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Possible GPL Violation? 222

Posted by Nathan
from the come-and-get-it dept.
An Anonymous Coward wrote to inform us of a new Chinese Linux distro, Blue Point Linux 1.0RC, which includes support for Chinese characters. The bad news is the developers, who have based their effort on Red Hat's are alleged to have forgotten to include the modified kernel source. Coward asks: "Don't they violate the GPL?". Some people over at the BP Forum apparently have some thoughts. What do you think: is this against the terms of the GPL? (Can someone translate this?)
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Possible GPL Violation?

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  • Sorry...but I don't think being afraid that people (who care's where they're from) are violating the GPL really makes for anti-commie paranoia.

    There aren't that many Anti-Chinese remarks here...and those that are, have already been moderated down to off-topic (since the TOPIC is a violation of the GPL).

  • by /Idiot\ (71460)
    As unpalatable as this release may be to some, it is still a release. If it's development is halted here and no source is released and the group is disbanded, it is still a release.

    This means that it _will_ be used. GPL or no GPL.

    Thats my 5c

  • You've got to show me evidence that they distributed the binary first. Or just show me the binary, or a machine containing the binary. If they are just "publicly performing" but not distributing, that is not enough.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Well, I sure wouldn't think of suing anyone before giving them a chance to make it right. And I agree that it's probably a simple mistake. The fact is, I've never come close to suing someone over a GPL violation, they always fix the violation. But I think I might need a translator to talk with these guys. Any volunteers?

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Absolutely. No argument with that here.

    Bruce

  • Yes but look at what he was responding to. I calmy and without flaming pointed out that what the person I was responding to said was not true and in fact was unfairly moderated. Still, I take a 2-point hit (offtopic, troll) because I chose to stand up and say that the moderators are wrong and a misdeed should be undone.

    This is simple proof that Slashdot moderation does not work.
  • "This can take the form of pirating, industrial and governmental espionage (anyone who thinks the Chinese haven't been spying here is badly mistaken"

    1. Are there no pirates in developed nations?
    2. Do you think that we (the US) and Britain do not engage in "governmental espionage"? How do you think we found out about their alleged spying activities? Anyone who thinks that America haven't been spying on other countries is badly mistaken.
  • THIS is an important thing, smelling so bad I can hardly breath. I went to the website and poked around and saw "antionline says this, happyhacker that about our product" and decided to start up the old whois.
    Seems to me that if your story is true, there is another pile of people who would happily use this to make someone's day bad.
    UUH, wait, it gets better (from the website):
    High-tech author and engineer Carolyn Meinel, whose Happy Hacker Web site has been hacked on several occasions, commented, "Hackers wanting to take down my Web site are out of luck. These digital vandals, who have recently hacked several prominent corporate and government Web sites, continue their onslaught against my site, but they've been unsuccessful since I've implemented BRICKHouse."



    whois www.3rdpig.com:

    Registrant:
    Systems Advisory Group Enterprises, Inc (SAGE) (3RDPIG-DOM)
    2201 Civic Circle, Suite 1001
    Amarillo, TX 79109
    US

    Domain Name: 3RDPIG.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    Barreras, Rhonda (RB6088) rhonda@SAGE-INC.COM
    806-354-8185 (FAX) 806-354-8366
    Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Knight, Chris (CK5577) chris@SAGE-INC.COM
    806-354-8185 (FAX) 806-354-8366
    Billing Contact:
    Geiger, Lynn (LG4869) lynng@SAGE-INC.COM
    806-354-8185 (FAX) 806-354-8366

    Record last updated on 24-Mar-99.
    Record created on 11-Jul-97.
    Database last updated on 11-Oct-99 03:52:52 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    DNS1.WURLD.NET 206.61.52.11
    DNS2.WURLD.NET 206.61.52.12

    and whois www.happyhacker.org

    Registrant:
    Happy Hacker (HAPPYHACKER3-DOM)
    PO Box 1520
    Cedar Crest, NM 87008-1520
    US

    Domain Name: HAPPYHACKER.ORG

    Administrative Contact:
    Meinel, Carolyn (CM5166) cpm@RT66.COM
    505.281.9675 (FAX) 505.281.9269
    Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Knight, Chris (CK5577) chris@SAGE-INC.COM
    806-354-8185 (FAX) 806-354-8366
    Billing Contact:
    Meinel, Carolyn (CM5166) cpm@RT66.COM
    505.281.9675 (FAX) 505.281.9269

    Record last updated on 23-Mar-99.
    Record created on 29-Oct-97.
    Database last updated on 11-Oct-99 03:52:52 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    DNS1.WURLD.NET 206.61.52.11
    DNS2.WURLD.NET 206.61.52.12




  • As a free software author, what reason do I have to facilitate non-free software? Sometimes, I wonder if the people who ask for BSD licensing really only want other people to use BSD licensing, and never intend to BSD-license their own stuff.

    The GPL is more balanced. It says "You want to use my software? Then give me the same license terms I gave you." That says quid-pro-quo to me. The BSD license, in contrast, says "use me and don't give anything back". That's hardly a quid-pro-quo.

    Thanks

    Bruce


  • I guess I don't know as much about the GPL as I thought I did :). Thanks for the clarification.
  • Does the US give a shit?
    As far as I know, the US goverment executes people for crime. Isn't that breaking the human rights? I don't think I can mention a country entitled to saying, that they don't break at least one or two of the basic human rights.


    -----------------------------------
  • I hate to admit it...but it's threads like these that make me happy I'm not using linux right now
  • Yep, your right, not only does the happyhacker.org website use the brickhouse software-SAGE (or Brickhouse) actually hosts the site on their network as well (something I am not entirely happy about)-but that keep telling me that it is only to provide an 'excellent testing grounds' for their software-as much as this woman gets attacked each day (and for good reason) I don't blame them. However-as you pointed out, it does make the situation stinky-bad publicity. But I can assure you, telling you from personal knowledge-that Carolyn Moniel nor anti-online has had NOTHING to do with the development of Brickhouse. (thank god)
  • but you forget... BSD gets stuff back. The idea is that it helps the entire community, closed and open source. Sure, some one can just take, but IMO, the result is generaly quite amazing.

