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P2P vs. The Clones 289

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the hidden-payloads dept.
smash writes "Rebranding software then loading it with spyware and adware (or just selling it for profit) has become a recent trend with oversea individuals trying to make a few bucks. We all remember the KaZaA Gold, don't we? Shareaza, which recently went open source under the GPL, has been subject to a similar type of theft by a company going by the name RockSoft Development. Surprisingly enough, their software labelled as 'Go Music' hasn't been pulled from C|Net's Download.com after more than a week."
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P2P vs. The Clones

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  • Hahaha.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Izago909 (637084) * <tauisgod@MONETgmail.com minus painter> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:13PM (#9953862)
    You can never go bankrupt betting on the ignorance of average PC users.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:13PM (#9953864)
    This does, in fact, represent a flaw in current open-source licenses such as GPL, and in the free (as in speech) software movement in general.

    I've noticed this happening more and more as I am called upon to uninstall this kind of garbage from my friends' computers; "Uhh, this looks rather like Gnucleus; you could have just gotten that for free, without the spyware, you know...."

    The idea is that adding spyware to open-source projects circumvents the "You can't take this software and sell it" restriction of the licenses because it's not being sold. It's just adding spyware to. And in some cases, the source code isn't even modified, so there is no need to redistribute the modified source code as per the license. It's just open-source software bundled with spyware in an installer.

    The problem in using a license such as the GPL, and giving people essentially unlimited rights to incorporate your code into their software is that you'll end up with situations like this, and most critically, have absolutely no recourse against them so long as they are following the letter of the agreement.

    (In this particular case, I don't know if they're following it or not. I don't see them providing the source code for download, so they may be in violation if they have modified it. But I may just have missed the link, and I'm not about to install their spyware fest on my box to see if it comes with source code or some such.)

    The solution, unfortunately, would seem to be to add more restrictions to the licenses, similar to how the you-cannot-sell-this-software-for-more-than-the-co st-of-copying-and-the-media clause works. The difficulty comes in deciding exactly what needs to be restricted, and how to word it properly. You then combine this with a proper copyright on the code, and you have something you can enforce.

    Because at that point, once you can clearly show that the company pulling this crap is in violation of your license, you can start using the DMCA as your friend, and issuing takedown notices to their ISP. Do you think for a minute that C|Net would still have the files available for download if they'd been told that they are an illegal distribution of copyrighted material? Doubtful.
  • #1 problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deutschemonte (764566) <lane,montgomery&gmail,com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:18PM (#9953904) Homepage
    These programs are the #1 problem I encounter when I get the oh so common call from friends and family about how their PC just keeps popping up ads and is running really slow.

    Damn them all to hell!

    This being /. I am sure a great deal of you know my pain.
  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:18PM (#9953906)
    Ever since download.com went from a free listing of free/shareware to a pay for listing service they've gotten far less scrupleless. They realy dont seem to care what they host so long as they get paid.
  • by brokencomputer (695672) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:19PM (#9953916) Homepage Journal
    Those user opinions have got to be fake. " "I like it :)" No spyware is bundled with it, and it is a fairly reliable software package. This must be the best Thing in the world. Now my life is excelent!" ""Great Program No Ads!" Fast, easy to use, plenty to choose from My roommate and I both use this program and we think it's stupendous! This program is excellent." Give me a break. They could have at least made it a little less obvious.
  • by Savet Hegar (791567) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:19PM (#9953917)
    By rereleasing the software with spyware included, they have modified the software. Certain linux distributions contain proprietary software, but linux = the kernel. linux does not equal the distribution.

    gnucleus, gtk-gnutella, etc are covered by the GPL. So modifying the program itself means they MUST release the source code at no additional charge.

    They aren't actually doing anything wrong by charging a price for this software either. Technically, they could justify it for their "enhancements" to the software such as spyware and adware.
  • by FuzzyFox (772046) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:24PM (#9953948)
    If someone managed to package up something they found for free, and sell it to somebody, good for them! They managed to separate a fool from his money. That's what the economy is all about, after all.

    Users are supposed to not be stupid. They should shop around, check out the market. If they do that, they will find that the software is available for free, and they don't need to pay for it, or even download a re-branded form of it. Caveat emptor!

    Stupid users are always going to end up with spyware on their machine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:27PM (#9953972)
    "Shareaza, which recently went open source under the GPL, has been subject to a similar type of theft by a company going by the name RockSoft Development."

    Oh, so When you steal something from a record label, it's copyright infringement, but when you steal GPL software, it's actually theft?
  • by timmyf2371 (586051) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:38PM (#9954049)
    If I understand you correctly, I don't see the problem with this scenario.

    Audacity is distributed under the GPL - therefore anyone can take the code and distribute the application providing they make the code accessible - and of course, the GPL allows it to be sold for a fee.

    Sounds like a perfectly legal, profitable, albeit arguably immoral, business model. Guess thats a potential drawback to using the GPL.

  • by Rai (524476) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:40PM (#9954061) Homepage
    "Rebranding software then loading it with spyware and adware (or just selling it for profit) has become a recent trend with oversea individuals trying to make a few bucks. We all remember the KaZaA Gold, don't we?"

    Doesn't the original KaZaA client have it's own spyware? I don't see a reason to cry over someone robbing a company of spyware revenue in favor of their own spyware revenue. Now, if someone robs the client to remove the spyware altogether (like KaZaA Lite supposedly did), I'm all for that.
  • by reallocate (142797) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:42PM (#9954071)
    Marketing a product that secretly does something other than what the seller acknowledges seems to me to be equivalent to fraud.

