have to GPL my article-- that's Fair Use

    You answered your own general question with this statement at the end, though -- all of your illustrations were of fair use.

    Taking a photo of JUST a painting is not fair use, but having one in the background is a gray area where multiple factors of intent, commercialization, etc come into play. I was deliberately making an example where there is no question -- of a photograph that is intended only to reproduce a painting. Sorry that i wasn't clear on that!...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • You're exactly right, if the presence is wholly incidental it's almost certainly fair use, especially in a news/documentary situation.

    ---------------------------------------------
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:39AM (#248284) Homepage
    No, it doesn't work like that -- copyright is cumulative and granular.

    If you take a photograph of one of my paintings, you own the copyright for the photograph. But I still own the copyright for the painting. So if Time Magazine wants to use your photograph on the cover of their next issue they have to get permission from you (to use your photo) AND from me (to use my painting in the photo).

    Sony can license their own modifications separately, but they cannot make changes to the license of work they didn't create...

    ---------------------------------------------

  • Wait.....

    I'm a little fuzzy on this, but I believe you own the CHANGES to the original work. You may license your changes however you wish, but the original code still must be GPLed.

  • "Ahhh, there's no justice like Angry Mob Justice."
    --Principal Seymour Skinner

    --
  • Ah, but what you fail to realize is that the GPL is not a license to use, whereas almost all EULAs are. You can download and use a GPL'd program and completely ignore the GPL. The only time the GPL affects you is if you wish to redistribute the software.

    See, copyright law has been around for a long time. It's illegal to distribute copyrighted works without the author's permission. The GPL is a way for the author to give permission in select cases--that is, as long as you agree to give the source code to copyrighted work (modified or not, if I understand correctly). Otherwise it's illegal to distribute.

    However, UCITA is something completely different. UCITA works on *use* agreements--that is, you aren't allowed to use this software unless you blahblahblah... That's where the problem is. If I buy the software, I should be able to use it as I see fit, not only according to your idea of how it should be used.
    This doesn't interfere with copyright, because you can STILL only install one copy of the software legally, unless otherwise allowed by the company.
  • by Oliver (19269) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:28AM (#248288) Homepage Journal
    Yes the PS2 dev kits come with gcc, as did the ones for the PSOne© And it was/is completely in accordance with the GPL© Pleeeeeaaasse everybody read the GPL first©

    The source has to be made publicly available only in certain cases© If they did provide the source wiht the binary to those who they gave the binary to, they do not have to make it publicly availavle© Yes, that's true, written in black and white in /usr/share/common-licences/GPL on a Debian system or in any other copy of the GPL©

    So now, everybody please go back again and re-read the GPL before you spread more FUD about the GPL which just hinders the adaption of GPL software in coorporate environments, because companies are unneccercarily afraid of it©
  • Yes, but posts that are wrong are low quality. They take away from the real issue and either confuse people or make them have to waste their time responding to the statement. This is particularly troublesome when it's an early post in a hot button issue like this one. Instead of wasting discussion time and space with posts that are incorrectly marked "informative" when they're in fact untrue moderators should be able to undo this moderation with their counter "untrue" or "wrong" moderation.

    The problem is that no other moderation fits the bill. They're not "offtopic" because they're talking about the right things. They're not intentional "flamebait" because often the poster believes what he/she's posting. They're "overrated", but not because the issue isn't interesting, but the poster made a mistake.

  • by Merk (25521) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:36AM (#248290) Homepage

    Is there anything in slashcode that doubles the number of moderators when "GPL" and "Violation" appear in the same article title? If not there sure should be.

    Just a warning people, get your facts straight, count to 10 and think about what you're doing before you do something about this. The author of this diary had a really unfortunate encounter with a really annoying Sony employee who most likely doesn't represent the official company's position. Unless you're in a position to verify that there has been a GPL violation don't go off flaming Sony. If you can prove it then follow the steps on the GNU [gnu.org] site.

    If indeed Sony is violating the GPL, maybe we can convince IBM (who is apparently all about Linux these days) to put their money where their mouth is and give some of the financial muscle needed to take on another huge corporation.

  • Looking at the new emulator, it was just posted 2 days ago (5/1/01). My guess is that they'll release the source real soon now, but it probably wasn't quite ready for prime time just yet.