    1. BSD group creates open source program
    2. corperation takes code, and to create a product worth the paying for, they add numerous enhancements.
    3. As the company still gets free code from the origionators, they want to see the innovation. They wamt to keep an edge, though. So, they give back big fixes, a few enhancements, etc.

    Thus, people get the same.. better quality open source code, and for those that its not good enough for, they have a company with support and more features. The two support each other, and neither is persecuted, both benefit.

    What about those so called 'greedy' companies who don't contribute back? Lets say MS didn't contrbute anything when it used the BSD networking code. Here.. everyone using Windows benefitted. They got stable, proven, high quality code that makes Windows work. With all the complaints towards Windows, is it better to have another MS bit of code, or proven code that (I believe Linux uses/used) and *many* others have used.

    The GPL is a fine license, but the BSDL is not at all bad, and if people wish to talk about supporting the community, the BSD supports everyone. However, GPL is more political (IMHO) and its extreme attitude (that of not supporting propitary/closed code) definately gets media.

    This all is a touchy issue. If I can get my miniuns together, a project will form in the next couple of weeks that's goal is to help clear confusion, FUD, etc. of various open source licenses (and, to help.. everything will be footnoted to remove bias). A few people are already offered help too.
  • I'm sure Bruce already knows this, but there ARE reasons to choose not only the LGPL, but also BSD and other licenses.

    Of course if Free Software is your one and only goal, GPL is the way to go, but some projects have more complicated goals.
    The PNG development team want first and foremost to promote the use of PNG instead of GIF or BMP or whatever. This purpose is best served by making it legal for EVERYONE to use their code.

    I'd encourage anyone seeking wide-ranging support for a new protocol or format to release under LGPL or 2-clause BSD.
    If you support Free Software you can make a GPL'ed application which demonstrates the potential of your format, but your reference implementation should not be GPL if you want industry-wide support.

    NB Despite FREE availability of libpng, Adobe spent many developer hours on an inferior PNG codec for PotatoShop. Sometimes proprietary software strives to be WORSE :)
  • Well good luck enforcing this one.

    All commercial software is readily available in China, India and Thailand over the counter as pirated cd's, openly for sale.

    When you buy a computer they ask you if you want a
    real copy of window's or should they just slap on
    for you for free.

    In practical terms how can you enforce the GPL
    when they can't enforce ANY software licenses
    in these countries?

    Also, IANAL but would the GPL have any validity under the chinese legal system? Who knows if it violates any kind of tenets of the legal system there, it's certainly never been tested.
  • If they don't follow the license (when requested), then it is stolen property. When someone violates a license anywhere by illegally copying, how is that dealt with?

    What kind of international laws apply now for stolen property? How would a case be waged if someone in China cracked a bank in the US?


  • All a company would have to do would be to publish and illegally patent hundreds of modules that broke the GPL on an open source product. Then build the product out of the patented "proprietary" modules. Challengers to the legality of this maneuver would have to prove one by one that the modules were not legal, costing them thousands of dollars. And if they suceed for some module, well, it's simple enough to produce a legitimately proprietary version for one small part. Pretty soon you exhaust the original open source devs and they give up. Viola!

    I think you're forgetting one important points - many, many hackers are Linux supporters.

    I would not want to be the information security director for a company which tried this tactic. In fact, given the level of sanity which some Linux zealots display, I wouldn't want to even work for that company. (This is assuming that I was lame enough to not resign the moment I found out they were trying to proprietarise Linux anyway!).

    The Jihad would have nothing on it. :-)

    D.
    ..is for DEATH TO THE INFIDELS!!!

  • But if a corporation had does that... all of the developers wouldn't have to fight the corporation individually, they could combine their suits into a class action lawsuit. Then they could combine their resources and hire any one of the OJ defense team =)
  • Um, you're the first one to bring these points up. Nobody who posted before you was China bashing at all as far as I could see.

    /peter
  • That guy in the T shirt was Swift Griggs, one of the guys who actually threw her out of DefCon-it should be pretty obvious why they were in an argument...
  • Skepticism can definately be overlooked now-a-days, even when I use "".....
  • Yeah, he doesn't link to squishdot or something. Proves its just a freeloading rip off artist.

    IIRC, Bruce bought squishdot their domain name.
  • Yeah, he doesn't link to squishdot or something. Proves its just a freeloading rip off artist. IIRC, Bruce bought squishdot their domain name.

  • Don't they just have to make the source code available?

    D.

  • Umm can anyone think of something that China has made that has made it commercially or open sourced

    I had to think for ages and came up with nothing
  • The chinese crew can save themselves by releasing the source immediatly and appolagising. If they don't I think this is a clear violation of GPL

  • by .pentai. (37595) on Monday October 11, 1999 @07:53AM (#1622828) Homepage
    I'll admit I only took a glance, but not including src is by no means a violation of the GPL. I can release hundreds of programs w/o src, and do so rightfully under the GPL...the GPL simply states that src must be made available per request.

    Now, if you ask for the mods and they say nay, THEN it's a violation.
  • Have you looked at the product, does it make any sense? I doubt it, and the gpl infringment seems very clear if they really don't provide source code and follow the gpl. Looking on their business modell they will never be able to. Hey Bruce, if you ever looked for an easy target, they seem to be.
    I tried to find out more from their website, but the marketing bubble there didn't describe more than a normally configured internet host should accomplish. (i.e. Web server with Custom Gateway Interface (CGI) server-side programming,SMTP anti spamming - Restricts access to mail server from unauthorized users sic!)
    But look at an article at zdnet [zdnet.com] He ripped out Linux's security kernel, rewrote it "180 degrees" and made access dependent on processes running on the system, rather than on the user.
    The president and CTO of brickhouse tells such brilliant security enhancing ideas like not to have you business data on your webserver or not to start your webserver as root. (first link on the links section)
    And following some link at the links-section, I found a story (at www.amarillonet.com) where the newspaper had to print a correction cause cpm had given some unprofable statements about some hackers in order to promote the product.
    If I was SAGE, I would get some other promoters.
  • Quoting the post by "Devin" in the BP Forum [openunix.org] with English translation added (switch to GB Chinese in your browser to view the funny characters below):

    Message ID: 2146457931 [202.96.162.85]

    Ìá ½ Õß : devin
    Message By: devin

    ±± ¾© ʱ ¼ä : 10/8/99 9:50 pm
    Beijing Time: 10/8/99 9:50 pm

    Ö÷Ìâ£ÕâÀïÊǼ¼ÊõÌÖÂÛ×é£ÓǼ¼ÊõÎÄÕÂ
    Subject: This is a technical forum, any non-technical discussion message is not welcomed.

