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Piracy Software

Hamstersoft Ebook App Rips Off GPL3 Code, Say Calibre Devs 283

Posted by timothy
from the permission-to-spindle-and-maim dept.
Nate the greatest submits news of a claim that a recently released ebook application from Hamstersoft is actually built from code lifted from calibre, the ebook library app. He writes "It turns out that one calibre contributor is now reporting that his code was pirated for Hamstersoft. You can find the full details over on John Schember's blog. It's technically complicated and quite long. You can also find a non-technical summary. The short-short version is that Hamstersoft needs to give away a complete source code for the Hamstersoft Ebook Converter because that app uses parts of calibre, which is licensed under GPL v3. John gave Hamstersoft a month to comply and they did not. Now that app is clearly a GPL violation."
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Hamstersoft Ebook App Rips Off GPL3 Code, Say Calibre Devs

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  • by MatthiasF (1853064) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @03:07PM (#37087762)

    It looks like they do offer the code for the product?

    http://ebook.hamstersoft.com/en/support [hamstersoft.com]

    Link to a ZIP file at the bottom of the page above.

    So, is this a non-issue or did the company throw the code up quickly to avoid the DMCA?

  • by Nate the greatest (2261802) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @03:12PM (#37087794)
    I'm told that it's not a complete set of source code. - signed, guy who submitted the story.
  • Re:Sigh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Stiletto (12066) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @03:15PM (#37087820)

    "Queue" the GPL critics?

    Really? "Queue"?

  • by galaad2 (847861) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @03:32PM (#37087982) Homepage Journal

    i think you're right, this is not a gpl violation, according to their server the source code zip archive was uploaded (and possibly also made available) on july 21. This includes the source code for that dll file.

    media.hamstersoft.com/hamster.ebookconverter.project.zip

    HTTP headers returned by media.hamstersoft.com:
    [...snip...]
    Content-Type: application/zip
    Content-Length: 64444164
    Last-Modified: Thu, 21 Jul 2011 07:53:35 GMT

  • I'm a good friend of John, the blog post author, and have been working with him throughout this process in trying to unravel Hamstersoft's deceit. I want to make a few things pretty clear:

    Yes, they posted a zip of code on a hard-to-find link. But they did something sneaky. They included the very short and trivial C# wrapper around Calibre, but they only included a compiled (well, .NET dll) binary blob of the bulk of the application code -- the user interface. And of course, since all the heavy lifting is in Calibre itself, this code is the most important part of the application. They went through pains to extract the source of the UI components and only include it publicly as already compiled. They even packaged it up in a nice Visual Studio Solution so that you can load it up and hit "compile" and you get the software. It looks, at first, like they've complied. But then you dig into the source code actually provided, and it becomes obvious that they haven't provided the majority of the code at all, but only the wrapper code and a few call outs to the provided compiled DLL.

    Cheap trick.

    The other thing to take notice of in John's post is that in fact the search engines and Facebook have hardly complied -- there are still search results and Facebook pages for this company. Now, you can debate and troll and bikeshed and argue the validity and ethics of the DMCA all you want, but the fact of the matter is that when the big companies want to use it against the small, it seems to work, but when some OSS devs want to take the case up with giant companies, the response is exceedingly lackluster. (Likely, this being on /. will change things, we'd hope...)

    The final point to consider is what this all means for GPL and OSS. Hamstersoft is Russian, so good luck trying law suit or anything. But at the very least, shouldn't the OSS community have an army of lawyers willing to work probono, or financed by various foundations, for this kind of thing exactly? John mentioned he tried contacting one such organization, and was unsuccessful. He's told me that at another point, he got in contact with a lawyer from another place who didn't offer to do any work for him but vaguely suggested he send these notices to Google, Facebook, etc. That's pretty lackluster. I don't want to complain to loudly, but instead I just want to suggest that this issue call our attention to the bigger issue -- what institutions do we have in place to protect OSS software effectively as small OSS devs? Do such institutions work? In this case, thus far, they don't seem to be working.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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