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[P]
VirtualDub GPL still violated by Vidomi

By QuantumG in MLP
Thu May 24, 2001 at 09:53:22 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Avery Lee has updated the VirtualDub news page with intentions to sue SloMedia over their Vidomi product which is a proprietary / closed source wrapper around VirtualDub (and other GPL) code. Vidomi is a commercial product aimed at people who want to rip DVD movies into DivX format.


The core functionality of Vidomi is code from VirtualDub contained within a windows DLL. Vidomi also uses GPL code from the XingMP3 decoder which is suprising when you consider that SloMedia is run by former executives of Xing Technology. SloMedia appears to have no intention to stop using the GPL code and will probably go all the way with this arguing that by using dynamic linking and offering a useless download containing no GPL code they are exempt from opening their source.

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VirtualDub GPL still violated by Vidomi | 52 comments (52 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
My previous comments (2.66 / 9) (#1)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:48:27 PM EST

Ok, I submitted this earlier and I suck cause I put meta data in the second box. Please forgive me. I shall repeat it here. Quick summary: Slashdot sux ass. Why do I say such a thing? Because although this is perhaps the most important story this year for Free Software, the poster child of open source news refuses to run it. So poor Avery is sitting over on Sourceforge considering releasing his code under another license because obviously the GPL doesn't work and no-one gives a shit. It's not like I submitted this once and Slashdot rejected it, thus they must suck. I've submitted it 4 times. About 30 people have emailed me saying that they have submitted it and been rejected (and therefore the open submission queue owns Slashdot with a fat stick). I've posted offtopic comments on Slashdot hoping to get a few people informed about the situation and been modded up to +5 (figure that, the moderation system actually does work now and then). Ok, I'm done venting now.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
In Defense of /. (3.75 / 4) (#2)
by Signal 11 on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:55:16 PM EST

I'd like to point out that the slashcrew, unlike the people here at K5, have no way of providing editorial feedback. It may very well be they already know of the story, and are researching it prior to posting. Or maybe it was 'poorly written'. There's no way to know.

I've submitted things to slashdot and had to wait weeks before it went live... still replete with taco-isms and tyops. :) That's just how slashdot operates... don't think they won't post it ever just because of the antiquidated article processing code they use... give it time.

Now, there's plenty of things wrong with slashdot... but that's more 'cuz they don't know how to program in Perl right yet. heh. *shrugs*


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

wow .... (none / 0) (#35)
by lower triangular on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:45:57 AM EST

. It may very well be they [ie /.] already know of the story, and are researching it prior to posting

wow ... a vistor from an alternate dimension ... who won the second world war in your world?

Linux - the ultimate Windows Service Pack!
Windows - the ultimate Linux Productivity Suite!

[ Parent ]

/. alternate realities? (none / 0) (#38)
by Signal 11 on Thu May 24, 2001 at 08:33:24 AM EST

>> It may very well be they [ie /.] already know of the story, and are researching it prior to posting

wow ... a vistor from an alternate dimension ... who won the second world war in your world?

Roblimo DOES research stories.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

i submitted it and it was "accepted" (5.00 / 1) (#3)
by Delirium on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:56:47 PM EST

Well, I submitted it as a story there after reading your first story on it here, and within 30 minutes:

2001-05-23 16:59:10 First Legal Test of the GPL (articles,news) (accepted)

However, I can't actually find the article posted anywhere (a search doesn't turn it up either), so I'm not sure where it is, or if it's in the "about-to-be-posted" queue or something.

Anyway not sure why it was rejected for so long but mine was (presumably) accepted so quickly; perhaps since I phrased it as "first legal test of the GPL" it caught some editor's eye more than "yet another GPL violation" would have? Or maybe it's my l33t low /. UID.

[ Parent ]

they just hate me (none / 0) (#12)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:07:44 PM EST

:)

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
[OT] Finally hit /. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
by ti dave on Wed May 23, 2001 at 02:41:23 PM EST

Right here:

http://slashdot.org/articles/01/05/23/1723215.shtml

ti_dave
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
woohoo! (none / 0) (#11)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:06:27 PM EST

they just didn't want to hear it from me :)

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Whoever said... (none / 0) (#26)
by br284 on Wed May 23, 2001 at 08:25:28 PM EST

... that Slashdot is obligated to run this as soon as it is out?

Granted, I'm not the biggest Slashdot fan out there, but you probably need to take into account the size of Slashdot's submission queue before you go off on a rant. I doubt that there is code in the engine to show the more "important" stories to the editors as soon as they log on. So relax. There is no need for an off-topic rant on K5. If you have venting to do about Slashdot's abundance, or lack of, vent on Slashdot. Venting on K5 does you no good. At least not in the public forums. Use a diary if you cannot hold it all in and chill out a bit.

