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GPL To Be Tested by Mattel? 276

radja writes, "It seems people are beginning to notice that CPHack falls under the GPL. According to this article in Wired, Mattel may have a little trouble getting CPHack off the Web." Check out yesterday's article about the win Mattel had recently with CPHack.
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GPL To Be Tested by Mattel?

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  • As a potential Cyber Patrol customer, I am sure that they would be more than happy to entertain an intensive dialogue with me (via phone and e-mail) in order so that I can better understand why it is that I should not know what sites their product will prevent me from seeing and why they are abusing the legal system in an attempt to supress customer-benefiting Consumer Reports-style reviews and analyses of their products.

    During my lunch hour, I will call their Tech. Support dept. so I can get their side of the issue, and express my side. Who knows... I might even have to ask to speak with a "supervisor" (and perhaps even the supervisor's supervisor). If I can think of something to say to them tomorrow that I hadn't thought of today, then I will call them again. And so on.

    Tonight, when I arrive home, I will send the company an e-mail message. If and when they reply, I will send them another e-mail, responding to their points and adding any additional ones of my own. (And if they do not reply I will of course e-mail them to enquire as to whether or not they received my original e-mail). And so on. I think that it would mean a lot to them to know that I cared enough about their company and its product to want to get into a long-term e-mail Pen Pal-esque relationship with the company and its employees.

    As as an added convenience -- that is to save them the hardship of having to Xerox(tm) duplicate paper copies of my enquiries for their files, I will send a fax version of each of my e-mails as well.

    I will take advantage, so to speak, of Mattel's open invitation for me to submit recomendations for sites to be blocked via a website application (http:/ /anon.free.anonymizer.com/http://www.cyberpatrol.c om/forms/listsub.asp [anonymizer.com]) by using this interface to pose press-conference style questions such as: Why does Mattel insult the good faith of its customers by making additions to its so-called ``CyberLISTS'' for purely political reasons?

    I assume that if they had wanted this form interface to strictly support only the transmission of URL's (and not insightful questioning) they would have programmed out the polymorphism that permits the latter.

    Mattel has a corporate interest to serve the customer. And that's why I am sure that they would be most appreciative if YOU, humble Slashdot Reader, were to likewise contact them in order to let them know that you are interested in finding out more about how their software works and to express to them that it not acceptable for them to pad their list of blocked sites merely for the sake of corporate censorship.

    Mattel / Microsystems / The Learning Company ... wants to hear from you! Call them, write to them, e-mail them! Let them know what they can do to better serve you, their (potential) customer!

    They will thank you for it! :)

    From the cyberpatrol website (http://anon.free .anonymizer.com/http://www.cyberpatrol.com/central [anonymizer.com]): If you're looking for support on your Cyber Patrol product, please contact:

    Cyber Patrol technical support at 1-800-828-2608 or 319-247-3333 Monday thru Friday, 9am to 9pm EST,

    or email help@tlcsupport.com, fax 319-395-9600,
    or mail The Learning Company 1700 Progress Drive P.O. Box 100 Hiawatha, IA 52233-0100



    P.S. If using the website interface (http:/ /anon.free.anonymizer.com/http://www.cyberpatrol.c om/forms/listsub.asp [anonymizer.com]) to pose your questions (instead of URLs)is the only convenient way for you to contact Mattel, I am sure that they will understand. The important thing, as I am sure they would agree is to get the contact going!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So cphack uses the GPL, and the GPL permits free distribution. I suppose that the Slashdot readers will know assume that this gives cphack users free reign to copy and use this illegal program.

    Bzzzt. Wrong.

    Suppose, now, that the cphack authors had included an extra clause in the license. And suppose this extra clause said that no matter what, they couldn't be held liable for writing it. Do you think such a thing would stand up in court? Sorry, but if you break the law, not even a fine print disclaimer will save you. This whole license issue is sort of like negotiating with terrorists: you get to make all the demands you want, but you're crazy if you expect them to be met. The GPL, having never been tested in court, is impotent in this case.

    Sorry, but I don't see these guys getting off so easy.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is it not prohibited to buy illegal software ;-) ?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But they did not assign the rights to anyone SPECIFICALLY. They simply released the code to the public (not a legal entity). Think we might have a leg to stand on! Tom Dutton
  • I'm not sure I understand your question.

    Public Domain means anybody can do anything with the code. CPHack is not public domain.

    The GPL [gnu.org] allows free modification and redistribution, but prevents redistribution under more restrictive terms, therefore it is not public domain. CPHack might be under the GPL, but yes there appears to be some controversy about that.

    The Artistic License [opensource.org] also allows free modification and redistribution, and also prevents redistribution under more restrictive terms, but is looser than the GPL as to where the more restrictive terms can't be.

    If copyrights were assigned to Mattel, than Mattel has the right to redistribute the software under new and different licenses. Under the circumstances, I don't think they will.

    Assuming the software actually was distributed under the GPL, than we all have the right to redistribute it, verbatim or in modified form, under the GPL. I don't know where the mention of the Artistic license is coming from, because the only one who can change the license to Artistic is the copyright holder (i.e. Mattel), and the chances of that are slim.

    ----
  • If not, then they are back where they started - they'll have to establish that the software is illegal and that the court has jurisdiction to make their case.

    But the case is settled -- how will Mattel be able to bring it in the court again? And against whom will it be, new copyright holder that happens to be Mattel itself?

  • I'm not certain of the details, but the boiler plate usually says (paraphrase) "see COPYING which accompanies this file. If it doesn't, get it from the FSF". Now, I don't know what the one comment had in it exactly, but if I saw something sawing what I was looking at was GPL, and I'ld look up just what GPL means.
  • Sorry, apparently you mistyped your reply. The correct text has to be:

    <sarcasm>Sorry, you can't do that. DeCSS [datacomm.ch] is illegal. You can't even look at the code, because it's banned from all web sites [nycsoftware.com].</sarcasm>

  • [this still isn't legal advice :) ]

    If mattel is correct on the copyright claim, then the purported licensing of the code, either as GPL or "do what you want" is invalid. It is a basic legal principal that you can transfer no better title to something than you yourself hold.

    On the other hand, even if the authors were to agree that it was a violation, this would not be binding upon those who received the license under the purported license (but they would still be laible for damages if it is indeed a copyright violation.).

    hawk, esq.
  • [still not legal advice]

    >In other words, Mattel has signed a document acknowledging that the
    >authors (had) all rights to cphack.
    >No wonder they settled. They WON!
    >Since both Mattel and the authors have agreed in writing that the
    >authors had all rights to cphack, then they were certainly within
    >their rights to license the programi

    THis doesn't follow. Mattel did *not* agree that the authors had any
    rights; they purchased whatever rights they *might* have.

    hawk, esq.
  • THe GPL is hardly unique in being irrevocable.

    However, given that it is still a nonexclusive license, it isn't anywhere close to an assignment--as is repeatedly said almost everywhere, the authors remain owners of the code even after subjecting it to the GPL.

    Furthermore, mattel cannot claim that they were unaware of the license; it was imposible for any vaguely diligent person to find the code without the license. They have either actual or (at worst) constructive notice of the GPL and "do what you want" licensing, and can hardly come back and claim any type of surprise.
  • Lessseee, where to start?

    1) without lawyers, the outcome would hardly be persuasive
    2) its not possible for someone to violate their own license (which is why
    LyX and some other projects (original KDE code?) are quasi-GPL, not
    violations of the GPL. No violation means no damages
    3) The damages would come from the couple of people trying to test it, why
    would they agree to give it away.
    4) the suit would be a sham from the beginning, not being an actual controversy,
    making the pleadings perjury, etc . . .

    hawk, esq., still not giving legal advice.
  • > repeat this 10 times and you might understand:

    :)

    And I was worried I'd repeated too many times in the original posting :)
  • 1) It's not that it's a monopoly, it's that the rest of the world won't take what happens with a couple of amateurs as any prediction as to what the results would be with professionals.

    2&3) Yes, two individuals in a conspiracy to defraud the court. This couldn't be heard in any Federal court, as there is no real underlying "case or controversy." SOme state courts have the power to grant advisiory opeinions, though.
  • still a lawyer, still not legal advice . . .

    >You feel that it's not an assignment, whereas many of us feel it
    >could be successfully argued as being the functional equivalent, and
    >therefore legally equivalent.

    I'm not trying to be rude or condescending, but no, damnit!

    We're talking about words with specific legal meanings. What you
    feel, or what I feel, has nothing to do with the matter. If someone
    feels that writs from the Grand Poohbah transfer property rights
    because he laberls them "Deed," this doesn't make it legally
    arguable (at least not in good faith).

    >Nothing has any significance in court until a judge says so.

    Uh, no. What a judge can and can't "say" is very well defined by
    eight hundred years of precedent and assorted statutes. The most
    important facet of the rule of law isn't *which* rule it uses,
    but that the rule be predicatble. In this case the rule is
    preddictable, and the idea that the GPL is an assignment is just
    plain peculiar. [However, there is still the copyright issue, which
    would invalidate both the GPL and "do what you want" licenses"]

    And one more time, even if the GPL were an assignment, this wouldn't
    let Mattel off the hook--they knew about the release. If they
    misinterpreted it . . . well, recall _Unforgiven_ , and the response
    to "You just shot an unarmed man." ? "He should have armed himself."
    Same thing here. If Mattel misinterpreted it, they should have armed
    themselves with better counsel.

    hawk, esq.
  • >I'm intruiged... are potentially confusing US laws not 'pinned down'
    >by case law as they are in the UK? Shouldn't a Judge be able to
    >declare 'the law means this' regardless of the legal abilities of
    >either party?

