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Corel Clears the Air 117

Innominius Cowherd gave us hook-up to a letter from Judith O'Brien, of Corel. As she says: "The restrictions on reproduction and distribution of the Beta version of Corel LINUX contained in the Beta Testing Agreement are intended to apply only to those components of Corel LINUX that were independently developed by Corel without the use of Open Source software. ".
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Corel Clears the Air

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  • GPL doesn't require "publishing" source code. It does require making the source available to those you made the binaries available to. In that case, because they restricted the number of beta testers, and are going to give the GPL'd code modifications to those folks, they are doing exactly what the license requires. If you are not a registered beta tester, you have no legal right to access the source code. When the binaries are available on an FTP site, or they start selling CD's, then they have to make the source to all GPL software included in said distribution available.
    Writing Geek/Pixel Pusher
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:21AM (#1663815) Homepage Journal
    Actually, GPL doesn't require you to publish if you are just working on something. If you distribute a binary version to someone, that someone and nobody else has the right to ask you for the source code, and you must comply. That someone then has the right to redistribute to other people, with the same obligation - give binary, must also give source on request. But that person can also elect to not distribute at all.

    So, by promising to ship source to the testers to whom they've shipped binary, and by disambiguating that their beta agreement does not overlay terms onto someone else's GPL license, they are entirely fulfilling their obligations under the GPL.

    Someone asked what distribution was: the conveyance of a copy from one legal entity to another.



  • I've got stuff out under the GPL. And you?
    And I was yelling bloody murder and posted about five times on the danger of forking existing development, but now I'm appeased.
    To be picky- I'll be appeased _when_ they release the source for the GPLed stuff that they've changed. If there's any suggestion that there's an intentional delay that's a very serious problem, even now. I don't see much evidence to suggest that they're intentionally delaying, though- just something to think about.
    If Microsoft used this technique to fork existing opensource projects, you'd be singin' a different tune ;) to the extent that somebody _can_ get away with it, somebody eventually _will_.
  • I agreed with your post too. . .perhaps I should have chosen my title more carefully ;). Regardless, my intent was a little different (that is why I had a new post, instead of replying to yours).

    I agree it was bad to not find out the facts, I am just saying I think we 'pulled a Homer' or whatever. We did not do the 'right' thing but our doing the wrong thing might prove to be the best thing to have done in the long run. (if you follow all that).

  • Well... I doubt they are going to release WordPerfect under GPL. :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No, Corel gets it, but you don't get Corel. They aren't putting together a distro for hackers - so by definition if you can fix one of their bugs they aren't really interested in you as a beta tester. The same damn software is getting a great workout in all the other distros and they don't have to worry about their users finding/fixing bugs. What Corel needs to worry about is how to make a distro that makes sense to Windows users. It is _very_ difficult for a tech person to offer good feedback on what works for a clueless Windows-->Linux newbie who has never programmed a line of code, doesn't know what a kernel or device driver is and has never seen a command line. In order to find out what works and doesn't for them, you have to go directly to them. This is a fundamental principle of software engineering and the reason that we don't do all testing internally.
  • Very interesting quote. It makes me wonder when/if certain programming groups should incorporate, because even if the GPL states that there is NO WARRANTY, if you DO get sued, all your assets would be up for grabs. A limited liability corporation would give you just that. Limited liability.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @01:31PM (#1663822) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry but there is nothing about 'registered beta testers' in the GPL. It is a legal document. Legal documents are not subject to interpretations of convenience- they mean exactly what they say, no more, no less.
    Your claim 'If you are not a registered beta tester, you have no legal right to access the source code' is disturbingly like saying 'therefore you can't see it at all'.
    This is dead wrong in a very serious way.
    The reality is this: even _if_ 'beta testers' are found to be not distribution in the normal sense (in this case, I think even that is unreasonable), once those testers get the modifications to the GPLed code they have _every_ right to distribute it to anybody they please. Even if you cannot _force_ the original modifier to make you a 'beta tester', all you have to do is ask one of the beta testers and they have every right to redistribute the modified GPLed source, thus re-establishing the flow of information as is their right under the legal document, the GPL.
    Please do not ever say 'If you are not a registered beta tester, you have no legal right to access modified GPLed code'. This is at best misleading, and at worst an outright falsehood.
    These things are important, and a better understanding of them will help everybody including the proprietary companies. It's really not that hard or that dangerous to work with GPLed stuff and mingle it with the proprietary. You just have to put up a Berlin Wall of licensing- and anything that's derived from GPLed stuff, you completely err on the side of redistribution of information, and on giving people GPL rights. That's not that hard. As for the proprietary, just keep it entirely separate- I for one have no problem at all with Corel writing proprietary software. I have a very severe problem with the idea of their inadvertently or intentionally muddying the waters of the GPL's meaning. They have done that- they got _you_, LetterJ, to believe that if you're not a beta tester you have no right to see modified GPLed source. That's just not true. You have no right to see Corel's _proprietary_ source. Big difference. The stuff in the pool of work covered by the GPL is public, remember that...
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @02:57PM (#1663823) Homepage Journal
    If I had my 'druthers, I'd make our criticism more polite and better organized, but I'd not eliminate it.

    I dunno, I think flaming has it's place. All it really is is raw emotion and a violent outpouring of opinion. How important is it for companies to see that they are *really* pissing people off. Feedback is good for any organism. Flaming, a reaction akin to touching a hot stove, tells a company, quickly, Don't Do That! I agree that polite organized criticism is more effective, it's what I do, but sometimes you need an edge to pierce thick armor, corporate armor. A bit metaphorical, but I think it holds.
  • Instead, they are ceasing to claim that their agreement supercedes the GPL.
    So, if you know somebody who has the binaries and source to the modified GPL programs, NOW, then you can get the source NOW by asking for it.
    Corel is not compelled to give you the binary and source. They're just compelled to give you the source _if_ you have the binary. They can restrict the binaries (to GPLed stuff) with 'beta' as much as they like, but everybody they give it to has _complete_ rights to redistribute as much as they want. It's GPLed, you know ;)

  • Corel are planning to make money, probably a lot of money, from code that the free software community produced. They have a right to do that, and nobody (well almost nobody) is angry about it, but the "we" in question does have the right to be touchy if they even come close to stepping on "our" toes.

    I think it is good that the community puts its foot down to show that the GPL is no matter to be taken lightly, even if it wasn't really necessary in the case. Certainly, if it has caused a couple of companies hungry to do dig in on the Linux distribution goldmine with as little open source as possible to reconsider, no one has really been hurt.

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • I am extremely pleased by the letter that appeared in LinuxToday, however:
    The prior statements of the license as quoted by excerpt were a clear violation of the GPL, and deserved at minimum and immense amount of criticism. I am very glad that the current statement is different. I do wonder whether the revised statement applies to thos who agreed with the prior one. I also wonder whether the "shrink wrap license" will be considered to superceed the publicly reproduced letter which appears to come from someone at Corel (I'm not directly involved, I don't know the folk at Corel, so I can't judge whether this person is the president or the janitor... possibly a significant point, and I don't know how to weigh it). etc.

    So, I'm very pleased by the statement, but also very pleased that I didn't agree to the license. This is clearly the right direction, and much slack needs to be available. But I won't be comfortable until there is a more formal retraction of the prior license and until the developers who did agree to the prior license are freed to exchange that license for the one being informally proposed here.
  • Corel proved they weren't capable of marketing the NetWinder, and so sold the design off to another company.
    Corel is and always has been a software company, so I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they had trouble marketing a product that's hardware as well as software. The bigger surprise may be that they developed the Netwinder in the first place. But judging by the reviews I've seen, Corel did quite a good job with the design, and it certainly gave them some valuable Linux experience. (And they still own 25% of rumored-to-be-pre-IPO Rebel.com so their investment in Netwinder certainly wasn't for naught.)

    Full disclosure: CORL long.