Oh, and for what it is worth, I saw the story on Slashdot before I saw it on K5. So, does that mean that K5 is dropping the ball?

-Chris, fully aware that he is also being off-topic

[ Parent ]
yawn (none / 0) (#34)
by QuantumG on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:24:45 AM EST

the concept of news eludes you. Meanwhile the rest of the world has gone on as this story struggles to get enough votes to get out of the submission queue. I especially like all the "dont cares".

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Source code available (2.83 / 6) (#4)
by wiredog on Wed May 23, 2001 at 02:25:47 PM EST

Right Here

So tell me how this violates the GPL?

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage

Damnit! Meant to vote +1 (none / 0) (#7)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:01:28 PM EST

Their product is basically just a wrapper around several GLPed products, including VirtualDub. They are pointing to the GPLed sources, but the GPL also requires providing sources to the derivative works (ie. their wrapper) which they are not doing.

It appears that they have been distributing a work derived from GPLed software as proprietary software, and that does in fact violate the very clause of the GPL they themselves quote on their own web page.

This is one instance where the courts may have to decide ... the author of VirtualDub clearly feels the GPL is not being adhered to and the copyright on his hard work violated, while Vidomi feels they have successfully skirted the letter, if not the spirit, of the GPL.

ObVoting: I am developing a severe loathing for the IBM thinkpad clit/nipple/whatever. I intended to vote +1 section and somehow ended up voting -1/dump. ARGH!!
--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]

i traded votes... (none / 0) (#17)
by neuneu2K on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:55:47 PM EST

i voted it +1FP with my twiddler's
trackpoint when i wanted to vote it
-1(slashdot)
- "And machine code, which lies beneath systems ? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic..." - Umberto Eco
[ Parent ]
Well, Duh! (3.50 / 2) (#8)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:01:46 PM EST

Ok, I wont just flame you but please try to read the rest of the story before you make inane comments. If you make a new program which is based on a GPL program you have to license the new program under the GPL (and provide source to the new program like any another GPL program). They are not doing this. They are using GPL code without releasing their program under the GPL and they are not providing source to their new program. So maybe you dont know why this is important. If I'm using Vidomi and it keeps breaking on me, I can go and grab Avery's source and fix it. I can then recompile that module, but alas, what if I actually need the UI to pass another parameter to the DLL? I'm stuck in the same situation as when I use a Microsoft product. Ewww, I've gotta submit a bug report (or worse yet, a feature request) and then wait a month or three until they implement it and put it in the next update.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
So (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by wiredog on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:15:14 PM EST

If you make a new program which is based on a GPL program you have to license the new program under the GPL

Since my closed source program is based on Linux API calls, I have to GPL the program? Was that Mundie guy from MS right, then? At what point of indirection does the GPL stop? Or is it like decss linking (according to MPAA, anyway)where ANY level of indirection is impermissible? That seems to be the argument here. I've never interpereted the GPL that strictly.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

once again.. (2.25 / 4) (#15)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:15:25 PM EST

you're a moron. libc is LGPL, the linux kernel has a specific clause that says you dont have to GPL programs that link to it. Read something before you post. I expect this kind of ignorance on Slashdot, not here.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Details... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by ucblockhead on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:05:38 PM EST

This might have been avoided if you'd taken some time to describe the exact issues of this case, like the use of DLLs, the LGPL vs. the GPL, the install process VirtualDub uses and such things. As it stands, you have to do a bit of digging to get the whole story, and much of it assumes a high level of knowledge of how the GPL works. Taking some time to make this clear to a general readership would make your case here a lot better and garner you support.

Calling people morons is not a good way to make a case and is not apt to garner you support.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

God forbid you have to do some research (1.00 / 3) (#19)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:13:14 PM EST

Avery spells it out pretty damn well on the first page I linked to. If you're not willing to understand the issue, don't talk about it. And if you do talk about things you don't understand, you're a moron, by definition. I neither want to make a case or garner support from morons, however if someone else wants to tolerate fools, go right ahead.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Well then... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
by ucblockhead on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:24:30 PM EST

I'm certainly not going to cry any tears of sympathy if you get ignored.

If the issue is important to you, then take the time to package things in a coherent manner. If you can't be bothered to do so, then don't coming crying to us because you are being ignored.