    NOt necessarily (and the problem's the same in the UK, too). The
    notion of "stare decisis" (already decided) used to be a lot stronger--
    once the highest court had ruled, the legal question could never be
    revisited, as the law was being "discovered" rather than created. After
    a few hundred years, the law had become far too rigid from this, and
    the courts of equity were created to get around the problem.

    Our systems are adversarial by nature. The idea is that if both sides
    to an issue argue to the best of their ability, the truth will come out.
    But what if the best argument--the one that would have carried the day--
    is never made? The case is wrongly decided under this circumstance.

    Today, US courts (and I think UK courts) can decide that older caselaw
    was just plain wrong. If the cases weren't well argued, this is
    even more likely.

    >...there is no real underlying "case or controversy."
    >I'd hate to see how worked up slahdotters would be if there actually
    >WAS a controversy! ;-)

    Now you're *really* scaring me . . . :)
  • >This is NOT the same as public domain

    I didn't call it public domain. I did note that "do whatever you want with this" may well be an additional license.

    >Essentially, you've assigned the distribution rights

    No. Assignment and licensure are different concepts. I know of no licenses offhand that are assignments. "Assign" has specifict legal meaning which a license does not cover.

    > and thus can't transfer ALL the rights back

    According to the article, the transfered whatever rights they might have, if any, rather than"all rights."
  • The issue isn't the same. Ownership of the DeCSS code has not been transfered to the MPAA.

    --

  • by mattdm ( 1931 )
    There's new and silly laws in place. Software that "could be used" to defeat copy-protection schemes is now illegal. Yes, that's right, your favorite debugger is now illegal.

    --

  • by acb ( 2797 )
    If your actions affect US citizens, they fall under US laws. I.e., why is former Panamanian president Manuel Noriega in a US prison?

    If you post something that violates US copyright laws where Americans can download it, best not take any plane trips with stopovers on US soil if you value your freedom. It is routine for the FBI to check passenger manifests for wanted criminals.
  • Yes, but once any party has a copy of the GPL'd code, they are free to distribute it. The copyright owner may re-release the code under a different license, or stop distributing it, but that doesn't take away the rights already granted by the earlier GPL'd release.

    Effectively, Mattel will not be able to nail anyone who distributes the GPL'd code for copyright infringement, even though they own the copyright. (Unless the distribution violates the terms of the GPL.) The only way they'd prevail is to charge poeple with something other than copyright infringement.

    What Mattel can do, though, is to file nuisance suits against people. Who is going to be willing to spend a lot of money defending this, even if they know they're in the right?

    If I can find a copy of the code, I'll be happy to distribute it from my web site.

    Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer.

  • No, because they are the copyright holder, they can release another version under a new license.
  • They're the ones using an EIGHT BIT key and they call cphack "primitive"?

    Doesn't matter tho, it's the same as CSS: they could use a million-bit key, but if the software reads the list, it has to decrypt it, so it has to have the key. I suppose they could use MD5 sums for the blocklist instead. I don't think they have the brightest of bulbs in R&D over there...

  • Mattel's position is that the authors of CPhack never had the rights to distribute their code in the first place, thus making any claim or issuance under the GPL bogus.)

    However, according to the article:

    The agreement also states that Jansson and Skala attest they "are the sole proprietors of all rights" involved with cphack and have "not assigned" them to anyone else.


    In other words, Mattel has signed a document acknowledging that the authors (had) all rights to cphack.

    No wonder they settled. They WON!

    Since both Mattel and the authors have agreed in writing that the authors had all rights to cphack, then they were certainly within their rights to license the program under the GPL, or under any other license.

    Had the authors licensed the program under conditions that allowed for revocation of the license, then Mattel could go after anyone offering up a copy of cphack, claiming that as the new owner, they have exercised their right to revoke the license. However, the GPL does not allow revocation, leaving Mattel with no recourse.

    An important lesson for anyone considering publishing a hack. Use the GPL. Distribute source code, and your work is effectively uncensorable.

    Perhaps not exactly what Stallman had in mind when he wrote the GPL, but a nice effect, in my opinion.

    GPL: This License Kills Fascists :-)

  • then that agreement presumably gets torn up and they find themselves back in the firing line. Skala will have to give Mattel their $1 back as well. What an unholy mess...

    If it should turn out that the the agreement is torn up and the authors have to give the dollar back to mattel, I hope one of them uses it to wipe their ass with first.

    More likely, the Mattel lawyers simply never grokked open source and were smartly outmaneuvered by the authors and their lawyers. If so, the Mattel lawyers have dug their own graves, for which I weep not a single tear.
  • I've been worried for a long time that GPL has never been tested in the courts. Now I wonder what will happen if Mattel finds a suitably dumb judge (I know they can't exactly pick and choose, but they can revisit the issue in various guises or jurisdictions with successively revised arguments)

    However, as the numerous resurgent web hoaxes (like the 'modem tax') have shown:

    a) the public at large enjoys panicking, if you can show them a reason why a geek issue affects them;

    b) the groundswell is impossible to stomp out;

    c) politicians will support the groundswell, even if it is baseless.

    If Mattel wins a case in Virginia (where UNITA allowa them to change the license), then we can readily start a campaign against UNITA. Imagine (just imagine, I'm not hinting at anything, and I certainly don't suggest you do so, either) that Microsoft retroactively changes their license to require annual fees on old OS's or to make them effectively illegal to use.

    "The Battle of the Desktop" could move our cause to the next phase, and make some copyright issues very real. It's not necessarily the strategy we should pursue, but we better have some contingency plan if GPL is undermined by UNITA,/b>

    "Grovelworm! Prepare a meme based on Good Times!"

    "Yes, Your Effulgence!"


    __________

  • No one else has "rights" in the sense of copyright law. What other people have is *LICENSES*. The authors presumably continue to have sole copyright of the work in question. They are the owners. They can release it under other terms.

    NO ONE ELSE IS ALLOWED TO RELEASE IT UNDER OTHER TERMS.

    However, the terms it *WAS ALREADY* under allow for arbitrary copying.
  • A clear and unambiguous reference to the GNU General Public License, which we all know as GPL, would be sufficient. Did the authors know that that they were releasing it under the terms of the GPL (it can be argued that they did because they literally put "GPL" on it) and did the recipient believe that what she received was a copy and set of rights as spelled out by the GPL (some did)?

    The specifications in the GPL for how to present it are there (IMHO) to help make the points clear and to avoid the confusion of having someone inadvertently violate it. The authors, by leaving out the terms, could be accused of contributing to a misunderstanding, and were it the case that Mattel could itself be liable for violating the GPL (not likely since their role at this point is having taken on whatever rights the authors have, not the rights of a distributor) the authors could be held responsible for that.

    Did they misrepresent the rights they had vs. the rights they gave away, to Mattel in their agreement? Perhaps. Maybe it could be argued that under the time pressure of the situation, they didn't have time to evaluate the agreement, which most likely was written entirely by the Mattel lawyers surely entirely in their own (Mattel's) favor.

    Mattel's case was weak for a number of reasons, most particularly lack of having pursued it in the proper jurisdictions (e.g. they should have filed their lawsuits in Canada and Sweden). Maybe now they have to start all over? Another way out is to rewrite the terms and re-agree with the authors, and let the authors hand over exact what rights they have.
  • One thing most people seem to assume is that once you release under the GPL, you cannot change your license. That is not true.
    If I release a piece of software (say, a mail program) that is entirely my own work, entirely written by me, on my own time; I own the software. Lets say that I have this piece of software, and that I decide to release it for the world to enjoy. Being a good little boy, I license it under the GNU GPL.
    Most of you understand that the GPL limits what the LICENSEE can do. If you download my mail program, then make a modification, you MUST make the modification and the source available under the GPL. But, the original program is still owned by me, and is always covered under the licence I gave it. If, three months down the road, I decide I don't want to support it anymore, I can change the license! There is nothing in the GPL that prevents the ORIGINAL CODE OWNER from changing his licensing scheme. Licenses are changed all the time, and my mail software will be no different.

    Now, to the case of cphack... The two authors wrote it, and licensed it under the GPL. But, THEY STILL OWN IT. If they want to revoke the GPL licensing, they can! Now that Mattel has 'bought' the rights to the software (they bought the acutal ownership, not just a license,) Mattel can relicense it any way they want, because they are now the copyright holders. And copyright law takes precedence over licensing issues.

    Remember, the GPL only limits LICENSEEs, it does not, and can not, limit the OWNER of the software. The only way to do that would be if the owner of the code specifically signed documents placing his work into the public domain. Then, licensing is uneccesary, as anyone can OWN their own copy of the source, as NOONE owns the entire copyright when something is in the public domain.

    But, that all said, IANAL, and this is just my opinion after conferring with a friend who is a lawyer. We'll really find out if and when something regarding this ever goes to court. (Heck, I should write a program, GPL it, revoke the GPL, then have my lawyer friend sue me just so we can set the precedent...)
  • HAHA!

    OMG, those people were smart. They probably settled, signed some NDA, gave the rights to the program over to Mattel. BUt FAILED to mention that the program was GPL'd. Mattell cant change the license that easily.... can they?

