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AOL Pulls Nullsoft's WASTE 637

dmehus writes "America Online, parent company of Nullsoft, has pulled what it views as a controversial project called WASTE from Nullsoft's servers. This is not the only time it has stepped in to Nullsoft's doings. It had quickly taken down Gnutella, developed by Nullsoft co-founder Justin Frankel, and shut down an MP3 search engine. CNET's has more details." For those not keeping track, WASTE was only recently released.
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AOL Pulls Nullsoft's WASTE

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  • GPL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Molt ( 116343 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:08AM (#6083948)
    Hold on, Waste was released under the GPL.. exactly how can AOL plan to pull that?
    • by sgarrity ( 262297 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:10AM (#6083958) Homepage
      "exactly how can AOL plan to pull that?"

      They can't. Dave Winer has posted the source [].

      I've got a copy of the install if someone wants to host it.
      • by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:01AM (#6084158)
        - - "exactly how can AOL plan to pull that?"

        - They can't. Dave Winer has posted the source.

        They Can. Read what they posted in its place. They say it wasn't released legally. If it wasn't released by anyone with the right to the code, it isn't under the GPL, just as an employee at MicroSoft couldn't release Windows under the GPL.

        On another note, although I usually don't think companies are this Machiavellian, does anyone else see this possibility:
        AOL faked an illegal release so that tons of people would have copied of illegal source code. Then, if a similar competing Open-Source project is created they can easily claim it used their code and wasn't actually developed independently. After all, they could definitely say that the authors of the other project could have easily stolen their source code. I'd only suspect something like this because WASTE actually isn't that complex of a program. It's not nothing, but its definitely something the community could put out in a month if some people tried.

        However, I suspect it is more likely this was just a mistake, or Nullsoft not checking with the high-ups.
        • by grahammm ( 9083 ) *
          There is one very large difference here. The code was published on the "official" nullsoft web site, therefore it was released officially. There would be a considerable difference between the Windows source code being published with a GPL licence on and an employee "leaking" it and publishing somewhere else.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:25AM (#6084264)
            It doesn't matter if the source was posted on God's web site. If the individual who posted it (somebody other than God, presumably) didn't have the exclusive copyright to the code, they couldn't legally release it.

            That's what AOL is saying. And they're almost certainly right, from what I can tell.

            "GPL" is not a synonym for "I can do whatever I want."
            • Another factor to consider is that the code that was on Nullsoft's site includes RSA code that is not only NOT GPL'ed, it is under a license that is incompatible with GPL! (Take a look at the MD5 code).
              • I think you've hit it on the head there. AOL/Nullsoft may or may not have a problem with their employees working on open source projects, (i.e., Mozilla) but they have to be acutely aware of any potential licensing no-nos, esp. given the current SCO/Linux debacle.

                Personally, I think it's an interesting project, but needs some serious work before it could be a viable alternative to existing chat and filesharing apps -- the design docs distributed show a number of issues with the wire protocol, including its
            • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @05:41PM (#6086589) Journal
              Except that the person, was an agent of Nullsoft - agents of commercial entities *are* legally capable of entering into an license agreement. This protects the 2nd party (in this case the public) from Businesses backing out of a 'deal' saying "this person didnt have the right to obligate us" - in fact, (s)he does.

              imagine if some 3rd party came down on a seperate department (and previously unaware of this project) AOL for WASTE, maybe AOL's employees HAD discussed the matter with the people in their immediate sphere of relevance... all was well. teh decision to publish (and enter into the GPL license with the public) -- they cannot simply say "oh, we were just kidding". becasuse we, the public, had every reason to believe that the Nullsoft fellows had the authority (as they must have, in order to publish).

              remember, IMNALBPOO/.
            • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:25PM (#6087464)
              The code is (c) Nullsoft, and even AOL is not disputing this. The code is not (c) AOL Time Warner, which is an important distinction (Nullsoft is a subsidiary, and so a separate legal entity). Justin Frankel essentially is Nullsoft; he's a co-founder and principal developer. The code was released on the official Nullsoft website by him, the same way most other Nullsoft software is released. In short, the release followed the standard practice used by most other Nullsoft releases (most of which, like NetMon [], are uncontroversial). This is Nullsoft release policy, and Justin is basically their release manager (for at least some of their stuff -- Winamp is handled separately). Simply because AOL disliked this particular release doesn't give them a legal leg to stand on in pulling it.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Well, no. Nullsoft owned the copyright, and Nullsoft posted it. Where Nullsoft (or the employee) was authorized to do it is between Nullsoft, AOL, and that employee.

          If Nullsoft had first set a precedent by releasing this another way, then I could see them saying that this was against their published policy, but they didn't demonstrate that this code was meant to be licensed another way.