    How can the binary be ready before the source code? Is that some kind of temporal engineering there or something?
  • by snopes (27370) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:11AM (#248295) Journal
    It's not even as simple as that. They're also imposing a EULA on the binary which is completely incompatible with the GPL. Even if they did give you the source, if that EULA is attatched anywhere (source, binary), they're in total violation of the GPL.
  • You mean apart from the rather severe fines plus jailtime a violator would get for copyright violation for profit, which is what not complying with the GPL amounts to? That is, after all, a federal crime, not merely a civil case.
  • Considering that willful copyright infringement for profit is a federal crime, your friendly neighbourhood US Attorney could assist you. They are rumored to have some funds at their disposal.

    Im sure he would just loooove a tape recording saying 'go ahead, sue us, see if we care', and make them care all the way to the cell.
  • by brianvan (42539) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:04AM (#248304)
    When a company violates the GPL, do we:

    1. Politely inform them of the infraction, wait for a response; if they continue to violate, take it up legally.

    2. Show up at their front door with torches and shotguns

    3. Spam their PR department and the company president to death.

    4. Curse them out to all hell on Slashdot, ineffectively

    5. Sue the bastards!

    6. Cowboy Neal

    ... seriously, if all you people are serious about the GPL (I'll take a neutral stance on the GPL itself), for God's sakes, get a real organization together to handle these things, so that there's always someone to turn to when there is a GPL violation. You know, some professional and legal experts to help the cause out.

    And posting the "news" on Slashdot is a bad way of handling it, since now Sony is going to be defamed and disparaged about 50 million times for something that may be non-existent, innocent, or an issue dealt with expediently. What if one manager made the decision to evilly include a GPL'ed program in the product, and when the company found out, they fired the manager and changed the product to be GPL compliant? Then will the Slashdot community remove or apologize for all the flaming that will follow this? I doubt it.
  • Perhaps some of the changes they made were coded ok but not documented well. I write code in-house all day, and documentation is something I usually add as an afterthought, once I actually figure out how to make the blasted thing work. I then go back and add comments describing what I did do, rather than revising old comments that stated what I intended to do, to reflect what REALLY happened
  • That's because I'm not a programmer. I'm a physicist. Code is just a tool for me, to run simulations and test theorys. My main concern is the science. Code comes a distant second to that.
  • Gee, what a surprise! Sony pushes for the strict control of intellectual property (DMCA/DVDCSS), but doesn't respect others' demands for control (or lack thereof).

    And I thought Slashdot was hypocritical! Go figure!
    ------

  • by bnenning (58349) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:00PM (#248309)
    How can the GPL be made to be enforceable while clickwraps shouldn't be?

    IANAL, and I have no idea if any of this is legally accurate, but this is my understanding of the situation. When you buy a book, there is no EULA, and regular copyright law applies which gives you certain rights. Obviously you can read the book, you can also make copies of limited sections, (I believe) record yourself reading the book, and study the author's sentence structure and word choices and incorporate the techniques you find into your own writing. A typical software EULA removes most of these rights, and gives you nothing in exchange. They will typically claim to grant you a "license" to run the software, but you can already do that under copyright law. So the EULA is a completely one-sided "contract", stripping your fair use rights in exchange for nothing.

    The GPL on the other hand grants you additional rights that you would not have under a standard copyright, specifically the right to distribute copies to anyone as long as you fulfill certain conditions.

    So my view is that EULAs are not enforceable because the user receives nothing in exchange for surrendering his rights, while the GPL is because it grants the user additional rights, and merely stipulates the conditions under which those rights can be exercised. If somebody with actual knowledge of this topic can correct me, I'd be interested.

  • I have a question... Who enforces violations to the GPL? I would imagine that it would be costly to prosecute a company like Sony, as I'm sure they have LOTS of lawyers. How are the GPL lawyers paid?
  • by treke (62626) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:27AM (#248311)
    Easy, they want to provide better documentation along with it. It's also quite likely that they have to go over all of the distribution to ensure there isn't any sensitive material/image damaging material in there.
  • by joq (63625) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:08AM (#248312) Homepage Journal
    Its great to see the power of Non Disclosure Agreements.

    He decided to let me in on the secrets of Sony using Linux full-time on their "Internet Appliance PS2" machine, called the GSQ. They have a cluster of them in their research group with 16 in series, doing *REAL TIME* "matrix-style" video editing.