One thing you've got to understand is that you've got to at least explain the story enough so that people know whether or not to bother to follow the link. If you don't, then people aren't going to be able to tell the difference between a real issue (which this is) and the sort of reactionary blown of proportion crap that infests slashdot. They'll just say "what a wanker" and not bother with your link in the first place. People aren't psychic. If they don't know who you are, and your post looks lame, they aren't going to waste time following links. They'll just ignore you.

Anyway, I can say that I've found that one is much happier tolerating fools then tolerating pricks. I'd rather not have either, of course.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

The problem is.. (2.00 / 1) (#21)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:34:13 PM EST

people are willing to accept any junk thrown at them without even doing the basic research needed to understand the story. We see this on Slashdot all the time (who actually makes an effort to misinform people, or "slant" the issue into something sensational). I think my summary is more than enough. I link to the author's complaint and the violator's web site (which has their defence on it). I dont care if you dont give a shit about the issue. People who do care about these issues will see the title and be eager to follow any links provided and do their own research. The problem was merely that people who care about these issues were not aware that this was happening. As for being a prick, I dont think I'm out of line calling sheep what they are. People who think for themself have no problem with my attitude.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
I do care about the issue. (none / 0) (#23)
by ucblockhead on Wed May 23, 2001 at 07:19:11 PM EST

Which is why I'd like to see a writeup that explains things and an advocate who doesn't call people morons.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
so even though.. (1.00 / 1) (#28)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 09:08:35 PM EST

people are morons I shouldn't call them such? Even though you cant click on a link and discover the information for yourself. You demand that everything be spoon fed to you and that your opinion be shaped before you've even read the facts, you want me to hold your hand and guide you through. Sorry, that's not what I intended to achieve. If you want to be this 'advocate' you talk about, go ahead. I just want people to know that there is something here they need to be informed about, and as much as popular culture may have you believe the opposite, that is no one's responsibility but your own. Really, I'm not stopping you from singing and dancing for the world. Just dont bug me about it. Personally I think Avery's write up of his own situation is much better than I could put together, would you like me to cut and paste it into the story so you dont have to click? Sheesh.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
You almost make me laugh (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed May 23, 2001 at 10:23:54 PM EST

Hey QuantumG:

With the amount of time and energy you've spent castigating ucblockhead (and others) you could have written a feature length article on exactly whats going on. Instead you seem to take every criticism personally and lash out at the people you perceive to be attacking you.

To be honest, such behavior mystifies me. You seem to be intentionally alienating your target audience. This seems rather self-defeating. You want to get attention for what you see as an important cause and instead of encouraging people to learn about it, you are beating them over the head with a clue by four when they ask for a bit of assistance in understanding the issues.

Consider two points:

  • The GPL is written in legal-speak and as such is not the easiest thing in the world to interpret.
  • Dynamic libraries are something of a gray area in the programming world.
It seems to me that the prudent course would have been to explain exactly what is going on and how what is going on directly violates the GPL. This could have easily been done in a comment. It also would have greatly increased your credibility and brought more favorable attention to your cause. As it stands, undecided people will read your comments berating others for being morons and figure your an arse, and hence vote -1.

If this is the route you want to go down, power to you. Everyone has the right to crash and burn in the manner of his or her choosing.

I will say thank you for taking the time to write up a submission to k5 and also thank you for the time you took editing that submission when it became apparent that the original didn't cut the mustard. I hope you can take the commentary people have offered in a constructive manner and continue to submit stories to k5.

regards,

-l

[ Parent ]

thanks. (none / 0) (#32)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 10:39:02 PM EST