          AOL forced them to say it after the fact, but it's just like a trade secret. There is no secret once the secret is told.
        • n another note, although I usually don't think companies are this Machiavellian, does anyone else see this possibility: AOL faked an illegal release so that tons of people would have copied of illegal source code. Then, if a similar competing Open-Source project is created they can easily claim it used their code and wasn't actually developed independently. After all, they could definitely say that the authors of the other project could have easily stolen their source code. I'd only suspect something like t
        • likely this was just a mistake, or Nullsoft not checking with the high-ups

          I'd say that the real mistake would have been checking with the high-up first.

          It's easier to beg for forgivness afterwards, than ask for permission first.

    • Re:GPL (Score:2, Informative)

      by 8tim8 ( 623968 )
      They pulled it from the web site. Expect to see other locations to download it from posted in this thread soon.
    • Re:GPL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:14AM (#6084202)

      Can't speak for elsewhere, but it turns out under Australian law that even if I release something under the GPL, I might be able to "take it back." It has something to do with the fact that the law makes it extremely difficult to give something away - that's the reason that if, for instance, I want to give someone a house, I can't "give" it to them, I have to "sell" it to them for $1.

      A lawyer called Jeremy Malcolm gave a rather good talk on this at 2003 [] (there should be links to his slides and audio of the talk itself on the site, if anyone's interested).

  • by fredrikj ( 629833 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:08AM (#6083949) Homepage
    Just download it over WASTE.
  • WASTE (Score:5, Informative)

    by I(rispee_I(reme ( 310391 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:10AM (#6083960) Journal
    WASTE is an encrypted filesharing network, since the article did not make it clear. It is also, in the same vein as gnutella, an open protocol.
  • The parent company *should* be hiring someone to empty nullsoft's dumpster...
  • Duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:12AM (#6083966)
    Who didn't see this coming. Justin comes up with cool tech because he can't be touched by AOL and even if they fired him he's stinking rich from the takeover so he doesn't have to work for anyone. AOL still owns the servers and can dictate what gets released by one of their holding but once the code is out there it's there for good (assuming Justin didn't violate any sections of the GPL, specifically re patents).
  • Mirrored (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:12AM (#6083967)
    As linked from [], the release is mirrored [] on the web.

    The whole "unauthorized" release thing is interesting, though. I'd say that they have to prove that it wasn't an official release as it certainly looked like one. But what if somebody infiltrates Microsoft and puts sections of the Windows source on the web site under the GPL?

    • Re:Mirrored (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@gmail ... minus physicist> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:35AM (#6084062)
      I'd think the situation you describe is pretty straightforward (IANAL though). The person who hacked MS never owned the copyright to any of Microsofts software, and thus does not have the right to release the source code under any license. Any licenses he gave would be null and void.
      If someone would actually download the sources and take the license seriously, he'd definitely have to stop working with them as soon as he is told.I'm not sure whether there would be any further ramifications - I'd assume no, at least not as long as the person who downloads the source is doing so in good faith, that is he really is dumb enough to believe Microsoft released the Windows source under the terms of the GPL.

      As for this situation, it's similar, but not the same: AOL, and not Nullsoft, probably owns the rights to WASTE, and so only AOL can release the software under the GPL. However, as a part of AOL, maybe Nullsoft also has the privilege to do so, especially in this case of software they programmed themselves. That'd mean they abused that privilege, and might lead to some kind of trouble for Nullsoft, but in that case the GPL would still hold. On the other hand, maybe the situation is effectively the same as the one with MS, described above, which would mean that Nullsoft had no right to grant any licenses, and as such whoever downloaded WASTE would in fact be required to delete the software.
      • Re:Mirrored (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:42AM (#6084351)
        If parent AOL says they had approval authority over Nullsoft's releases, then that approval or disappoval should have happened before the release hit the servers.

        If AOL was really scared of Nullsoft making unauthorized releases, they could have required that Nullsoft not have a website under their direct control, and that they'd have to send all web content to the people who run who would of course send the content to headquarters for approval before putting it up. The fact that such a process doesn't exist tends to indicate that somebody at Nullsoft has the authority to post software.
    • Implied Warranty (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idou ( 572394 ) *
      Yeah, the law is usually 50 years behind the times, but since I am not a lawyer, I can make outrageous guesses about the law without feeling the slightest bit of guilt or lack of professionalism . . .

      In this case, Nullsoft released WASTE under the GPL and AOL didn't like that. Too bad. As far as any individuals external to the organization are concerned, they thought this was legit. The net effect is AOL accidently released it under the GPL and is now trying to "unrelease" it. As far as any external users
    • "As linked from []..."

      The funniest thing about this story (which is written in German) is that altavista's babelfish translator translates "Nullsoft" assuming it's a German word into "Zero Often" .

  • "If you downloaded or otherwise obtained a copy of the Software, you acquired no lawful rights to the Software and must destroy any and all copies of the Software, including by deleting it from your computer. Any license that you may believe you acquired with the Software is void, revoked and terminated."

