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Thread: Open-Source Projects Are Getting Ripped On Amazon

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtippett View Post
    The details in the product section on Amazon clearly talks about flight gear, open source and GPL.

    It looks like it is a zero-add fork of some of those applications. Permitted in general by the GPL. It's definitely not "nice", but that is secondary.

    By choosing code under some of those licenses you give up the rights to control who and how in a lot of cases. Create Commons are similar. If you go for a permissive license with attribution, you may end up being associated with something you don't.
    In at least the cases of Scribus and InkScape that they're "selling" there's not really any mention of either than they've glommed onto copyrighted content NOT GPLed and blurred things out in a clear attempt to hide origins... Some of it might be what you're claiming, but when you go to those lengths, something's up, Matthew...

    I'm not going to say they're ripping GPL/LGPLed projects off yet- but it's pretty fishy what's going on and it's not just "not nice".

  2. #12
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    Lots of software that is there is not GPL. There seem to be some windows only software that are not opensource. Some 'abandonware' games (which probably aren't legal to distribute). Even Orbiter is there.

    About selling GPL software as something else the famous case that comes to my ming is Flightgear:

    http://www.flightgear.org/forums/vie...t=8187&p=80263
    http://www.flightprosim.com/

    And fact is it's completely legal as long as you follow GPL.
    There was a fight about this already. What they did manage to do was for the 'company' to admit on their webpage that this sim is based on Flightgear (which AFAIR is required by GPL).

  3. #13
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    Full compliance with the letter of all licenses should be the top priority issue here. If they're violating Creative Commons or the GPL, we can sick the SFLC on them. A successful campaign would result most likely in a settlement -- a slap on the wrist -- and them coming into compliance.

    If/when they come into compliance with all licenses, ancillary issues crop up that potential customers could encourage them to act on to improve their now-legitimate product (a legitimate product is one that is produced and distributed in compliance with all laws and contracts):

    • The company should give credit where credit is due, explicitly listing on their website and shopping sites any third-party free software projects whose work is the basis of these products.
    • The company should ensure that the cost of the software media is proportional to the amount of additional work that was put into the software, above and beyond rebranding free software that was downloaded free of charge.
    • The company should make value-added enhancements to the software, distributing them either under the original free software project's licenses, or as a distinct add-on under their own license, depending upon the derivative work situation and the license of the original free software project.
    • The company should make source code available to the general public, either on their website, or on shipped media to paying customers.
    • The company should financially support the free software projects they are using, with a (small) cut of their profits.


    If they just comply with the licenses without doing any of the "shoulds" I listed, I would never buy nor promote their products, nor recommend that anyone else consider them. But they would be able to remain in business, which is fair enough.

    If they actually implement most / all of the "shoulds" I listed, I might actually evaluate the product and see if it provides something I would want. And depending on how much they actually try to be a good commercial open source company, I might even recommend them to others.

    As it stands, I can't recommend them at all, but it's possible they are just misguided. If they can be made to see reason and start to do some of the shoulds after complying with all licenses, then I'd welcome their participation as another good open source citizen.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Svartalf View Post
    I'm not going to say they're ripping GPL/LGPLed projects off yet- but it's pretty fishy what's going on and it's not just "not nice".
    There is legal and there "right". The "right" part is all about the items that allquixotic mentions. "right" is subjective, but something that is "wrong" may be 100% legal, but still be morally repugnant to the majority of the community. Look back to a lot of the laws and right judgements that the countries that all now push for race and religion equality only 50 years ago.

    Yes, it looks like a parasitic company. But I'd be careful declaring them as illegal.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RealNC View Post
    No, it's not. When you do, you have to tell people what rights they have (you cannot take a GPL licensed project and strip the GPL from it.) Also, some of the stuff is not GPL; the game's artwork and music are not GPLed and forbidden to sell without permission.
    The intentional inflamatory title line of the post makes is sound like we're "mad" that somebody is selling "open source" (and let's say GPL FOSS) programs... and as mentioned, that is perfectly legal as long as the GPL requirements are met.

