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Open Source Software The Courts

In Israel, Class-Action Plaintiff Requests Waze Source Code Under GPL 75

Posted by timothy
from the just-want-to-take-a-look-around dept.
jonklinger (1166633) writes "A class action lawsuit was brought against Waze (a community-based traffic and navigation app), claiming that their source code and map data were licensed to Waze by the community under the GPL. The plaintiff, Roey Gorodish, requests a copy of the recent source code and map data. This is (as far as I know) the first ever GPL class action suit, too bad it will be quashed by bad facts later as I see it." Google seems to do a credible translation of this source article.
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In Israel, Class-Action Plaintiff Requests Waze Source Code Under GPL

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  • So is there any code in Waze that isn't now owned by Google and that was given to Waze under the GPL license? Can we see the exact terms and conditions under which users give data to Waze? You can make all kinds of claims, but eventually you have to come up with the goods (unless you are SCO obviously).

    Under US law you have no right to the source code. A copyright owner may have the right to sue for copyright infringement. We'll see how this is different in Israel.
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:22PM (#46593581)

      "Under US law you have no right to the source code. "

      Ahem... if Mr. Gorodish is correct, and Waze was licensed under GPLv2, then we do in fact have a right to the source code, and Google would be breaking the law by not providing it.

      GPL v2:

      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, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

      b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

      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.)


      . . .

      6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License."

      In this particular instance, "you" would mean Google. If, that is, Waze was GPLed.

      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:32PM (#46593683)

        Actually gnasher is correct - you have no *right* to the source code, you only have a *right* to either insist they abide by the licence terms or be in violation of copyright, and if its the latter then you need someone whose copyright is being violated to bring suit against them as no one else can do it in their stead.

        • Actually gnasher is correct - you have no *right* to the source code, you only have a *right* to either insist they abide by the licence terms or be in violation of copyright, and if its the latter then you need someone whose copyright is being violated to bring suit against them as no one else can do it in their stead.

          Thanks :-) Importantly, I read that an early Waze version was GPL v2.2 licensed, while a new one is proprietary. The question is not just how was the first version licensed, but who owns the copyright. If Waze wrote all that code themselves, it doesn't matter what license, because only Waze could then sue themselves for copyright infringement.

          • by Kalriath (849904)

            Actually they couldn't, as due to the fact that you do not need a license to use your own code, it is impossible for Waze to infringe their own copyright. Which is to say, if they wrote all that code themselves then noone has any grounds to sue.

        • "Actually gnasher is correct - you have no *right* to the source code, you only have a *right* to either insist they abide by the licence terms or be in violation of copyright, and if its the latter then you need someone whose copyright is being violated to bring suit against them as no one else can do it in their stead."

          If you want to get into hair-splitting mode, then yes. But I think that's going a bit far.

          Copyright and patents are the only "rights" mentioned in the Constitution that are bestowed by government... and those only temporarily. All other "rights" are presumed to have already existed; the Constitution merely acknowledges them, it doesn't "give" them.

          So if you want to compare copyright to what most people consider to be Constitution rights, even if the document uses that word, it still isn't the same.

      • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:36PM (#46593711)

        Ahem... if Mr. Gorodish is correct, and Waze was licensed under GPLv2, then we do in fact have a right to the source code, and Google would be breaking the law by not providing it.

        No, you don't have the right to the source code. _If_ there is GPL licensed code and the code is licensed under the condition that Google should give you source code, then Google has the free choice of complying with the license (giving you the source code) or committing an act of copyright infringement (not giving you the source code and having no valid license).

        You can't force Google which of these choices they take. And if you are not the copyright holder, then you have no standing to sue. Even if you _are_ the copyright holder, you can't force Google to give you any source code. You could say "give me the source code or I'll sue you for beeeelions" and they can say "Ok, sue us", lose the case, pay billions and keep their source code.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          But you could sue them again for every time they "distributed" it after being notified.

          I suspect that the code is clean in one of two ways:
          1) Portions were never under the GPL, and
          2) Portions were written by the entity that sold them (was sold) to Google.
          There is also likely a "de minimis" amount of code that is unclean, and is also not "functionally required", and thus coverable by copyright law. Being "de minimis" (i.e. minimal in quantity) it will probably be officially forgiven by the court system.

          N.B.

          • by Kalriath (849904)

            You can't. The copyright holder can. Unless it's themselves, in which case no infringement occurred.

        • > You could say "give me the source code or I'll sue you for beeeelions" and they can say "Ok, sue us", lose the case, pay billions and keep their source code.