    ÈçÓÐÆäËûÎÊÌâ£ÉÒÔÀÐÅ admin@openunix.org
    Ǽ¼ÊõÎÊÌâ£ÉÄܱɾý£ÇÒ×öÈÎÎÍÖ£
    If there are other issues, mails could be sent to admin@openunix.org
    Non-technical problems may be deleted and without prior notice.

    =====
    Doing a Whois Query gives the following info:

    Registrant:
    openunix.org (BLUEPOINTLINUX-DOM)
    6-704 , #1 huafa bei road
    shenzhen, guangdong 518031
    CN

    Domain Name: BLUEPOINTLINUX.COM

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Dun, Devin (YD41) szdevin@PUBLIC.SZPTT.NET.CN
    86-755-3352090 (FAX) 86-755-3352090

    Billing Contact:
    Dun, Devin (YD41) szdevin@PUBLIC.SZPTT.NET.CN
    86-755-3352090 (FAX) 86-755-3352090

    Record last updated on 04-Aug-99.
    Record created on 04-Aug-99.
    Database last updated on 11-Oct-99 03:52:52 EDT.

    -----
    So the poster in the forum message above is very likely to be the admin. himself.

    =====
    As far as I can see, BP (or Network Studio) is out trying to make some money from this (see the order info [bluepoint.com.cn]).

    This is a disgrace. They are trying to copy RedHat's commercial motives but not even a little of their corporate conscience. :-(

    Well, let's just hope they will reverse this regrettable course of action. If we do not hear from them soon, I suggest that the Linux communities (especially those in countries with substantial Chinese-specking population like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore) could band together and build a better Chinese distribution than BP. Then host it with the source on the web.

    I've heard that Yahoo is entering the Chinese market. Maybe they would be interested in providing this hosting service. Well, even if they're not interested, there should be some Chinese ISPs on the mainland who would. *evil grin*

    *Sigh sigh*

    Microsoft is probably laughing right now that they are not the only ones having this problem in China.

    I wonder who is currently having a larger market share in the pirated CDs market in China... Linux or Microsoft? Hmm... ;-) Maybe BP would just crash and burn in China like the other legitimate software.



    Anon Cow

    "GPL does not stand for Generally Poor License. It must be defended at all costs."

  • Hey Bruce, if does violate the GPL, what can anyone do about it? Who would be the appropiate person to initiate legal proceedings?

    You know, if it is a violation, we could TELL them about it and ASK them to release the source, rather than just go straight into litigation.
  • nope, see my post somewhat down, they clearly state that in pcweek [zdnet.com]:

    Larsen's idea: Change the OS security model and take advantage of Linux's open source code. He ripped out Linux's security kernel, rewrote it "180 degrees" and made access dependent on processes running on the system, rather than on the user

    Haha, great idea, take advantage of open source...

  • iii) What is 'reasonable cost'? Could a company legitamately claim that the cost of production of a one-off CDROM or DVDROM is of the order of $100,000 and charge that for the source? After all, commercially pressed CDs are the norm for software distribution.

    $100,000 is not a reasonable cost. At the most you could charge for the media and an hour's labor by an operator to write the medium.


    ...so that would be $2 for the media, and $1 for the labour.
  • by Stonehand (71085) on Monday October 11, 1999 @07:58AM (#1622835) Homepage
    Term #3 of the GPL would appear to agree with you.

    Looks like 3.b offers an escape hatch.

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

    3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
    under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
    Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
    source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
    1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

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

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
    to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is
    allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
    received the program in object code or executable form with such
    an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)
    ---------------------------
  • "It's long been a practiced for lesser developed nations to try to bootstrap themselves into the modern world by acquiring technology hook or crook from more developed nations. "

    It's also long been practiced by the modern world to try to make themselves even richer by exploiting lesser developed nations, by paying sweatshop workers less than human wages to churn out luxury products for the pleasure of the modern world (not to mention outright enslavement and other forms of bullying).
    Fair return I think.
  • by NovaX (37364) on Monday October 11, 1999 @07:59AM (#1622838)
    wow.. take a minute to think for a second. The GPL doesn't require the code be with the product, but be available when requested, at a fee of whatever is needed to pay transportation costs (or free). That means if these guys simply put an ftp up with the modified code, and let you know its availalbe, they shouldn't have a problem. Here's my proof.. (I really hate /. always jumping the gun..). From v1 of the GPL (cuz I was just looking at it.. thanks RMS and neelakanth (is it neel?) for finding v1 for me)...

    3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a portion or derivative of it, under Paragraph 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above; or,

    b) accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party free (except for a nominal charge for the cost of distribution) a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above; or,

    c) accompany it with the information you received as to where the corresponding source code may be obtained. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form alone.)
  • ROTFL... It sounds just like them doesn't it! Talk about bringing back memories.
  • If U're selling unlisenced work it require police work to stop it.

    If we are to free this software. We only need one free copy of the source code, and then we can copy that one for free because It's GPL (GPL is inheritied)

  • as far as i know, china does not recognize any form for patent/copyright/intellectual property/etc.., so its not a violation of anything, as far as china is concerned.

    asinus sum et eo superbio

  • Oops, I take it back. Obviously /.'s filtering works pretty well. I had my threshold set to '1', and missed all of the ignorant China bashing.

    /peter
  • First, get a copy of the binary software. Preferrably you should get it directly from the manufacturer, and in a nation where you have a hope of bringing a lawsuit to enforce the GPL. The United States would be best for this.

    After you have gotten a copy of the binary software, you must see if there is source code for all GPL software, or if there is a clear written offer for the source code distributed along with the binary software (perhaps on the CD itself). If neither of these exist, the GPL is being violated.

    Then, you should contact the manufacturer and ask for source code (for the kernel modifications, or whatever). Then if you don't get the source code, that's a GPL violation too.