    If there ever was anything for RMS to get really worked up about, this is IT! And this is a battle worth fighting! IT's more a matter of principle.

  • No, it doesn't work that way. Mattel didn't license the code under the GPL. They didn't receive some rights in exchange for giving up others. They got the whole enchilada.

    For that matter, as far as I remember (been a few months since I read it), I don't think that you can require ANYONE to give you a copy of their software, even GPLed software. In other words, just because I have on my hard drive a binary of the Red Hat 6.1 ISO image (which is GPL'd), you can't demand that I give you a copy of it. However, if I DO give you a copy of it, you can demand that I make available the source code.
  • This is not necessarily ethical, or even legal. Consider reporting this to your state's bar association, not to mention the Better Business Bureau.

    If I was auditing this guy's books and saw very much of this, I'd be like "What's that smell? Oh, yeah, that's money laundering."
  • Mattel could change the code slightly and release it closed-source.

    So what?

    Who gives a dingos' dong if tomorrow's copy ain't free? Yesterday's version is. So go grab it while you can, and redistribute it to your hearts content.
  • You get absolutely no protection if you assign you copyright to the FSF. The reason is that it's no longer your code. You no longer need the protection. This is like saying you can protect yourself from deadbeat tenants by giving the deeds to your property to someone else.
  • Rich people are powerful 'cause they're somewhat rare.

    Then I guess that makes one legged tapdancers kings!
  • This is the USA. You have no rights here unless large companies and rich people decide otherwise.

    What a sad, sad world you must live in, always afraid of those with one more dollar than you.

    Only recently moving into the middle income bracket, I wonder if my former poor peers are now afraid of the immense power I wield over them.

    If money can manipulate the system, then fix the system. Bitching about the money does nothing but exercise your whine muscles.
  • > If not, I suggest you shut up and learn what the GPL actually says.

    Or, to phrase it more politely...

    IANAL, but I think what the GPL says is that if you distribute software derived from GPL'd code, then you must also distribute the software's source code. But it does not, AFAIK, say that you do have to distribute the derived software. So no, Mattel, doesn't owe anyone anything on this basis.

    Moreover, Mattel may have a counterloophole of their own, for I also think the GPL says that if any law or court ruling would prevent you from distributing the GPL-derived code, then you cannot distribute software based on that code. If this is the case, then I suspect that the court, for better or worse, will rule that no one other than Mattel can distribute the copyrighted code, at which point the GPL will say that you cannot distribute the software; both copyright and GPL would thus be satisfied, however disappointed some of us would be over that outcome.

    But I am not at all sure about that ruling, because the pivotal issue is what the pre-existing licenses allow. If the court reads the GPL to be a perpetual license to use the source code even though you don't have any claim on the copyright, then the court should IMO rule that the existing licenses still stand.

    I suspect that the push will be to rule the code itself illegal, or at least the act of using it, so these issues may never come up in court.

    --
  • First off, everyone is claiming that Mattel is screwing with the GPL. Folks..they haven't DONE anything yet. They haven't even announced an intention to do anything yet. They haven't tried to fight the GPL yet.

    Also, everyone is saying how Mattel can't do anything about it. This maybe true, but if it IS really GPL (which it sure look slike), then the original authors may be in for more trouble. It has been mentioned several times that the settlement required the authors to state that they had not assigned the rights to the software to ANYONE else. This clause is there specifically to prevent against something like this. In other words... when Mattel figures this out (which will be today, probably) they could find themselves back in court on other charges, as they may have LIED about the status of the software.

    Of course, it goes without saying that Mattel won't win this battle in the long run.
  • How does that imply ownership rights alone? In then language of the gpl:
    For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.
    It specifically talks of the granting of rights from the code holder to the code reciever.
  • So cphack uses the GPL, and the GPL permits free distribution. I suppose that the Slashdot readers will know assume that this gives cphack users free reign to copy and use this illegal program.

    Bzzzt. Wrong.
    When was the software ruled illegal?
    I was under the impression that Mattel gained the settlement which gave them ownership of the software in part to avoid going to the trouble of getting such a ruling. We aren't going to get a GPL testcase here but we may end up with one on reverse engineering instead.
  • Do you really need me to explain why the GPL prohibits people from downloading code, slapping it into their own proprietary code base and selling it to others as their own work?
    No, but I'd like to know what you think it has to do with this discussion.

    The bit I 'selectively' quoted was chosen for two reasons:
    I thought people would be familiar with that section.
    It shows that the GPL talks in terms of rights.

    If the software was released under GPL and the GPL extends rights to everyone who downloads it, the programmers can't legitimatly claim to be the "sole proprietors of all rights" in their contract with Mattel. That's all.
  • If it was GPL'd, the GPL states (for example):
    You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your
    rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.

    Perhaps the GPL will be tested in this case, not in the legality of posessing/distributing the software, but in the legality of the contract these guys signed.
  • by Dacta ( 24628 )

    Because the original version is still under the GPL.

    All the original licencees agreed to those provisions, and all they need to do is abide by them.

    It's true that any changes you make won't be GPLed, and it is also true that you can change the licence on the GPLed code you wrote, and people must abide by that licence if they download it, but they can always download the original version from somewhere else, which will continue to be GPLed.

    Like you said:

    Remember, the GPL only limits LICENSEEs, it does not, and can not, limit the OWNER of the software. The only way to do that would be if the owner of the code specifically signed documents placing his work into the public domain. Then, licensing is uneccesary, as anyone can OWN their own copy of the source, as NOONE owns the entire copyright when something is in the public domain.

    Where in the GPL is there any provision to allow the user of that code to change licence if you want them to? There isn't (unless you add it in, of course), so you can't force them to change licences without downloading another copy of your program.

  • GPL or not... the fact of the matter is that if the code is out on the net then it's gonna be out there forever. Sure you might have to do a little asking around, or spend some time looking, but it will be there forever. Granted, the guys that wrote it can't "distribute" it from their website, but it's sort of a moot point cause it will live forever. Kinda like locking the barn door shut after the animals have already escaped.

    God Bless the digital era where everything you post or write will live until the end of time!!

    I really wonder if Mattel will hire a team of people to search the web and yousenet for copies... seems rather silly to me but hey... it's a brave new world
  • IANAL, but agree this won't test the GPL. The GPL is not and will not be upheld by the courts as a shield against otherwise illegal activities. (In this case, as I understand it, Mattel's position is that the authors of CPhack never had the rights to distribute their code in the first place, thus making any claim or issuance under the GPL bogus.)

    Look at it this way, if the GPL was that sort of shield, what's to keep someone from taking any code they don't own (like, say, the source for Windows 2000 or BSD) and distributing it under the GPL? (In either case significantly changing the original license without the permission of the owner.) That would be outright theft.

    I know this is an unpopular view here, but I maintain the viral nature of the GPL is a very bad idea and will eventually be held to be unenforceable and/or invalid, ultimately doing great damage to the cause of open source software it seeks to promote. (As a thought excercise, just ask yourself the impact of the GPL (which has never been tested in court to my knowledge) being ruled invalid anywhere in the world...)
  • Mattel might sue the hackers for breach of contract. This puts them back in court, which is where both hackers and Mattel obviously don't want to be.

    Mattel might have difficulty in arguing that the hackers are in breach of contract. Mattel were perfectly well aware of the wide distribution of the software, and if they have read it they should have been aware of the terms it was distributed under. Hence a court might (IANAL) hold that there was an implied term excepting the GPL licenses from that declaration. At the very least, the lack of due care on the part of Mattel to check this out this should count against any award for damages for breach of contract.

    I don't know about US law, but UK law tends to be biased against booby traps in the small print of contracts. What counts is what was in the minds of the parties at the time they signed. Written contracts are merely evidence about what this state of mind was, rather than an absolute definition. Courts are quite free to ignore the terms of a written contract if there is evidence that one of the parties did not know about the terms, and would not have agreed if they did. I don't know if US contract law works the same way.

    Paul.

  • (In this case, as I understand it, Mattel's position is that the authors of CPhack never had the rights to distribute their code in the first place, thus making any claim or issuance under the GPL bogus.)

    Watch your pronouns; is "their" referring to Mattel, or Skala/Jansson? If the former, then unless someone smuggled out Cyber Patrol's source code, and either of the duo used it in their software, Mattel can't claim stolen code. The software is self-contained, and doesn't appear to use any CP code; the only interactions are with the cyber.not file, and the cyberp.ini file. If the latter, I still don't see what Mattel is bleating about. The encryption is even less effective as copy protection than CSS. If the cyber.not list is a piece of defective or just plain bad software, people have a right to know this. So what's the problem?

    Look at it this way, if the GPL was that sort of shield, what's to keep someone from taking any code they don't own (like, say, the source for Windows 2000 or BSD) and distributing it under the GPL?

    Because the license on the code they take isn't GPL in the first place. Now, if a piece of previously GPL'd code was taken and added to proprietary code, and the modified (let's say) Windows source were meant to be distributed/sold, then the whole source would be GPL.

    To be really specific, an outsider could not steal the closed source, slip a chunk of the Linux kernel into the Windows kernel, and release the whole shebang under the GPL. If that occurred, the license change would be nullified by the fact that an illegal act was required to get the closed source in the first place. No court would even allow a code release in that event, and I think most of the community would agree that the GPL could not supersede the previous license.