          ... and be charged with contempt if they continue to distribute without a license.

          And aside, it seems likely that part of the judgement would include "cough up the source code, mac."

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Jane --

        Waze owned copyright on most (if not all of the code) they weren't a licensee. Which means they can relicense at will. Now of course any code released under the GPLv2 by them is still under GPLv2 but that's it.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Ahem... if Mr. Gorodish is correct, and Waze was licensed under GPLv2, then we do in fact have a right to the source code, and Google would be breaking the law by not providing it.

        Yes, but you generally can't ask for the contract to be fulfilled in court. If you agree to build a house for me and fail to fulfill the contract they'll award damages but they won't drag you there in chains to build the house. There are a few narrow exceptions to this called "specific performance" involving unique real estate, antiques, works of art, collector's items and such where the court may insist the transaction be completed, but it's very much the exception and only when money can't fully compensat

      • by msauve (701917)
        "if Mr. Gorodish is correct, and Waze was licensed under GPLv2, then we do in fact have a right to the source code, and Google would be breaking the law by not providing it. "

        Only if it contained code not written by Waze (or Google, who is now the copyright owner). If you write a program, and release source under any version of the GPL, you're perfectly free to not release source for any future versions - you're the copyright owner, you're not relying on the GPL for your rights. The GPL terms are effective
  • problems (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:06PM (#46593415) Homepage

    The article linked is really quite good. According to the article are 2 prongs to the suit the code and the data.

    Waze version 2 was GPLv2. Wave version 3 was proprietary. Waze claimed it rewrote the code. Roey Gorodish wants to examine the code to prove there was a violation but Israeli law doesn't allow discovery without some evidence. As an aside I also have question in that as as I know if Waze owns the code they can multilicense it. Roey Gorodish IMHO would have to find his code not just any code.

    There is also the question of map data. Freemap’s data was released both proprietary and GPL and then only proprietary. I'm not sure what the basis of the claim is.

    • Even without the source you could do a symbol scan of the app executable looking for unique method names in some target code.

      I believe you have to jailbreak the device to get to the unencrypted application executable though.

      • i doubt your theory would have much practical application here..

        • Objective-C is a message passing language. As such, it needs the message names you are sending to exist. They cannot be simply stripped out, they would have to be replaced which is a process that no-one I know of goes through.

          Even if you strip debugging symbols, the names of the methods are all still there.

          You can dump the class info for all of the Apple frameworks, do you really think they send those out un-stripped?

          • what value would the method instances be?

            surely any sensible rewrite would export the identical methods?

            how is this any clue as to the code behind the methods exported?

            i call hot air, your posts are misleading.

            • surely any sensible rewrite would export the identical methods?

              Note quite sure what you are saying here.

              Code that is using performSelector (not uncommon) would break if you re-write the method names in the executable.

              If you are talking about new methods created as part of a method re-write, it's unlikely they would be exactly the same

              how is this any clue as to the code behind the methods exported?

              If you have unique method/class names (likely) and you see them in the executable, you have reasonable grounds f

    • Great summary.

      As you, I have doubts that they have a leg to stand on (disclaimer: IANAL). Assuming Waze is the owner of all the source code, then no one else would have a claim to it and they would be free to license or re-license it as they chose, regardless of whether or not they rewrote it when going from v2 to v3. There's no obligation for them to keep it GPL'd forever, so if they wanted to take it proprietary, there's nothing stopping them from doing so, at least inasmuch as the code is concerned.

      If th

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Exactly. And just to add. Even if Waze did accept submission for version 2 that are still in version 3 . Roey Gorodish would only have standing if it were his code. This would be a copyright violation not a license violation and since he doesn't hold copyright....

        I'm sure Waze had a proprietary license for the data they clearly said over and over they did.

        This seems like a poorly thought out case. . Roey Gorodish loses quick IMHO.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      One question: Is Waze v2 a derivative work under the GPL, or an original work that they happened to release under the GPL?

      If the latter, then as the original copyright holder they are allowed to also release the code under an alternate license (assuming that all external contributions were either removed, had copyright assigned to Waze via a CLA, or had additional rights granted to the contribution via a CLA similar to Canonical's Harmony CLA...)

      Also, as you've indicated, the only person with an actual leg

      • by jbolden (176878)

        An original work that happened to be released under GPLv2. There is some question whether any code was ever accepted into Waze outside of that owned by the group of people that signed all rights over to Google (i.e. if Google owned every line of Wave version 2). According to Google they unquestionably own ever line of Wave v3.