  • I'm not at all active in the WinE community myself... I just DL the snapshots every month or so, hoping that I might be able to get HalfLife running :-)

    Anyway, having said that, my understanding is that Corel is taking on all the yucky stuff that isn't "cool" or "fun"... ie: the stuff that no-one wants to do on their own, but which still needs to be done.

    In that respect (if it's true), then they are performing an extremely valuable service, and are fully entitled to any bragging rights (so to speak) that come with that.
    - Sean
  • I mostly agree. But in some ways...now, right now, Corel is making a mistake, probably because of those middle managment levels that are hard to reorinet when a company tries to change it's philosophy in a radical way.
  • Firstly copyright and licensing are two separate issues.

    The statement re unauthorised use at the bottom of my pages has everything to do with licensing.

    People have sent me pictures for my page under the strict conditions that I take them down if they later request and do not allow distribution elsewhere.

    The easiest way I have of fulfilling my multiple obligations to different people is to get people to ask me if they can use a photo.

    When I have no such restrictions I generally have no problems allowing use:
    See here for an example [angelfire.com]

    The Great Chunder Page - Alcohol Induced Fun!
  • So is anyone else curious to see the GPL code that Corel has modified. I would like to see an FTP site with the GPL portions of the Corel Linux beta. Any beta testers listening? :)
  • well, yes. actually Word Perfect was good long before Corel got it, but they have done a good job of staying current. I really appreciate my wp8 for linux.
  • by bonehead ( 6382 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:30AM (#1663836)
    It seems that quite a few people are standing up to defend Corel on this issue and scold those who voiced disapproval when the license was released.

    I completely agree that responses to such issues should be mature and diplomatic, but I strongly disagree with those who advocate remaining silent and using a "wait and see" approach.

    Sure, Corel's intentions may have been benign here. That won't always be the case. The day will come, I'm sure of it, when a not-so-benign company DOES attempt to subvert the GPL and gain some control over Linux or other GPL'd code.

    When that day comes, it will be important to voice objection immediately, firmly, and, yes, diplomatically. When that day comes it will be important to be prepared to pursue legal remedies, and to make that our willingness to do so is crystal clear.

    So, in a nutshell, I disagreed with those who said, when the license first came out, "Leave Corel alone, I'm sure it was an honest mistake." The folks at Corel are adults, if they violate the license terms on several thousand people's code, I think a full inbox is the bare minimum they should be prepared for. And, yes, those e-mails should be mature and diplomatic, not mindless streams of profanity. But they should be sent. And I agree with those who say "OK, they fixed it, get off their back." It turned out to be an honest mistake that was quickly fixed. That's good.

    But we must be prepared to stand our ground when that's not the case. We don't want to build a reputation as a bunch of profanity-spewing, immature kids, but we also don't want to give the impression that we're unprepared to stand up for ourselves.

    Just one guys opinion.....
  • by Rotten ( 8785 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:31AM (#1663837) Journal
    I understand the Mozilla problem, is hard to get people working in something apparently useless. But if Corel is about to lunch a beta, I can't imagine that they're launching a useless distribution that actually will be reviewed and commented by thousends of magazines and journalists.
    So, the case is really different from Mozilla's...
    The real issue here is that Corel is slowly making a hughe culture change on their company. Not only the culture, goals and methods to achieve it are changing. And those changes are always seen first by upper managment and in this case, the general public. Not by middle components of the company...
    WE expect to see a open source Corel, THEY want to be a open source Corel, but if they not redefine clearly their methods, THEY will fail to be what they wanna be, because WE will not see it...sounds tricky but it's quite simple.
    Other companies that just relase their products for Linux are not critiziced, because they never show to the public a desire to be open source.
    If Corel says: "I'll port all my products to Linux"...it's OK, but if they say: "We will relase an Open Source distro", and then they licence it propietary...there's a hughe mistake from them.
    I like Corel, but they need time and criticism from the public.
  • Did you read the article?

    Corel said that components derived from open code as well as any other open code can be distributed as open code. Their code however, is not currently open code. They will make it open in the future, but right now, as beta software, it's closed. Why is this so complicated?

  • by Wholeflaffer ( 64423 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:34AM (#1663839) Journal
    I would wager that the overwhelming majority of the people yelling bloody murder have not ever written a single line of open source code.

    I keep hearing this kind of statement, and I have to wonder why writing code is so critical to defending software freedom?

    Okay, if I'm an author and I want my code kept free, I must defend the GPL terms. I can understand that.

    But, as a user, I am also just as interested in software freedom. The many eyes keeping watch for security holes, bugs, performance hits, etc. in the free software that I use make it imperative that I defend that software's usage terms! Being unable or uninterested in contributing to a software project has no bearing on my defending my use of it. This is a point that must accepted, nay, embraced by contributors. An elitist attitude on the developers' part will eventually get in the way of progress. Like it or not, the developer community and the user community are one in the same when it comes to defending free software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:35AM (#1663840)
    I have yet to hear of a single court case which has shown the GPL to be enforceable. Regardless of if the Corel test license is ment to apply to GPL packages, Corel appears to be deciding not to follow the requirements for distribution of GPL packages.

    The GPL clearly states that when redistributing a binary resulting from GPL'd source code that either the source code or a written offer for providing the source code has to accompany the binary. So, does the Corel Linux CDs provide either the source code to all the GPL packages or a written offer? If they aren't then they are violating the terms of the General Public "License."

    But, so what? Seriously... so what.

    The Free Software Foundation gives a How-To Spot a GPL violation [fsf.org] but it stops short, once you spot it then you simply contact the copyright holder. But...

    • What if *YOU* are the copyright holder?
    • Where is a Howto on GPL enforcement?
    • Where is a FAQ on enforcing the GPL?
    • What is the best way to serve and document that an offical request has been provided for a distributor to correct their business practices when distributing the GPL package?
    • What do you do if your an individual developer and a distributor has ignored for over 2 years requests to follow the requirements listed in the GPL?
    • What is a method accepted by the US Courts on putting a value on the package or a dollar amount on the "damages" due to GPL violation?
    • What is the maxium amount of damages that can be claimed in small claims court?
    • How do you go about filing a GPL violation in small claims court?
    Your not going to find a FAQ covering the above questions. They aren't answered by the Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] and they aren't answered by OSI [opensource.org]. The reason isn't because everyone follows the GPL, there are all sorts of violations of the GPL to be found. Fortuantly, serveral companies will change their actions when notified of the violation and when asked nicely to change. However, there are cases where companies have refused to follow GPL requirements even when notified of the terms of redistribution stated in the license. So, the lack of a GPL enforcement Howto/FAQ is due to lack of interest in enforcing the GPL, not due to lack of need. As a result, the developers that choose to publish under the General Public "License" do so making a good-faith request, where as an enforced license give a list of demands that are required. In fact, it would be more approbate to say that Corel has "violated" the GPGFR (General Public Good-Faith Request) by continuing to distribute GP"L" packages in binary form without the source code or written offer of source code. And if this isn't a big enough issue to go to court over or at least give a Howto to developers to provide information on how they can take GP"L" violations to court then stop your whinning. People are forever ignoring requests if they feel it is in their interest to do so.

    Myself--I'm going to publish future works under the latest BSD license. The BSD license "restrictions" are ones that I'm prepaired to enforce. I'm a programmer, not a lawyer and no one is giving me any law advice so I can be any different. The BSD license lets me be just a programmer without making any claims to how the package should be used that I'm not prepaired to back.

    The point Corel's actions make is to let programmers be programmers and give up on getting them to enforce an ideology that they aren't prepair to back. Whinning about GPL violations is like crying about j-walkers. In the end, there is no point in continuing to publish code under the GPGFR joke (formally known as GPL).

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:35AM (#1663841) Homepage Journal
    Well, some of us did do our best to talk to them constructively and politely, and to help them come to the right decision. We also did our best to put a damper on the panic, which was less than completely successful.