    Before the F/OSS community gets all hot and bothered about changing licensing language (ignoring how they might enforce any language) maybe the best course is to go after spyware using the fraud laws.
  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amalcon (472105) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:42PM (#9954074)
    If a user is too lazy to type the name of their software into google before they download it, that's their loss.
  • by BenjyD (316700) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:12PM (#9954295)
    Looking through the adverts for things like "Professional photoeditor 4" (otherwise known as GIMP 2) on ebay, the thing that really shocks me is just how stupid people must be. From the buyer feedback there must be real people buying the software - even if you assumed every positive feedback is fake, there are enough negative ones there as well.

    Who buys software from a company with adverts so badly spelt, with english so bad as to be incomprehensible in places? Who can't type "free photo editor" into google? Are these the same people who believe they really have won the Dutch lottery?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:12PM (#9954301)
    How about if we continue with those ideals that started the open source movement and spend more time educating users about malware? You know, like they educate kids about safe sex?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:31PM (#9954434)
    It's not theft, the poster has bought into the RIAA and the MPAA's propoganda. Even if they weren't complying with the GPL, it would be copyright infringement, not theft.
  • by DAtkins (768457) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:42PM (#9954508) Homepage

    We can sit here and laugh at people who downloaded this stupid, stupid program. Heck, if one of us did it I think we would all laugh and laugh.

    But this sad problem is the same problem that every new computer user has. No matter if you use Windows or Linux or Mac or / all new users have a tough time learning which program they need to accomplish a specific task. Hell, I spend more time telling people what program to use, more than actually fixing something.

    Do you family and friends a favor. Since we all know the OSS versions of these programs, why not just post a list of what you use in your daily life so they can just look it up? Seems the easiest way to prevent non-computer people from getting screwed is for geeks to post their program list. Now that OSS has come around, I'm sure more of us can actually do that!

  • by HermanAB (661181) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:57PM (#9954610)
    Nothing wrong if they package it nicely, give a printed book and phone/email support.
  • Irony? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stubear (130454) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:58PM (#9954612)
    Am I the only one who sees the irony in shit statement, "...has been subject to a similar type of theft by a company going by the name RockSoft Development"?
  • Ironic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WiggyWack (88258) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:10PM (#9954706) Homepage
    Sorry, but I find the 'theft' of GPL code of P2P software ironic.

    Flame away.
  • by JustinXB (756624) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:15PM (#9954729)
    I'm reminded of this quote:

    "The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud. All the so-called liberties or rights are things which have to be asserted against others who claim that if such things are to be allowed their own rights are infringed or their own liberties threatened. This is always true, even when we speak of the freedom to worship, of the right of free speech or association, or of public assembly. If we are to allow freedoms at all there will constantly be complaints that either the liberty itself or the way in which it is exercised is being abused, and, if it is a genuine freedom, these complaints will often be justified. There is no way of having a free society in which there is not abuse. Abuse is the very hallmark of liberty." ~ Lord Chief Justice Halisham

    In short, you cannot have freedom -- true freedom -- unless you allow what you see as abuse. The more and more the GNU foundation tries to restrict what people do with GPL'd license software (as they have done from moment one), the further they move away from freedom. The GNU foundation has never expressed freedom in anyway. They've always wanted to restrict and control, they just happen to do it while flashing the word "freedom".

    Quite frankly, the GNU foundation has out right lied about what their license provides. Proof: "We recommend copyleft, because it protects freedom for all users [...]" Sorry, but copyleft licenses do not protect freedom, they restrict it.

    The GPL license is no better than an EULA. Both take something away from whoever has the software. The GPL removes the right for closed source redistribution and choice of license if you use any GPL'd code. The EULA (and the like) removes access to the code and the ability to redistribute the program or code. You may see closed source redistribution as infringing on your rights. Closed source software sees the GPL as infringing on theirs.

    The only true free-as-in-speech licenses are BSD-like licenses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @10:09PM (#9955051)
    This wouldn't work for the same reasons these things get there in the first place. 1) Users are too lazy/dumb to delete incompletes/incorrects 2) the RIAA will be more than happy to moderate the correct files out of existance, and moderate their own corrupt files up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:22PM (#9955417)
    The GPL requirements are not conditional upon them having modified the package: it is always their burden to make corresponding source code available for the GPL software and to INFORM users that it is GPL licensed and include a copy of the GPL.

    Even if they modified nothing.

    Anyhow... by releasing it as an installer executable without an option of "not installing the spyware", they have made the Spyware an integral part of the package.

    So they HAVE modified the software package by
    including an Installer and Spyware in the GNU package.

    The reason that it's a modification to the original work is the user can't separate it from the original work. (The installer is not merely a distribution package/archive/medium... it is an Application the user has to run to install the binary programs)

    Distributors are already obliged them to make available source code for the corresponding source code for all software licensed under GPL... including any scripts, and programs necessary to control compilation and installation of the executable I.E. to build the binary software package (THE INSTALLER ITSELF) that they are distributing and its contents which they are also distributing

  • by True Grit (739797) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <nrubgocwde>> on Friday August 13, 2004 @01:15AM (#9955975)
    In short, you cannot have freedom -- true freedom -- unless you allow what you see as abuse.


    • We aren't talking about government here, no one is forcing you to use the GPL.
    • If you want to allow others to abuse you, thats fine, but not everyone agrees with you on that score.
    • The GPL's extra restrictions are there solely to insure the code *stays* free. Some see that as a restriction of the code's "liberty", as you do, others however see it as added protection for the code's "liberty", as I and others do.
    • As much as you hate this, this isn't going to change, and it certainly won't change with yet another GPL/FSF bashing rant on /. Use which license you want to, and stop annoying the ones who choose differently than you.

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