        So yes you are understanding this properly and IMHO Roey Gorodish is going to lose fast.

  • Would it be TOO much trouble to mention in TFS that Waze.com is a "community based traffic and navigation app" and save me the trouble of searching it on Google?

    • Re:WTF if Waze? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Soulskill (1459) Works for Slashdot on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:41PM (#46593759) Homepage

      Not at all -- I've updated the summary to include that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)
      It's basically google maps with a different skin, and you can report things like speedtraps and accidents. And you get points, so there's a game aspect I suppose.

      That's it. It's one of those "tech" companies that seem absurdly overvalued based on how little they actually do. In no sane world would it be worth the billion google paid for it. And on top of that, although the interface for reporting stuff is designed to be as minimal as possible and they prevent you from typing and driving, there's no w
      • by rsborg (111459)

        It's basically google maps with a different skin, and you can report things like speedtraps and accidents. And you get points, so there's a game aspect I suppose.

        That's it. It's one of those "tech" companies that seem absurdly overvalued based on how little they actually do. In no sane world would it be worth the billion google paid for it. And on top of that, although the interface for reporting stuff is designed to be as minimal as possible and they prevent you from typing and driving, there's no way it's safe to use. I've used it, so I'm a hypocrite there, but it is a driving hazard.

        Riiiight - just a map overlay and gaming aspect. No mention of incident reporting, showing aggregated speeds of waze users, the ability to share your location/trip,nope. None of that takes coding or infrastructure I guess.

        Waze is more useful than google maps, apple maps, or navigon for me in estimating my commute times - it simply works. It even noticed a traffic disruption that had only really lasted for about 1 hr, showing me an alternate route through residential streets such that I got to my freeway

        • What? I did mention incident reporting. In that very sentence you were responding to. A comma doesn't mean "stop reading here."
      • by foxharp (1048608)
        it's not really like google maps -- at least, not the data in question. in israel, at least, the maps were 100% generated by Freemap, based on data contributed by the users as they drove the roads. (israel is a small enough country that you can pull that off.) the location and path data was uploaded from the client phone apps (which ran GPL'ed code, based on RoadMap) to a central server (which was always private code). so what's interesting is what the initial terms of service for the user-contributed m
      • by msauve (701917)
        "It's basically google maps with a different skin"

        It was developed by a different company, has a completely different code base, uses different map data, was created to monitor traffic flow and reroute users based on that, shows other users, allows users to map new areas by driving them, allows users to edit maps, and more.

        But sure, other than that it's just a re-skin, in exactly the same way that Android is a re-skin of Windows.
  • by phozz bare (720522) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:33PM (#46593701)
    I believe a far more interesting story about Waze has eluded Slashdot:

    Two Technion students reverse-engineered Waze's method for detecting a traffic jam, then created a network of fake clients that reported traffic patterns that caused Waze to mark as jammed what was in reality a perfectly empty road.

    Sources: Jerusalem Post [jpost.com], Wired [wired.co.uk].

    • Kind of a non-story, really, don't you think? How hard is it to believe that a crowdsourced data application can be poisoned by an intentional attack using spoofed data?

  • by bobbied (2522392) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:44PM (#46593781)

    I get the GPL issue. If they took GPL code and modified it for their own use, they may be required to provide source, but what I don't get is the data. How are they justifying asking for that? Most "data" of that type that I'm aware of is licensed under the Creative Commons license (or similar).

    For mapping applications, the *real* value is in the data. Where much of the data is freely available in raw form, there is significant effort required to process the data available and put it into a format to be doled out to handheld devices in small chunks. I don't see how they can claim that GPL entitles them to the raw data from Waze.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      They are claiming the particular data was licensed under GPLv2. However the copyright entity Freemaps have never claimed that Waze's proprietary version was a violation. Waze claimed to have a separate license and they've never disputed this claim.

  • Israeli Here... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A few articles on this. First of all, why not link to the actual article rather than this guy's blog?

    http://www.themarker.com/technation/1.2281212#

    Google translate works decently well, but I am happy to translate if anyone cares.

    Secondly, as someone who knows some of the parties on both sides (directly and indirectly - Israel is a "small" place), I can tell you this claim has a lot of credit from what I have seen and heard so far. The founders of Waze clearly were after a money grab for a long time and woul

  • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @01:58PM (#46594499) Homepage Journal

    The fact that you once released a product under any particular license does not require you to continue to release the product under that same license. As the copyright holder, you're free to change the license at any time.

    Have they pulled the source code for the GPL version? Is it no longer available?

    If it's still available, they haven't got a case to stand on.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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