    If I had my druthers, someone would post a rational argument regarding why something was wrong and then the vast multitude would chime in politely and help to get the change enacted. This time it wasn't quite that neat. I found John Goerzen's argument to be quite rational, but John didn't know how to take the next step - how to get their attention and get a negociation started first, so that he could say that was going on in his initial announcement. That would have damped down the panic response somewhat. But I ended up doing that stuff as soon as I heard what was happening, and it worked out OK.



  • Why is this so complicated?

    Perhaps these comments are really an indictment of the average reading comprehension of GPV zealots...after all, anyone that had READ the article would have seen that 1) the restrictions don't apply to any code but the stuff Corel is developing themselves, and 2) that Corel intends to release that code as Open Source as well once they think it measures up.

    Reasonable people can understand Corel's position, especially when they explain it as they have. Only the most rabid GPV zealot, it seems, can misinterpret it.

  • I think that we have to take into account a few of the particulars about Corel's distro: It is very likely (I haven't seen the beta to say for sure) that Corel's beta contains a copy of WordPerfect. It would therefore be in Corel's interest (i.e. protection of intellectual property) to publish thier beta with some type of restrictive license. While Corel does provide free copies of WordPerfect to the Linux community, that version is the PERSONAL edition. If Corel Linux contains the PROFESSIONAL edition, then it is certainly not something that they want to distribute.

    My take on the Corel fiasco is that the lawyers were lazy, picked up a pre-written EULA and slapped it on the beta. They should have written a new liscense agreement that just said something like "software contained herein is liscensed under the agreement specified by the copyright holder. Software under copyright of Corel Corporation remains property of said coorporation and under the terms of the beta test shall not be copied or transferred without prior... yada yada yada.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @02:01PM (#1663844) Homepage Journal
    And again, the beta testers have the RIGHT under the GPL to redistribute the modifications to anybody they please. Original authors, Slashdot, Microsoft, Jesse Berst, _anybody_. In doing so they must also be willing to distribute the source modified by Corel.
    Nothing about this says that those testers can or must redistribute _Corel_ stuff that is not released under the GPL. That's completely different, and that's Corel's business. The only requirement we're talking about here is the nature of redistribution to beta testers as specified by Corel.
    The reason it's not possible to force distribution to interested parties, for instance the original author of a program, is that this might be a roadblock to development- if that person dies or is locked up or otherwise becomes impossible to communicate with, it would be impossible to legally continue developing that software. The expectation is that all interested parties would be able to get access to important modifications being made in the code. This stands up fairly well to attempts to break the flow of information- if a company wished to fork a program, and (under their GPL rights) made major changes privately and then wished to bring it into the mainstream without letting the maintainers of the original development stream get the information, they'd have three main options:
    • not release it, which would be ineffective at forking the development stream- that constitutes not even distributing it, and obviously, is no threat
    • release it to only handpicked people (beta testers). In this case they are not _forced_ to release it to anyone not a beta tester, because they do not have an obligation to distribute binaries to all- the extent to which they do that is the extent to which they are distributing, and they're not required to distribute. The trick is, each of the recipients gets full rights under the GPL- so if even _one_ of the beta testers wishes to give the information to the original author, to Slashdot, to Jesse Berst or whoever, that is their right. This means that in a situation of an attempted power play, the control of information can blow at any seam- anyone can legally be the link from the controlled environment to the outside world. It becomes very unlikely that such a power play can be carried out except under very tight wraps, which markedly diminishes its effectiveness.
    • release it to all, which abandons any attempts to wrest control of the development of the GPLed software from others.
    This is critically important to understand- the GPL is not most significant as an UberLicense to which everybody must submit. It's not even necessary for all software to be licensed under it. The important thing is that the GPL is carefully constructed, down to the smallest detail, to cause the fullest dissemination of information under even the most hostile conditions. It is possible for people to (legally) try and control source under the GPL, because of the doctrine that binaries == source and the failure to _require_ that binaries be distributed. However, by the same token, the GPL is uncompromising in that when you _do_ redistribute, the recipients get full rights, and any of them can distribute further to anybody they choose. You can't stop them or even slow them down. You can ask them not to, but that's _it_, that's all you can do, is ask, they are entirely in the right to do so.
    To analyse possible risk areas further, let's consider another possibility- the distributor says, 'Please don't redistribute our Linux betas. If you do, we will drop you from the program and you won't get any more binaries _or_ source from us'. This is legitimate under the GPL! However, it's also waving a red flag- there doesn't need to be a formal contractual punishment for this, because of the inevitable backlash effect. Other beta testers would defect and redistribute. There would be new testers who'd sign on just long enough to get binaries and source and then (legally) redistribute and (legally) be dropped from the beta testing ranks. The only way to rule that out entirely would be to cease any beta testing at all- and even then, you're assuming that all the programmers working on the project internally will keep it under wraps. They get full rights to redistribute too!
    Thus, even in severely hostile situations, if the GPL is followed to the letter, it will tend to route information around attempts to blockade it. That's what it's for- that's the GPL's overriding purpose and goal.
    If it ever becomes a problem to get modifications of GPLed source out of a company, go straight to those who are working with the binaries in any context. They are formally and legally allowed to redistribute all the GPLed source they have.
  • "For such a behemoth to change its course in 4 days is certainly not an unacceptable delay!"

    Certainly not. I honestly believe that no one got hurt. No blood, no foul.

    I do think Corel did themselves a great disservice, however, by not taking those 4 days before the fax went out, instead of after. Then again, who's to say that we would have noticed if they had done things right the first time? Would we have been as friendly then as we were angry?

    Nevertheless, they did make themselves look bad - an oversight I think they would have done well to avoid. But they didn't hurt me, they didn't hurt anyone I know, and maybe they've ensured that the next big company to try this sort of thing will know better what they're getting into.
  • I suppose that they could send you a punch card deck or a seven-track tape of the source code. That would count, wouldn't it?
    (Or on a more practical level, they could send you a microfiche with the entire distro's source, written in machine readable bar-codes.. that would be [relatively] cheap as well as fulfilling the minimum requirements.)

    When one really gets nit-picky there are lots of small holes, most of them too bothersome to be worth bothering with. But any company that actually took advantage of them would be clearly marked "does not play nicely". So far that hasn't been worth anyone's while. (Besides, all it would take is one person with a seven track tape drive, and everything would be loose).
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:43AM (#1663847) Homepage Journal
    I agree that any company that participates in the free software community should be scrutinized by the community, criticized when appropriate, and praised when they are doing the right thing. And this was an appropriate time to criticize them, and now they've done the right thing and it's time for us to praise them.

    If I had my 'druthers, I'd make our criticism more polite and better organized, but I'd not eliminate it.


  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday September 23, 1999 @02:03PM (#1663848) Homepage Journal
    but what goal did "we" achieve?

    We kept a really bad precedent from happening. You know the story about just letting the camel's nose into the tent, and then shortly afterward the entire camel is in the tent. Some day, some company is going to deliberately run rough-shod over our copyright rights, and we'll really have to defend ourselves. We could not allow the precedent that just a little violation was OK, for a little while. I don't believe the argument that there would have been no violation, either. The way I read the beta agreement, the GPL, and the definition of distributuion, there would have been a violation.

    I am also very little concerned about scaring business away from Linux at this point. Business is all over us. Corel claims to be the world's second largest company in its market, just behind Microsoft. They can smell money as well as the next business.

    What I am concerned with is that the individuals who built all of this software will be overwhelmed by the giant corporations. I did my best to keep that from happening and to keep everybody, including the corporation, happy about the resolution we came to. Yes, I think a valuable goal was achieved.



  • But their contributions to WINE -do- allow them to say "Hey, after we've done so much for you, don't bite our faces off!"

    It gives them credibility and history of supporting Free Software. (If MS said something like that it would be laughable, in that they've made no such contribution... but Corel has, and in fact is betting on WINE as their way of porting apps to/from Linux: why port CorelDraw, say, when just linking the Windows version to libwine will have the same effect?)

    We should be patient with our friends, asking politely if things seem amiss. We should avoid accusing them of being pariahs until they either consistently refuse to answer (which is more than "hey, I mailed them 10 minutes ago and didn't get an answer yet!") concerns or violate the trust they've earned.

