GPL Violation. What can you do ?
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Thread: GPL Violation. What can you do ?

  1. #1
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    GPL Violation. What can you do ?

    GPL Violation. What can you do ?

    Say I (or you) develop some piece of software.
    Decide to release it and choose to do this under the GPL: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html#GPL .

    Then someone fetches the code, makes some minor modifications and release's it without source, charging money, basicly violating the GPL.

    Thinking we are in our right we decide to sue the ones that breach the licence.

    However the deal goes sour and the person/company you were sueing countersues you, saying you stole the software from them somehow.

    How can you prove you wrote the code first ?
    What does count as proof in court that you wrote the code.
    On a local machine files could easily be forged. (simpe example: bios, touch util).On remote machine it would ne harder but ' a remote machine is a local machine somehwre ' .
    How can you proof you were the first one to write the code ?
    The GPL and the GPL-faq could not give me a satisfying answer.

    In IRC someone ( i think it was franky ) told me: "you should print the source-code and mail it to yourself, leave it unopened and its valid, because of the marker on the stamp" ;D.

    As a small developer you prolly aint got no money to pay for them lawyers.


    Im trying to focus the discussion on:
    'what stands in court'

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    You could put it on a disc and mail it to yourself or, even better, a third party. The one thing that would really stand in court would probably be publicly registered release dates/events (sourceforge, etc). If the other company releases the software before you do, you don't have any case. They could even claim that the copy in the sealed envelope is a copy of their software dating from before they released it.
    Bleh.

  3. #3
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    Go to court and get a patent on the code and since its your creation, you can distribute it however you want but have legal protection in case of an incident like you described.

  4. #4
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    An understanding of copyright law would be the first step. Here is a good reference that primarily covers the US but does talk of international copyright law.

    http://www.copyright.gov/
    "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." - Erasmus
    "There is no programming language, no matter how structured, that will prevent programmers from writing bad programs." - L. Flon
    "Mischief my ass, you are an unethical moron." - chsh
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  5. #5
    Ninja Code Monkey
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    Erm, one step more....if any of you had actually done the research (including the person in question) this page from the gpl site tells you how to do the copyright protection for the software. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-howto.html

    The copyright included and the distribution of said software to various parties will basically provide enough evidence to prove your case. If all else fails the proper collection of forensic evidence from your machine/backups, emails, and printouts you made can all be used as evidence.
    "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." - Erasmus
    "There is no programming language, no matter how structured, that will prevent programmers from writing bad programs." - L. Flon
    "Mischief my ass, you are an unethical moron." - chsh
    Blog of X

  6. #6
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    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/enforcing-gpl.html , if you want to enforce the gpl give the rights to the fsf and then inform them of a violation of the gpl.
    from linky
    "So what happens when the GPL is violated? With software for which the Free Software Foundation holds the copyright (either because we wrote the programs in the first place, or because free software authors have assigned us the copyright, in order to take advantage of our expertise in protecting their software's freedom), the first step is a report, usually received by email to <license-violation@gnu.org>. We ask the reporters of violations to help us establish necessary facts, and then we conduct whatever further investigation is required."
    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    The international ban against torturing prisoners of war does not necessarily apply to suspects detained in America\'s war on terror, Attorney General John Ashcroft told a Senate oversight committee
    -- true colors revealed, a brown shirt and jackboots

  7. #7
    well, the sources i have released under the GPL the last couple of months are all posted on several forums... so this means that there is a time set on when it is released by me.. and suppose you we're able to hack (and alter) one of those forums, i doubt this will work on 2 or 3 forums at the same time

    of course nothing is totally safe, but in my opinion it was the safest i could get

  8. #8
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    The one thing that would really stand in court would probably be publicly registered release dates/events (sourceforge, etc).
    and suppose you we're able to hack (and alter) one of those forums, i doubt this will work on 2 or 3 forums at the same time
    Would it stand in court ? That is the question.
    What stands in court ?
    None of the links state anything about proving it is yours.

  9. #9
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    This was hashed over with gridley on IRC, and he's just looking for an argument. He was provided with numerous links answering his questions and pointing to where copyright holders were victorious in court. He seems to be under the impression that the GPL itself hasn't been tested, but since that is irrelevant to pretty well all the other questions he is asking, which are general copyright holding issues and not anything specific to the GPL.
    Chris Shepherd
    The Nelson-Shepherd cutoff: The point at which you realise someone is an idiot while trying to help them.
    \"Well as far as the spelling, I speak fluently both your native languages. Do you even can try spell mine ?\" -- Failed Insult
    Is your whole family retarded, or did they just catch it from you?

  10. #10
    Would it stand in court ? That is the question.
    What stands in court ?
    None of the links state anything about proving it is yours.
    but it does state that i've posted it on that date, so if that company would use it later, it proves that i was first... this doesn't specifically goes for code, but for every idea.
    the one that released it first is suppose to be the legit owner... thats why companies, when developing something, are so in to securing the development, just to make sure no one else releases it before they do... so yes, i think it will stand in court...

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