    Don't listen to anyone who calls it "whining" to protest a GPL violation. Remember that the Linux kernel and applications are copyrighted property of some thousands of contributors, and they have a right to enforce their license, which requires that source code be distributed upon request.

    Under the GPL, if source code is not distributed with the product, the distributor of the binary code must give source code to anyone who requests it, not just people who have received the binary code. But we must see a copy of the binary product to determine conclusively whether or not source code is distributed.

    Thanks

    Bruce Perens

  • ...exhaust the original open source devs and they give up. Viola!

    Hmm, I mean this is illegal at the end of the day. Not that I have faith in the American legal system (ha!), but I think the DoJ wouldn't look to favorably on this. No to mention the bad press it would cause among millions (how many are you guys? :) of sysadmins...


    -

  • Whereas the USA spawned such culinary delights as McDonald's and Burger King. Hmm.. I once heard of this group of american kids who dressed up in trench-coats and shot up their school. all americans are clearly homocidal maniacs. All us europeans are slave-traders. Oh.. ever saw a cow being slaughtered in a kosher (sp?) way?

    ah.. and they say eloquence is dead. Thank you for your wise words, please post again.

  • China however was the largest and most advanced civilization for a thousand years tho.
    I thought columbus was looking for a route to China...cause he heard they had huge cities laced with gold.
  • ROTFL...

    It sounds just like them doesn't it!

    Talk about bringing back memories.
  • Corel kind of started this thing with it's 'closed betatest'. They claim they don't need to deliver source code yet, since their dist isn't publicly available yet.

    I read in one of the follow-ups that BluePoint refers to Corel wrt not delivering source code (yet?). These large scale so called closed betatest blur the distinction between private use (in-house) which doens't need delivering source code and open distribution which does require it.

    Should the GPL maybe be updated to draw a sharp line in this area, e.g. by explicitly requiring that any use, also so called tests, outside a company (i.e. by any non-employee) is considered to be non-private, and must be accompanied by source code?
  • Ok, so taking the Linux kernel for an example of a GPLed (or whatever the past participle is) work, if someone distributes a binary only copy of the kernel and refuses to give out source (a clear violation of section 3):

    i) Who is the complainant in the trial? As you point out, the kernel is copyright by thousands of people and the scope of this copyright is very blurred (does someone really own the one line of code they changed). Does this mean that the entire group of copyright owners have to sue 'en masse'?
    ii) Does this mean that you have to give back the binary because they had no right to distribute in the first place (ie you are doing yourself harm by complaining)?
    iii) What is 'reasonable cost'? Could a company legitamately claim that the cost of production of a one-off CDROM or DVDROM is of the order of $100,000 and charge that for the source? After all, commercially pressed CDs are the norm for software distribution.

    I don't want to say that GPL is a bad thing, just wondering what the fine mecahnics of it are.

    John Wiltshire
  • Ummm... who the hell appointed you as my spokesperson? I'm a member of the Linux community. I run Linux servers. I convert work servers from NT to Linux. I've converted friends. I don't feel "attacked".
  • Anyone who requests it?

    The GPL, as I understand it, requires that IF I distribute a GPL'd program to you, THEN you will have the source to it, under the terms of the GPL. (If I distribute the binary, then you also have that under the terms of the GPL.)

    Can you clarify??


    John
  • It's not your copyright being violated, is it? What amount of GPL code have you written? It's the developers that are being attacked.

    Of course, if you has a little understanding of th big picture, you'd realise that in the long run, you wouldn't be able to convert NT to Linux without a large licensing fee, because the free Linux of today would be embraced, extended and extinguished, while Microsoft or Sun charge you through the nose for "their new" OSes at $300 a license.
    --------
    "I already have all the latest software."
  • the name openlinux.org is mentioned many times on their main page.(The email addresses all go there) and if you look up the domain registration, you'll see that at least the ppl who registered the domain name is from caldera. I wonder how Caldera is related with BP?

    %whois openlinux.org
    [rs.internic.net]
    The Data in Network Solutions' WHOIS database is provided by Network
    Solutions for information purposes, and to assist persons in obtaining
    information about or related to a domain name registration record.
    Network Solutions does not guarantee its accuracy. By submitting a
    WHOIS query, you agree that you will use this Data only for lawful
    purposes and that, under no circumstances will you use this Data to:
    (1) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass
    unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via e-mail
    (spam); or (2) enable high volume, automated, electronic processes
    that apply to Network Solutions (or its systems). Network Solutions
    reserves the right to modify these terms at any time. By submitting
    this query, you agree to abide by this policy.

    Registrant:
    Caldera, Inc. (OPENLINUX4-DOM)
    240 West Center Street
    Orem, UT 84057
    US

    Domain Name: OPENLINUX.ORG

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Orcutt, David (DO331) edo@CALDERASYSTEMS.COM
    (801) 523-7143
    Billing Contact:
    Cooper, Doug (DC1630) doug@CALDERA.COM
    (801) 226-1675

    Record last updated on 03-Aug-98.
    Record created on 03-Aug-98.
    Database last updated on 10-Oct-99 10:17:35 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    NS.CALDERA.COM 207.179.18.1
    NS2.CALDERA.COM 207.179.18.252

  • If you get the binary product and it does not come with an offer for source code, that's a GPL violation right there.

    Of course, I have not seen the product and will need to examine it along with someone who can read Chinese before I can say for sure that the GPL's being violated.