    It was released under the GPL, it's out there...the GPL is out there...they can't all of a sudden say "Sorry, we changed our minds".

    Will this be a landmark case that tests the GPL now? I wonder...
    • It seems to be that as in the case of Gnutella, they had to know that their parent company wouldn't like this very much.

      I don't think the provisions of the GPL say that you have to continue distributing the code, only that the code once freed remains free. There are already other WASTE mirrors so I think they achieved their objective.

      You would think the NULLSoft crew would just leave AOL. I imagine that they are sticking around because of retainer contracts tied to $$ and when the time comes they all jump
    • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:32AM (#6084048) Homepage Journal
      1. AOL are the copyright holders and as such the code was never released by them under the GPL so it's not under the GPL now and never has been.

      2. AOL don't own the copyright and as such the code is, and always will be , subject to the GPL.

      • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:53AM (#6084126)
        1. AOL are the copyright holders...

        You're wrong, Nullsoft are the copyright holders, or were at the time of the release. Nullsoft is owned by AOL, but is nonetheless a separate legal entity.

        It all comes down to whether Justin had the right to release the code under the GPL, and from the sounds of things, he does. We shall see.

        WASTE - main.cpp (Windows main entry point and a lot of code :)
        Copyright (C) 2003 Nullsoft, Inc.

        WASTE 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.

        WASTE is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
        but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
        GNU General Public License for more details.

        You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
        along with WASTE; if not, write to the Free Software
        Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA
        • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:22AM (#6084251)
          This post shouldn't be modded offtopic. Legally, I believe it's a key issue (of course, this is just my opinion and IANAL). Ownership of the copyright of this code is a complex issue, undoubtedly, determined by a series of contracts between employees and their employers, and the companies involved. Just because we might say in the common parlance that "AOL owns Nullsoft" doesn't necessarily mean much. AOL might own every share of Nullsoft stock, but if they delegate management of Nullsoft to Nullsoft executives, those managers have the right and obligation to manage the company as they see fit (within the bounds of standard fiduciary obligations - which are complex). The managers do have the obligation to represent shareholder interests with respect to company assets - but that is a contractual and fiduciary responsibility issue, and does not retroactively impact who had the right to license that code.

          As far as I know, in the absence of overriding contracts regarding copyright holdings of Nullsoft, Inc. that automatically assign such copyrights to AOLTW and prohibit sale or trade of rights in those copyrighted materials without explicit authorization of AOLTW, I believe Nullsoft management would have acted as legal agents of Nullsoft Inc. with respect to copyrighted materials when they posted them on the Nullsoft web site with license and copyright notices attached. If AOL failed to put greater contractual and procedural controls in place, that's their problem, and they could take it up in court with the individual managers or corporate personage of Nullsoft, Inc.

          Then again, after the Gnutella fiasco, if AOLTW _didn't_ have explicit contracts in place giving them assignment and control of all copyrighted Nullsoft works, they are idiots.

          • This post shouldn't be modded offtopic...

            Well, the "you're wrong" part is wrong, because I didn't realize right away the author was presenting a list of alternatives, and stopped reading at the "wrong" first one.

            Other than that, it still seems pretty accurate.
      • by Karl Cocknozzle ( 514413 ) <kcocknozzle@ h o t m a i> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:05AM (#6084172) Homepage
        1. AOL are the copyright holders and as such the code was never released by them under the GPL so it's not under the GPL now and never has been.

        2. AOL don't own the copyright and as such the code is, and always will be , subject to the GPL.

        I humbly suggest possibility #3...

        3. AOL owns the copyright, and is trying to test whether they can "retract" a decision to release code under the GPL.

        This is actually a critical point... If AOL can "retract" this decision, what stops them from "taking back" Mozilla? What keeps SAP from "taking back" SAPdb? Many open-source projects get code from, or are even started thanks to the largesse of, large corporate interests.

        If they can establish in court that it is okay for AOL to "retract" an officially GPL'ed release, how long before a major player starts buying companies that have "right of retraction" on their open source competitors and exercising those rights?
        • What do you mean by "retract" the decision? In the case of Waste, it looks like the program and source may have been posted without the knowledge or consent of Nullsoft. I think it would be impossible for AOL to prove that Mozilla is being distributed without AOL's knowledge or consent. The bandwidth fees alone mean they know about it.

          If, on the other hand, you mean they can close off access to new versions of Mozilla, they already have that right under the MPL. But they cannot stop the community f
        • AOL can't "retract" this decision. They never _made_ the decision. If it was out there for two years before they decided to take action, they would have a very difficult time proving that it was an unauthorized release. Since WASTE was out there for a total of two days, I think AOL has a point here. They did not authorize releasing the code, plain and simple.
    • by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:49AM (#6084114) Homepage Journal
      It's all a big conspiracy by AOL and Microsoft to WASTE the GPL and WASTE all music pirates in one fell swoop.
    • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @11:35AM (#6084595) Homepage
      If you downloaded or otherwise obtained a copy of the Software, you acquired no lawful rights to the Software and must destroy any and all copies of the Software, including by deleting it from your computer

      Even if the code was posted without permission, that statement by Nullsoft is not valid.