I really do appreciate it. Yes, I do take it personally when people tell me that I shouldn't talk straight to them. I'm not writing up a summary because I'm lazy. I'm not writing up a summary because I dont think one is necessary. Anything that I could put in a summary is right there in the first link of the article. I shall cut and paste for your pleasure (and for the hope of ending this thread).. For a month now I have been trying to get the makers of Vidomi to remove VirtualDub-derived source code from their distribution. Vidomi (build .346 as of this writing) is MPEG-to-AVI converter that uses code licensed under the GNU General Public License from DVD2AVI and FlasKMPEG to decode MPEG-2 video. These modules are kept in DLLs and are automatically and invisibly loaded by Vidomi at startup. The FlaskMPEG module, ncodefls.dll, exports 24-bit to 32-bit RGB conversion and resizing capabilities that are directly derived from VirtualDub code. Vidomi has placed the source code for these derived modules on their website but the main application is proprietary, closed source, and this is what I have a problem with. ... Dynamic linking does not save you from the source code requirements of the GPL. The requirement of the GPL is that your application must be reasonably independent from the GPLed code, with no mention of static or dynamic linkage. I do not consider an application that automatically installs the GPL modules, each of which exports specific, individual functions from the original program, and automatically and invisibly loads the DLLs on startup to provide major functionality to be "independent" of the the GPLed code. The company has taken various token methods to try to ward me off, such as providing token useless capability when the DLLs are not available (AVI input with no resizing), and putting disclaimers on their web site. None satisfy me as long as Vidomi still advertises VirtualDub functionality in its UI and on its front web page, and places the recommended "with GPL" download in big, highlighted type, away from the tiny download in the corner that doesn't have it. I don't consider it independent as long as it still needs my code to do what it is supposed to do. Why does this make your life easier? Now you have to read the same thing with that annoying italic font. Yes I am hitting people with the clue stick, because sometimes, just sometimes, people are humble enough to think about what I am saying and go get one. As for people thinking me a prick and as such moding the story -1.. again, I call people like that morons. Who gives a fuck about the person submitting it? It's the story that matters. That is something worth taking personally.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Clue sticks (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by ucblockhead on Thu May 24, 2001 at 12:34:57 PM EST

The trouble with "hitting people with clue sticks", is that the normal human response to getting hit with something is to say "Fuck you, asshole" and to try to put as much space between themselves and you.

Not really conducive to changing minds.

But damn good at promoting the idea of "Open source people as raging lunatics" meme.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

true (none / 0) (#41)
by QuantumG on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:45:43 PM EST

but consider the alternative, it is taxing. You cant even point to a FAQ because people refuse to click on a link and read something unless it is specifically addressed to their concerns (they might learn something see).

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
There's an easy way. (none / 0) (#42)
by ucblockhead on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:08:59 PM EST

It is called "tact".
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
as I said.. (none / 0) (#45)
by QuantumG on Thu May 24, 2001 at 07:38:25 PM EST

I'm not stopping you, I simply choose not to spend my time schooling people who cant be bothered informing themselves.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Schooling (none / 0) (#48)
by ucblockhead on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:03:38 AM EST

Everyone needs schooling in something.

And most of them can't be bothered to inform themselves.

For some people, it is GPL issues that they need schooling in. For other people, it is social skills.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

The GPL and LGPL are very clear on this (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by jd on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:18:07 PM EST

ANY level of indirection is permissable. The only thing actively prohibited by the GPL is the denial of rights to others.

The specifics are a bit more complex, as demonstrated by the fact that the GPL and LGPL aren't exactly short documents. However, a brief summary would probably be:

GPL: ANY program, under ANY licence, may interface with a GPLed program. The only restriction is on programs -containing- GPLed code, whereby programs which are -largely- derivatives of GPLed works must be, themselves, GPLed.

LGPL: ANY program, under ANY licence, may directly embed LGPLed code. The only restriction is that that LGPLed code remains LGPLed, regardless of the host licence, and any changes to that LGPLed code must be published under the LGPL.

Beyond those two limitations, you can do what you please. As I understand it, the program is just a wrapper. And wrappers don't embed code. They simply call. Calls aren't covered by the GPL or the LGPL. Indeed, they're not covered by ANY licence, and indeed cannot legally be restricted. (Apple vs. Microsoft sorted that one out.)

IMHO, this is a fiasco, that deserves scorn and a binning, not publicity.

[ Parent ]

Wrong source code (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by _cbj on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:02:07 PM EST

That's the previously GPLed stuff. The issue is over Vidomi-created stuff that links to it, and whether it's seperated far enough from the free stuff to be allowed its own licence.

Now, whatever the law makes of it, Vidomi are still violating the free software spirit, which always took precendence over the legal afterthoughts. Dean@vidomi.com thinks "all software users benefit when GPL products can be combined with closed source products in a way that respects license terms." (in your link). An awful lot of people disagree. This could get entertaining.

[ Parent ]
Violating spirit? (none / 0) (#25)
by sigwinch on Wed May 23, 2001 at 08:20:42 PM EST

Now, whatever the law makes of it, Vidomi are still violating the free software spirit,
IIRC, a Windows binary executable program and a Windows DLL use exactly the same file format. They both contain bookkeeping data structures. They both contain opcodes. They are both loaded into a process address space and executed under the control and supervision of other code. The only difference is that .exes use a different style of entry points than .dlls, and that's a very minor difference, a difference that certainly has no ramifications for copyright law.

Scenario 1: The Windows kernel loads a .exe into a process address space, and calls entry points as appropriate.