    Treating every friend of Linux as a potential enemy is the sort of thing that made "TeamOS/2" look like fools years ago. For the long term health of Linux, we are just going to have to give some slack to companies like Corel and IBM and RedHat and Compaq and VA and the rest.

    They do have their own money and reputation on the line here, and by treating them as friends they will keep investing both of them. If we are always quick to jump on them for perceived problems, they shan't be friends long, and will decide their money and reputation are at risk and will move to where they are appreciated.
  • Ask any of the beta testers, or any of the Corel programmers doing the work. If they have access to the modified GPL software at all, they have full rights to redistribute under the GPL as much or as little as they like. This does not mean they have similar rights with non-GPL software, but the GPL stuff becomes their property and they are perfectly free to give you a copy if they like.
  • No, I believe the author of the comment to which I replied was speaking of the reaction to the ORIGINAL Corel announcement, which completely ignored the existing licenses on included software.

  • I always yell "murder", not "bloody murder", but "murder", and I have written one half (0.5) of one line of Free Software. Does that count? :-)
    "I already have all the latest software."
  • What is the maxium amount of damages that can be claimed in small claims court?

    If you are in California [ca.gov], the maxium is $2,500. Other states are probably similar. Keep in mind that in small claims court, you represent youself and cannot have a lawyer present.

  • OK, you got me there. If someone has the binary and you did not distribute the source code to everyone to whom you distributed, you have to give them the corresponding source code.

    However, just to be contentious, if you are not the person who gave them the binary, you don't necessarily have the complete source code. It could have been modified downstream. Nyah! :-)

  • No templates no equations no fonts? It seems that anything I want to test (like a decent equation editor) doesn't work. WP5.1's equation editor was the best *imho* so I hope this is similar. I'm actually going to buy WP9 when it comes out.. hopefully buy the whole suite rather than purchase wp8 now.
  • No, the GPL covers that one. They have to offer it to you on the same sort of medium upon which you got the binary.


  • Thanks -- There was a little bit of language in the GPL that made me wonder (about guarantees of machine code, or some such thing.) Just making sure it wasn't some kind of loophole.

    I've got no problem with them taking a little time to cut CDs -- though I'd suggest that, should the license ever need to stand up in court, setting a permissible time period for things like that wouldn't be a bad idea.

    I'm starting to understand how legal documents get as long and boring as they are.
  • Educate a lawyer? they were trained from day one to rob, cheat, lie and steal. no the best way is to take whatever they write the first time and throw it back (physically) at them and say now write something that takes effort you turd!... 99.999% of all legalease these lawyers spit out is a template that their secretary prints out and changes microbutts corp to corel corp. or dave's weiner mobile corp. I have yet to see one lawyer do something other than cut and paste.

    Lawyers are the reason companies have to have this legal crap... kinda funny how they can get away with racketeering, yet if I do that it's illegal..
    what a fun world...
  • What about Corel Word Perfect? It's a pretty widely used product.
  • I wasn't sure whether to reply, or not... Considering that so many people see Corel in the fault, I feel I need to fight for Corel, as I see them in the right. You do have valid points, but I also disagree on some of your ideas.

    We kept a really bad precedent from happening.... We could not allow the precedent that just a little violation was OK, for a little while. I don't believe the argument that there would have been no violation, either. The way I read the beta agreement, the GPL, and the definition of distributuion, there would have been a violation.

    As you can tell, I read the license differently. I agree, any company that makes a violaion, big or small, should not be let go. If I believed Corel did violate the GPL, I'd be calling for a calm warning, and Corel to immediately aplogize. But the fact is, you shouldn't attempt to set a precedent, even if its better for the long run, by using an innocent company as the criminal.

    How I read the license, Corel said "Product" with a capital 'P' to refer to the entire distribution. The product in question, as I hypothesized in earlier posts and that you confirmed, contains propitary and open source code. Corel also said that the beta tester would have to comply with Corel's and other licenses that were in the "Product." That almost explains it all.

    It is illegal to distribute propitary, single-license code and binary. Thus, distributing the beta would be software piracy, as you could distribute Word Perfect Suite and break the same laws. Therefor, Corel did have it in their rights to say the user could not distribute their beta. I refer you to section 12 in the Corel license on this point.

    What else did Corel restrict? They restricted what users could say, only when Corel informed them it was on the hush-hush. They signed an NDA, its in there rights, and Corel said most things were allowed to be publicized. This is fine, and never was questioned.

    They also restricted using the "Product" after 45 days. That's perfectly legal, its like their code was shareware.

    I am also very little concerned about scaring business away from Linux at this point. Business is all over us. Corel claims to be the world's second largest company in its market, just behind Microsoft. They can smell money as well as the next business.

    Oh, I'm not too. Even if we make an enemy, we have to many friends for it to matter. But, I don't like it when we try to make an enemy for no reason. Attacking and accusing Corel of something, which I personally believe they never did, is just sickening. Its doing it for the rush, the fun of it. Its not justice, as much as people would like to claim it is, its childish. Yes, Corel is an ally due to money, but so many of our allies are in it for the same reason. That's no excuse either for linux users to attack and attempt to degrade Corel's public opinoin.

    What I am concerned with is that the individuals who built all of this software will be overwhelmed by the giant corporations. I did my best to keep that from happening and to keep everybody, including the corporation, happy about the resolution we came to.

    And if Corel really did, or had, broken the GPL I'd be extremely greatful. I am greatful because you did it believing Corel was at fault, though we disagree on that matter. I think most usuers are afraid of trading the individual programmers for large companies, not ony for the ideals involved but because we know what each is doing it for. I'm afraid it could be inevitable, but with enough effort and concern, maybe we'll get lucky.

    Yes, I think a valuable goal was achieved.

    I'm glad you feel your effort went to some good. Since we cannot turn back time, and I'm sure slashdot maintainers and readers could not be convinced that they should apologize, I really hope a valuable goal was achieved. Even if it hurt Corel, or just degraded my opinion of the Linux/GPL community, if something good comes out of this I'll be content.

    If everyone had rolled over and let Corel 'get away with it,' that wouldn't have been any better. I think Slashdot misinformed its readers and did a disservice to the community, but if the community had not reacted as they had (and had not agreed with me that Corel was not breaking the GPL), then that would have been, quite frankly, horrible.

    In anycase, I'd just like to sum up that I don't think Corel was wrong. I also disagree that the "argument that there would have been no violation" is untrue, because there would have been no violation as they never violated the GPL.

    My understanding was different, and while I still view it as correct, I'm happy to have heard yours. Thanks for taking the time to reply, and to help solve this matter.
  • you are incorrect.

    you were aware that corel were developing opsn source software long before the press release.

    why didnt't you "excersise your rights" and demand that they give you weekly snapshots of the software in development?

    oh yeah

    because it was >>IN DEVELOPMENT

    and it still is. so quit whining everyone and wait for the REAL product. never have i heard such a bunch of facile and childish arguments from a group of people who are supposed to be intelligent.

  • can we go back to slagging off microsoft now? :-)
  • this just goes to show you how hyperreactive the linux crowd is. embarassing to us all, really.

    A note: it took them more than a week for this one and before the "clarification" the copyright should have been understood as on all the distirbution. And it took may be more flame and flack that anything for the last two years.

    Overall, let's see the licence slpapped on the distirbution.

  • I dunno, I think flaming has it's place. All it really is is raw emotion and a violent outpouring of opinion.
    I have to disagree violently... I don't think flaming has a place at any time in any situation. I certainly would never listen to anyone who is hurling obcenities at me whether it is through Email, or in front of my face. It just isn't a practical method of getting your point across. Escpecially when you get 1 or 2 hundred of them in a ten minute span.

    If I get an email that starts with "You are an idiot", unless I am really bored, it will automatically be forwarded to /dev/null. So whatever briliant revelations may have been further on in the letter are lost.