    One of the biggest problems I see with articles such as this is, they're all hearsay if you ask me and not really worth merit until proven. Someone can say anything for any reason to slander another person or company at will, so while this may seem intruiging until hardcoded news comes out such as Richard Stallman seeking legal actions against Sony, its all bs to me.

    All sounds good, except that they only provide a pre-compiled Windows executable of this emulator (no Unix version, no source, and a whopping 3-meg download of this standalone executable), and do not provide any sources to it at all. They also blatently say on their site that this is based fully on the POSE sources for 30a4 (which is a clearly documented GPL'd version).


    Additionally, on their site, in order to download this version of the emulator, you have to sign into their developer program. Not so bad. But at the download page, you have no choice but to click on an EULA to get to the emulator download. This EULA clearly states that the emulator and all sources are 100% property of Sony Electronics, Inc. and that distribution without their consent is in direct violation of this license.


    If it doesn't have any source to verify the fact that the executable may be based on licensed code, or rather any testing or dissection to prove this, then anyone can claim all they want. For all anyone knows or cares, someone frmo the open source community can say MS' ProductX is based on source code X and create a ruckus.


    As for the EULA, I can't speak on this since it doesn't relate to anything I know or care about, again I will just point out that anything this guy has heard is strictly hearsay. At least providing a name would have added some credibility, and no I'm not calling this guy a liar, but what this all boils down to in my mind is he said she said junior high school based unsubstantiated bullshit.


    laying the smack down [antioffline.com]

  • > So the EULA is a completely one-sided "contract",

    EULA's are non-binding contracts. A contract needs 2 people to sign (or both people give a verbal/oral agreement.)

    You can find links here on Contract Law: http://www.studyweb.com/links/2972.html [studyweb.com]

    This is an interesting link: http://profs.lp.findlaw.com/contracts/contract_2.h tml [findlaw.com]

  • Well, you're not 100% correct either, I'm afraid. True, the name of the system is the GSCube, but it's based on the PS2 hardware (i.e., the Graphics Synthesizer, hence the "GS") and not the original PS. I saw it at SIGGRAPH2000, running a simplified version of the Final Fantasy movie in real-time. Very impressive. For more hearsay, stale news pages, and of course lots of comments, see this old /. article [slashdot.org].
  • And posting the "news" on Slashdot is a bad way of handling it

    All posting news on /. is good for is mild DOS attacks.

  • Yes, it is true. But, sony cannot limit those who recieve the source from distributing it. Now, they _can_ limit distributing the sony binaries / cds (look at libranet -- they violate not the GPL). Now, I can just compile their compiler, and give away the binaries, and it is perfectly legal for me to put the psx/2 gcc sources on a ftp server somewhere.

    -------------
  • by flatrock (79357) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:04AM (#248319)
    You're telling me that you think that because some application developer that you meet on a plane, makes a comment that the company doesn't care about licensing issues, that Sony's policy is to violate the GPL.

    Someone involved in the project should contact Palm and Sony in order to get this resolved. Give Sony a chance to fix this before you get too up in arms. Mistakes happen.
  • ... I saw this exact topic months ago here [bbspot.com].
  • by goingware (85213) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:30PM (#248322) Homepage
    If you really care about the GPL license on your software, then it is very important that you assign the copyright to the Free Software Foundation. [gnu.org].

    That is, unless you have a lot of money and enjoy fighting lawsuits.

    That's because only the copyright holder of a work whose copyright has been violated has standing to sue. While I might imagine that the FSF might be willing to lend you some legal advice if you hold the copyright to your work, they don't have standing to sue themselves and may choose not to devote substantial resources to it.

    Imagine what kind of legal power - and money - a company like Sony could bring to bear in a copyright violation. Imagine the legal delays that can be done. Can you afford the plane fare to fly you and your attorney to wherever the lawsuit will be contested?

    Please see the FSF's page on Violations of the GPL, LGPL and GFDL [gnu.org], in which it emphasizes that the only person who can act on a violation is the copyright holder.

    Note that it may be required, and definitely is advisable, that you assign copyright to the FSF in writing - not in comments in the source code, but as a legal document written on paper with a "wet signature". I believe the FSF has a page about that somewhere but I couldn't find it. I do know that copyrights can only be assigned to someone else in writing.

    There is one good reason to reserve copyright to yourself, and it is a considerable reason. You may wish to be able to provide the software under a proprietary license to someone else who wouldn't be required to redistribute source, perhaps for a fee. That is done, for example, for the proprietary license to CygWin, which allows proprietary Unix applications to be readily ported to windows without requiring source code disclosure, in the case that the proprietary license to CygWin is purchased.