    OTOH, if a Microsoft programmer, working under the auspices of Microsoft (so that M$ can't just say it was a rogue programmer), knowingly used a piece of GPL'd code in the source code of a proprietary Microsoft program, that program would automatically be GPL. In this case, the GPL code has been "stolen" from the general public and hidden away. Credit for writing the code has been "stolen" from the original programmers who made it GPL (you think a proprietary software maker would credit the authors when just the credit would be glaring proof they knowlingly broke the GPL). I think a court would hold up the GPL under those circumstances.

    And now for an interesting twist...search through all of the sources for "GPL" and "Skala". No license is mentioned in the two files that Skala wrote - cndecode.c and cph1_rev.c. Jansson wrote CPHack itself, and while he acknowledges converting some of Skala's C code to Delphi in Unit1.pas, he explicitly says "Released under the GPL" in the same file. Skala handed over his copyright. Someone claiming to be Eddy here says Eddy hasn't done so (yet). Therefore, CPHack itself may still be legit, and existing copies may remain so even if Eddy capitulates.

    Also, being lazy, I haven't read the Wired article on the case; what's the word on the essay that came with cp4break.zip? I'd just love to see Mattel try to squash that. Hiding source code is one thing; just release the program under a non-open source license. Trying to suppress an essay, however, is quite another. Do I smell...a big honking loophole?

    Corrections welcomed

    IANAL, but I play on one Slashdot...

  • Nope...they licenced it. AFAIK they did not "assign rights" until they signed with Mattel

    As authors they control the copyright on the code, however they licensed the code to everyone under the GPL with then grants the licensee's the rights to copy, modify, distribute, etc, from the authors. I think the authors are in a bit of trouble here as they were not the only ones with rights to the software as soon as the first person downloaded it.

    Now, what the authors did was transfer their rights as copyright holders of the software to mattel, now mattel can go on and relicense future works, but this version is already GPL'd, tough luck mattel, better luck next time.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • The clause you selectively quoted refers to the person who *receives* a copy of GPL software, not the author.

    Do you really need me to explain why the GPL prohibits people from downloading code, slapping it into their own proprietary code base and selling it to others as their own work?
  • Rather, it's copyright with a clause to prevent you holding exclusive copyright.
    What you're talking about here is "public domain" or, basically, abandoning ownership (or "right") to the public. In that case, everyone has non-exclusive ownership of the item in question.

    I think the clearest way to demonstrate the difference is in discussing re-licensing. Stary touched on this earlier, but I'd like to drive the point home a bit further.

    If I release code, I can license it any way I feel fit. I can license it under the GPL. I can license it under a more restrictive license. I can license it under a number of concurent licenses (see Perl). I can license it under the GPL, then later re-license it under a different license (see SSH).

    If I take GPL code, thus accepting the GPL license, I can not then release it under another license. I do not own the code, I do not own the copyright.

    If, however, the origional author of GPLed code gave or sold me the rights to a project, I then am the new copyright holder and am free to license it any way I feel fit (again - see SSH for an example). But this is a very different act than providing someone a copy of the code under the GPL license.

  • Mattel could change the code slightly and release it closed-source.
    Mattel can license it as closed-source today. No change to code required.

    An enterprising coder can fork the code today and create OpenCPHack. ;)

  • It is not moronic. A couple quotes:
    1. From the article:
    The agreement also states that Jansson and Skala attest they "are the sole proprietors of all rights" involved with cphack and have "not assigned" them to anyone else.

    2. From Findlaw:
    : a grant by the holder of a copyright or patent to another of any of the rights embodied in the copyright or patent short of an assignment of all rights

    The short of an assignment of all rights is VERY important here. Without seeing the contract, you can't see the exact wording, But my interpretation of their paraphrasing is that they are refering to the assignment of ALL rights which, to put it another way, is an assignment of copyright. Plus, a real lawyer seems to agree with me [slashdot.org]


    --GnrcMan--
  • . I think you're entirely wrong about the restrictions placed on a proprietary copyright holder's ability to revoke.

    But the ability to arbitrarily revoke (read "change") the license means that licenses are useless to the end user. While one purpose of licenses are to protect the rights of IP owners, another is essentially a guarantee that once you (the end user) agree to a license, you are assured the rights granted under that license until some clause explicitly stated in the license kicks in. This does not put restrictions on future licenses you may grant(a very important point!). But any software distributed under a license is under that license forever unless specific terms of the license say otherwise. Nothing else really makes sense, as far as I can see.

    --GnrcMan--
  • In general, licenses are not assignments of rights because they don't confer rights, because they are revocable. Commercial software licenses are generally revocable, and contain clauses detailing what is to happen in the event that (for example) Microsoft decides that it no longer wants to license Windows to you under the EULA.

    No, Microsoft cannot arbitrarily decide to revoke the license. All terms of revokation must be explicitly spelled out in the license. Think of the chaos that would result if this were otherwise. Licenses would mean absolutely nothing because the licenser could pull the rug out from under you at any time they choose.

    I think you're overlooking the fact that the GPL is not as other licenses. In general, licenses are not assignments of rights because they don't confer rights, because they are revocable.

    On the contrary. The GPL is exactly like any other license in the area that matters. The contents of the license don't matter. It is still a contract granting permission to use the copyrighted work under certain terms. If the terms are not met, the license is revoked. It is definately not an assignment of copyright, which grants many more rights than the GPL.

    And I suppose I should add that I'm not a lawyer. I just play one on TV. :)

    --GnrcMan--
  • It is possible for a software company to revoke licenses. This isn't typically done, because the license also usually contains a contractual term in which the copyright owner contracts not to do what your example postulates, but licences can be and often are revoked in other fields (check out your "license" to perform a play if Andrew Lloyd-Webber wants to do the same play in your town)

    The terms of revocation must be spelled out in the license itself. In this sense, the GPL is exactly like any other license. The terms of revocation are spelled out in the GPL. There are just less instances where the license can be revoked.

    --GnrcMan--
  • Absolutely not. Mattel, as copyright holder, has the right to change the license to whatever they see fit. But they cannot revoke existing licenses. In other words, Mattel can do whatever they want with the software now. They cannot, however, nullify the permissions granted to people who downloaded the software under the GPL.

    --GnrcMan--
  • Now this is where my understanding gets muddy, but I believe the rights can be revoked if you do something which doesn not comply with the license. For example:

    I download Emacs, with the source code. I use it. I have specific rights granted under the GPL, including the right to use it. I make source modifications and continue to use it. I do not however redistribute the changes, in binary or source form. Under the GPL, this is fine. I then decide to release my changed binary, refusing to release the changed source.

    It is my understanding that in this case, my rights under the GPL are immediately revoked. Right? In other words, the rights granted under GPL can be revoked, but only if you fail to comply with the terms of the GPL.

    BTW. Thanks for the "fewer" correction. I wan't paying attention and I hate things like that too.

    --GnrcMan--
  • It specifically talks of the granting of rights from the code holder to the code reciever.

    "sole proprietors of all rights" could be translated to "sole owner of all rights". The GPL does not transfer ownership of rights, it is a specific license which grants specific rights of use. In the legal sense, the "rights" referred to are completely different. "sole proprietors of all rights" refers to the persons who are able to confer rights of usage on others. The GPL most definately does not grant that proprietorship of rights. The copyright holder is the sole owner of all rights and is able to do what he/she wishes with those rights. Including not granting them to anyone. BUT, the GPL stipulates specifically when the rights granted under the license can be changed or revoked by the copyright owner, which amounts to never. The only option that the copyright holder has is to release the code under a different license (or not at all) which does not nullify the license granted to current holders of the GPLed software.

    This is the crux of Mattel's problem, and why their lawyers should be fired. Mattel can certainly refuse to never again grant anyone permission to use CPHack, but the current users can not be forced to stop, except by other means. The previous owners of the copyright didn't give proprietorship of any rights to anyone. They simply distributed under a license which granted usage of rights, not proprietorship of rights.

    That's probably very confusing but the best I can explain. I'm really pretty certain about this. Being a software developer I make it my business to know about copyright and licensing laws, they affect me on a daily basis.

    --GnrcMan--
  • , the copyright has not been publicly licensed, only the license to redistribute and/or modify the code.

    That's my take as well, but to be pedantic, you assign copyrights, not license them. Having a copyright assigned to you gives you the right to license a piece of software for whatever you want. However, it does not give one the right to change the license on previously released works. (Otherwise we'd always be in danger of software companys saying, "Oops! We've just changed the license on Windows 98. Please pay us $50 more dollars to continue using it legally!")



    --GnrcMan--
  • I, of course, haven't seen the contract, but the rights generally refered to in the context implied by the article are ownership rights. In other words, the rights to license the software to others. The GPL, in fact, prohibits the licensing of the software by a third party, it simply requires the propagation of the existing license. Mattel would be hard pressed to argue otherwise in front of a judge. The might have a considerably easier time finding an arguement to fire their lawyers.

    --GnrcMan--
  • I disagree. Here's a comment from the only (apparent) lawyer to post here(Hawk):

    generally, a licensing is not an assignment of rights--especially since the license was exclusive. While licensing, the authors could continue issue under another license (proprietary, perhaps). They can't do this after they assign their rights, which are what had previously let them license.

    Which is exactly my take on the matter.