    Constructive critisism is much more effective. mention the good with the bad. Think about what you are writing. And most importantly, wait 5 minutes and re-read your message before sending it. You will most likely have calmed down and realize that what you've written sounds way to harsh for the situation. Remember, there is no cancel button once that Email is out the door.

  • this just goes to show you how hyperreactive the linux crowd is. embarassing to us all, really.
  • As stated previously, once these features are deemed to be ready for general release, Corel will make the source code available under an Open Source licence, the terms of which will be disclosed at a later date.

    Seems reasonable to me, though we should watch for the terms.

  • I don't know about that. Do you have any of your source code on that CD? Maybe you'd feel different if Corel was releasing your code under a license you never had a say in, and had the nerve to completely ignore any previous licensing terms you may have given it.

  • Read the actual letter. They will release their
    instalation and other programs as open source with the final distribution.

    The testers are getting now the source code for
    all changes Corel made to GPL software under GPL.
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @10:34AM (#1663870)
    Considering how Corel has embraced the OSS movement, it would be pretty strange for them to go back on their word. From everything I've heard from them, they're pretty clued-in.

    Corel is putting quite a few of it's eggs in the Linux basket, which (for an "old-school" company) is a pretty big risk. We should all give them as much support as we can (whether that's monetary support by buying their products, coding support for whatever software they release as OSS, or even just giving them the benefit of the doubt instead of flying off the handle.)
  • This announcement is very satisfactory. I'm quite pleased.

    There's an important rule to know if you want to be a successful agent for constructive change. Once people start doing what you want, stop complaining! Corel has done the right thing and should now be congratulated and praised.

    They have made it clear that the beta agreement does not restrict the distribution of any Open Source code. Not just the GPL code, where there was a legal issue. That means they consider the desires of the community to be important - they've given us more than they really had to.

    I think the criticism regarding the speed at which this took place is incorrect. Corel is a huge company, the biggest software company in Canada and one of the world's largest. For such a behemoth to change its course in 4 days is certainly not an unacceptable delay!

    There's also criticism because they choose to not apply an Open Source license to some stand-alone products, not containing other people's code, until those products are finished. That's their perogative. I'm sure they'll experiment with open development, but as we've seen with Mozilla, it's difficult to get community participation on something that doesn't work yet. Only now that Mozilla is useful are we seeing significant contributions from outsiders.

    And yes, they said some clueless things while this was going on, and even something that many took as insulting. But diplomacy means ignoring stuff like that and just concentrating on the goal. We achieved the goal, they understand now, they conceded. What went before that is irrelevant now.

    So, now it's time for us to encourage Corel.


    Bruce Perens

  • by Pascal Q. Porcupine ( 4467 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @10:34AM (#1663872) Homepage
    Though this does smell slightly of being revisionist in nature, I'd just as soon be inclined to trust them. Basically, if they're telling the truth, then it's good that /.ers didn't do the usual bittering of the waters that they normally do, and if they actually were being ignorant about the GPL, this is a very nice apology and it should be taken as such.

    My translation of this: "Sorry, we fucked up, either because we/our lawyers weren't paying attention or because we were just being careless with our legalese. Our bad."

    I found it interesting to see that they were quick to point out that they've contributed (in the past sense) much code to WINE. Of course, not being on the winedev mailinglist, I wouldn't know whether they've actually contributed major/useful amounts or if they're just trying to keep the dogs docile. Either way, it did come off a bit as "Hey, after we've done so much for you, don't bite our faces off!" but being the generous porcupine that I am, I'll let it slide. Hopefully others will do the same (and we can, of course, ignore the trolls who will use any opportunity to flame the "big evil companies" whenever they can because they feel justified or whatever).
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

  • by Outlyer ( 1767 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @10:32AM (#1663873) Homepage
    In regards to the people complaining about Corel not being open source, etc. This closed license is SPECIFIC to this being a beta test. Even the XFree86 team closes off their source for development. Public betas are not guaranteed under the constitution, so relax. They may release source when they're ready, but for stuff they wrote themselves, it's really at their discretion.

    Until the final is released, chill out.Try and remember that this is not a Linux-only company, they have a lot of policies that will have to adapt to our ways, but let's give them some time (and then, if need be, freak out :)
  • by Demandred ( 13894 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @10:39AM (#1663874)
    Maybe some of the people that started yelling so loudly about this should have found out what exactly did Corel mean. People in this forum have a tendency to start crying foul without ever knowing the facts. I am not defending Corel or any other company or person, just please, before you start going off about this or that open source topic, find out for your selves what the facts are.

    I would wager that the overwhelming majority of the people yelling bloody murder have not ever written a single line of open source code.

    Flame Suit on........

  • Software Maker: Here, try this.

    Software User: HEY WAIT A GODDAMN SECOND, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO OPEN AND FREE!!!! (continues for 72 pages...)

    Software Maker: Whoa, just kiddin' folks. Here, try this.
    (Software Maker's lawyers: Dang!)

    Software User: That's better. Thanks.

    Software Maker: No problem (walks away with tail between legs)

    Enough money is being moved into Linux now that many of the remaining issues, err, issue (usability) will be solved. Enough competition is coming in to force improvements and increase innovation (MSFIN, haha). Enough people use it now and understand the philosophy behind it, that it can't be changed or subverted. Free software is here to stay. enjoy.

  • by dso ( 9793 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @10:32AM (#1663876) Homepage
    Well, I think that is fair. They have said that after the beta they will release the source code of any components they created back into the community. Being a large company it would look bad if they released beta software that doesn't quite work a la Microsoft. Give Corel a chance to show us what they are capable of. ps. our handling of this matter was rather militant, I suspect we could do better in the future. Otherwise a company may try to challange the GPL in court.
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @10:39AM (#1663877) Homepage Journal

    My interpretation is that they've done two kinds of work:

    1. Corel-written modifications to GPLed code. The source to this will be included in the beta, since it is "tainted" by GPL. (I don't mean that in a derogatory way, no flames please.)
    2. Stuff written from scratch by Corel. The beta will not include the source to this, and Corel owns the copyright. They will eventually release the source (after the beta) under some kind of open source license, not necessarily GPL.
    Does that sound like an accurate summary?

    It looks to me like the second part (the Corel-written code) shows that they still do not understand the massively-parallel debugging advantage of open source.

    Have a Sloppy day!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    From the sounds of it, the person didn't even read the article. If he had read the article, he would have seen that they said the exact opposite of what he was saying.

    His opinion being popular or unpopular is irrelevant - the fact that he didn't read (or comprehend) the article, combined with the WAY he said it (and the fact that he didn't mention anything to back up his claims) means it's a bad post, and should be moderated as such.

    I didn't moderate it (just used the last of my points) but if I did, it would have been flamebait.

  • OK, I'll correct you. They will release the source at a later date, thereby "complying" with your opinion (and that of many other Linux users).

    Personally, I feel that even though open source is the way to go, it's Corel's business (quite literally) if they choose to keep it closed. It then becomes the users' choice whether or not we support their distribution. I don't really plan to ever use Corel, but if a company wants to keep its apps' source "close to the vest", I don't have a problem with that -- all software doesn't have to be open to be good.
  • All this means is that the legal team (for Corel Corporation, as well as many others) needs to be educated on the full ramifications of the Gnu Public License before they trot out the same old License Agreements/Beta Test restrictions that they have always used.

    The GPL is going to require a lot of rethinking of standard legal department processes in the years to come.

    The mistakes Corel made are not due to any attempt to subvert the GPL, merely a lack of understanding of it (or even knowledge of it) amongst key personnel.

    --"You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think."
  • It sounds good.

    I'm still cautious about wether they understand that even if they use a portion of a GPL'ed program in a new program (instead of modifying a GPL'ed file), they're required to license it under the GPL.

    But I think this is a good response of Corel within an appropriate timeframe.

    I also think that seeing how many people disliked their earlier proposal must have convinced Corel that some action was necessary - Bruce may be a good talker, but it's very nice that he can back up his diplomatic skills with some weight in the form of looming bad publicity.