    If relicensing your source is not in your plans, assign the copyright to the FSF.


    Mike [goingware.com]

  • Read the article. When prompted about the GPL violation, the Sony emplyee basically said "Go ahead, try to sue us.."

    Doesn't sound like they're giving it up to me
  • This is going to be marked as flamebait, but what is the difference between a company violating the GPL's copyright and Napster users violatin an artist's copyright. Both are digitally reproducable works, yet you defend one and condemn the other. It seems to me the average Slashdot reader wants to have his cake and eat it too.

  • Copyright is copyright, anyone telling you what you can and can't do is not "freedom". Anyone violating a copyright is breaking the law, regardless of their motives. For example, if someone keys my car and I shoot him, it's still murder, and I still go to jail, regardless of whether or not I think he deserved to die.

  • You do realize that's only if you win right? If sony wins then the fsf/eff is effuctually bankrupted. Why do you think noone wants to go to court? They have nothing to stand on at the moment.
  • by Sc00ter (99550) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:01AM (#248332) Homepage
    part of the GPL is that they don't have to give you the source when you get the binary, just that they have to give it to you if you request it. Anybody request it yet?


    --

  • Surprisingly enough, you can end up with binaries which can't be built with a "current" copy of source code if you program in Java. (!) This is because its notion of "binary compatibility" is a bit broken.

    Check out this paper:

    http://citeseer.nj.nec.com/drossopoulou98what.html [nec.com]

  • It wouldn't fit.

    Seriously, have you seen overhead bins these days? They aren't big enough to hold much of anything - and certainly not one carry-on per passenger.

    ---GEC
    (M-x depeche-mode)
    "Mercy is bad for the vision, ruthless will clear it away"
  • by Motor (104119) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:40AM (#248337)

    2. Show up at their front door with torches and shotguns

    Well personally, and it is just personally, I vote for this. I've always wanted to be part of an angry mob, but I'm normally too lazy to get up from my computer.

  • by gkirkend (111309) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:15AM (#248341) Homepage
    IANAL - but this is a *very* big deal (news). If violations of the GPL are not pursued, then the license becomes null and void. Lack of enforcement would make the GPL license just like the BSD license. I doubt anyone who believes in the GPL would like to see that happen. By posting this story on Slashdot, Sony is provided with a warning that they are "found out", giving them the opportunity to do the right thing and release the source. Posting this story also gives people that would be willing to fund a legal battle notice that there is a problem. Given the implications of letting a company slide on a GPL license violation, I believe that giving this problem the most (negative) publicity possible is a good idea. Greg
  • And that contradicts what I said in what way?

    You are not talking about derivative works. You are talking about distinct works that interact with another work. For example, my Java application is not a derivative work of the Java platform. This is the scenario you address. And, as you state, whatever license I may impose on that product has no bearing on the license under which you use the JVM.

    On the other hand, if you take my mSQL JDBC driver and modify it to support MySQL, that is a derivative work. People using that derivative work are bound both by any licensing I have in place and any licensing you put in place.

  • Copyright does not apply to use.

    Yes it does, that is exactly what copyright is about.

  • by smack.addict (116174) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:15AM (#248345)
    Not true. The original copyright applies as well as the new copyright. In order for the downstream person to use the derivative work, they must have the rights both to the derivative and original.
  • He may do. Depends if the law in the country this incident allegedly happened in is similar to UK law, which understands the concept of an `agent` working for a company. This person DOES carry the weight of the company behind them. If (s)he says something, the company says something.

    (Of course, IANAL...)
  • I mean, can a what to do when you see a possible GPL violation [gnu.org] link from GNU itself be clearer than anything else? Just read it, people. C'mon.
  • by stilwebm (129567) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:22AM (#248353)

    Anyone else get the feeling this guy thinks he is "above" everyone else?

    So as I'm sitting here working and playing with my Palm, people tend to whip theirs out and play with it, as if to say "Hey, I'm one of you, look, I have a palm too..!"

    No, you're not one of me. You could never be one of me.

    Then he goes on to show and tell his huge collection of handhelds in a similar manner. Later he brags about how he fixed the guys week old problem in 60 seconds.

    Is this really the type of guy we want to trust a secondhand story from?