    --GnrcMan--
  • Good analysis, and a good example, however, the injunction is only a preliminary injunction, and as such does not make anything illegal. The injunction prohibits the authors from further distributing the software, but that cannot apply to other holders of the software unless specifically enjoined by the court.

    In order to invalidate the GPL - In this case only - the legal process on the original case must continue until a final ruling declares the original program stolen property - which would invalidate the right of the hackers to have licensed it in the first place.
  • Please disregard the previous message. This is the correct COPYING. ************************************************** ***************************
    The following license applies to CP4Hack. No matter who the copyright owner is,
    this is the license the software is released under.
    ************************************************** ***************************

    GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
    Version 2, June 1991

    Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
    675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
    Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
    of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

    Preamble

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    Appendix: How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs

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    Copyright (C) 19yy

    This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
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    Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper mail.

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    Gnomovision comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details type `show w'.
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    The hypothetical commands `show w' and `show c' should show the appropriate
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    You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your
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    Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program
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    , 1 April 1989
    Ty Coon, President of Vice

    This General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into
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    Public License instead of this License.
  • Please see the comments in reply to this one for the source.
    (Note: I'll only include the files cndecode.c, COPYING, and cph1_rev.c. The files in the cphack directory have remained unchanged.)
  • /*
    * cph1_rev.c
    * By Matthew Skala
    */
    /* CP4Hack.
    * Copyright (C) 2000 Matthew Skala
    *
    * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
    * it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    * the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
    * (at your option) any later version.
    *
    * This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    * but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    * MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
    * GNU General Public License for more details.
    *
    * You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    * along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
    * Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
    /
    #include <stdio.h>

    /* Polynomial table for forward CRC */
    unsigned long crctable[256]={
    0x00000000L, 0x77073096L, 0xEE0E612CL, 0x990951BAL,
    0x076DC419L, 0x706AF48FL, 0xE963A535L, 0x9E6495A3L,
    0x0EDB8832L, 0x79DCB8A4L, 0xE0D5E91EL, 0x97D2D988L,
    0x09B64C2BL, 0x7EB17CBDL, 0xE7B82D07L, 0x90BF1D91L,
    0x1DB71064L, 0x6AB020F2L, 0xF3B97148L, 0x84BE41DEL,
    0x1ADAD47DL, 0x6DDDE4EBL, 0xF4D4B551L, 0x83D385C7L,
    0x136C9856L, 0x646BA8C0L, 0xFD62F97AL, 0x8A65C9ECL,
    0x14015C4FL, 0x63066CD9L, 0xFA0F3D63L, 0x8D080DF5L,
    0x3B6E20C8L, 0x4C69105EL, 0xD56041E4L, 0xA2677172L,
    0x3C03E4D1L, 0x4B04D447L, 0xD20D85FDL, 0xA50AB56BL,
    0x35B5A8FAL, 0x42B2986CL, 0xDBBBC9D6L, 0xACBCF940L,
    0x32D86CE3L, 0x45DF5C75L, 0xDCD60DCFL, 0xABD13D59L,
    0x26D930ACL, 0x51DE003AL, 0xC8D75180L, 0xBFD06116L,
    0x21B4F4B5L, 0x56B3C423L, 0xCFBA9599L, 0xB8BDA50FL,
    0x2802B89EL, 0x5F058808L, 0xC60CD9B2L, 0xB10BE924L,
    0x2F6F7C87L, 0x58684C11L, 0xC1611DABL, 0xB6662D3DL,
    0x76DC4190L, 0x01DB7106L, 0x98D220BCL, 0xEFD5102AL,
    0x71B18589L, 0x06B6B51FL, 0x9FBFE4A5L, 0xE8B8D433L,
    0x7807C9A2L, 0x0F00F934L, 0x9609A88EL, 0xE10E9818L,
    0x7F6A0DBBL, 0x086D3D2DL, 0x91646C97L, 0xE6635C01L,
    0x6B6B51F4L, 0x1C6C6162L, 0x856530D8L, 0xF262004EL,
    0x6C0695EDL, 0x1B01A57BL, 0x8208F4C1L, 0xF50FC457L,
    0x65B0D9C6L, 0x12B7E950L, 0x8BBEB8EAL, 0xFCB9887CL,
    0x62DD1DDFL, 0x15DA2D49L, 0x8CD37CF3L, 0xFBD44C65L,
    0x4DB26158L, 0x3AB551CEL, 0xA3BC0074L, 0xD4BB30E2L,
    0x4ADFA541L, 0x3DD895D7L, 0xA4D1C46DL, 0xD3D6F4FBL,
    0x4369E96AL, 0x346ED9FCL, 0xAD678846L, 0xDA60B8D0L,
    0x44042D73L, 0x33031DE5L, 0xAA0A4C5FL, 0xDD0D7CC9L,
    0x5005713CL, 0x270241AAL, 0xBE0B1010L, 0xC90C2086L,
    0x5768B525L, 0x206F85B3L, 0xB966D409L, 0xCE61E49FL,
    0x5EDEF90EL, 0x29D9C998L, 0xB0D09822L, 0xC7D7A8B4L,
    0x59B33D17L, 0x2EB40D81L, 0xB7BD5C3BL, 0xC0BA6CADL,
    0xEDB88320L, 0x9ABFB3B6L, 0x03B6E20CL, 0x74B1D29AL,
    0xEAD54739L, 0x9DD277AFL, 0x04DB2615L, 0x73DC1683L,
    0xE3630B12L, 0x94643B84L, 0x0D6D6A3EL, 0x7A6A5AA8L,
    0xE40ECF0BL, 0x9309FF9DL, 0x0A00AE27L, 0x7D079EB1L,
    0xF00F9344L, 0x8708A3D2L, 0x1E01F268L, 0x6906C2FEL,
    0xF762575DL, 0x806567CBL, 0x196C3671L, 0x6E6B06E7L,
    0xFED41B76L, 0x89D32BE0L, 0x10DA7A5AL, 0x67DD4ACCL,
    0xF9B9DF6FL, 0x8EBEEFF9L, 0x17B7BE43L, 0x60B08ED5L,
    0xD6D6A3E8L, 0xA1D1937EL, 0x38D8C2C4L, 0x4FDFF252L,
    0xD1BB67F1L, 0xA6BC5767L, 0x3FB506DDL, 0x48B2364BL,
    0xD80D2BDAL, 0xAF0A1B4CL, 0x36034AF6L, 0x41047A60L,
    0xDF60EFC3L, 0xA867DF55L, 0x316E8EEFL, 0x4669BE79L,
    0xCB61B38CL, 0xBC66831AL, 0x256FD2A0L, 0x5268E236L,
    0xCC0C7795L, 0xBB0B4703L, 0x220216B9L, 0x5505262FL,
    0xC5BA3BBEL, 0xB2BD0B28L, 0x2BB45A92L, 0x5CB36A04L,
    0xC2D7FFA7L, 0xB5D0CF31L, 0x2CD99E8BL, 0x5BDEAE1DL,
    0x9B64C2B0L, 0xEC63F226L, 0x756AA39CL, 0x026D930AL,
    0x9C0906A9L, 0xEB0E363FL, 0x72076785L, 0x05005713L,
    0x95BF4A82L, 0xE2B87A14L, 0x7BB12BAEL, 0x0CB61B38L,
    0x92D28E9BL, 0xE5D5BE0DL, 0x7CDCEFB7L, 0x0BDBDF21L,
    0x86D3D2D4L, 0xF1D4E242L, 0x68DDB3F8L, 0x1FDA836EL,
    0x81BE16CDL, 0xF6B9265BL, 0x6FB077E1L, 0x18B74777L,
    0x88085AE6L, 0xFF0F6A70L, 0x66063BCAL, 0x11010B5CL,
    0x8F659EFFL, 0xF862AE69L, 0x616BFFD3L, 0x166CCF45L,
    0xA00AE278L, 0xD70DD2EEL, 0x4E048354L, 0x3903B3C2L,
    0xA7672661L, 0xD06016F7L, 0x4969474DL, 0x3E6E77DBL,
    0xAED16A4AL, 0xD9D65ADCL, 0x40DF0B66L, 0x37D83BF0L,
    0xA9BCAE53L, 0xDEBB9EC5L, 0x47B2CF7FL, 0x30B5FFE9L,
    0xBDBDF21CL, 0xCABAC28AL, 0x53B39330L, 0x24B4A3A6L,
    0xBAD03605L, 0xCDD70693L, 0x54DE5729L, 0x23D967BFL,
    0xB3667A2EL, 0xC4614AB8L, 0x5D681B02L, 0x2A6F2B94L,
    0xB40BBE37L, 0xC30C8EA1L, 0x5A05DF1BL, 0x2D02EF8DL
    };

    /* This answers the question: how many freely-chosen bits do I include
    * when I ask for a crc collision with input length (index)? */
    char freebits[12]={0,0,0,0,1,4,10,16,22,28,34,40};

    /* This says where each forced bit goes */
    char bitsforced[32]={0,1,2,3,4,6,
    8,9,10,11,12,14,
    16,17,18,19,20,22,
    24,25,26,27,28,30,
    32,33,34,35,38,
    40,41,42};

    /* This says where each free bit goes */
    char bitsfree[40]={36,43,44,46,
    48,49,50,51,52,54,
    56,57,58,59,60,62,
    64,65,66,67,68,70,
    72,73,74,75,76,78,
    80,81,82,83,84,86,
    88,89,90,91,92,94};