    And Corel should be thankful, for being averted from commiting software piracy. (If big companies can use big words to describe innocent teenage behaviour, so can we to describe the behaviour of big companies that should know better).

    But all in all, I think we got what we wanted, nobody got hurt, so yea, I guess that qualifies as "success"!

  • Corel hasn't violated anything. It's as simple as that. If they've modified GPL code, the GPL doesn't require source distribution until the release becomes non-private - i.e. public launch of Corel Linux. Beta tests aren't going to the public, as far as I know, and even if they were, Corel maintains the GPL'd code will be available.

    And if Corel wants to put non-GPL portions under their own license as part of the distribution, that's okay too. Perl comes with virtually every Linux distribution, and is not GPL'd. The choice is Corel's. Choice is what Linux is all about.

    And if someone uses GPL'd code and doesn't release under the GPL, then they're committing software piracy. I see no reason the GPL as a license is any less valid than a Windows license or a MacOS license. But if piracy is okay with you as a programmer, perhaps you haven't developed anything worth stealing.

  • Not to pick nits or anything, but are they really "entirely fulfilling their obligations" by *promising* to ship source? They've got to actually provide it be complaint, right?

    If I understand what you're saying, they're currently in violation of the GPL, but that's O.K. as long as they make good on their promise at some point in the (I'm assuming near) future.

    (And people think this GPL stuff is complicated...)

    Not tryin' to flame you or anything -- Call me a wanna-be legal student.
  • I don't think so.

    I read the original license and it was wrong. I followed the comments coming out of Corel indicating their preference was to keep the license unchanged -- in violation of the GPL.

    The community acted in a mostly rational fashion, there were some hotheads, but most people remained sane. I thinks it's safe to say the reaction of the community was appropriate and that Corel's response was as well.

    Cool, mission accomplished.

    Bottom line: the GPL must protected from both the the malicious and the clueless.

  • Yes, they have to really ship the source code. But taking 10 days (or a little longer, if that happens) to cut CDs and get them out the door is permissible.


  • by IIH ( 33751 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @12:15PM (#1663887)
    If you distribute a binary version to someone, that someone and
    nobody else has the right to ask you for the source code, and you must comply.

    Actually, this is not true, on both counts. If I get a GPL binary (no source attached) from Corel, I am entitled to ask them for the source code. I am also entitled to distribute this distribution to anyone I want. So far so good.
    But, under the GPL, anyone I distribute the binary to can also ask Corel for the source. Of course, they can ask me for it, but unless I distributed it commerically I do not have to comply

    This is only the case of distributing binarys only, but this can be relevent to Corel, as they don't want to release the full source for their mods quite quite yet, but if one of the beta testers distribute the GPL modified binaries to slashdot, and everyone in slashdot asked Corel for the source, Corel would have to send to each and every one.

    For reference, the relevent sections of the GPL [gnu.org] follows: (emphasis mine to see where I'm coming from

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

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code [...]

    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, [...] a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, [...]

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

    Only if Corel distribute the source along with the beta distribution would the complusion to supply source be passed from them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Didn't they ever hear of 'Release Early, release often'? The point is to release all the code from the beginning. Clearly they are just trying to make money on all the hype surrounding Linux. Sure, they've made some contributions to Debian and Wine, but this makes me wonder about all the other stuff they might be hiding behind closed doors. Any Corel employees want to spill the beans?
  • Well, this was the point behind Software in the Public Interest, Debian's corporation, but it turned out to not work in practice. The developers don't really want to function as employees of the corporation. So, the corporation owns some copyrights, collects money and spends it, but it doesn't own more than 1% of Debian software, and thus negociating on the behalf of the corporation doesn't work. Instead, I represented myself as an individual copyright holder.



  • It has nothing to do with public/private distribution, any distribution requires the GPL to be transfered.

    Internal use may even count as distribution, however GPL only forces you to give source code and confer the license to those internal people, and it's likely they'll agree not to distribute further. You probably can't 'enforce' that as a company, but you can probably 'suggest' it, as Corel could have simply indicated to their new beta testers that they'd prefer it wasn't passed around.

    The fact that Corel themselves released a license for the beta indicates that it is not an _internal_ beta.....if it were then confidentiality etc etc would be covered by existing contracts would they not?

    They are however doing the right thing now but it is understandable that people get angry. When it comes down to it without the GPL we have 'nothing'. If they'd tried to violate another companies license they'd probably get something far nastier than a tongue lashing on Slashdot

    The Great Chunder Page - Alcohol Induced Fun!
  • They aren't putting together a distro for hackers - so by definition if you can fix one of their bugs they aren't really interested in you as a beta tester

    Sorry... not the way it works. As someone who has participated in formal beta tests for large products, as well as having selected people for beta-tests, that's not the way you pick beta-testers (unless you're a complete idiot).

    Yes, you may have "windows newbies" beat on your application, but that's not part of the beta test period, that's part of the Usability Study period (for a company like Corel anyway). That's when you get "people who meet certain criteria" (that criteria being the same as your target audience) and have them try the product out, and find out what they like/dislike and what works/doesn't-work for their skill level, perceptions, etc.

    The point of beta-testing is to find bugs and problems that the alpha-testers (usually in-house) couldn't find. The reason you have a beta period is simply to increase the "number of monkees beating randomly on the keyboards". You are increasing the number of people with odd hardware/software/installation/whatever combinations that may (and invariably WILL) find problems in your code that you didn't know about, simply because you can't - in-house - test every combination.

    Bugs are best found by hacker-types who will also tend to correct the bugs if they can. As soon as Corel realizes that, they'll have a clue about the Open Source community.

  • http://www.computists.com/tcc/tcc8n281. html [computists.com]

    "When IBM wanted to use the Apache Group's open-source software as the cornerstone of their WebSphere e-commerce package, the lawyers found themselves dealing with a 20-person nonentity. The group has no legal existence, and is defined by little more than Brian Behlendorf's Web site. Even so, the group was able to dictate terms: that the deal remain open-source and non-exclusive. Since the group didn't want any money, IBM wasn't sure how to negotiate the cooperation of these programmers."
  • Well, unless they really broke Debian, it would have to be good. :-)
  • Why the heck do some of you think that everything is entitled to you for free? Jesus christ get out and get a fricking job and quit complaining

    Next time you ask for information (eg. software or "what time is it?"), I'll ask you to pay me. If you bitch, I'll tell you to get a job.

