Mike has an interesting post on his blog about Azureus (now called Vuze) which might be violating the GPL.
The source code is available via the website and appears to be licensed under the GPLv2.
The program itself however, has additional terms of service which would appear to be in stark contradiction to the license itself, vis-à-vis:
BY USING THE VUZE PLATFORM YOU AGREE NOT TO:
8.10 use the Vuze Platform if You are under the age of eighteen (18) years old;
8.12 reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Vuze Platform or any part thereof, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation;
8.13 modify, adapt, translate or create derivative works based upon the Vuze Platform or any part thereof, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation;”
I guess the question is, what is the “Vuze Platform” exactly? If it’s build on GPL software then they simply cannot do this.
Wikipedia has this to say:
Up to version 126.96.36.199, Azureus was distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL); beginning with the version 3 distribution, the license presented upon installation changed. While it still states that the “Azureus Application” is available under the GPL, completing installation requires the user to agree to the terms of the “Vuze Platform”, which include restrictions on use, reverse-engineering, and sublicensing. As with many similar licenses, the Azureus licence includes a prohibition on use of the software by people “under the age of 18″. Allegedly, the TOS only applies to the website, vuze.com, and not the software, however the actual TOS include the application as part of the platform.
If you’ve been following the news of late, you’ll be aware that Microsoft is suing Tom Tom (maker of GPS devices which ship with Linux) over claimed patent infringements, which include the FAT filesystem.
You really should read this article on ZDNet which discusses Microsoft’s reasons behind doing so, thanks to a comment made by Samba guru Jeremy Allison. Essentially, Microsoft has been getting companies to sign NDA agreements over patent deals with FAT. This is forbidden under Section 7 of the GPLv2 which means those companies are then not allowed to distribute Linux.
Jeremy Allison says,
Tom Tom are the first company to publicly refuse to engage in this ugly little protection racket, and so they got sued. Had Tom Tom silently agreed to violate the GPL, as so many others have, then we’d only hear about a vague “patent cross licensing deal” just like the ones Microsoft announces with other companies.
Make no mistake, this is intended to force Tom Tom to violate the GPL, or change to Microsoft embedded software.
Let’s hope the Free Software World can rally behind Tom Tom and help win the case. It would be a shame to see Microsoft continue to get away with this sort of behaviour. Did we not see this coming?
I’m not an expert on this subject matter, nor a Debian developer, but I do love Debian. I couldn’t help but be disheartened by the results of the vote on firmware in Lenny.
Assume blobs comply with the GPL unless proven otherwise.
BAH! Seriously, what the hell are you guys thinking? If I wanted this sort of crap I’d use Ubuntu! Sure it’s just firmware, but why not distribute the NVIDIA driver too? Afterall it hasn’t be proven in court as to whether it complies with the GPL or not.
How hard is it to just release Lenny with the current GPL-compliant open source firmware and let end users install other binary blobs at their own discretion? I just don’t understand how you can distribute that which you have no idea what it does. Maybe I’m missing something, but this just seems so wrong.