      The internet is a global medium. Anyone who downloaded the code is subject to their local laws. There are quite a few countries where the people who downloaded the code are completely free to keep, use, and distribute that code in any way they see fit - no matter what the circumstances.

      Making legal threats telling people what they "must" do to a global audience is just stupid.

  • by zxSpectrum ( 129457 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:13AM (#6083971) Homepage Journal

    But, seeing as it's GPLed:

    Waste-source []

    Please, mirror the file instead of using this as sole source. I have no opportunity to set up BitTorrent here, and I have maximum transfer per month constraints. I will pull the file after 1GB is transfered.

  • Does GPL apply? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skynet ( 37427 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:13AM (#6083973) Homepage
    The code was written in house, and thus was the copyrighted property of AOL Time Warner. It was released without the consent of the company by some developers at Nullsoft. If that is true, isn't it still the property of AOLTW?

    Are there any precedents for this type of thing?
    • Re:Does GPL apply? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:24AM (#6084016) Homepage
      It was released by nullsoft under the GPL - the subsidiary had a choice over the licensing conditions the wanted to use and settled upon the GPL.

      Just because their parent company doesn't like that choice, it can't be undone. If AOL have a problem with nullsoft's choice of license, that's an internal matter for the two compaines to resolve.

      The only way I can see things being different would be if under contract terms between the two companies AOL had to aprove each piece of software produced by their subsidiary. Then they might argue that the code wasn't nullsoft's to release or give any license to. In much the same way as if someone here found the code to Microsoft Office, they can't just slap the GPL at the top and release it to the world.

  • Where's the money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigman2003 ( 671309 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:14AM (#6083976) Homepage
    AOL sees WASTE (and a few other Nullsoft products) as something that:

    A- Doesn't provide them with a revenue stream.

    B- Could bring on lawsuits

    C- Competes with their other products.

    AOL is a huge company, with lots of money. They could get sued for *real* money, not just Napster money. Also, the fact that they own a lot of media might cause them problems.

    We are on the cusp of a new era of 'authorized' file downloads (iTunes). Finally big business is learning how to make money from music on the web, and letting another free service rear it's free little head isn't part of their plans.

    It seems like Nullsoft is forgetting who butters its bread.
  • Contracts? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ggruschow ( 78300 )
    From the outside, these guys just seem to be screwing off all day long. It all sounds rather fun, but why does AOL need to employ them to do this?

    Do they want this publicity?

    Did the NullSoft buyout contract specify that they had to keep them on for a decade?

    What is it?

    • Re:Contracts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by wfmcwalter ( 124904 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:26AM (#6084274) Homepage
      Did the NullSoft buyout contract specify that they had to keep them on for a decade?

      Very possibly ('though probably four or five years, not a decade) - buyout contracts often do, to prevent the "human capital" from taking their stock and running. The carrot to folks is that they get lots of new options, which vest annually so long as they remain.

      Once the deal is signed, both sides often try their best to wiggle out. The stock options aren't paid out if the employee quits early, so the company tries to get the employee to quit. CEOs become directors of empty divisions with no staff and no mission, stuff like that. The company can't be _too_ blantant about it (i.e. make the CEO unblock toilets all day) as that's constructive dismissal, in which case the employee can leave with the stock (after lots of legal squabbling, of course). Equally, mr small-company-entrepreneur type wants to get the stock and bug out (either to his next startup or to Hawaii) and doesn't want to be a drone for the next half decade. So he _tries_ to get constructively dismissed. Fired for gross misconduct (not showing up, punching out his boss, etc.) won't work - so he has a bad attitude, doesn't bathe, says dumb things to the media, produces product that makes his employer uncomfortable, founds the aryian-spaceship-league, whatever. So a war of attrition is fought.

      Naturally, I don't know the terms of the nullsoft acquisition, but it may be this is Frankel's (et al) idea (or at least in his mind). I figured this was the case when Gnutella came out (AOL were _never_ going to be happy with that) and WASTE is even more AOL-unfriendly (heck, it's got a chat client - who needs AIM?).

      Someone should write a book about the constructive dismissal stories that fill Silicon Valley - Sculley sending Jobs to his own office building to do nothing (Jobs cracked rather quickly). I heard of some guy coming to work dressed in a full frogman suit (including flippers and mask) and walking down in the corridor when customers were around - company dress code said "no shorts, wear shoes" - if they'd changed it to read "no bodyglove swimming attire" just for him, then that would have been the constructive dismissal he sought.

      • Re:Contracts? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jackb_guppy ( 204733 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @12:23PM (#6084834)
        I had that...

