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Hosting Company Appears To Be Violating the GPL [Resolved] 418

Posted by kdawson
from the ten-years-is-long-enough-for-anyone dept.
palegray.net writes "A web hosting provider called Appnor has recently moved the network diagnostics utility WinMTR off of SourceForge, and is now claiming the program to be a closed source, commercial application (it was previously made available under the GPL). I emailed the current maintainer of the original mtr utility about this, and have been informed that this event most likely constitutes an overt GPL violation, as it is presumed that WinMTR contains mtr code. Appnor claims that they have the right to do this, as there have been no external contributions to WinMTR in over ten years. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think copyright law works that way." Update: 01/10 18:24 GMT by KD : The CEO of Appnor, Dragos Manac, has posted a response, claiming that no GPL violation occurred, and promising to revert the code to GPLv2 by the end of the week.
Update: 01/11 14:01 GMT by KD : That was fast. WinMTR announced that the code is now available under the GPLv2.
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Hosting Company Appears To Be Violating the GPL [Resolved]

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  • by homb (82455) on Monday January 10, 2011 @10:06AM (#34822544)

    No, they didn't steal the author's labor without payment, at least not originally with WinMTR. They made a derivative work, still using the GPL, so all is acceptable.
    It's only when they changed the license to commercial that they broke the contract with the original developer who specifically requires anyone using mtr code to provide their software under GPL (among others).
    So unless they can prove that there is no more mtr code in WinMTR, they must absolutely provide WinMTR under the GPL. Otherwise they have no right to use mtr code.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday January 10, 2011 @10:21AM (#34822712)

    It may be a GPL violation, but who cares? Those tools already ship free in every OS on the planet. Nobody's going to make any money off this. And the fact that nobody from the community contributed code in 10 years kind of tells us what level of interest there is.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Monday January 10, 2011 @10:24AM (#34822736)

    Perhaps before going in with guns ablazing, some tact would be helpful. Their webpage doesnt exactly scream "hostile", as they are still offering the utility free (provided you sign up for a newsletter). They may be violating the GPL, but it may be entirely unintentional or out of ignorance-- could the author of MTR simply email them, informing them of the situation? He will eventually have to contact them anyways, I believe-- wouldnt any eventual lawsuit have to come from an author of MTR anyways?

    I mean, its GOOD that someone is updating this utility; going after them with a lawsuit right off the bat doesnt exactly make "lets update abandoned GPL software" look like a good idea.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday January 10, 2011 @10:32AM (#34822858)

    Everyone else can do exactly nothing (well not use it and rant on the interwebs about it I guess).

  • Re:Abandonware? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, 2011 @10:40AM (#34822960)

    Or I can just go on wikipedia and get the same info without having to navigate 100 other sites. And if I wanna check the sources, I can just scroll down. Fuck you.

  • Re:Question... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by e70838 (976799) on Monday January 10, 2011 @10:46AM (#34823024)
    If, by accident, I have published copyrighted material on sourceforge in a gpl project, I need to be able to rectify my mistake and remove it.

    I think, it is a mandatory use case.
  • Re:Abandonware? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Monday January 10, 2011 @11:57AM (#34823846) Homepage Journal

    The problem with wikipedia is that fucking idiots with admin hats go around making the place worse every day.

    So basically, what you're saying is, wikipedia is a subset of earth.

  • by bws111 (1216812) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:29PM (#34825756)

    It is not a new utility, it has been on SourceForge for 10 years. What everyone seems to be missing is this: it is THEIR code. They bought the rights from the original developer 10 years ago. THEY created the SourceForge project and released it under the GPL. It didn't contain ANY GPL code, ever, until they released it as such. In 10 years, no-one outside their company contributed to the project - they still own ALL the code. Now they have decided to no longer offer the code under the GPL, which is entirely within their rights, as they own it.

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

    by Belial6 (794905) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:59PM (#34826144)
    Your response is just as typical. Ignoring the fact that it is really common for people to differentiate between 'abandonware' and other forms of copyright infringement. 'abandonware' specifically refers to software that cannot be obtained new at any price. There simply is no way to pay for it. Thus, while 'abandonware' is certainly a euphemism for a particular class of copyright violation, claiming that it has anything to do with "everything-should-be-FREEEEEE" is a gross mischaracterization of what is being discussed. By the way, your first sentence was also an ad-hominem attack, so you are guilty of exactly what you accuse the parent poster of.
  • Re:Abandonware? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Monday January 10, 2011 @04:25PM (#34827570) Journal

    Well, that makes a lot more sense.

    The owners of the code in question can really do whatever they want with it. They will not be able to retroactively remove the GPL from previous versions but they can change future versions.

    I guess some people get so wrapped up in the ideology, they can't see the forest for the trees.

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