    Bruce

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ok, i browsed through the bp forum and only found one thread relating to the GPL violation. here's a rough translation: ( the words in parentheses are added by myself ) title: i'm very dissapointed... name: blue the kernel source being close-source already voilates the GPL. the chinesenization technology is for "bp linux" only is also a bad since a lot of people like mandrake, openlinux, slackware, turbolinux, redhat, debian ... no to mention that you have promised (opensource) before... ok i know promises are not enforced by law, and doing opensouce in china is very difficult, but i believe the only way to continue the development is to play by the opensource rules. is making some rpm ( for other distributions ) really so hard? how about the CLE project in taiwan? they are also very complete. bp is really the most techanically suited chinese solution right now, and i don't want to see it being ruined by short-sightedness. title: Re. i'm very dissapointed. name: hahalee yeah, look at CLE 0.9 -- already a few hundred Megabytes. A lot need to be modified in a distribution, like the hz de/coding in Pine, debug in kmail and system scripts etc... we can't depend on other distributors to maintain the packages. anyway, if you like the distribution like the preview version, feel free to continue using it. about opensource, what we promised was to include source in the release version. this is just a relatively stable debug version. the opensource theory ... (ok, there's some rambling here and i'm tired of translation ). ------------------------------------------------- so basically i think this is just like the Corel Beta version thing. ghost already left a message in bp forum informing the developers that they have made slashdot headline from GPL violation. i'm sure this will be resolved very soon.
  • by jnik (1733)
    I think this distro is done by the people in your beloved Taiwan
    Which makes it China according to both China and the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 1999 @09:13AM (#1622871)
    ok, i browsed through the bp forum and only found
    one thread relating to the GPL violation. here's
    a rough translation: ( the words in parentheses
    are added by myself )

    title: i'm very dissapointed...
    name: blue
    the kernel source being close-source already
    voilates the GPL. the chinesenization
    technology is for "bp linux" only is also a
    bad since a lot of people like mandrake,
    openlinux, slackware, turbolinux, redhat,
    debian ... no to mention that you have
    promised (opensource) before... ok i know
    promises are not enforced by law, and doing
    opensouce in china is very difficult, but i
    believe the only way to continue the
    development is to play by the opensource rules.
    is making some rpm ( for other distributions )
    really so hard? how about the CLE project in
    taiwan? they are also very complete.
    bp is really the most techanically suited
    chinese solution right now, and i don't want
    to see it being ruined by short-sightedness.

    title: Re. i'm very dissapointed.
    name: hahalee

    yeah, look at CLE 0.9 -- already a few hundred
    Megabytes. A lot need to be modified in a
    distribution, like the hz de/coding in Pine,
    debug in kmail and system scripts etc... we can't
    depend on other distributors to maintain the
    packages. anyway, if you like the distribution
    like the preview version, feel free to continue
    using it.

    about opensource, what we promised was to include
    source in the release version. this is just a
    relatively stable debug version. the opensource
    theory ... (ok, there's some rambling here and
    i'm tired of translation ).

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

    so basically i think this is just like the Corel
    Beta version thing. ghost already left a message
    in bp forum informing the developers that they
    have made slashdot headline from GPL violation.
    i'm sure this will be resolved very soon.
  • If the GPL is not valid in China, then the software is supplied without any license whatsoever, thus making copying it illegal under most laws. Remember that it is only the GPL which grants you the right to distribute, modify and distribute the modifications. If you take away the GPL, you have none of these rights.

  • So, my question is what has prevented this from already being done (or maybe it is in the process of being done...)?
    • the generosity of corperate america/the world? (call me a cynic, but i don't think so)
    • no one has gotten around to it yet?
    • the fear of the linux community?
    As stated above it doesn't seem to hard (only some time and money required) to make the GPL fairly useless. Are lawyers the only/most effective/best method for enforcemnt? Or is the fear of the wrath of the linux community enough?

    just my 2e-2$

    -Wiggin
  • No need for apologies. I kind of figured the problem was something along those lines. Unfortunately, most typos aren't that confusing. ;) Thanks for the clarification.

    And congratulations. =)


  • Third pig has been violating the GPL for quite some time now. www.thirdpig.com... this was posted before but with an incorrect URL.


  • as a commercial software developer, what reason do i have to use GPL stuff? the world simply dosen't work on free software now, and ultimately there may be no path from where we are now to a world with plenty of perfect GPL software.

    GPL, as opposed to BSD, LGPL et cetera, provides the worst sort of incompatibility: it does not, and will never work with the commercial software distribution model. programmers who simply want to have their stuff *used* should licence under a less restrictive licence than GPL.

    -sh_
  • IANAL (honest, I'm not), but I think one would back me on this. Fortunately or unfortunately, it comes down to the most anal wording considerations of the contract. It is an actual written contract and supersedes what an employer thinks it ought to mean, and particularly it supersedes what RMS _wanted_ it to mean.
    As such, the contract makes absolutely no distinction regarding employees whatsoever. You yourself gave me one of the final keys to the probable outcome of this in court, when you apparently talked to a lawyer and learned that distribution was from 'one legal entity to another legal entity'. Now, corporations might want to write their OWN contracts (and have) to lay claim to the IP of their employees, but they don't have the power to stop a person being a legal entity just because that person is an employee. Therefore, it looks like 'distribution' within a company remains totally subject to the GPL's provisions regarding distribution, because the GPL says _nothing_ about 'unless it's a beta' or 'unless it's within a company that wants to preserve its intellectual property'.
    I don't think this is an accident. I think RMS wanted it this way. So would I. His license is a subtle and direct way of preserving lines of communications over source code, and to make special cases where you don't have to share defeats the purpose. It's written so there are no loopholes regarding that, but it is also written to not be too unmanageable for the source writer. The basic rule remains "binaries == source == complete rights under the contract", and is quite clear, concerning itself with no other issues at all. That's a strength and gives the contract focus.
  • The Taiwanese don't consider themselves part of China. In fact, Taiwan is one of the very few democracies in southeast asia. Calling the Taiwanese Commies is not correct.

    anyway, I've seen Chinese versions of Red Hat and Turbolinux before. What's new about Bluepoint?

    dai wai
  • I didn't notice any listings on Net& FreeBSD pages, but OpenBSD, the youngest of the group, does have a list. This is not for contributing code, but of money, equipment, and services. Not only do the companies praise OpenBSD when asked (ie, NYTimes artcle), but they do help in more than code.

    http://www.openbsd.org/donations.html
  • This means if they didn't include the source, you must email/write/phone/fax/etc them and request the source code, they then must provide the source by ftp/http/email/letter/fax/etc.

    They must supply the source in machine readable form. I wouldn't call a faxed printout machine readable. The letter would only be a possible way if it's accompanied by a CD/whatever with the source on it.

  • Non-internet source code distribution could also legitimately include shipping costs. So you'd have three elements: media, labor/handling and shipping. The media and shipping costs are tough to pull highway robbery for, you can easily find the cost of a CD-R and a DHL letter pack in the market from which the distributor is distributing from. If they deviate too far from that amount, it would never hold up in court.