        It was "No Jeans"

        So I looked up Jeans and found "made from denim", looked up denim "100% cotton twill"

        I found a blend of 70% cotton and 30% - so not Jeans.

        Then was called for that. Pointed out that legal base. They then tried:
        Lapped Seams -- showed 2 people in the room wore pants for that type.
        Cotton Twill - showed them cords in the room.
        "rivets" -- showed 2 more that had those.
        "color and look" -- pointed out the Head of HR a skirt on that was all of that -- a converted blue jeans pants.

        I got suppended for "bad attitude" without pay for the weekend. It was late Friday when it happend, I shouldn't have to work the weekend, anyway. I could not come into work, had to take the weekend off. And this was during a year I put in 3000+ hours of work. Documented! and got a great bonus at the end of year. ... I thanked them for the vacation time, and went home. At 6am on Saturday my manager called and asked if the release was ready for Monday Morning shipping. I said no, that was what I was going to doing this weekend, but you sent me home. He asked if I could come in a get it ready, he would give me whole week-off next week with pay and get me an exeption to rules.

        So the rule became: "No looking Jean pants of the colors blue, white or red."

        I had Black Jeans :-).

        I did point out the head of HR would have to give up wearing the fadded Jeans (blue w/ white patches) - he smiled and said "Yes".
  • Mirrors! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:19AM (#6083989)
    http://forums.wina 37077 uk/wast e-setup.exe te-source.tar .gz
  • What a Waste.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moehoward ( 668736 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:19AM (#6083991)
    But not surprising. I just don't get what these developers are thinking. Something like, "Yes sir! May I have another?!?!?!"

    This is not the type of fight you can win from within. It's long past time that they free themselves from AOL.

    Step 1: Write great software
    Step 2: Make sure the IP for that software belongs to a meglomaniacal corporate structure
    Step 3: Disappointment, Rinse, Repeat
  • by joshki ( 152061 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:22AM (#6084008)
    You may not be on solid legal ground here. I didn't see the original release, but the page they have up now says:
    unauthorized copy of Nullsoft's copyrighted software was briefly posted on this website on or about Wednesday May 28, 2003. The software was identified as "WASTE" (the "Software") and includes the files "waste-setup.exe", "", "waste-source.tar.gz" and any additional files contained in these files.

    (emphasis mine)

    If the files were posted by someone who did not have the authorization to post them, then you have no legal right to distribute them, because that person had no right to place the files under the GPL. Of course, we have no way of knowing if that's what really happened, but I'd still be very hesitant to publish the files until someone with the standing to do so weighs in on the issue (Any FSF lawyers reading this?).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:23AM (#6084012)
    A couple of mirrors: [] []

  • by smd4985 ( 203677 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:29AM (#6084036) Homepage
    i downloaded waste off gnutella :) .
  • mirror of the source (Score:5, Informative)

    by mog ( 22706 ) <> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:30AM (#6084042)
    Here [] is a mirror of this fully legal, GPL software. Do with it as you will.
  • My mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonathan_atkinson ( 90571 ) <jonathana AT cleanstick DOT org> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:31AM (#6084045) Homepage
    Get the source here [].

  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:34AM (#6084055)
    .. and Waste may very well be illegal, no matter if it was released under the GPL.

    What matters is WHO released it under the GPL. If the ones that released it had no legal rights to do what they did, then Waste is illegal, and redistributing it is illegal.

    Why? Because only the copyright holder can release software like this. Otherwise the license is void, and you are all doing something illegal by distributing the source.

    The above is pretty much clear, but lawyers might want to answer the question of wether the people that released the software did in fact have the rights to do something like this. If a lowly employee releases software, my guess is that he does not have the rights to do so. Otherwise any employee of Microsoft would have the right to release Windows under the GPL..

    Before distributing Waste, you should be pretty sure that it was in fact a release warranted by Nullsoft executives, otherwise it may be illegal.

    It may be that the release was warranted by someone with the proper authority, but if AOL/Nullsoft states otherwise, this might be decided by trial.
    • by randombit ( 87792 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @11:38AM (#6084609) Homepage
      Why? Because only the copyright holder can release software like this. Otherwise the license is void, and you are all doing something illegal by distributing the source.

      Absolutely true. But, from my brief glance at the source, it looks like all of the files have GPL notices at the top. Either the unauthorized person was very thorough, or this really was supposed to be GPLed - maybe not released right now, but at some point. But that is hardly proof, and while they cannot revoke the GPL, it's hard to prove either way, unless they name the person who supposedly uploaded it without authorization, and file a $$$ lawsuit against him for IP loss.