    So.. while true, IF somebody is selling GPL software and is indeed stripping the GPL from it.. that's IS of course, wrong... but that's NOT what the title of the news post implies.

    So.. I think we have two errors. The post title... and what a company might be doing that is wrong.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtippett View Post
    But I'd be careful declaring them as illegal.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Space-Shuttl...dp/B004138ICY/

    Orbiter licence: http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/faq.php#A2

    "You can distribute Orbiter, but you are not allowed to charge a fee for it."

    It's not GPL. This is the case I'm 100% sure about. But like I wrote earlier, not all of this software looks GPL, and some of them got distributing restictions for sure.

    So while the illegality of GPL software he sells is questionable (whether he follows the licence and if other licences are involved, like CC) there are programs he can't sell, so the company IS doing something illegal.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by williamthrilliam View Post
    From the link I provided: "The one exception is in the case where binaries are distributed without the corresponding complete source code. Those who do this are required by the GNU GPL to provide source code on subsequent request. "

    And I did not know about the artwork that isn't GPL, and in that case would in fact infringe on someone else's IP. That doesn't change the fact though that selling GPL'd software is a-ok.
    This is my take on the subject: If the game's artwork is not GPL'd then it is not legal to sell without the game publisher's permission. Only if they have that express permission THEN it'll be OK. Any source code for the GPL'd components need to be either supplied on the media OR provided upon request and a copy of the GPL should be included in the documentation.

    While I think it's unethical to resell a GPL'd program, it does fall within legal limits as long as the terms of the GPL are complied with. Also licenses for any non-GPL'd parts should be included.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havner View Post
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Space-Shuttl...dp/B004138ICY/

    Orbiter licence: http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/faq.php#A2

    "You can distribute Orbiter, but you are not allowed to charge a fee for it."

    It's not GPL. This is the case I'm 100% sure about. But like I wrote earlier, not all of this software looks GPL, and some of them got distributing restictions for sure.

    So while the illegality of GPL software he sells is questionable (whether he follows the licence and if other licences are involved, like CC) there are programs he can't sell, so the company IS doing something illegal.
    Sounds like you hit the nail on the head. Indeed, this particular case (Orbiter) seems illegally distributed. But correct me if I'm wrong: doesn't the provision that you can't charge a fee for it, make Orbiter non-free software? That particular case, while illegal, is likely not something that the SFLC has any basis for pursuing.

    I am interested, though, in getting the SFLC's take on this. But to get them interested, we need to show them that free software licenses are actually being violated, not just freeware. The SFLC is not a general purpose policeman for people violating software licenses. I know that you haven't talked about the SFLC, but I have: I would very much like to get them involved, so please, if you find "smoking gun" evidence in their offerings that they're infringing a free software license, then list it here. Name of product, link to product page, and quotation of the part of the license that's violated would be more than sufficient -- exactly like what you did with Orbiter.

    Specifics aside, it would seem that we are beginning to paint a picture of a company that, generally speaking, disregards the software licenses and properties of others. Although my initial thoughts on this matter were optimistic, it is my experience that a company that is so reckless with others' property is unlikely to voluntarily reform and start to become a good open source citizen. More likely, they will evade the law as long as they can, until they're reeled into court and forced to fold by the legal process. This doesn't seem to be a one-off "oops, we didn't read the fine print of the license" coupled with a "oops, we don't understand what it means to be a good open source citizen". I definitely smell the "fish" mentioned earlier -- that of a company willfully infringing on licenses, perhaps knowingly, with the naive supposition that they'd get away with it.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by allquixotic View Post
    But correct me if I'm wrong: doesn't the provision that you can't charge a fee for it, make Orbiter non-free software? That particular case, while illegal, is likely not something that the SFLC has any basis for pursuing.
    Yes, I think you're right. I don't know the profile of SFLC but Orbiter would probably qualified by them as a non-free software. It's a freeware without an open source code with a custom licence. So it's not actually FOSS.

    Here is a full list of terms:
    http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/terms.php

  10. #20
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    the best thing one can do is warn people on the reviews section and kick amazon in the nuts for allowing this to go on

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