  • ... seriously, if all you people are serious about the GPL (I'll take a neutral stance on the GPL itself), for God's sakes, get a real organization together to handle these things, so that there's always someone to turn to when there is a GPL violation. You know, some professional and legal experts to help the cause out.

    That would be The Free Software Foundation [gnu.org]. One of the things that the FSF does is to provide legal help in dealing with apparent GPL violations. Apparently their basic strategy is to start out nice ("You may not realize it, but you're violating the GPL. Here's how to get into compliance.") and only make threatening noises after being nice fails. That seems like a pretty reasonable way of doing things to me. FWIW, they've been pretty successful at getting violators into compliance, with Objective C being a notable success story (they got NeXT to release the source of their compiler for it, as it was built around gcc.)

  • There is one good reason to reserve copyright to yourself, and it is a considerable reason. You may wish to be able to provide the software under a proprietary license to someone else

    I have heard from people who have signed over copyright that the FSF agreement allows you to offer the software under alternative licenses.

  • by oman_ (147713) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:12AM (#248365) Homepage
    Yup.. and you can go get the source at a few places.

    try...
    http://ps2dev.sourceforge.net/index2.html
    and
    http://www.anarchists.co.uk/html/psx2.html

    also.. for more (non-gpl) psx2 coding fun try...
    http://www.napalm-x.com/~duke/
  • I'm told that GCC is actually a fairly common target for GPL theft, though I can't picture MS doing it.

    This does seem pretty blatant, though, especially when Palm itself has gone out of its way to be Open Source-friendly. But coming from Sony... I'm not too surprised. Sony is not a company I trust anymore. I've always had a bit of a funny feeling about them, but it's mostly been a good funny until recently. Now... I will most likely not buy a Walkman, Clie, or Vaio any time soon (though I'd take any one of them as a gift). Sony is not quite the Microsoft of consumer electronics -- there's too many other players in the field for them to even come close -- but they don't make much of an effort to appeal to those who prefer open standards. Granted, there are lots of 8mm camcorders, but Sony did try and keep a much tighter control over Betamax than was really wise. (It was big news when Sony shipped its first VHS VCR, and I think they had to OEM them from someone else at first...) I may be getting a PSOne some time soon, but even then...

    /Brian
  • by connorbd (151811) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:25AM (#248367) Homepage
    I've always had this vague sense that BSD licensing (- adClause) is about as close as you can get to public domain and still have a copyright on it. That's how NeXT kept the guts of NeXTStep proprietary: because they could. With the copyright transferred to Apple, they were free to do as they wished as well, and we have Darwin.

    To those who claim that BSD licensing gets abused by companies turning BSD code proprietary, I say horseshit: the BSD license as it stands now cannot be abused because you can do practically anything you want, however you want it, with BSD'ed code. It was *designed* that way.

    OTOH, what Sony is doing with POSE is GPL abuse, plain and simple, and they should be smacked for it.

    /Brian
  • Sooner or later, a big company (like Sony) would inevitably test the merit of the GPL license in court. The outcome of such a case will decide the future of GPL and significantly affect the Open Source community.

    First step here is to make a fuss about this. Yes, I'm serious. Not here on Slashdot, but get reporters from AP and the Wall Street Journal (among others) so that Sony will actually care about their reputation.

    If we really care about the GPL, we can't let Sony set this illegal precedant.

  • What if one manager made the decision to evilly include a GPL'ed program in the product, and when the company found out, they fired the manager and changed the product to be GPL compliant? Then will the Slashdot community remove or apologize for all the flaming that will follow this? I doubt it.

    Of course not. Slashdot is a shameless bastion of yellow journalism. I don't trust things like this that I see on Slashdot anymore than I trust the journalistic integrity of the local "if it bleeds, it leads" TV news outlet.

    I'm sure someone will mod this as flamebait, too. My oh my, wouldn't that be ironic.

  • In UK, this is a case law type thing; IANAL, but from memory the test is that the person being communicated to could reasonably expect that the person speaking for the company represented the company's view. A chance conversation on a place robably fails that test.
  • by kz45 (175825) <kz45@blob.com> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:57AM (#248375)
    This sounds like the BSA coming after people with pirated software!

    Think if evceryone was using the GPL. If it was violated (Ie. no source was given only binaries), there would be a police of sorts that would come after you.