    The labor/handling charges they've got a little more flexibility with. If the average hourly wage is 6USD for a technician, and they charge 300USD for labor, again no court would accept it.

    ----
  • /*COUGH*/

    GNU Project -- started in 1984

    http://www.gnu.org/

    xBSD -- based on Net/2 -- Released 1991

    (or optimistically Net/1 -- 1989)

    http://www.netbsd.org/Misc/history.html

    NB: None of the *current* BSD projects started until 1993.

    So hows about you f*** off and stop spreading FUD.

    GNU/GPL predates any of the BSD projects by half a decade. Who started the trend?
  • Sadly, whenever you see a post saying "nuke the commiez, f*ing bastards' it's almost invariably a teenage american boy.

    You may not like it, but it's true.

    dave
  • Thanks Bruce.

    Adding shipping, it would probably be reasonable to charge the following (from Australia):

    AUD3.00 - CD/R cost
    AUD10.00 - Technician (or whatever at a CD Burning ship)
    AUD50.00 - International overnight shipping costs.

    The pain is that shipping charges here are hideous. :-(

    John Wiltshire
  • The most logic solution to this problem might be, to try and talk to the people making Blue Point Linux, and ask them whether they do distribute the source code. If they don't, it is quite clearly a problem, that someone needs to do something about.
    And, for all the junk about communist China or whatever: Why should that affect whether or not people should follow the GPL? I don't think it has a paragraf stating "This does not need to be accepted in China." So, why the fuzz?

    Rune Broberg / Mihtjel

    -----------------------------------
  • Boiling a cat? Boiling?
    Barbarian.
    You fry a cat in peanut oil with garlic, lemon grass, chilis and a dash of soy sauce.
    Bit stringy, especiallyh with a Chinese cat, but not too bad.

    dave "taste like chicken :)"
  • and that they are not releasing the software in a "box" like you would buy RedHat or Quake, but as a fully installed server-machine and all. I'm not sure if that changes anything, but I guess I can see why it could. If they are selling it as a "customized machine" with "customized software" it is a possibility that it doesn't exactly infringe on any copyrights

    The mode of distribution hardly effects the copyright, whether it's on floppy, CD-ROM, tapes or harddisks. Or harddisks inside a customized machine.

    besides that, the software isn't "really" Linux anyway...

    It doesn't matter at all what the product is, if it is derived from a GPL'd program or just uses significant portions of code (more than a few lines) from a GPL'd program it must be put under GPL. With the exception of course when the copyright holders make an explicit exception through a contract or whatever.

    Any lawyers out there that could clarify?

    That didn't really need a lawyer, I think.

  • Even that the message is downmarked it's right in that most of the world (sigh - I gonna be flamed, btw: I'm from Russia ;) has no interest in those modifications.
    If taiwanese/chinese people are concerned - well - it doesn't make it a topic for slashdot (where there's a LOT of fascists, alas. Results are predictable)
  • You don't understand patents. You could patent a particular algorithm for sorting (in the U.S. where software patents are allowed) but you could not patent the "sort" program itself. You could also not successfully patent something that has alredy been published.

    Regarding copyright infringement lawsuits, given all of the money behind Linux these days, one would think that we would be able to find significant financial support for enforcing our copyrights, as we did in correcting the Linux trademark issue. There is also some chance that we can bring a criminal, not civil, prosecution in some forms of copyright piracy.

    But the sad fact is that it may simply not be possible to enforce the GPL in some nations, China included. You certainly can enforce it, though, if the Chinese company decides to sell its product in another nation that has conventional copyright laws.

    But we still haven't seen if the company is simply confused about the GPL.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • When the GPL is violated, the person who would bring suit is the copyright holder. In the case of the kernel, this would be several hundred people and organizations - but you just need one of them. Not that I am holding forth any hope about suing in China, but suing a Chinese company that does business in other nations is certainly possible.

    But again, we don't know yet if these people are just confused about the GPL as Corel was, and think they can wait for the end of their Beta tests to release source or something.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • If they give someone outside of their company a beta-test version, and that beta-test version doesn't have the source code or an offer for the source code (which is fulfilled promptly), they would be violating the GPL.

    A lot of people have trouble understanding that beta-tests are distribution. But when you transfer a copyrighted work between two different legal entities, that's distribution. So, the first time beta code goes to someone who doesn't work for your company, you must fulfill your GPL obligations. Your intent to distribute source later doesn't matter, it's a violation now.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • First, the tactic he outlined would itself be illegal, and to willfully do it would probably be fraud, which can get you jail time. Second, nobody who does business in the Linux community wants the bad P.R. that comes with being a GPL-violator, so we never get to court on these things, they fix them first.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Actually, the FSF has Eben Moglen, a professor at Columbia, as their general council. I also think that RMS is eager to get a GPL test case so that he can see if it holds up, and if it doesn't, what needs to be fixed. Hell, NeXT took one look at the GPL and decided to not even try to fight it.
  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Monday October 11, 1999 @11:14AM (#1622940) Homepage Journal
    Actually, if they give someone _inside_ of the company a beta or alpha or random coyrighted hack, as a binary, then that is distribution, and they'd have to give the person source under the GPL, or at least make it available.
    The trick is, in this situation it's probably being given to another programmer anyway- so it's _assumed_ that they're getting the source (to work on). But the point is an important one- there's no distinction between alpha, beta and final, and no distinction between inside the company and outside it, as far as GPL applying. When you give a person a binary you let them have source, that's the bottom line. It most certainly applies within a company as well. To control this, only give binaries and source to people who need it to work on, and who agree with you not to distribute it more widely yet. That has to be voluntary because the GPL specifically authorizes anyone to redistribute further on their whim, and doing so is also in the spirit of the license.
    You can explain to your programmer that you want the program to be more finished and whole before the world sees it. Suggesting that the bugs should be fixed first is not a good idea, because that brings thoughts of 'many eyes/easy bugs' and is an argument for going widely public instantly. Instead, a better argument for voluntarily keeping a distribution limited at first is that in early stages, the 'essence' of the program is very blurry and weak. You want to have the program stand on its own and seem original and worthwhile, bugs or no bugs, by the time you're really putting it out there. Otherwise people might not understand what it wants to be, and the open source interaction might pull it in many unhelpful directions.
    One might even say that a GPLed program doesn't need a buglist so much as a manifesto (ducks ;) ) ...a clear statement of what the program wants to grow to become. Given that, there can be direction and clarity. Without it, you might have a perfectly bugless program that was just a pile of unrelated functionality.
  • Now, if you ask for the mods and they say nay, THEN it's a violation.

