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"Open Source" Software.

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"Open Source" Software.

Postby Hairyloon » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:55 am

I am told that it is "widely known" that a major computer company built its operating system on FreeBSD which was released under the GNU license which allows free usage for non-commercial purposes, but expects commercial use to be properly licensed.
Since the company is one of the world's largest, this appears to be a clear breach of the terms, so is it something that people ought to get upset about and if so, what could be done?
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby atticus » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:00 am

The owner of the rights may take action to protect and enforce its rights.

You may refuse to buy this company's products.
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby Hairyloon » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:12 am

atticus wrote:The owner of the rights may take action to protect and enforce its rights...

What prospect might he have when the defendant has a near bottomless budget for defence?
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby atticus » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:13 am

That is for him to decide, with the benefit of suitable advice. Rights only have a value if their holder enforces them.
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby diy » Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:51 am

Its probably worth spending a bit of time on the whole issue of licensing "free" and "open" platforms before thinking someone stole something. Firstly there is the copyright in the original works, then there is how its sold or distributed. Software released as open source is not exclusively open source, the copyright holder can take his original works and license them as he pleases. He's also free to do similar works on any commercial terms. Open source means just that - the source code distributed rather than just the compiled binaries or object code. You cannot necessarily take open source software and build on it and you are not necessarily restricted from doing so either. It is entirely down to the terms of the original copyright holder. Next we have the whole issue of embedded works - here I build my work taking ideas from your work, which may have been taken from someone else's work. You may or may not have the right to embed other people's work in your work. Then you have the issue of whether the person who is the original author of the work, even owns the copyright to start. The vast majority of people contributing to open source projects, don't own the copyright of the contribution. Typically they will be employees in the industry or may even have developed the code for clients and feel its useful to share to the community. A lot of the big IT companies who build their platforms on the open source platforms, also contribute to the development of the open platform, as its in their interest to make the platform they are using as good as possible. Then comes the issue of fair use.. A huge spanner in the works for anyone trying to protect open works replicated in proprietary code.

So can a company take software distributed under open source / GNU and build it in to their proprietary platform and sell it? on the face of it no. In reality probably.

In a former role, I did quite a bit in the M&A part of a big software company and we spent a sh*t load of time reading every employment contract and scanning source code for embedded works.

If you look at computer history - almost all the big ideas were nicked from others.
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby dls » Fri Sep 09, 2016 5:06 pm

Breach of copyright in software is by copying code. 'Building' software on other software can be done and is very regularly done without such copying. This is a very well trodden area.
'Building on' can just as well mean nicking the ideas. That is lawful.

The test is simple. Software can compare the text of two pieces of code and discover whether there is any such copying.
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby diy » Mon Sep 12, 2016 8:21 am

In this context - it means taking, modifying, extending.
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby steve » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:06 pm

Hairyloon wrote:I am told that it is "widely known" that a major computer company built its operating system on FreeBSD which was released under the GNU license which allows free usage for non-commercial purposes, but expects commercial use to be properly licensed.
Since the company is one of the world's largest, this appears to be a clear breach of the terms, so is it something that people ought to get upset about and if so, what could be done?


Bit confusing. FreeBSD has a BSD license (not surprising) which I understand does not restrict the software from being modified and then released commercially. And GNU licenses do not restrict commercial use. Though some versions of GNU licenses may make any resulting software package unprotected from copying and modification.
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby dls » Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:42 am

In this context - it means taking, modifying, extending.


Which is a way of ducking the issue. 'Basing' software on other software is not an infringement of copyright, unless and until code (or other expression) is copied
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Re: "Open Source" Software.

Postby Hairyloon » Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:43 am

dls wrote:
In this context - it means taking, modifying, extending.


Which is a way of ducking the issue. 'Basing' software on other software is not an infringement of copyright, unless and until code (or other expression) is copied


Was there not a big fight over the WIMP (Windows Icons Mouse Pointer) when it was first thought of? I believe it was the idea they were fighting over and not the code.
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