      Either way, WASTE is at this point not really safe for use. For examples, it uses PCBC encryption (broken), MD5 for authentication (!!!), RSAref (slow + unmaintained + bad RNG), and on Windows it doesn't seem to be seeding the RNG with much of anything (on Unix it reads /dev/urandom, which is fine). The NullSoft guys may have interesting ideas, but it seems like they probably should have asked somebody before implementing the crypto in WASTE.
  • by jonathan_atkinson ( 90571 ) <jonathana AT cleanstick DOT org> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:36AM (#6084070) Homepage
    I noticed someone has already set up a SourceForge project for WASTE.

    Now go and help out! I want a cleanly building Linux port.

  • Grep says... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:42AM (#6084092)
    daniel@starship:/src/waste$ tree | grep cpp | wc
    28 56 435
    daniel@starship:/src/waste$ grep "under the terms of the GNU General Public License" *cpp -r | wc
    28 392 2395

    Translation to English: each cpp file has a GPL license declaration in it.
  • MS Ploy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Idou ( 572394 ) * on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:56AM (#6084141) Journal
    Is this just coincidence? I mean, could AOL be THAT stupid TWICE!? Or, are they doing a favor for MS, so that MS can say:

    "See, look. The GPL IS EVIL. It just takes one employee with web access to turnover your IP. You better look into our new products that prevent employees from having such freedom . . ."

    I mean, how good could WASTE be? Let's not be TOO eager to help the bad guys here and stick to untainted code, OK?
  • MD5 Sums..... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TeddyR ( 4176 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:08AM (#6084179) Homepage Journal
    Well here are the MD5 sums of the files as downloaded by me from the original site [and verified with several other ppl who downloaded it from the original site].... if anyone has a different md5sum then they should look closer at their copy of the files....

    e3609e352afba37683c47ce60f9086bb waste-setup.exe
    5645d0378b5bca6d2cf337686dca9a4d waste-source.tar.gz
    554cfa7350333aa4e6eb3b6e24201 d80
    • by TeddyR ( 4176 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:33AM (#6084308) Homepage Journal
      [note : there should NOT be any spaces in the links.... ./ adds spaces]
      Magnet links:

      magnet:?xt=urn:bitprint:RNADB73OZV4J56PYURKSJBOK QU YU25RO.3YIAXBOM3XGWON5QSA6TVIJUAXJHZI54FQ3LMVY&dn= waste-setup.exe

      magnet:?xt=urn:bitprint:SNMD7MSXP3QI6MY5IOF4DKUE VK UD2Y4G.6YKR7VR2TWYNPUUBOVGY5ROGMSPTA7ZZSGTECUA&dn= waste-source.tar.gz


      Ed2k links:

      ed2k://|file||261175|d9eff5442b2 f4 ab391487c21f9998679|/

      ed2k://|file|waste-source.tar.gz|214730|f5d0dbda 5e 7eb7a9774c7650fa306383|/

      ed2k://|file|waste-setup.exe|173589|5f2e6a0160b4 14 10d413a965560071e2|/
  • My suspicions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Glyndwr ( 217857 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:15AM (#6084207) Homepage Journal
    Warning: there are half-assed guesses below.

    Seems to me that as it was on Nullsoft's server, it was probably intended -- at the time at least -- as an official release. I suspect the Nullsoft boys wrote it to be released and went ahead and did it.

    Secondly, as various other things on the Nullsoft site are under weird and wonderful open-source redistribution-allowed licences, I reckon they are probably allowed to determine their own licences under their contract with TW.

    So I suspect the GPL licence on the original source is legit. Otherwise, we have to assume they haven't been allowed to open source their other bits of software and TW have been turning a blind eye; TW don't seem like the type to turn a blind eye to anything to me.

    Now, this is what I find interested: I couldn't find any other GPL software on the site, just stuff under some custom-written clickthrough redistribution allowed licences. Could it be that Frankel came up with this while messing around, decided to release it knowing it would probably get pulled, and put it under the GPL on purpose? Knowing that it would get mirrored to Hades if TW did pull it?

    I'm just speculating, of course, but it seems to me that's the likely way events occured. We'll be able to tell in the next few weeks by the vigour TW employs in asking people to stop hosting mirrors, I suppose.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:30AM (#6084296)
    The site that's there now [] claims that WASTE is owned by Nullsoft, and whomever posted WASTE on the server with a GPL license lacked the authority to do. As a result, AOL's view is that the GPL doesn't stick to the software because only Nullsoft held the copyright and Nullsoft didn't attach the GPL.

    What a mess here... something that's really lacking from the new page is anything that says just how "unauthorized software" appeared on the site.

    - If they're claiming that they were hacked, this would have to go down as the hack of the century... I doubt that happened.
    - If they're claiming an employee acted outside of their authority, aren't they responsible for restraining that employee's actions so they don't become visible to the public?
    - If AOL's trying to overrule a decsion made by their Nullsoft division after learning about it, isn't that too little too late?

    This has got to be one of the most interesting test cases of how the GPL works ever.
  • by ikekrull ( 59661 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:50AM (#6084400) Homepage
    If this release was not authorized by AOL, and it isn't entirely clear that Nullsoft did not have the right to do this, then I would say that you would be forbidden from distributing the code, regardless of the fact that it carries a GPL license.