    Clarification: If you get the code from them, and then you ask for the modifications, and are rejected.

    I haven't looked to see if they're a "Wide open FTP server" or if they're a CD only kinda thing, but they are only required to give the mods to the people they distributed it to, upon request.

    e.g., if you buy the binaries from FooBarOnlineCDSales.com, and it doesn't include the source, only FooBarOnlineCDSales.com is required to give you the mods. If they don't have them, then they damn well better get them (pronto) from whoever THEY got the code from, so as to be able to meet the GPL's requirements.

    Now if its an FTP server, they have a hard time proving they DIDN'T supply you, and they need to make it available to one and all who ask.

  • by dclydew (14163)
    The GPL states that the code must be freely available. So if they post it on a web/ftp server they'll be fine. Or if they include an address that someone can write for the source, then thats ok too...

    Just ask Linuxcare about their boot/root credit card cd gimmick at LWE :-)
  • are somewhat of a dissapointment to me. I thought that the "great nation of USA" should be a little more cultivated than to still be afraid of the "Red Danger".

    Can't you people still see it.. socialism, communism, marxism... it's all just governments... the people that populate the country in question are still humans, and diserve nothing else than to be treated as such

  • While I'm with you on not jumping the gun on this, I don't see that they've:

    a) accompanied it with source
    b) offered source, or
    c) said where the source may be obtained

    Of course, option [c] does not apply here, anyway.

    Still, they should definitely be given a chance to make things right before people go jumping down their throats.

    ---
    Consult, v. t. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.
  • by schematic (2337) on Monday October 11, 1999 @10:23AM (#1622962) Homepage
    Over at 3rd Pig [3rddpig.com] they've got a RedHat kernel (from the 4.1 distro i believe) that's been hacked up to use process based security. They've been running a public test and haven't released the code even though they have been asked. I don't know if they give you the source when you purchase it, but at the price they charge (~$10k+) i don't think i'll find out.

    I would think that if they modified a linux kernel, they would have to release the source. (Don't flame me as i haven't really read up on the liscences and i'm just expressing my opinion.)

  • It's long been a practiced for lesser developed nations to try to bootstrap themselves into the modern world by acquiring technology hook or crook from more developed nations. This can take the form of pirating, industrial and governmental espionage (anyone who thinks the Chinese haven't been spying here is badly mistaken), getting licenses to manufacture XYZ and then reneging on terms limiting the disclosure to third parties etc.

    Software piracy, GPL violations etc. are only the tip of the iceberg.

    Nor is China the first, nor will they be the last to do this. They may in fact be the WORST though by virtue of their size and their represive government.

    The only way to deal with the issue is by hitting them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. If GPL is being violated we need to complain to the same trade organizations that put pressue on China for all their other acts of international piracy, and complain to senators/congressmen about the favorable trade agreements that are being pushed through. Make no mistake about it. The current Chinese government is not your friend.
  • As always, a comment like this shouldn't get an answer, but then ...
    This is not only offtopic, this is completly absurd.
    First, technokrat is no copy of slashdot, it has an similar look. So what, this look is a proven way to deliver this kind of information.
    Technocrat delivers A DIFFERENT KIND OF INFORMATION.
    Second, why do you whine about copiing in a threat about GPL. You haven't understood anything.
    Third, HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED AT THE HEADERS OF AT LEAST ONE THIRD OF THE POSTERS ON SLASHDOT? THEY ALL ADVERTISE AN URL!!!!
  • "Term #3 of the GPL would appear to agree with you. Looks like 3.b offers an escape hatch."

    "Making the source available" isn't the same as providing a written offer to do so. Does anyone know if such an offer is included? IMHO this is important because not everyone would think to ask for the source if it wasn't included, and its availability wasn't mentioned.

    Also, isn't it fairly stupid not to supply the kernel source? That means you're stuck with the compile-time options the package maintainer chose. Ugh.

  • by Trick (3648) on Monday October 11, 1999 @08:09AM (#1622979)
    O.K., I can deal with the concern about a Linux distribution not including source, even if it might be a bit premature.

    What's with all this China-bashing, though? Sure, China's got its problems... but it's not like this is the first time someone's done this. To say it's happened because "the Chinese make their own rules" or "the Chinese don't believe in intellectual property" is speculation at best, and bigotry at worst.

    They screwed up. Westerners have done the same thing, and I doubt anyone would argue that (as a possibly inaccurate example) the guys at Corel are godless commies because they didn't provide the source to their distribution.

    ---
    Consult, v. t. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.
  • Are the Chinese even signatory to any of the treaties that govern these things? If they're not, then the license doesn't have any power in China (and may not in most of the world anyway) and they're not violating it.
  • Typical - on the one hand we have people saying that the GPL is communism, and on the other people blaming communism for violation of the GPL.
  • by John Fulmer (5840) on Monday October 11, 1999 @08:17AM (#1622983)
    That's funny, I keep my moderation filter at '1' and didn't see any anti-Chinese posts. Just goes to show that ./'s moderation system DOES work. :)

    BTW, how can you tell that AC posts are from US citizens or even from a 'Western' country? Maybe it's a Taiwanese/Japanese/'Insert Eastern Country Here' person.

    I also got the feeling that it was the same person posting most of the AC anti-Chinese remarks.

    Sigh...

    jf
  • I've just had a look at the first half of the forum (too long, got to do some work). All of them are about installation problems and packages available in the distribution. I found 2 comments about source code availablilty. The first one is in English "Isn't it Linux? Please Open Source!" and was regarded as a flame in the one reply (also in English). The second one is in Chinese, posted by a RealLinux (0 byte(s) ReaLinux 10/8/99 2:04 pm). The title of the post says "No source code, I don't need BluePoint". There's one reply by a Simon (23 byte(s) simon 10/8/99 11:19 pm) saying "Good! Then go ahead..." (original reply in English).