    I would much have the FREEDOM to choose whether I give back to the community or not. (that's also why you see 99% of big businesses using BSD licensed code on their systems)

    People that get in trouble for violating a standard EULA IE: pirating software, are "fucking the man, getting back what they deserve from the companies". But companies that violate the GPL should be attacked with lawyers and forced to give out the source.

    You guys can't have it both ways if you want to be taken seriuosly in the real world. If someone else's license is violated (IE: RIAA,Microsoft,insert a large company here) they deserve just as much justice as when the GPL/GNU license is violated.

  • How can the GPL be made to be enforceable while clickwraps shouldn't be?

    Interesting question. The bottom line is that they should both be but that the concept of an "unreasonable contract" should be upheld by courts. If a contract requires the sacrifice of your first-born, no court will find you guilty if you don't, for example.

    The issue is "what rights are copyright holders allowed to hold on to, and what rights do users have automatically?". Before the DMCA these questions were quite well settled but now it's all open warfare again.

    TWW

  • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:02AM (#248379)
    Naw, dont count on it.

    Those type of damage clauses are generally worthless in court. Landlords, banks, software companies, etc try to throw those in, but for the most part, they simply for the threat-intimidatio-scare factor.

    When a court asseses damages, they are supposed to look at what the damages actually _were_. Then, if those are punitive enough, the court can assign additional punitive damages. The only time I have heard of those type of monetary claims being upheld is when there was a signed, notarized, two-way contract stating that they both waived trial on certain types of fines. You see those alot in contractor-type relationships (ie.. if the walls arent framed when the sheetrock guy gets here then we waive the right to civil action and agree to a $250/day fine).
  • by Anal Surprise (178723) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:20AM (#248380)
    Christ, was I the only one hoping this egomaniac would store his attitude in the fucking overhead bin?
  • *Somebody* is going to have to sue Sony for this. I am not a lawyer, so this is only a thought, but I seem to recall there's a section in copyright law which says that a copyright can lapse if it isn't defended. If no legal action is taken, then POSE's copyright could fall off, which will render its license irrelevant.

    The problem is, this could be easily used as a way of wiping off GPLs. All it takes is for three or four big companies to break GPL on a single product at once. Somebody's then got to fight them all, or lose the copyright for nondefense. Oh dear.
  • Does that apply to *any* employee of the company (i.e. would the guy at the assembly line or the lady in the cafeteria be considered an "agent" as much as a VP or CEO), or does the person have to carry some weight within the company?

    In Canada if you 'reasonably consider' this person to be acting on behalf on his employer (and he asserts it himself) than he is. So basically if you speak with the LunchLady about GPL it is not 'reasonable' - speaking to a developer who does understand software licenses then yes it is 'reasonable' for you to feel his is an agent of his employer - if he asserts he is ("go ahead and try and sue us") - then he certainly is.

  • , it was just posted 2 days ago (5/1/01). My guess is that they'll release the source real soon now, but it probably wasn't quite ready for prime time just yet.

    Although I understand your point - maybe they want to clean up some poor code or fix variable names (from bobabc to loop_count etc) or add documentation. BUT it is a dangerous precedent to allow someone to 'hold off' on their source for any time at all - who's to say how long they should be allowed to wait? What is a 'reasonable' length? 1 day? 1 week? 1 year? If the source/binary versions are not being made available *AT THE SAME TIME* then it is a random (interpreted) amount of time before the former is released - who gets to decide?

    The amount of 'reasonable' time will only increase - each new case sets a precedent where others can last as long as they want less than T; anything more would have to ask for a special 'extension' (from The Community) - thus setting a new 'reasonably interpreted time' as T+T1.

    This is the way concepts get screwed with over time - exceptions are made until the original intent has been subverted by 'special acceptable cases'... eventually everyone will feel their case is similar enough to be a 'special acceptable case' and you will never see mod sources available with binaries - and GPL code will be used as the basis for proprietary products - and the code only available until their market advantage is over (by technical attrition) or until they extend the new source further (making the old source NFG without their *new* mods).

    I suggest 'we' *NEVER* accept anything less than simultaneous releases of binaries and sources.

    I understand wanting 'benefit of the doubt' - but this introduces ambiguity... and that is not a 'fail safe' condition. And given the whoreing nature of sony I suggest the coders involved (in writing this emulator) be very carefull about who their dealing with (Remember: "we'll block them at their routers; we'll block them at their ISP; we'll block them at their Computers etc")

  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @11:00AM (#248384) Journal
    people with pirated software!*

    What the hell are you talking about? Who said anything about this group 'having pirated software'? It may or may not be true - but it is most certainly not relevant.