Scenario 2: A user process loads a .dll into a process address space, and calls entry points as appropriate.

What's the difference? At an engineering level, I don't see any difference in kind, just differences of degree. The two styles just have different levels of performance for different tasks. Scenario 1 is good for isolating complex, compute-bound code. Scenario 2 is good for isolating communication-bound code. Big deal.

As far as I can tell, your whole "spirit" argument is that it's an infringement-in-spirit if GPL code doesn't provide its own user interface. That might be a good way to license code, but that is not a criteria of the GPL.

There is still the issue of whether SloMedia used VirtualDub header files in Vidomi. If they did, it's an open-and-shut case of blatant copyright infringement and they will burn in hell forever. If they didn't, then the above argument holds.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

It's called spirit for a reason (none / 0) (#37)
by _cbj on Thu May 24, 2001 at 07:57:39 AM EST

As far as I can tell, your whole "spirit" argument is that it's an infringement-in-spirit if GPL code doesn't provide its own user interface.

Absolutely not: that would be infringing-in-letter, were it actually specified. Spirit is that which cannot be so easily encapsulated in a document, and goes far beyond the GPL or any current technology. This would sound like hopelessly vague mysticism if enough people didn't instantly sense a unity when talking about free software, however inarticulately they may mumble (I happen to think the GPL was mumbled pretty badly; it will be legally defeated at some point, and should not live for very many more years. Yet I can see the authors' intended spirit, and wouldn't trample on it protesting technicalities).

It's easy to tell Vidomi are violating the spirit, and perfectly aware of it, because they mention a preference for the LGPL. It's basically a rehash of free v. open source, which has burned long enough that you can be sure someone who takes a position knows their mind. Avery Lee took a position and will be no less fucked over if it's found the wording of the GPL doesn't support him.

[ Parent ]

Spirit (none / 0) (#44)
by sigwinch on Thu May 24, 2001 at 06:07:45 PM EST

Spirit is that which cannot be so easily encapsulated in a document, and goes far beyond the GPL or any current technology. This would sound like hopelessly vague mysticism...
It doesn't just sound like it, it is hopelessly vague mysticism. Every meaningful concept can be expressed in words; every set of rules governing behavior can be expressed precisely in writing. As proof, I will now write your desires in precise language:
If the Licensee distributes a system that
  1. Uses the Work to function as advertised or documented, or
  2. Calls functions in the Work as peers of functions not in the Work,
then the Licensee much cause the system as a whole to be licensed under the terms of this License.
 
A function is a peer of another function if
  1. The functions are called by the same general mechanism,
  2. The calling mechanism directly passes a thread of CPU execution from the caller to the called function, and
  3. The functions are called by code distributed in the same executable file.

 

There, that wasn't so hard. It could use a few concrete examples to make things absolutely clear. And it precisely expresses this 'spirit' that some people talk about.

I happen to think the GPL was mumbled pretty badly; it will be legally defeated at some point, and should not live for very many more years.
Yes. The FSF blathers on and on about how they had real lawyers help them write the GPL. I want to know who these lawyers are so I can never hire them.

Not that I think the GPL is bad or should be changed. I personally have no problem with the DLL allowed interpretation. If you close that alleged loophole, people will just stick the GPLed code in its own process and talk to it over shared memory and sockets. The performance hit and and added complexity are hardly an impediment for a commercially viable product. You just have to accept that programs will always be able to make other programs do work for them.

Avery Lee took a position and will be no less fucked over if it's found the wording of the GPL doesn't support him.
He learned an important lesson: wishful thinking has no value in legal matters -- if you want something, just write it down. As far as being 'fucked' goes, he's not. He learned the lesson at the cost of people making direct procedure calls, when what he really wanted was IPC procedure calls. People routinely lose their money, their jobs, their families, and even go to prison over such errors of legal planning. As long as he takes the proper lesson out of this, it will have been a great learning experience. He also learned that well-spoken iconoclasts (RMS) aren't perfect leaders.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Nope (1.00 / 1) (#47)
by _cbj on Fri May 25, 2001 at 08:39:11 AM EST

It would take more than a few examples, of which your 'proof' is but one, to make the spirit clear - it would take an infinitude of examples. The spirit will be the same when all the technology, laws or places have changed. That's why we call it spirit. The alternative is to generalise; you get "Do unto others as...", "All for one and...", "The needs of the many..." or something that does capture the spirit at the cost of its legal usefulness.

I'd say that if Avery Lee felt fucked over, we can say he was. What lessons can he learn about legal planning? Here's one: by simply shifting sets of laws, or lawyers, any action is simultaneously legal and illegal. So don't go basing your morality on laws, which is bassackwards, and all the legalese in the world won't protect your software if the other guy doesn't care about fucking you over.