    You can't take, for example, Microsoft sourcecode from the WinCE SDK, slap a GPL license on it and claim it is now covered by the GPL.

    If, however, the WinCE division at MS, who presumably has full responsibility and authority to handle code releases put the WinCE code under the GPL and released it, in good faith, then that would be binding.

    i.e. if the city of New York sells the Brooklyn Bridge for $1 in a legal transaction, then the new owner owns that bridge, regardless of the seemingly low price.

    If it was cool to buy hundreds of thousands of acres of land off the indigenous peoples of america for some muskets and smallpox-infected blankets, this is cool too.

    However, the code has been released, so while you could not distribute the code as-is, there is nothing to prevent anyone studying the code and and releasing a compatible implementation, unless it infringes copyright (contains cut n pasted sections) or patents (not sure whether P2P patents exist or who owns them). You are not doing anything illegal if you use an MP3 (regardless of its origin) of a pop song to figure out how to make a pop song of your own. The person who sold/gave you the MP3 might have a problem however, and the owner of the copyright that covers the MP3 could demand you destroy/return it upon discovery of it's improper distribution to you.

    This would have to be ordered by a court to be legally enforceable, but you may be guilty of a crime by delaying the destruction/return if you do this in bad faith. i.e you know the copyright they hold is valid, yet you ignore their reasonable and legal request for its destruction/return.

    AOL could, assuming their claims that Nullsoft were not authorised to release the code under GPL are true, sue anyone they can prove is distributing the code for copyright infringement.

    However, if such a lawsuit was pressed, you could request that AOL prove that Nullsoft were not authorised to release software that carried AOL-owned copyright, or that they prove that Nullsoft were acting in bad faith - that is they knew the licensing terms of the software in question would violate the law or go against AOL's wishes.

    If they cannot prove this, then I would guess the GPL stands, and tough cookies AOL.

    But certainly the mere presence of a GPL notice does not convey legitimacy to the GPL license terms.

    So, what it really comes down to is 'do you trust AOL to tell you the truth that this code was released improperly'.

    If you can convince a court that you were honestly unable to determine the legitimacy of their demands (not sure you could use this as a defense against AOL, it would be watertight against SCO), then you are also OK for keeping and distributing this code despite requests from them to remove it.

    After all, they can lie to you about this and not run any significant risk because of the size of their bank account, yet you have no way to verify the authenticity of their claim without a court order for them to unseal the terms of their contracts with Nullsoft, or their sworn statement in court of law.

    How can we know that AOL is not lying about the fact they did legitimately GPL this software, and since there is no law against making false claims outside the realm of contract or consumer law, it seems a pretty murky area. Its not like AOL has any disincentive for lying about this.

    I can stand up and say 'I am the Pope of Hudson County! Bow before my lily white ass', but failing to bow is not a crime, much to my chagrin.

    It is an interesting position, and bears remarkable similarity to the whole SCO debacle.
  • The Crying of Lot 49 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hayzeus ( 596826 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:51AM (#6084406) Homepage
    Amybody else get the reference? W A S T E

    We Await Silent Tristero's Empire

    From The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, a covert postal service (my first domain was '', so named for the same reasons)

    • by dark-br ( 473115 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @12:05PM (#6084739) Homepage
      Yes, I believe the name "Waste" is indeed a references to Thomas Pynchon's novel "The Crying of Lot 49." In the novel, W.A.S.T.E is either a hoax or a secret system for communication, and (might) stand for "We Await Silent Tristero's Empire." Here's a little quote:

      "Last night, she might have wondered what undergrounds apart from the couple she knew of communicated by WASTE system. By sunrise she could legitimately ask what undergrounds didn't....[H]ere were God knew how many citizens, deliberately choosing not to communicate by U.S. Mail. It was not an act of treason, nor possibly even of defiance. But it was a calculated withdrawal, from the life of the Republic, from its machinery. Whatever else was being denied them out of hate, indifference to the power of their vote, loopholes, simple ignorance, this withdrawal was their own, unpublicized, private. Since they could not have withdrawn into a vacuum (could they?), there had to exist the separate, silent, unsuspected world."

  • by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @11:22AM (#6084532)
    AOL's higher ups have enough clue to realize this wouldn't be used for much wide-scale P2P sharing; indeed, it's limited to 50 users so something like BitTorrent is still much better suited to piracy. Rather, AOL probably saw WASTE as a competitive edge, as it was developed so that employees working on projects at different AOL field offices could collaborate without having to worry if one of AOL's competitors (or their boss) was snooping. If it's GPLed, all of AOL's competitors get the same advantage, as AOL can't snoop on their conversations, though more than likely they're using secure VPNs or direct fiber links anyway.