    /* The portion of the inverted matrix corresponding to the CRC bits */
    unsigned long crcmatrix[32]={
    0x9BF7B4FE,0x10CEBBDB,0x3EC28E73,0xE516F5B2,
    0x3EB07172,0xAC6CB91B,0x2344667F,0x25ECE58C,
    0xD24109C4,0x501CB10A,0x97761211,0x0A2EF700,
    0x0C806D13,0x55AE3901,0x4C147270,0xDAC3C857,
    0x384B8A54,0xF7583CAD,0xA1DA1DC4,0x0028BBDC,
    0xB5BB7FE3,0x99610C1A,0x1FC446C4,0x8DE0FF05,
    0x01D3D128,0x64FAC9B2,0x3BC5E604,0xE564A85C,
    0xADEB84A5,0xCFCDBB2B,0x3E7D9F68,0xA102B971
    };

    /* The portion of the inverted matrix corresponding to the free bits */
    unsigned long freematrix[40]={
    0x0CBFC054,0xAEAB35B2,0x315B20B2,0x1F113696,
    0x6DA65FB4,0x08F3CFCD,0xC0E8FCF1,0xD928FA77,
    0x58C085F6,0x55F7A6A4,0x726948CB,0xBEE706A6,
    0xDE9BCF28,0x539FADD8,0xA5D7713D,0xA6B4900F,
    0x3CA9547B,0xC98AC9B5,0xAF52FA18,0x60098F5B,
    0x142D2C51,0x706AA085,0x46494250,0x54026BCE,
    0xEBE4D0A3,0x673646B9,0x945A22D6,0x7C5347FB,
    0xC61C9B99,0x97780ADB,0x7E9DB1AE,0x88C43E39,
    0x55CEBFB3,0x5C81ADC9,0x0F3DD57C,0x3D44BCF3,
    0x0383F8DD,0x73F38757,0xA8F2D5CF,0x2922BEA9
    };

    /* Matrix columns to take into account the canonicalization */
    unsigned long lengthmatrix[12]={
    0x84741063,0xC5273406,0xE5A222DF,0x9941CB2B,
    0xD9EBE522,0xCB93A8AF,0x962E3D2D,0x90029144,
    0x5B298B04,0x575F1D8A,0x78EE4BEC,0x47B6B86A
    };

    /* Macros to get and flip bits. FLIPBITR does the special reverse indexing
    * mandated by the way we numbered our bits. */
    #define GETBIT(p,b) ((((p)[(b)>>3])>>((b)&7))&1)
    #define FLIPBIT(p,b) ((p)[(b)>>3]^=(1<<((b)&7)))
    #define FLIPBITR(p,b) { if (length-1-((b)>>3)>=0) \
    (p)[length-1-((b)>>3)]^=(1<<((b)&7)); }

    /* Attempt to reverse CRC32, given the desired CRC value, the length, and
    * some choices for the "free" bits. */
    void reverse_crc(unsigned long crc,int length,char *in,char *out) {
    unsigned long bits;
    int i;

    /* correct for output length */
    bits=lengthmatrix[length-1];

    /* XOR in the CRC */
    for (i=0;i<32;i++)
    if (crc&(1<<i))
    bits^=crcmatrix[i];

    /* XOR in the free bits */
    for (i=0;i<freebits[length-1];i++)
    if (GETBIT(in,i))
    bits^=freematrix[i];

    /* set up output */
    for (i=0;i<length;i++)
    out[i]=0x20;

    /* output forced bits */
    for (i=0;i<32;i++)
    if (bits&(1<<i))
    FLIPBITR(out,bitsforced[i]);

    /* output free bits */
    for (i=0;i<freebits[length-1];i++)
    if (GETBIT(in,i))
    FLIPBITR(out,bitsfree[i]);
    }

    /* The CP4 HQ password hash function */
    void cp_hash(char *input,int length,
    unsigned long *hash1,unsigned long *hash2) {
    int i;

    *hash1=0;
    *hash2=0;
    for (i=0;i<length;i++) {
    *hash1=(*hash1>>8)^crctable[(*hash1&0xFF)^(input[i ]|0x20)];
    *hash2=(*hash2<<5)+(*hash2>>27)+(input[i]|0x20)-*h ash1;
    }
    }

    /* main program. To use, just type in the 16-digit hex string as seen in the
    * ini file. */
    int main(void) {
    unsigned long hash1,hash2,gothash1,gothash2;
    int length,bflip,i;
    char freeb[6],plaintext[12];

    scanf("%08x%08x",&hash1,&hash2);

    for (length=1;length<=12;length++) {
    printf("Trying length %d (2^%d possibilities)...\n",
    length,freebits[length-1]);
    for (i=0;i<6;i++) freeb[i]=0;

    do {
    reverse_crc(hash1,length,freeb,plaintext);
    cp_hash(plaintext,length,&gothash1,&gothash2);

    if ((hash1==gothash1) && (hash2==gothash2)) {
    printf("Found: \"");
    for (i=0;i<length;i++)
    putchar(plaintext[i]);
    printf("\"\n");
    return 0;
    }

    for (bflip=0;GETBIT(freeb,bflip);bflip++) FLIPBIT(freeb,bflip);
    FLIPBIT(freeb,bflip);
    } while (bflip<freebits[length-1]);
    }

    return 1;
    }

  • TQA = Total Quality Management
    • From
    • http://www.iqd.com/Hoshin_Def.htm [iqd.com]:
      Total Quality Management is a structured system for satisfying internal and external customers and suppliers by integrating the business environment, continuous improvement, and breakthroughs with development, improvement, and maintenance cycles while changing organizational culture.

    What this means is, it's an adaptive process. You can't expect perfection initially, but you push through 'improvements' and 'refinements' as you find flaws. You then write off the past, sometimes irresponsibly, and say 'we were just learning then, we're doing better now and will continue to get better.'

    Mattel will certainly use this opportunity to make CyberPatrol even more uncrackable, or so they think. If they're TQM, they don't care about what happened in the past, but they'll keep up appearances by sticking it to the little guys who put out the "old" CPHack.

    (Total Quality Management =anagram>
    Mentally name-tag it 'quota.')
  • You seem to be the one with the grudge against Mattel. Why don't you do it?
  • > If it was GPL'd, then they had already assigned
    > the rights to copy, modify and redistribute to
    > other people, and so could not legally sign this
    > agreement.

    Nope...they licenced it. AFAIK they did not
    "assign rights" until they signed with Mattel

    >If you GPL something, you can still sell the code
    > to someone under a non-exclusive license, but
    > you cannot transfer exclusive ownership in the
    > way the settlement appears to have done

    Sure you can. Hell...goto the FSF website. They
    even say that if you don't want to take care
    of you GPLd program...you can sign over copyright
    to them, and they will take care of it, and
    defend it legally.

  • They promised to give up their rights, "if any", and they also claimed that they were the proprietors of "all rights". Well, under the GPL they essentially have no rights (or at least none of the sort that Mattel is interested in). Therefore they gave Mattel nothing, in good faith, and Mattel had better not fsckin' whine about it.

    I guess now we know why they settled. :-P

  • Well, you didn't get moderated down as a troll--you got moderated up as funny! Don't know what's worse. :-)

    The thing to keep in mind is this: The rich don't have all the power. The rich have enough default power that it's seldom worth trying to muster the forces or make the sacrifices required to beat the large companies when they're in the wrong. (Not to mention the time involved!)

    But it can be done, given enough determination and time. The trick is to pick your fights carefully, and prepare for the worst. Who among us is really willing to go through that?

  • Let's see, suppose cphack was liscenced under the artistic liscense. Would there be any protection against Mattel preventing you from redistributing it? Going by copyright law, it seems that there is no such protection.

    Someone correct me on this, becuase I can't seem to differentiate between the Artistic Liscense and public domain software.

    The GPL is supposed to protect against that, by introducing the idea of liscensing different versions of the program. If the GPL offers no such protection, then it is in effect the same as the Artistic Liscence. Note, the "supposed". As it is, there is doubt whether the code is explicitly licensed under the GPL, since it does not carry the GPL, and only one line says "licensed under the GPL".

  • The original claim was a copyright claim. From the Wired article [wired.com]/

    The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, claims that Jansson and Skala violated U.S. copyright laws by reverse-engineering the software and then distributing source code and binaries that allow users to bypass CyberPatrol's encryption.


    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @10:00AM (#1165877) Homepage Journal
    You brought up an interesting point...

    "When you have a defective product, you find ways to improve it. Mattel is wasting time, energy and money in a futile attempt to put the decryption genie back in the bottle."

    Defective Product is fairly interesting language. It has all kind of nasty implications. Picture this scenerio....

    You discover that you childs Mattel(R) brand truck has a defect where a wheel can be easily broken off and swallowed, possibly causing choking. You attempt it to describe the breaking and choking process to others but you are incapible of expressing exactly what is happening. You decide to make a video of the process to better explain what you could not describe otherwise. You put said video on the internet and submit your link to search engines. Several weeks later you recieve a letter to appear in court! You are being sued for 10 million dollars on the grounds that you used their trademark without permission.

    You can see the use of technology in CPHack playing the same role. Citizen consumer advocites using some technological media in order to express the failure of a product, and being prosecuted for it.

    It seems pretty clear that Mattel is even concerned with ethics or product quality, just apperances. With that type of attitude I don't intend to buy ANYTHING for young children from them.