[ Parent ]

Nope yourself (none / 0) (#49)
by sigwinch on Fri May 25, 2001 at 07:20:56 PM EST

It would take more than a few examples, of which your 'proof' is but one, to make the spirit clear - it would take an infinitude of examples.
It is my opinion that every desired behavior can be encoded in a contract. It might be a rather lengthy and intricate contract, but it can be done. People put really weird things in endowments, trusts, wills, and prenuptual agreements, and these things are completely enforceable.
The alternative is to generalise; you get "Do unto others as...", "All for one and...", "The needs of the many..." or something that does capture the spirit at the cost of its legal usefulness.
These concepts can be trivially expressed in legally enforceable terms. The problem is that perfectly complying with the terms is essentially impossible. A viable business simply can't put the needs of the many exclusively before its own needs. Therefore, it will run away screaming when it encounters such a license.

This is exactly why the GPL has been so successful: it does a lot of good and ordinary businesses can comply with it.

I'd say that if Avery Lee felt fucked over, we can say he was.
I wouldn't. It's like leasing a car and not bothering to understand the provisions for excessive mileage. Just because it costs you later doesn't mean it was not your fault, and it doesn't make the car dealer evil.
What lessons can he learn about legal planning? Here's one: by simply shifting sets of laws, or lawyers, any action is simultaneously legal and illegal.
This case doesn't have any dirty judges or weasly lawyers. It doesn't rest on any obscure technicalities of the law. It is a straightforward, logical interpretation the GPL and the relevant law. Moreover, it is an interpretation that many in the free software community agree with. In this case, there is really only one legal frame of reference.

If Avery Lee wasn't in a legal frame of reference, what FoR was he in? The RMS frame of reference, that's where. The FSF/GNU propaganda seethes with discussion of the moral evil of closed-source software, and the GPL is always expounded as the One True Solution To The Evilness Of Closed Source Software. I defy you to find a single paragraph anywhere at www.gnu.org that plainly states the obvious legal limits of the GPL. I've looked, and I can't find it anywhere. At most, there are a few small references to the fact that forced opening of sources is not entirely clear and it is "a matter for judges to decide".

And that's pretty fucking ridiculous. Copyright and contract law are pretty well established and predictable. If you hire a couple of lawyers to analyze the situation, they can tell you with a very high degree of certainty how a case would come out. What they're really saying is "We wish it was this way, and we can make a good enough case to get a hearing, and we don't want to think about what an actual judge will say."

IMHO, Avery Lee wasn't cheated by the lawyers. RMS conned him into signing away his rights, based on the promise that the GPL would open all sources.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Woah there! (none / 0) (#50)
by temp on Sat May 26, 2001 at 08:58:13 AM EST

This case doesn't have any dirty judges or weasly lawyers. It doesn't rest on any obscure technicalities of the law. It is a straightforward, logical interpretation the GPL and the relevant law. Moreover, it is an interpretation that many in the free software community agree with.
This case doesn't have any judges or lawyers, having not become a case; it isn't a straightforward interpretation of the GPL - that's why everyone's discussing it; and no interpretation has been definitely made yet, legally or otherwise.
IMHO, Avery Lee wasn't cheated by the lawyers. RMS conned him into signing away his rights, based on the promise that the GPL would open all sources.
Did he? I can't find VirtualDub as a GNU project, so I suspect this is innaccurate.

[ Parent ]
Re: Woah there! (none / 0) (#51)
by sigwinch on Sun May 27, 2001 at 01:36:59 AM EST

This case doesn't have any judges or lawyers, having not become a case;
"Case: n. A situation that requires investigation." Words have more than one meaning, you know.
...it isn't a straightforward interpretation of the GPL - that's why everyone's discussing it; and no interpretation has been definitely made yet, legally or otherwise.
The interpretation is simple, straightforward, and obvious, as numerous people have argued, including my previous arguments in this thread. It is plain from copyright law that a program does not become a derived work by virtue of it being capable of loading some DLL. If you are arguing otherwise, please present logical argument, citation of statute, or citation of precedent. Handwaving arguments about the supposed indeterminacy are the rhetorical equivalent to sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "nyah! nyah! nyah!"
Did he? I can't find VirtualDub as a GNU project, so I suspect this is innaccurate.
Nowhere did I say that copyright was assigned to the FSF corporation. What I said is that RMS induces people to apply the GPL to their projects by promising them that it will protect them in certain ways, when it plainly gives no such protection. The mere fact that questions like this come up is conclusive proof that there is a major disconnect between legal reality and RMS propaganda.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

that's not the code to Vidomi, but still (none / 0) (#10)
by cory on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:04:27 PM EST

It looks to me like Vidomi made a front end to that some GPL software (the source for which they link to on the page wiredog mentioned). That front end is what is closed. But since Vidomi made it themselves, what's the big deal? Since when does the GPL require any and all programs that use GPLd programs to themselves be published under the GPL? Isn't this exactly the kind of thing M$ was recently ranting against, and which everyone who's anyone in the Open Source community said was flat out wrong?