    It seems like it's not seen as an issue at all on the forum.
  • Are you really a BSD user, or just some idiot trying to make BSD look bad? When Linux zealots loved to try to degrade BSD users, this was exactly what they did. Sometimes I can't tell if its these users just reversing it (since they know everyone hates it and makes BSD, as it made Linux before, look bad).. or more likely.. just some little @$%!ing brat.

    Now, the GPL has every right to exist, and users have every right to make sure other obide by it. I'm sure if you go rape some child they're parents will happily get the government to put the full force of the law down on your... But this isn't as severe, which is why no ones going to jail or such. Violations still deserve attention, to be takn with concern (while staying calm) and not to ridicule the license because some people are inept and try to ignore it.
  • I'm not wrong about that. Read the GPL around this part:
    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

    That applies if you don't distribute source code with the product.

    Bruce

  • i) Who is the complainant in the trial? As you point out, the kernel is copyright by thousands of people and the scope of this copyright is very blurred (does someone really own the one line of code they changed). Does this mean that the entire group of copyright owners have to sue 'en masse'?

    At least one author would be the complaintant, and would claim infringement of a specific part of the kernel that he clearly wrote. A single function would be enough.

    ii) Does this mean that you have to give back the binary because they had no right to distribute in the first place (ie you are doing yourself harm by complaining)?

    I don't think that under the GPL a distributor can compel someone to whom the product was distributed to destroy the product. But the distributor has infringed even if the product is later destroyed.

    iii) What is 'reasonable cost'? Could a company legitamately claim that the cost of production of a one-off CDROM or DVDROM is of the order of $100,000 and charge that for the source? After all, commercially pressed CDs are the norm for software distribution.

    $100,000 is not a reasonable cost. At the most you could charge for the media and an hour's labor by an operator to write the medium.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • I'm still not sure "distribution" applies to people who are clearly your employees, and in any case I don't think even RMS wants to apply it this way. But I'd be willing to discuss it further with an attorney.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Sorry, Kitsune-san! I've been too busy having a life (see today's announcement [perens.com]) - sometimes my writing suffers :-)

    Just delete the "But" and read the paragraph without it.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • True.. and of course that's why whatever I write, software or written word, goes under a BSD style license (I don't like OCL). Actually.. I'll be writing a lot about differences in license if I ever get my project organized enough...

    Everyone knows it, but telling supporters in their face wont always make you friends. The GPL serves as a lobbying tool for FSF, BSD serves as a license to improve the community (in my opinion). I see the BSDL and the GPL in a similar fashion as what happened with the hippies/yippies. The hippies started the trend, they reacted, they caused their revolution to begin. However, they weren't politicial, just doing what they wanted and thought was best. The yippies, the generation after, liked the hippy ideas but wanted to add heir political force to it... add their twist. Yippies marched, yippies screamed against vietnam. Yippies got the attention of the press as revolutionary, while the hippies were just ignored.

    Sound familar? BSD has done revolutionary things technologicly, GPL done the political work. Why is it that Linux users are generally so bent on getting media in any possible fashion, yet BSD users aren't so interested in the ego of the printed page? Linux is evolutionary, BSD was revolutionary.

    If you go BSD, you allow the open source world to evolve from your code, and the closed source to use that code as a starting point, and then improve (and they always do. The bugs they find, and other code as submitted as gratitude back to the origionators). Sometimes, you just have to have lots of respect for them.

    The GPL takes the open code, forces businesses to see it but not have it (taunt them), and then makes a big media blitz where companies are lead to believe GPL'ing means instant free developers, customers.. capital. Its not true.. but they have one heck of a story to tell.

    That's my opinion of it. FSF is a lobbying group, but I doubt they would deny that. However, I still respect and in general uphold the views of the GPL community, and I understand decency. Yours was at the edge.. and I probably would have given it 1 off (because it sounded like a cheer for the insultish attitude of the origional poster), or more likely.. just ignored it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 1999 @12:26PM (#1623001)
    http://ftp.openunix.org:81/pub/bluepoint/starprevi ew/FAQ.TXT section 3.10.3: (translated) chinese package and patch: "due to space limitation, no source code is included in this beta version, but we promise to include source code in the formal release, and you can find the source code on our homepage." Please don't be so critical of everything related to china before you get the facts.
  • by Trick (3648) on Monday October 11, 1999 @08:20AM (#1623004)
    Actually, my [c] was in response to your [c] which was probably referring to a [c] in the GPL which applies to binary-only non-commercial distributions, which is why I was saying that [c] didn't apply (at least, it doesn't appear to).

    However, if they did [c] (not to comply with your original [c], but actually to your original [a] or [b], since [c] only applies of the source wasn't yours to begin with), then they'd be [a][o][k].

    I really need to cut down on the coffee.


    ---
    Consult, v. t. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.
  • by konstant (63560) on Monday October 11, 1999 @08:23AM (#1623006)
    IANAL, but... Let's just hope that no major corporations discover how flimsy a protection the GPL really is.

    Legal and accurate though it might be, the GPL has a fatal shortcoming as a protectant of open source rights, namely that it costs money to enforce.

    I'm sure many of you are familiar with the practice among American convicts of filing spurious lawsuits against the prison system in an attempt to wear it down. Inmates have filed civil rights claims against everything from the temperature of the bathwater to the flavor of peanut butter served in the cafeteria. These lawsuits are not serious, but they cannot be prevented because the right to sue has been tied by the courts to the rights of free speech. The upshot is that DA's offices are exhausted in some counties with the sheer expense of filing counterclaims and motions to dismiss.

    If someone really wanted to demolish the open source protections on a product, all they would have to do is reverse this tactic. A lot of open source programmers and "foundations" just don't have the money to fight more than a handful of costly legal battles. All a company would have to do would be to publish and illegally patent hundreds of modules that broke the GPL on an open source product. Then build the product out of the patented "proprietary" modules. Challengers to the legality of this maneuver would have to prove one by one that the modules were not legal, costing them thousands of dollars. And if they suceed for some module, well, it's simple enough to produce a legitimately proprietary version for one small part. Pretty soon you exhaust the original open source devs and they give up. Viola!

    What we need, as other have said, is some sort of fund to hire crack lawyers. Like the ACLU, except for open source.

    -konstant

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