    So basically, I don't think this was a case of AOL being worried about piracy, this was a case of AOL wanting to protect their company secret. You really can't blame them either way, but regardless, it's too late. WASTE will continue to be developed just like Gnutella was, and Open Source developers will probably try and reverse engineer it and write their own version just to be safe and in the clear with respect to copyrights. But this is just speculation, I might be wrong.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @11:29AM (#6084578) Homepage
    Let's *assume* that this is not a legal release (not AOL/TW trying to override Nullsoft after Nullsoft has released it legally).

    Anything that "is" Waste or a derivate of Waste probably recieves a nastygram and that'll be the end of it. But what about this:

    If someone picks up this code, without knowing anything about this controversy, sees the GPL and finds out that this is useful for any other project, say Gaim or Miranda or some other IM-client (or any other program for that matter) and copy-pastes away (including copyright headers, all fully legal if the licence is legal). What happens then? Does that OSS project suddenly become "poisoned"?

    Also, if AOL/TW later finds out "hey, they used our code in project X", who gets the blame? Noone to blame really, unless they want to claim that you need to check with every copyright holder that they really *have* released it under the GPL.

    Oh well. Someho an encrypted IM didn't sound that "advanced" to me anyway, not going to miss it...

  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @11:42AM (#6084635)
    Once code is under the GPL, that's it. It's GPL'd. Fire the employee who did it, jail them, etc.--tough tittie. Be more careful next time...if that's really what happened.

    I suspect they planned this all along. Suppose the RIAA/MPAA decide to sue AOL for producing this code...AOL's lawyers stand in front of the judge and say "Look! it was an illegal release! It was just an internal research project, and research is legal, isn't it? Hell, we pulled it off the net as soon as we found out! The employee has been scolded mercilessly!"
  • by Checkered Daemon ( 20214 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @12:03PM (#6084728)
    There's been some early analysis of the WASTE system on the cryptography mailing list, which tends to attract some pretty high-powered crypto talent. While a lot of the discussion has centered on factors that would require a highly sophisticated attack (is MD5 broken, would AES be better than Blowfish, is PCBC mode appropriate, etc.) the main argument is that using a well established crypto system such as SSL/TLS would be far better than trying to design a whole new system from scratch, a conclusion that I highly agree with.
  • by Joshuah ( 82679 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @12:11PM (#6084768)

    enjoy. there is also a forum for waste on the site.
  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:13PM (#6085138) Journal
    I was intending to use WASTE to do secure p2p exchange of broadcast-quality MPEG-2 video files between television stations for co-production and regional distribution that was cost impractical to do by satellite.

    Oh well...
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:36PM (#6085660) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps its just a tactic to add fuel to the fire against GPL and BSD type of licenses.

    "See, you cant trust what you get, just beacuse it says its free, you may still be libel.. buy our software"

    Regardless of how it turns out, it gets air-play, and it influences public opinion, and the people are making the decisions..

    But that would be sinister, and noone would do that :P

  • by Pulsar ( 4287 ) <(champ77) (at) (> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:48PM (#6086036)
    I saw the original headline about WASTE on Slashdot, never even read the story, forgot about it. But now that I've seen AOL has yanked it from Nullsoft's site, I'm downloading it and trying it out, not to mention posting it in a few safe places.

    Scarcity is an amazing thing - by trying to put a lid on this, they're actually creating a huge demand for this program. I can't wait to try it out.
  • CYA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Esion Modnar ( 632431 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @04:02PM (#6086109)
    Isn't it possible that AOL knows the genie's out of the bottle (and doesn't really *care*), but wants some good plausible deniability in case of a lawsuit?

    So they can say: "Hey, don't look at us! We *told* them don't grab that source code and run with it..."

  • Take It Down (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dolohov ( 114209 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @05:40PM (#6086580)
    As badly mod-punished as I'm going to get for this, you're burning a hell of a lot of good will by hosting mirrors of WASTE. What if it were your own software that someone put up under the GPL without your permission? And before I get the chorus of, "All my software is under the GPL anyway!!" even software intended for free release shouldn't be distributed before the author is ready for it to be.

    It's fine to speculate what exactly brought this about (And Nullsoft really should be more forthcoming than a plaintext legalistic note!), no speculation is grounds enough to justify redistribution of someone else's code that they've explicitly asked you not to redistribute. Period.
  • by egg troll ( 515396 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:33PM (#6087491) Homepage Journal
    By "banning" this software, they've made WASTE the must-have of every l33t kiddie around. Look at this thread for how many mirror sites have sprung up. Everyone wants it.

    This is publicity you can't buy! I'm sure AOL knows this. As soon as WASTE gets a critical mass of enough users using it, AOL will "give in" and release it officially again. The end result of these actions? WASTE suddenly becomes a hugely popular app and AOL didn't have to spend a penny in marketting.

    Or then again, maybe I'm wrong....

BLISS is ignorance.