Cory


[ Parent ]
Errr.. (3.00 / 3) (#14)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:00:27 PM EST

since always! Indeed this was what Microsoft was talking about, in the context of companies creating new GPLed works. The Open Source community (ask a whole) has never, ever, said that this was "flat out wrong".. the BSD community most definitely has, but people like ESR have always been in favour of this policy. Please, get a little more informed before you make wild claims.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
The GPL isn't very complicated (5.00 / 2) (#33)
by andrewm on Wed May 23, 2001 at 10:53:46 PM EST

The GPL forbids including GPL code in code that is not also covered by the GPL.

If you do not want to release your own code under the GPL, the only legal option is to not use someone else's copyrighted code (such as a library that is covered by the GPL)

It's that simple: either accept the license that applies to the library, or don't use the library. Noone was forced was forced to use the library - but somehow people think the decision to use the library should still include the option to ignore the license. It would be interesting to know if they people wanting this would also be prepared to release their work into the public domain (ie: allow anyone to completely ignore their license, as they feel entitled to ignore other people's licenses.)

This is exactly the same as any commercially developed library: if you want to use it, you accept the license, or you write your own code. Of course, the GPL does offer an option to use s/w without paying money - this is not the same as "without any limits" and is not the same as "public domain"

An important detail that people often forget is that the GPL license is opt-in: there is no legal requirement to use it for your own software unless you choose to. (If you do choose to use GPL software in a commercial product, you may only do so if you accept the GPL.)

Incidentally, there are many styles of open source, all of which have people who think they're somehow definitive. As a result, describing software as "open source" tends to be unhelpful - just describing anything as "open source" says nothing about what exactly can be done with it. the specific license needs to be described.

Minor nitpick: The whole "copyleft" thing bothers me, as there's no such thing. However, the GPL license clearly states that the work it is being applied to is copyrighted, and this license is as binding as any other software license produced by, say, Vidomi, or Microsoft, or Apple, or any other company. Once again, if you don't like the license, don't use the product.



[ Parent ]
They link, so they violate. (none / 0) (#52)
by Highlander on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 11:31:23 AM EST

Their code is being linked to the library, so it violates the GPL not to publish the entire source code(but would not violate the LGPL).

The GPL makes no exception when wrappers are being use. You cannnot, even if you consider such a license, like the borland license for compilers, which stated that you could give away their libraries together with your programs, but only if your programs where not trivial wrappers.

However, they could try to avoid it by running the GNU utility as a daemon, and request services from it, but a wrapper+dynamic linking alone is no good.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]

Ummm... (2.50 / 2) (#6)
by jd on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:01:25 PM EST

By "dynamic linking", they may very well be able to argue that they don't "contain" GPL code, and therefore don't need to make their own code GPL. That's an argument that only one person (Richard Stallman) could offer a definitive answer on. Personally, though, I'd support the right for anyone to dynamically link to whatever they like, regardless of licence. Interfaces are universal, and shouldn't be copyrightable.

(That's that whole Apple Mac vs Windows fiasco, again. And the Open Source/Free Software community came down HARD on Apple, then, for imagining that an interface was intellectual property of any kind, shape or form.)

I hope VirtualDub get the same treatment that Apple did -- isolation, for claiming a crown that was never theirs to claim.

ah but (none / 0) (#22)
by xriso on Wed May 23, 2001 at 07:17:15 PM EST

The issue here isn't the interface. It's what provides that interface. And your first bit is correct. Who is to say that the OS doesn't dynamically link to a program the same way it does with a library? After all, all the OS is doing is providing an interface, just like a library. Since the Linux kernel is GPL, why shouldn't all linux programs be required to be GPL as well? Well, it's because the linking is done dynamically and privately.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
re: ah but (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by oolon on Wed May 23, 2001 at 07:40:16 PM EST