    Read this fast, it will soon be censored by CyberPatrol. :( ...hell I'm going to make that my .sig!

  • by Rozzin ( 9910 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:59AM (#1165878) Homepage
    "The only reason this will come back to bite them is because they assigned the rights to the general public"

    ... except, they didn't assign their rights to the general public--`GPL' is not the same as `public domain'.

    The GPL entitles the licensee to use, modify, and redistribute the source code, optionally accompanied by binaries. That's it.

    The licensee does not have the right to distributes lone binaries or binaries linked against proprietary libraries; the licensee does not have the right to sublicense or in other ways change the license of any part of the software. The licensee does not have the right to do anything that would restrict the future liberty of the software(-users).

    The copyright-holder of the software, on the other hand, does have the right to do everything listed above.

    What would happen in a situation with the traditional `you can use it, and that's it' license?

    With almost any license, licensees get usage-rights, so any statement by almost any author that it has `all rights to the software, exclusively' sounds less than entirely valid.

    Once you've given something to someone, under any license that doesn't state `we can revoke this license', you can't just take it back, can you?

    As far as simple redistribution is concerned (as in this case), how is the GPL different than any other freeware license?
  • by Carl ( 12719 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @04:52AM (#1165879) Homepage
    I have a copy of the cp4break.zip [a2000.nl] but it doesn't contain the GPL in any file.

    But it does say: "You are allowed to mirror this document and the related files anywhere you see fit." Which is what I am doing :)

    There is one file -Unit1.pas- which does say "CPHack v0.1.0 by Eddy L O Jansson / Released under the GPL" although the GPL is not included in the package.

  • by griffjon ( 14945 ) <GriffJon&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @06:40AM (#1165880) Homepage Journal
    Besides the obvious barbies and board games, what else does MAttel make? I don't particularly want to buy anything they're making, period.
  • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @04:58AM (#1165881) Homepage Journal
    It seems that signing that settlement may have been a bad idea on behalf of the hackers.
    If they did indeed sign contracts stating that they were the 'sole proprietors' of all rights to the software then they have clearly done so falsely, as they extended rights to every single person that downloaded it.

    What does this mean for them? Will they be subject to (I imagine rather hideous) penalty clauses in the contract. Or will they be back in front of the judge with the old charges plus whatever breaches of contract law they have made?

    The fact that the ACLU lawyers were surprised in yesterdays story is a bad sign, surely if the lawyers had seen the settlements they wouldn't have let these guys sign an (IM undeducated O) obviously false statement.
  • by JatTDB ( 29747 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:32AM (#1165882)
    Umm...why the hell would Mattel release any version of the program, closed-source or not? The whole reason they're fighting this thing is to keep it away from the public. They don't want the rights so they can turn around and release it themselves. What would be the point in Mattel giving out the tool that shows the problems with their product?

  • by paitre ( 32242 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @04:48AM (#1165883) Journal
    However, the author's signed a contract with Mattel stating they they did not "assign" rights to the CPHack utility to anyone else.
    This is a problem for those to indivudals, inasmuch as that particular clause ain't true.
    Of course, being that CPHack is GPL'd, this may very well be the test case to show just how enforcable our favorite license is :)
  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @07:29AM (#1165884)
    As I understand this, GPL code is *very* similar to land which has had an environmental easement put on it. The owner voluntarily places an irrevokable covenant on his land that prohibits it ever being used for development, agricultural use, whatever. This type of restriction is widely used by small farmers/ranchers to protect their land as cities encroach (preventing forced sales due to high property taxes), and environmentalists who can protect more land for a given amount of money given cooperative sellers (who often set aside a small area for a "wilderness" cabin).

    HE STILL OWNS THE LAND. HE CAN STILL SELL THE LAND.

    If someone buys the land hoping to put up condos, then is upset to discover the environmental easement on it, it's his own damn fault for not checking the public records to verify no easement exists on the land.

    Likewise, anyone "buying" open source code, *or code they merely suspect might be open source*, has the onus on them to check the *public* code to determine if it's been GPL'd. It's not like this is a hidden attribute of the code. They may still wish to buy the code, e.g., to release a subsequent commercial version based on this code, but they can't claim that they didn't know they couldn't retract all distributed copies.

    The *only* question in this case is if *one* 1-line comment is sufficient legal notice. It probably isn't. But the same standard would be used on *any* code, commercial or open source. That is why most of us are careful to *always* include full boilerplate on *all* source files, both open and closed source.
  • by GnrcMan ( 53534 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:29AM (#1165885) Homepage
    They didn't extend the rights, they licensed the use. It's a very important distinction and one that has just screwed Mattel. The GPL maintains the original authors rights over the software. In fact, the original author may remove the GPL from future versions, but they can't take away the license already granted.

    --GnrcMan--
  • by TaleSpinner ( 96034 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @06:44AM (#1165886)
    You see, if someone...say, the EFF...were to put the cphack sources up for download, and Microworks were to threaten to sue them... then (IANAL) it seems to me that the EFF would now have grounds to sue _Microworks_ - for violation of contract. And it seems to me the first order of business would be to point out the irrevocable nature of the GPL to the judge and get themselves one of corporate America's favorite legal toys: a restraining order telling Microworks to stop harrassing their licensees...
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @07:58AM (#1165887)
    >You've made this point about a hundred times on this thread, and it's wrong.

    And you've made this counter claim a hundred times. Sorry, but you are the wrong one.

    I handle copyrights all the time and I'm afraid your understanding of the LEGAL status and definition of rights isn't as deep as it should be for this issue.

    The LICENSE of *limited rights* isn't at all the same thing as ownership rights. You are being confused by the use of the word "right" in both cases. They are not at all the same thing in the legal sense.

    The owners of CPhack were indeed the sole OWNERS of rights under the law. Mattel are now the sole OWNERS of rights under the law.

    To be fair, you are correct in the your understanding of the fact that the license grants rights of use. That is the POINT of the license. To allow someone with NO OWNERSHIP *limited* use. Ownership none the less remains wholely with the licensee.

    Let me give you an example which my help clarify the point in your mind.

    Let's say I wish to make key chains with a Coca-Cola bottle fob. I contact Coca-Cola's legal representative in such matters and arange a license to do so. Virtually all such objects are made under license in this way, even the stuff you buy directly from Coca-Cola is generally made by a third part under license. Buy the way, this INCLUDES Coca-Cola itself!

    Do you believe that such licensees now OWN rights to the Coca-Cola trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights?

    I hope your answer is, "Of course not."

    That would be the correct answer.

    Coca-Cola has granted certain *limited use rights* to the licensee. That's all. The rights are a matter of personal contract, not ownership law.

    The GPL is a license in exactly the same manner. The owner of the copyright of a GPL'd item is sole owner. He issues you a license under personal contract which allows you exactly the same sort of limited use as the Coca-Cola license.

    The GPL is a commercial license just like any other under the law. It isn't special and it dosn't follow any special rules. The only difference is that it replaces the usual immediate financial remuneration with a more abstracted form of possible future recompense in services.
  • Oh boy... whoever moderated that up? Repeat this 10 times and you might understand:

    [...]that this is a basic issue of license in general, and not the GPL?

    You understand now? It wouldnt matter if it was released under the BSD license or a use-only license, this is not a test of the license used but of licenses in general.

    Think... It aint illegal yet.

  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <hawk@eyry.org> on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @06:17AM (#1165889) Journal
    Replying to sorehands, arker, and Ioldanach at once,

    sorehands:
    "do whatever you want with this" is a pretty broad license--probably all the way to public domain. Someone receiving under this license before the assignment to mattel was publicised could keep doing so.
    Additinally, the claim of GPL'ing means that someone receiving before the assignment could take under the GPL (or a quasi-GPL license).

    Either license is valid, and wouldn't be revoked under the later assignment.

    Arker:
    generally, a licensing is not an assignment of rights--especially since the license was exclusive. While licensing, the authors could continue issue under another license (proprietary, perhaps). They can't do this after they assign their rights, which are what had previously let them license.

    Ioldanach:

    What matters isn't that it was GPL, but the fact of licensure under any license at all. This turns on ancient legal principals rather than the particulars of the GPL.

    hawk, esq.
  • by Coventry ( 3779 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:33AM (#1165890) Journal
    No one, including mattel, is questioning the validity of the GPL - but reguardless of a product or piece of software`s liscense, if it violates copyrights, trademarks and/or patents then That particular product/piece of software can be 'outlawed' and all users CAN be forced to stop using the product.

    For example, If I were to, oh, copy the source code of windows from a server at microsoft, then released it under the 'GPL' - and the courts decided to outlaw my software (as they would have every right to do) - then it wouldn't be the GPL being questioned, it would be the Original intelectual property rights of myself that came in question. Since I did not have the right to distribute the software, its illegal for me to do so, under any liscense.

    Mind you, what these guys did via reverse engineering is Not what I would consider to be wrong and/or a punishable offense... but the courts have put up an injunction, and that injunction is against the original creators - it nulifies thier rights to distribute the software. Since they have lost the right to do so, then the GPL they granted to the software is itself invalid IN THIS CASE ONLY due to the authors not holding the intelectual rights (according to the courts) in the first place...
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:25AM (#1165891) Journal

    You can GPL something without signing away any rights. Those who have the code have no copyright on the original code, they simply have a license to view, modify, and distribute the modified and even the original code under the terms of the GPL. They would have copyright on any improvements they made, of cours. So while Mattel may now have the rights to the code (and could thus issue it under a different license) the GPL'd version of the code is out there for good and that license cannot be terminated (barring later court decisions to the contrary, etc.)