    Also, as far as I understand it, computer literates are one of the highest-paid of any labour force. A lot of us HAVE jobs. Did you ever think of that?
    "I already have all the latest software."
  • The GPL is a legal document. If you refuse to take it seriously you're setting yourself up for a fall, because you seem to be arguing that you can win in a case of overt and egregrious contract violation, regarding a contract that is as clear as day.
    Since you seem to be thinking of personal grievances let's look at your questions. Any Slashdotter lawyers reading this?
    What if *YOU* are the copyright holder?
    Then you might be one of the people most interested in fixing the situation. Doesn't mean you're any more entitled than anybody else. The GPL is everybody's business, and if there's a grievance anybody can pursue it, they don't have to be the copyright holder.
    If you mean 'me and not the FSF', surprise! You've still released under a legal document. It's still binding. You could assign the copyright to Microsoft and the document still is binding. If the FSF doesn't attack violators, maybe people need to be signing copyright over to something that does, or simply using their names and getting together to exchange the names of lawyers who'd love a piece of the action from suing a rich company over an egregrious contract violation.
    Where is a Howto on GPL enforcement?
    Beats me, perhaps we need one.
    Where is a FAQ on enforcing the GPL?
    Beats me, perhaps we need one.
    What is the best way to serve and document that an offical request has been provided for a distributor to correct their business practices when distributing the GPL package?
    Have you considered the usual formalities, such as having the request notarized, or requiring a receipt to certify that the recipient actually got and signed for your written request? Here we're getting into the realworld legalistics, and this is orthogonal to the actual GPL.
    What do you do if your an individual developer and a distributor has ignored for over 2 years requests to follow the requirements listed in the GPL?
    Please specify exactly what failure you mean. Who is this, and what have they done? They do _not_ have a requirement to distribute to you specifically. If they gave you binaries of GPLed stuff they do have a requirement to give you the source. If they're modifying something of yours, they do not have a requirement to give you specifically their result, but if they give you the binary they have to give you the source. Also, you can get the source indirectly, as anybody who _did_ get it is fully empowered to redistribute. Exactly what happened that has you so upset, and is it genuinely a violation or not?
    What is a method accepted by the US Courts on putting a value on the package or a dollar amount on the "damages" due to GPL violation?
    That's irrelevant to the GPL, ask a lawyer. The GPL just happens to be the contract in question.
    What is the maxium amount of damages that can be claimed in small claims court?
    Beats me, ask a lawyer.
    How do you go about filing a GPL violation in small claims court?
    Beats me, I don't go around suing people (so far! ;P). Ask a lawyer. Are you sure you want small claims court?
    Do we have any lawyer-like slashdotters willing to give some input here?
  • Can you say Word Perfect? It's not Open Source, but it's freely available. Ever seen what WP for Windows costs? This is a little more than 'some contribution' to 'make money on the hype surrounding Linux'... Name a better word processor on Linux (and no, being GPLed does not mark something as 'better')...
  • Corel's been in a tailspin for years. They can't market their way out of a paper bag. They've taken the once-proud WordPerfect and Ventura brands and despite decent engineering to this day, have made them synonymous with amateurish shovelware through kitchen-sink bundling and cheap, ugly advertising.

    Corel Linux will likely be a highly refined, high-quality product; their proprietary admin tools will probably be lovely. But it's going to be sold by Corel.
  • I have to totally agree with you.

    Corel is being very careful not to upset the Open Source community. For now, we are a strong ally against their main enemy.

    It's a GOOD THING(tm) to uproar about anything we think is wrong, even if it is just a hint. As long as you don't go flaming or throwing insults, and respond in an intellectual manner. Of course we have those that don't do that and I'm embarrassed of that, but I will complain if they just seem to be breaking the rules.

    I liked their response (Although I'm sure RMS can't stand it and wonders "What type of Open Source license they will use", since it was stated that the terms will be developed later).

    This response probably would not have happened without the reaction of Slashdot. They could be acting like a child, pushing the rules until they are stopped.
  • With all the acquisitions, takeovers, buyouts, and mergers taking place in the hardware, software and net industries, it's only a matter of time before Corel goes the way of many others. As soon as it becomes too profitable or too innovative, it will be gobbled up by one of the larger corporations. Eventually, everything will be controlled by just one or two major corporations, even LINUX, and the real internet, and the real innovations, will come from those who have learned to operate creatively outside the system, and not to rely on corporations like Corel to be there for them forever.
  • Internal use does indeed count as distribution. Anyone working on a GPLed program, no matter who's hiring them to do so, by definition has complete rights to the program, including the legal right to redistribute it. I think it's possible that if someone were fired because they redistributed GPLed stuff when the company wanted it kept private, they would have a case for wrongful termination because they'd be punished for doing something explicitly allowed in the program's license agreement, and there is no reasonable expectation that just by working for a company the person would have less rights in this regard.
    Distribution is defined as transfer of the binary/source from one legal entity to another legal entity. As such, internal distribution is unambiguously considered distribution, and the provisions of the GPL apply. The recipient (the programmer in the next cubicle, for instance) is afforded the full and undiluted rights under the GPL, just as if they were doing the work on their own time. If the company does not like letting its employee's intellectual property become potentially public property, then they need to have that employee work on something else, because the GPL is unambiguous and makes no allowances for 'company time' or 'private releases' or any of that. Contracts mean exactly what they say, and this one (the GPL) is phrased very explicitly and bluntly in key areas- and not by accident.
    To address one of your points- the GPL has no provision for waiving itself in the case of an employee who has signed confidentiality agreements. For the purposes of the GPL, the company does not exist. If it conflicts with confidentiality agreements, either the confidentiality agreement breaks by necessity, or the employee ends up legally unable to work on such a program (and this begins to be a civil liberties issue. Can you forbid a person from participating in software development that gives them property rights to the software, and freedom to redistribute?)
  • Negativity = Apathy
    Opposition = Innovation

    "Nullumst iam dictum quod non sit dictum prius."
    (Nothing is ever said that has not been said before). Publius Terentius Afer (Terrance) Eunuchus, 41
  • I can understand Corel's *new* position just fine. the old one was kind of sort of understandable, but not acceptable as a precedent. the new one is. yay for corel for fixing it, and yay for the linux / slashdot community for making them fix it.
  • Yes, perhaps the 'Linux Community' did jump the gun. I have no qualms with Corel for their liscence [if that was the original reading of it. . .never got to see one :( ] or they way they handled the situation. In fact, I think they did a good job. However, I also think it was good that the 'ignorant masses' took a stand on this one. With corprate players coming in looking for $$$ (and not caring who or what they trample on to get it), it is very important to flex our collective muscle and show we will not get bullied around, that Linux is/was/will always be end-user driven. Even if we are wrong ;).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of Corel. Selling free software is not like selling traditional software, it's more like selling Coke/Pepsi, or Ketsup. Anyone can make their own, you're selling service and convenience (and name brand).

    So the model for selling this stuff is simple. You dump your License in the trash (when was the last time you Licensed a can of Coke?), and simply distribute the stuff with an expiration date and a clear warning label on it that indicates it is not yet a complete product (and a pointer to where to upgrade later, for advertizing purposes.)

    There are many reasons you would want to distribute in this way:

    1) You don't look like you're some kind of authoritarian control freak, trying to dictate the exact terms of your products. This is an especially bad PR mistake to make in a Community that values freedom, as it demonstrates that you don't fit in.

    2) You get a wider audience for testing, and benefits of OSS in general, as discussed in Eric Raymond's classic paper "The Cathedral and the Bazaar." Release early and release often is the appropriate mantra here, as it gives you more smart people looking at bugs and features.

    3) You make your Beta Testers happier and increase mindshare by treating them as equals. The more time and energy that you can get the Beta-Testers to expend on the product, the more vested interest those testers will have in seeing the product succede on release.

    Anyway, here's hoping that they come to their senses soon.

  • Corel makes great WP software. I have used it exclusively since version 5.0. Their support for the linux community has been far ahead of any other commercial software houses.

    Their contributions to the wine group are not trivial. They have proven themselves to be a good supportive menber of the community, and deserve reciprocal support from us. Their gpl slipup was simply an error made by their legal staff and will surely be rectified to everyones satisfaction.

    Do they plan to make money off of linux? Well, yes, but so do most of us, in one way or the other... That is the freedom we have with the gpl.

    thanks corel. thanks debian. thanks bruce.
  • As I recall, the GPL requires publishing modifications to GPL code.

    Two issues here:

    One: If Corel produces new code (that doesn't include GPL'd code, of course) they can do what they like. We can request opening of code, but we may not get. Even if they plan to GPL it, they hold their full copyright until they do.

    Two: If anyone works on GPL'd code, they are required to publish, right? When? How often? If I add a comment to a piece of GPL code, do I have to run out and post it on a web page, and submit the link to Slashdot? I hope not, because that's going to screw up the revision check-in a bit.

    However, if I release the binaries, even if I call them beta, and seems pretty clear that I should make the source available by then, no?