    I would much have the FREEDOM to choose whether I give back to the community or not. (that's also why you see 99% of big businesses using BSD licensed code on their systems)

    Without rehashing the BSD vs GPL argument (which i fall squarely on the side of GPL) - people use the GPL so they can share and protect themselves from being used - BSD advocates dont mind how their (excellent) work is used. GPL coders are interested in building a 'dynamic of sharing' which is proving to be very powerful.. where I am want to share because it is Right and symbiotic.

    People that get in trouble for violating a standard EULA IE: pirating software, are "fucking the man, getting back what they deserve from the companies". But companies that violate the GPL should be attacked with lawyers and forced to give out the source.*

    This is a simple 'tongue-in-cheek' solution of turning the tables on someone - use their own weapons against them so-to-speak. I am very disappointed at the present state of Corporate Domination of All Things(TM), IP Law, Plutocratic Western Governments, purposefully overcomplicated legal system (etc etc)... that I think it is a fine idea to show the errors of a system by forcing it to abide by its own rules.

    you want to be taken seriously in the real world

    Who proposes to be taken seriously - by whom and in who's definition of 'the real world'. let me tell you: I am very displeased at what some assholes feel is the 'real world' - let me also assure you that my 'real world' is one devoid of exploitation via economics... i have little motivation to whore my life, ideals and my work for money grubbing corporate lap-dogs. I enjoy my freedom too much to give my mind over to your 'real world'.

    If someone else's license is violated (IE: RIAA,Microsoft,insert a large company here) they deserve just as much justice as when the GPL/GNU license is violated.

    Just like Murder laws - there is a matter of purpose and intent. Killing a person in accident is (at worst) manslaughter - killing someone in cold-blood is 1st degree (etc). It matters VERY much who is doing WHAT and for WHAT PURPOSE. What you have hear is a known anti-social IP hording Corporation (sony) taking advantage** of the goodwill of GPL coders in order to take only for themselves, flatly violating the intent of the GPL and using it to horde cash for themselves...

    *BTW: Calling someone a hypocrite is not the blanket 'debate ending' tactic it was in High School - people in this crowd can smell your non-sequitur like a fart in a car.

    **allegedly, i'll reserve my complete judgment until there is a little more info.

    Who modded this troll +1 insightful?

  • I dunno, maybe it's a dumb question, but how does anyone *know* if GPL'ed code is being used by these people if all they're distributing is the binaries? Please forgive if I'm totally clueless in this regard, I'm genuinely curious...
  • I can see where using a painting in a movie is likely to raise some interesting questions, since a movie set is a wholly created backdrop-- and frequently every frame of a movie is subject to whatever the cinematic equivalent of airbrushing is. Similarly, sets used for commercial photography. Now if this same attitude holds in the cases of documentary film or photojournalism (in which the presence of copyrighted works is wholly incidental), then I'd say we have a copyright system that is overly strong.
  • by glassware (195317) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:21AM (#248390) Homepage Journal
    I presume most of us here would reject the UCITA, which makes commercial software click-wrap agreements binding. If UCITA passes, software companies can insert fun statements into their clickwrap like "By opening this package, I owe MegaCorp $5 extra;" and the lawyers will have the support to make these licenses stick. I hope you'll agree with me that this is a bad idea.

    Conversely, don't we have the same situation with the GPL? You're running a program, you find a bug, so you download the source code and hastily click through or agree to whatever requirements the code ships with. How can the GPL be made to be enforceable while clickwraps shouldn't be?

  • by bwalling (195998) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:17AM (#248392) Homepage
    This was answered above.

    Sony requires agreement to a EULA that states that all source is 100% property of Sony, and will not be made available.
  • IIRC, TiVo keeps the DirecTV encryption secret because it doesn't know anything about it. The smart card you stick in the slot does the decryption.

    The TiVo box simply "tunes" the decrypted output of the card.
    --
  • by sdo1 (213835)
    Is this any different than TiVo using Linux? They take a GPL OS, do some proprietary modifications, then use it in their product.

    That's OK, is it not?

    -S
  • What, specifically, does this have to do with Apple?

    Actually, Apple is including a lot of GPL software in the OS X developer tools CD. And they're in full compliance with the GPL, and going far, far beyond the requirements of the BSD licensed code in Darwin.