    The only question that I have is whether it is GPL'd "enough" - as far as I have heard, the customary copy of the GPL didn't come with the software, and there was only a one-line notice that it was GPL'd. Is that really enough to ensure protection?

  • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:15AM (#1165892) Homepage Journal
    Mattel could change the code slightly and release it closed-source.

    Another thing, Mattel is a US company and the programmers were not US citizens. How is it possible to sue foreign programmers in US courts? Sounds like they're trying to push US law onto people who aren't in the US.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @06:38AM (#1165893) Homepage Journal
    And miss the whole TQM craze?

    OK, maybe TQM is passe these days, but we should have learned at least a few things about product quality.

    (1) Understand the user's requirements.

    (2) Understand how your actions result in a product which does or does not meet customer needs.

    (3) When you aren't meeting customer needs, accept that this is true and find a way to improve your performance.

    Basically, it sounds like Cyberpatrol doesn't accurately enforce the policies described to the user, and is easily circumventable. I'd call this a defective product.

    When you have a defective product, you find ways to improve it. Mattel is wasting time, energy and money in a futile attempt to put the decryption genie back in the bottle. They can subpoena until their blue in the face, but they are facing an exponential spread of the decryption software which they can only meet with an exponential increase in their legal fees. In the end, it isn't about serving their users, but hiding the defects in the product from them.

  • by GnrcMan ( 53534 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:16AM (#1165894) Homepage
    They didn't assign the rights, they licenced the use. The GPL is not an assignment of copy-rights, it's a license granting permission to do something that one normally couldn't do. Mattel can certanly prohibit the release of all future versions of CPHack written by Mattel, but they are SOL as far as what's currently out there.

    --GnrcMan--
  • by teraflop user ( 58792 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:05AM (#1165895)
    The agreement also states that Jansson and Skala attest they "are the sole proprietors of all rights" involved with cphack and have "not assigned" them to anyone else.
    If it was GPL'd, then they had already assigned the rights to copy, modify and redistribute to other people, and so could not legally sign this agreement.

    If you GPL something, you can still sell the code to someone under a non-exclusive license, but you cannot transfer exclusive ownership in the way the settlement appears to have done.

    I suspect this was done unintentionally however - presented with a settlement document full of legalese, it wouldn't have occured to me to look for this problem. Neither is it likely to occur to most mainstream lawyers who might not be familiar with the implications of the GPL.

    The lesson for the rest of us is, make sure you have the right to distribute your code before you GPL it, and if someone does prosecute, make sure they know it has already been licensed to others.

  • by kwsNI ( 133721 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @04:50AM (#1165896) Homepage
    Sounds like this is bad news for the programmers. Basically, they avoided any further legal problems by giving Mattel all of the rights to cphack. But now that Mattel has learned about the GPL, the deal with the programmers may be considered invalid since the programmers had promised that they were the only ones with rights to the software.

    Kind of interesting. I'm a huge supporter of the GPL, but it looks like it could come back and bite these programmers in the ass. Basically, they can "give" Mattel the rights to the program, but anyone who had already downloaded cphack and accepted the GPL owns the rights to their copy of the software and they are free to distribute and modify it how they choose.

    Anyone have any ideas how to prevent this from happening again in the future?

    kwsNI

  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @04:48AM (#1165897) Homepage
    Yesterday, many people talked about the authors of CPHack Wimping Out!

    Now, since it was GPL'd, take out the password decryption (so they can't argue that you are disabling the product), and publish it yourself if you dare. Then you fight Mattel and their hordes of lawyers. Will you wimp out?

    That is of course if it's your position that it is legal! I'm not saying to break the law.

    Talk is cheap, unless you are talking to a lawyer, then it's $200/hour.

    I see everyone talking about being brave and standing up, now lets see who is full of shit.

    Mattel can be beat! I won two rounds against them, I am working on winning round three against them!

    It's one thing to talk a tough game, it's another thing to DO!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @06:44AM (#1165898)
    IAAL, and I think you're overlooking the fact that the GPL is not as other licenses. In general, licenses are not assignments of rights because they don't correct rights, because they are revocable. Commercial software licenses are generally revocable, and contain clauses detailing what is to happen in the event that (for example) Microsoft decides that it no longer wants to license Windows to you under the EULA.

    The GPL is not revocable by the copyright holder, and thus, I think, has to be seen as an assignment of rights if the non-revocability is found to be binding. So my analysis of this would be that, yes, this case is potentially a test of the GPL, and yes, potentially (I feel uneasy speculating about an agreement I have never seen) the fact that the software was GPL'd could invalidate the settlement reached by the developers.

    --John Montoya
    (yeah, I do the streetlawyer trolls, but Im having a serious day today)
  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <hawk@eyry.org> on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:18AM (#1165899) Journal
    I am an attorney, but I"m probably not licensed in your jurisdiction. This is not legal advice. Get that from a lawyer who is licensed in your jurisdiction if you need any.

    Everyone take a breath, and slow down. Whether Mattel backs down, or litigates and loses, this will *not* be a test of the GPL.

    OK, repeat after me: this is not a test of the GPL.

    If this is to litigate, it's going to turn on basic contract law principles
    of license and assignments. The *only* issue of the GPL that is even relevant is the ability to redistribute, which is a licenseing issue. If the facts as described in the article are correct, Mattel can't call in the existing copies. But it isn't the GPL that's stopping them; it's the license.

    Did I mention that this is a basic issue of license in general, and not the GPL?

    hawk, esq.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:30AM (#1165900) Journal

    As far as I'm concerned, the defendants were within the letter of the law, and Mattel should get some better lawyers. The confusion here is about copyright versus licensing. The original authors had full copyright to the original code, and they handed over all of the copyright (all rights and interests, etc.) that they possessed to Mattel.

    However, they had previously granted a perpetual license to all distributers and redistributers of the code for distribution and use which cannot be terminated. Mattel didn't realize that at the time (or thought no one else would). So while the defendants weren't lying and complied with the agreement they made, that doesn't affect the fact that GPL'd versions of the code cannot be stopped by Mattel.

  • The only question that I have is whether it is GPL'd "enough" - as far as I have heard, the customary copy of the GPL didn't come with the software, and there was only a one-line notice that it was GPL'd. Is that really enough to ensure protection?

    This is something I've been wondering about. Is it necessary to quote to all the GPL boilerplate in order to have a binding GPL licence on a piece of software? The GPL is a standard piece of text that is well documented in many places on the Internet and I'm sure it has made its way into legal textbooks by now as well. Shouldn't it be enough to simply make reference to it and state that it is applicable to this program? Its not like there are different GPLs out there that might cause confusion. GPL is GPL.

    By comparison, when you put a copyright notice on something, all you need is the word "copyright" or the &#169 symbol. There is no requirement to quote the copyright act.

  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @07:12AM (#1165902)
    If you GPL something, you can still sell the code to someone under a non-exclusive license, but you cannot transfer exclusive ownership in the way the settlement appears to have done.
    You most certainly can. I can generate a piece of code and then license it under any number of concurent licenses and basically say "take your pick" - check out Perl. I can also develop an app, GPL it... and then later sell it to a comercial interest who, being the new owners, license it to their own satisfaction. This does not negate the GPL licensed code that already exists. And even if it potentially locks away code from future official revisions, it doesn't stop someone from forking the code at the last GPL license and improving it from that point on. Check out SSH and OpenSSH for an example of that.

    What we're loosing sight of here is exactly what ownership is. You don't have to have ownership to use / distribute something. Consider commercial software (that allows you use but not distribution) and shareware (that allows you limited use until you pay a fee and often unlimited distribution). In neither case do you own the copyright to the software - but you are licensed to perform various actions with it.

    Matel obviously wanted ownership to "kill" the offending code. But the GPL is a very different kind of license; in effect, it disables this legal tactic. I'm sure Matel's lawyers weren't expecting such a hack to be licensed, much less under such a non-standard license as the GPL.

    Of course, Matel's ownership of this code is not without value. They can feel free to re-license it and develop closed improvements to it under that new license. They can lock up a niche market.

    That is... until OpenCPHack comes along.

  • by teraflop user ( 58792 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @05:22AM (#1165903)
    I suppose that the Slashdot readers will know assume that this gives cphack users free reign to copy and use this illegal program.

    If the program is illegal, then the GPL does not give anyone any right to distribute it.

    However the question is, is the program illegal? This has yet to be demonstrated. The illegal assignment of rights to Mattel which had already been assigned elsewhere does nothing to make the program illegal. The legality of the program is unchanged from before the settlement.

    Whether the program is legal or not depends on whether the reverse engineering is considered to be legitimate under any of the reverse-engineering clauses of relevent copyright laws in the relevent countries. This has yet to be proven one way or the other.

    What I haven't seen is any laws which might make the essay, which is far more damaging than the program, illegal.

    Suppose, now, that the cphack authors had included an extra clause in the license. And suppose this extra clause said that no matter what, they couldn't be held liable for writing it. Do you think such a thing would stand up in court? Sorry, but if you break the law, not even a fine print disclaimer will save you.

    Although if UCITA is passed, this sort of ridiculous license cluase may well become legal in some cases.

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