Most libraries which are allowed to be used by non GPL programs are licenced under LGPL, LGPL transforms into fully GPL when linked with GPL code, but in non GPL programs only changes to the library have to be released. The kernel being GPL means nothing about what is run on the system. GPL as it currently stands ends at the process boundary (so I believe). Using devices to talk cross processes are part of this boundary and not covered. Otherwise Piping a series of commands together could violate the GPL ;-)

Just putting code into a DLL or shared library does not cut it, that is still all loaded into a program at run time, using code does not mean just at compile time... Now of course it is ok to say run gdb in a pipe and then build a not GPL user interface to gdb, and thats where it lies, gdb is a self contained program, you can write not GPL programs that can talk to it. I do not intend to go into more detail about ways round it. Because to me there is the spirt of GPL as well as the fact of it.

Another shame about GPL in the web age is that, it only covers when then program is supplied to other people. People viewing the content have no right to ask for the source code for the thing that produced it.

Someone could hack MySQL use it on there web site to suppy data and not give out any changes, however if they sold the
generator they would then have to supply the code under GPL.

I believe a number of these problems will be address by the upcomming GPL 3.

James

[ Parent ]
A more general danger (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by ucblockhead on Wed May 23, 2001 at 09:05:36 PM EST

Whether or not this is an actual violation is not clear, given the nature of Windows DLLs. It seems to me that this would require the LGPL to use, but then, IANAL and IANRMS, so don't as me. But it brings up a more general danger in that a company could easily use GPL software with a non-GPL app simply by writing an interface, and putting that interface (only) out on the GPL.

They could do this in a way that even avoids the "libraries" question by going the componant route, or if that isn't enough, by simply creating a socket interface. I don't see any way a future version of the GPL could avoid this, and that concerns me.

I'm surprised that VirtualDub didn't just do this in the first place. It isn't that hard. Had VirtualDub created a TCP/IP memory server wired to localhost that loaded the dll, and passed data to and from it, and then put the server code only out on the GPL, they'd clearly not be in violation of the GPL, but the effect would be the same. And that's just one of many different potential interprocess communication methods that could be used.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

err.. (none / 0) (#29)
by QuantumG on Wed May 23, 2001 at 09:11:53 PM EST

VirtualDub is the GPLed code, Vidomi is the proprietary code, and no, none of these "tricks" would work because SloMedia is still distributing the GPLed code as a core component of their product, no matter how they link to it (hell, even if they dont link to it at all).

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Don't be so sure. (none / 0) (#30)
by ucblockhead on Wed May 23, 2001 at 09:35:02 PM EST

Trivial to get around by separating the installs somewhat, and writing your app not to crash if the server is not there.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

They may get away with it (5.00 / 2) (#36)
by lower triangular on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:22:18 AM EST

The GPL is known to be weak when it comes to wrappers of this kind, an aspect over which Perens has been beating up Stallman for a while

Linux - the ultimate Windows Service Pack!
Windows - the ultimate Linux Productivity Suite!

He is not suing SloMedia... yet (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by sjmurdoch on Thu May 24, 2001 at 12:49:11 PM EST

From the VirtualDub News page:

I am not currently suing SloMedia. I consider this a last resort option that would likely be detrimental to both parties, and in addition, I would need support from another entity like the FSF to pull it off. It looks like there might be a way to resolve the issue amicably without doing so and without comprimising the GPL; I am currently exploring those options.
--
Steven Murdoch.
web: My Home Page

Has GPL ever been tested in courts? (none / 0) (#43)
by svampa on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:57:18 PM EST

Has ever anyone sued a company for violating GPL license and won?

and more

Vidomi has published that has used GPL software, it has been a little stupid, what if Vidomi releases its propiertary software using GPL and hides the fact?, who could prove so? who could even supose so?.

Could you go to the court and say "I think that x company is using GPL, software , I want court to order x company to show its source and I'll prove it"

----
Santiago Amposta



FSF probably has had opportunities (none / 0) (#46)
by PresJPolk on Thu May 24, 2001 at 08:43:03 PM EST

However, as part of GPL-violation settlements with the FSF, some (unnamed) companies were required to appoint a GPL compliance officer, known to the FSF, and pay for their training to understand the GPL. Apparently the FSF pursues GPL violators quite actively, but does not make a habit of publicly exposing offenders.
Richard M. Stallman visits Teradyne

Settling a potential lawsuit doesn't admit guilt, but it's likely that of all the settlements the FSF has made, at least one would have come out in the FSF's favor at trial.

It's not the same as an actual verdict, but it's something to consider.



[ Parent ]
VirtualDub GPL still violated by Vidomi | 52 comments (52 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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