    The bullshit you read here notwithstanding.

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:42AM (#248406) Homepage Journal
    There's abuse and there's abuse [slashdot.org]

    I have a hunch m$ is laying the groundwork for just such and assault on Open Source. It really has been a surprise to see Alchin and Mundie deign to discredit Open Source. There's got to be a reason, more than fear of competition... what's up their sleeve?

    At least Sony is demonstrably giving back, by using Linux and GPL code. An endorsement, if you think about it, from a company which has a heck of a record on proprietary technology.

    --

  • by h4x0r-3l337 (219532) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:04AM (#248408)
    Interesting (as the moderators so astutely determined ;). Does that apply to *any* employee of the company (i.e. would the guy at the assembly line or the lady in the cafeteria be considered an "agent" as much as a VP or CEO), or does the person have to carry some weight within the company?
  • by 1g$man (221286) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:48PM (#248409)
    This is kind of random, but what if when the source code of some modified GPL software is requested, a company decides to distribute source that has been so badly obfuscated that it is useless?

    Would they still be following the GPL (as they ARE giving their source code which they have modified) or would they be in violation?
  • I do not know if sony is guilty as charged. Whether they are or are not, There needs to be a remedies clause attached to the gpl, that states upon a violation of the license terms, violator agree to pay to FSF and the software developer(s) all revenues from sale of said product. This payment should be 50% to FSF, and 50% to software delveloper(s). No, not all profits, as they can be adjusted to be whatever you want at the moment, but all revenues. This would greatly decrease the motivation to do so, and add some punative damages to the act. It would also accumulate to a nice gpl defense fund and pay the developers for being ripped off.
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:41AM (#248426) Homepage Journal
    Trademark law specifies that you lose trademark protection if you don't defend your mark. Copyright law does no such thing.

    However it is conceivable that a lawyer could argue that if you knew about a violation of copyright, and the person violating your copyright knew you knew without doing anything about it, and this happens over an extended period of time, the fact that you did not do anything could indicate an implied agreement of some form.

    If that could be successful? Who knows. I certainly don't (I'm not a lawyer), but I'm sure someone will try it at some point (or already have).

  • I thing the GPL needs to add a clause about monitary compensation. Somthing to the point of:

    Uppon distributing this GPL software you agree to comply with the tearms of the GPL. If you do not comply, you are liable to the copyright holder(s) an amount to be not less than $15,000 per copy distributed in violation of the GPL.

    A clause like this would at least would make a starting point for awarding damages.


    -----------------------------
    kaaaameeeeeeehaaaaaameeeeeha!
    -----------------------------
  • by isa-kuruption (317695) <kuruption.kuruption@net> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:14AM (#248431) Homepage
    ... is a lawyer who is willing to support the GPL (and other licenses such as BSD, apache, etc) and he/she should also have a thorough understanding of the license. By having such a person or people under the wing of the OpenSource community, we could fight such legal battles... then the lawyer could sue for copyright infringement including lawyer fees and a moderate fee of $10 million to be contributed to the Open Source community projects.

    This way, if a company such a Sony doesn't want to bother with the court case, maybe they'll settle out of court and provide, oh let's say only, $100,000 and add the GPL into their redistribution of the software. Pay the lawyer his part and then use the rest to provide everyone with /. t-shirts =)



    -*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
    w00t w00t raise da r00f!
  • You do know the PS2 devkits come with GCC as the compiler?

    I sure as hell would like the source to that... (Emotion engine opsoces anyone? Emulators?)
  • by Quizme2000 (323961) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:01AM (#248436) Homepage Journal
    It seems that the new trend for major corporations (Apple, Sony, M$, et al) is to use open source code to save develpoment cost. Thats great, but only if they give the back to the community. Who is going to enforce the GPL? Who has the resources? As a developer I'm concerned, as a Open_source supporter I'm out-raged.
  • If the creator of the software transferred the copyright to the FSF, then the FSF can file suit.

    If the software was just released under the GPL but the creator held onto the copyright, then the creator is responsible for filing the suit.

    This is why Stallman encourages people to transfer the copyright to the FSF, it facilitates them taking direct action. They've got the resources, etc, to carry through on the issue.
  • Sony would probably have a hard time enforcing a license for software that they do not own and to which they do not have a (valid) license. So, modification of the GPL is probably unnecessary.

    BUT IANAL

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