    (Note: I'm not accusing Corel of the latter... However, they have been accused of that by assumption...)
  • by ElvenKnight ( 40562 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @10:58AM (#1663911) Homepage
    I have deep faith in Corel and their distro that
    is due out soon. People don't seem to realize it yet, but Corel is in a VERY good postion to dominate the OS market in general, not just the Linux market. Their Distro is for windows users, they are also working heavily on WINE. Do you know how good WINE has been getting lately? Its unbelivable the software that you can run on it now. It doesn't take much thought to see what would happen if a brandname like "Corel" comes out with a distro that not only Looks & Feels like windows, connects to windows computers, but also runs ALOT of windows software thru WINE, oh and sorry.. its not bloated, and doesn't crash. :)

    PEOPLE.. This distro in many people's eyes is going to be one of the MAJOR noose-loosing steps against Microsoft. It very well is going to end up being the answer to MANY people looking to throw Micros~1 Windows out the door for good. Corporate world is big business, Redhat is pulling in good dough. BUT.. The Corporate world has alot of end-users just as the home-based market.. in the end, it costs too much to train employees on a new OS.. if the OS looks, feels, works JUST like Windows.. Its going to save a TON in Training costs. Corel is going to end up putting a big dent in Micros~1's Home and Business market. Its no mistake that they put as many programmers as they did into the WINE project. :)

    I made a killing off Redhat, Yahoo, and many other companies.. ANd I definitely recommend a STRONG buy on Corel for those reasons and more.

  • I'm generally about as diplomatic as they come, but I can't fault anyone who was vocally upset about the way Corel licensed their beta. They didn't get it right the first time. If everybody had just waited for them to fix it, assuming the best, it's quite possible nothing would have ever happened.

    I'm not condoning abuse or unfounded accusations of evil intentions, but I think anyone who sees the discussion of this topic on Slashdot as some sort of religious frenzy is missing the point.

    The GPL is ours (as software users), and the only way it's going to stay that way is if people are willing to stand up for it, defend it, and even call an otherwise good company on their screw-ups. One of the easiest ways to do that is to discuss our issues right here, out in the open, where Corel and the rest of the world can see it.

    Personally, I would have been a lot more worried if it looked like someone was violating our license and nobody cared.
  • Those that hold copyright (or copyleft!) are the ones that have the moral right and the moral obligation to defend (such as it needs defense) the code that they wrote.

    I would add considerably to your wager; I'm quite sure that most of the flamebait comes from people capable only of writing flamebait.

    After all, if they had the reasoning abilities to write code that would work, they'd probably write better flamebait...

  • by Tim ( 686 ) <timr@alumni.was[ ... u ['hin' in gap]> on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:07AM (#1663915) Homepage
    Well, you can certainly look at the reaction to this as "embarassing" and "hyperreactive," but that type of criticism sounds pretty shallow to me. Do you know what Corel would have done had everyone not had a fit over this issue? I don't.

    No one seems to know *why* exactly Corel didn't have a clear beta license to begin with (or, for that matter, why they insist on a "beta license" at all). Why should everyone have read the original license, said "their ignorance of the GPL must be an honest mistake" and accepted it as-is?

    The rabid GPL activism of Linux folks is a good thing, IMHO. No one is capable of predicting the "correct" level of reaction to a violation at the time, and those who think they can are working within the comfy confines of 20/20 hindsight. These reactions, right or wrong, keep companies honest in the long run, and I want to see that trend continue.
  • That is true and I agree with you in full. However, the intent of my statement (which I regret I regret I did not convey it well) was not that users or developers have more or less of a right to defend the freedom of the software they use/develop. Indeed, I do consider the type of user you describe as "one in the same..."; I tend to be both a user of free software and a developer...I could not be developing the free software I am working on right now if it were not for a multitude of open source(free) programs.

    In any case, the point of my statement was that there is a a very vocal segment of the Linux/free software community that simply jump at the chance of attacking anything that even smells like it might not be free software. I may go out on a limb and say that I believe a great deal of those people to be more interested in the free beer aspect rather than the free speech. My statement, again I regret not being more clear, was meant to point out that when we have a group of people that do not know about or care about the development of the system, just care that they can get it for free, and simply start yelling and screaming GPL this or GPL that....well it just sounds silly to me because I continually get the feeling that these people haven't even read the article that was posted or know exactly what the facts are, or even read the GPL before they start crying bloody murder.

    that's all
  • You would think, if you were going to be beta-testing the code (and let's face it, what you're beta-testing is Corel's code, by and large, the rest of it has been out and gotten the stuffing beaten out of it for some time now), wouldn't you rather have people able to send you up source code patches as opposed to often "cryptic" bug reports?

    Which would you prefer as a company? Something which says "when I click this button, I get a crash!", or something which says "Hey, I found a bug in this button, the problem is that you're doing a divide by zero on line 51, and, oh, here's the patch to fix it and make it work..."

    The former is "business as usual" for big companies, and explains a great deal of why closed source products generally suck. The latter is an example of how Open Source(tm) software works...

    Notice that Corel really doesn't "get it" yet, or they'd be saving themselves energy and taking true advantage of the beta test by doing the latter.

  • XFree86 is not GPL'd. And the beta excuse is a red herring. (penguins like herring).
    Glad to see Corel has come around (as if there was any doubt.)
  • We achieved the goal, they understand now, they conceded.

    I'm sorry Bruce, and I know out of everyone your in deepper then anyone else who posted, but what goal did "we" achieve? Corel never, ever, ever did anything wrong in there license. Reading the license and understanding that "Product" meant a combination of Corel code, open source code, and perhaps other's closed code makes this obvious. Corel was always in there right. They already had done the right thing.

    So please... I don't want to sound disrespectful or to negative, but how did "we" do anything good? All I see is that "we" bashed, flamed, and degraded Corel's reputation in the Open Source world, merely because, as a whole, "we" did not read there license and did not understand what it meant. "We" made assumptions off what we didn't understand, and since the popular idea is that any company used to closed source automaticly despises open source, "we" decided that Corel was attacking and undermining the community. "We" did the wrong thing, "we" screwed up, "we" are the ones who should apologize.

    Personally, I think that Slashdot should apologize for posting an article where they made assumptions. Slashdot is the portal for a huge number of open source users, and by being a substantial news source owned by Andover, they should post corrections and apologies. Freedom of speech and freedom of press go so far, but Slashdot crossed the boundries, and "we" tried to hurt a company who was trying to improve the technology and accelerate the cause (while making enough money to survive).

    So Mr. Perens, what went before that is not irrelevant. Maybe other people don't understand this, or maybe I'm flat out wrong, but the entire incident was wrong to begin with. Those who lost respect for Corel, those who made comments against Corel, and especially those who misinterprited and publicized this should reflect and try to stop this from happening again.

  • You make it sound as if anyone cares what people post on some web site.
  • I fully agree...I believe that the collective voice of our community is one its greatest assets. My comment on jumping the gun is simply to state that it is ok to be loud, it is even ok to be wrong...but not because we were too lazy to actually find out what the facts were.
  • Aw, come on now people... Corel has given away a zillion copies of WP8 for Linux, taking a big loss in the process, and they are TRYING to learn how to play ball in the hard-ass world of Free Software, wich, as we all know, is a LOT more brutal than business.

    I have got 4 people to drop windows ENTIRELY since pointing them at WP8. It's not open source, but it fills a painful niche until LyX matures.

    A painful niche? Wow, talk about a weird mixed metaphor...

  • What part don't they get? All open source parts are being released as open source. That's all they owe.

    Your examples don't even go farther than that. Sure, you're free to make a cola, the general formula for 'a cola' is out there. Go nuts. The specific formula for 'Coca-Cola' or 'Pepsi-Cola' are not out there though. The specifics of the formula are how those two companies differentiate.

    The open source portion of the Corel distribution is the formula for 'a cola', the codes they hold secret are what differentiates it. It would be nice if they released that portion of it publicly but there is no onus on their part to do it. It would also be nice if every person who did a linux install would contribute every piece of code they write under GPL. I don't see that happening somehow.

    I don't even know what you were referring to, it sounds like your post would be more appropriate to the original news item where source code and redistribution were being restricted.
  • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Thursday September 23, 1999 @11:20AM (#1663930) Homepage Journal
    Being a bit of a lurker on that list myself I believe Alexander Juliard, the WINE god, (I hope I spelled that right) used words to decribe their contributions such as outstanding and very signifigant.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous