Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

MPAA Forced To Take Down University Toolkit

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the sauce-for-the-goose dept.

GNU is Not Unix 292

bobbocanfly writes "Ubuntu developer Matthew Garrett has succeeded in getting the MPAA to remove their 'University Toolkit' after claims it violated the GNU GPL. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact the MPAA directly, Garrett eventually emailed the group's ISP and the violating software was taken down."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (5, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567065)

Linking to a LiveJournal post that reads:

MPAA don't fuck with my shit.

(And yes, I did attempt to contact them by email and phone before resorting to the more obnoxious behaviour of contacting the ISP. No reply to my email, and the series of friendly receptionists I got bounced between had no idea who would be responsible but promised me someone would call back. No joy there, either.)


Awesome.

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (4, Funny)

gringer (252588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567087)

Or a new high...

One might almost say that the summary of the article is more informative than the article itself.

Uuuuubunnnntttuuuuuuuu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567119)



Uuuuubuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnntuuuuuuuuuuuuuu !!

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567465)

from kdawson, of all people

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (2, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567131)

if it is any consolation, we are now hosing LJ to death.

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (5, Funny)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567799)

1. send takedown notice to MPAA
2. LiveJournal servers slashdotted to hell
3. ???
4. geekocalypse!

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568145)

I thought your post was really humorous.

I'll make you my friend... apparently we are the only two who thought this post was funny and so we better stick together

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567471)

I say bill 'em for a percentage of each winning lawsuit for lost profits on providing support for the software. Give the money to the opposition. Ask if Harvard will help. Wait till SCO is dead and there's a bunch of vicious lawyers lounging around with idle hands (+interns). Serve justice with a side of potatoes and a deal with sony allowing us to copy as many copies of digital media in the home as we want, including hard-drives.

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (5, Informative)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567607)

You missed the two screen shots. Essentially the post shows a "before and after" screenshot of the MPA University Toolkit page [universitytoolkit.org] . The before picture contains a link that the after picture doesn't: "Click Here to Download The Beta Version of the Toolkit"

There's also another link that links to a blog entry about the MPAA toolkit [washingtonpost.com] which, if you dive into the comments, explains the GPL violation. (Just search for GPL, it's easier than trying to find it.)

So not entirely worthless, and therefore not a new low, just meeting the same low standards.

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21568003)

This has to be one of the funniest things I've ever read.

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568123)

Is this a "jump the shark" moment by posting this story?

Or perhaps just a new low... apparently the old low was defective and replaced.

Re:A new low has been acheived here on Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21568247)

"Awesome."

So copyright is good? Are you now going to pay for all your music? Yeah, dont think so.

aww... (0, Troll)

andreyvul (1176115) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567079)

I wanted FSF to sue MPAA for their toolkit. Waah!

Re:aww... (3, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567523)

they still distributed in violation of the license and therefor copyright law! You can't make stuff up this funny, the MPAA in violation of copyright, LOL. The FSF can still go after them if they want to.

Re:aww... (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568033)

Naw, the FSF explained to them what they believe is right, that the principle is that stealing code is stealing code. Frankly, right is right and wrong is wrong, particularly when a government agency is talking to an extremely powerful corporation. A bright line around moral responsibility is very important. They can assure you the RIAA no longer does that.

Re:aww... (4, Funny)

wish bot (265150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568265)

You wouldn't steal a purse! You wouldn't steal a car! GPL software distribution without following the license - IT'S STEALING!!!

Re:aww... (1)

TheRealZeus (1172755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567965)

it would be sweet if fsf stepped up... talk about a perfect opportunity

Duh (5, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567081)

This is news?! What is up with that! Every body knows that the RIAA is a completely honest and upright organization. They practice what they preach. They obey everyone else's takedown notice, be it gpl or dmca, whatever, just like they expect you to obey their takedown notices. I can't wait to see the day that all these trolls on slashdot finally go the way of the dinosaur and the true intellectuals out there call the RIAA what it is! It is an honest, upright, artist first organization! IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE THAT GET OFF SLASHDOT!!

;)

Re:Duh (5, Funny)

jamonterrell (517500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567233)

Who said anything about the RIAA?

Re:Duh (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567281)

My bad, screwed that joke up! I sincerely apologize!

Re:Duh (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568017)

na. riaa is the same thing for a lot of people. joke was still funny.

Re:Duh (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568217)

Nice 132 joke. If you got'em, show'em

Not sure anyone still works in binary except for the "There are 10 kinds of people in the world" guy

Re:Duh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21568237)

Who said anything about the RIAA?

sth bout colge studnts n chmps, idr sry

Re:Duh (1)

godcipherdivine (1197195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567683)

Call me a troll, but I have 3 words for everyone: FIGHT THE POWER!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Duh (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567967)

Leave Bri... RI... er MPAA ALONE!!!

Obvious retaliation (5, Funny)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567097)

Next they'll contract a russian ISP and put the torrent up on one of their trackers...

Re:Obvious retaliation (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567295)

It's very common in pseudo-democracies for common citizens to contract ISPs. I lived in Moscow for several years in the eighties, and several of my acquaintances (I had no true friends, being a Serb), contracted ISPs. Sexual intercourse was rarely involved, but when it was, it was a bit more satisfying than your run-of-the-mill bar encounter.

Since I was not a citizen (I was there illegally), I was unable to contract an ISP. I feel I missed out somehow, but I got over it after Glasnost.

Anyway, my point is, you were more accurate than you thought.

Re:Obvious retaliation (1, Insightful)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568239)

Your post is really interesting, however I feel that I am missing at least one of the points you made in it.

Needs improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567363)

Actually Matthew Garrett wanted to see if he can add some improvements to the "University Toolkit".

If he can't find the MPAA's CVS repository, he might have to fork the code...

Explanation. (5, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567103)

Explanation.

As TFS & TFA have little info, here's some background:

The MPA(A) released a Xubuntu derived livecd with a bunch of F/OSS tools to assist universities in monitoring their networks. *rolls*eyes*. More info about the software in this Washington Post article [washingtonpost.com] .

Unfortuntately the CD as shipped contained no source & no written offer for the source, so was in violation of the GPL (and hence, the MPAA are in violation of various software author's copyright).

After several attempts to reach contact the MPAA, the ubuntu developer sent a takedown notice to the hosting ISP.

I hope he now presses for copyright violation - as he so elequoently says: MPAA don't fuck with my shit.

Re:Explanation. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567141)

Wait, last I checked, you merely had to tell people where to get the source. As all (x|edu|k)ubuntu distros have that built into the package manager, they -had- told people how to get the source.

Or are you suggesting that each distro made from Ubuntu must have its own separate repository for the source? That clearly flies in the face of what already exists.

Re:Explanation. (4, Informative)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567203)

The MPAA was distributing "modified binaries" of GPLed software without distributing, or offering to distribute under the terms of the GPL, the modifications.

Even if all you do is change a strcat(); line, you have to (at minimum) distribute that change's source.

Actually (4, Informative)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567387)

Even if you don't change a line of code, you still have to distribute (or offer to distribute) source if you're distributing the binaries.

Re:Actually (2, Informative)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567415)

They actually are "distributing the source", granted via the Ubuntu package system. You could argue in court (and probably get traction with the argument) that you were obeying the "spirit" of the license agreement.

Where that breaks is when you change the code (like they did with ncat), and then not distribute the changes in the form of a diff. That's not a minor "technicality:" that's the whole purpose of the GPL, is to require that if you make those kinds of changes you distribute your code changes.

Re:Actually (5, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567551)

I saw no indication that the MPAA was hosting their own apt repositories with source. If you mean that sources.list was pointing at Ubuntu's servers, that's not good enough. That's Ubuntu doing the distribution.

Stop talking shit (5, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567659)

You do not have to distribute "changes in the form of a diff", or "distribute your code changes" in particular.

You must distribute (or offer to) the complete source code corresponding to the binaries you distribute. The whole purpose of the GPL is that someone getting a binary can get the full source for the binary.

Except in one scenario (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567883)

If you are distributing binaries non-commercially and you got those binaries as is from elsewhere (ie didn't compile it yourself from source) then you can simply pass on the offer that you were given, as per 3c of the GPL.

Otherwise if I were giving a Ubuntu CD to a friend I'd have to be prepared to distribute the source to him too! As it is I can just refer him to the offer Ubuntu gave me.

That may even apply to most of the packages aggregated on the Xubuntu CD the MPAA were distributing (I haven't seen a package by package comparison, ie whether they built their own packages ot just used xubuntu's wholesale).

For the changed packages it would be interesting to know what the changes were, to the extent that can be determined without the source.

Re:Except in one scenario (2, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567969)

For the changed packages it would be interesting to know what the changes were, to the extent that can be determined without the source.
It would be interesting, I suppose, from an academic point of view, but it doesn't really matter. As long as they changed them, even the slightest bit, they're required to distribute (or offer / provide a method for users to obtain) the complete sources to the modified components -- specifically not diffs [gnu.org] -- or they're in violation of the GPL.

Even if all they did was change a few strings or customize an interface, they have to distribute the changed components in source form along with the binaries.

Re:Except in one scenario (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568119)

It would be interesting, I suppose, from an academic point of view, but it doesn't really matter.
It might matter. I don't know what they did (and there seems surprisingly little public analysis) but it's feasible to imagine a scenario where someone got the functionality they wanted by merely changing configuration files relating to the binary package rather than changing the actual source and recompiling.

If that were the case I'm not sure that they would necessarily have to distribute because of the GPL.

I'm not suggesting that is the case here, merely that it's a possible scenario.

see also (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568225)

this chaps comment [slashdot.org] .

It would be nice to know precisely what went on. Obviously we don't have to be told, but if "MPAA don't fuck with my shit" is going to be splashed around the kernel/Debian/Ubuntu planets I think it's reasonable for people to be interested in the details.

Perhaps this story can get even wierder and the MPAA will post the DMCA notice on Chilling Effects [chillingeffects.org]

Re:Except in one scenario (5, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568121)

Well, it depends on what they changed. If they added code to phone home a lot with lots of personal information....that would be interesting from more than a purely academic point of view (IMO).

Re:Explanation. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567255)

Wait, last I checked, you merely had to tell people where to get the source.
Common misconception at least with regard to GPLv2 because when it's done that way, FOSS authors often let it slide but strictly speaking it's a license violation. Quoting from GPLv2 section 3:

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.)

Those are the _only_ options for distributing the source code. The GPLv3 is a bit more lax on this but v2 is very strict.

Re:Explanation. (4, Informative)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567321)

Additionally, it is my understanding they actually made some changes to ntop, and did not provide any instructions on how to obtain the changes.

So, it's not even a technical violation in the letter of the license, it's a legitimate violation of the spirit of the license. They are distributing a change to the code without source.

Re:Explanation. (4, Informative)

andy753421 (850820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568087)

I would be really interested in seeing some data to back up this claim. When the toolkit was first released I downloaded a copy and checked the md5sums on both the ntop binaries and the snort binaries. Both corresponded to the binaries I downloaded form the Ubuntu server.

There was also a page on the 'monitor' site that stated the software was released under the GPL, but I don't recall if it included a copy of the license itself. The MPAA code seemed to be kept separate and the license on that was unclear, however there were Java Server Pages distributed as binary only as well as some shell scripts and maybe some python (again, i don't remember).

Does anyone know of a mirror of the original ISO? I would like to look at it further but I deleted the one I originally downloaded.

Re:Explanation. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567419)

I think the MPAA had just decided that they could break that GPL copyright since the students at the university(s) were all breaking the MPAA copyrights. Perhaps they felt that breaking three copyrights is a copyleft? Or maybe it was a 180 since "turnabout is fair play"?

Re:Explanation. (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568137)

"three"? wouldn't it be two? Three would be back to copyright again...

Re:Explanation. (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567257)

Wait, last I checked, you merely had to tell people where to get the source.

When did you last check? Prior to the GPLv2 at least. From gpl-violations.org's FAQ [gpl-violations.org] :

Remember the license requires you make source available to your customers with the product or to include a written offer. Putting a zip of the relevant sources on the Documentation CDis a great way to do this.
Or are you suggesting that each distro made from Ubuntu must have its own separate repository for the source? That clearly flies in the face of what already exists.

Tell me how that clearly flies in the face of what already exists. I don't see how it does at all.

Re:Explanation. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567395)

Wait, last I checked, you merely had to tell people where to get the source. As all (x|edu|k)ubuntu distros have that built into the package manager, they -had- told people how to get the source.

I don't see the standard package manager anywhere in the MPAA UT Admin Guide [universitytoolkit.com] (PDF). It appears to go straight from the splash screen to the "Peerwatch" configuration.

Besides, the GPL section 3 is pretty clear on this: if you're not distributing source code yourself (option a), or a written offer to sell it (option b), then you must "Accompany [the program] with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code". Unless you count disassembling the install CD, they haven't met this at all.

Or are you suggesting that each distro made from Ubuntu must have its own separate repository for the source? That clearly flies in the face of what already exists.

You're going to have to be more specific. I tried a random sampling of a few Ubuntu-derived distro, and I couldn't find one that didn't meet at least one of the GPL's 3 options:
- Xubuntu's download page [ubuntu.com] has a "source" folder along with all the torrents
- MEPIS's store page [mepis.org] has a "Need GPL source code but don't have an Internet connection?" link
- gNewSense seems to have *only* source code (SVN, etc.) on their software page [gnewsense.org]
- Ichthux's download page [ichthux.com] says "1. Download Kubuntu" -- they're *just* a meta-package you install later

Re:Explanation. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568051)

then you must "Accompany [the program] with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code". Unless you count disassembling the install CD, they haven't met this at all.
Remember also: that's only an option for noncommercial distribution. I think what they're doing is pretty close to commercial distribution -- I'm not intimately familiar with how the GPL defines "commercial" but I wouldn't simply assume that because they're not charging for it directly that they're allowed to fall under non-commercial, particularly if they're using it in order to advance a business position or working on behalf of for-profit entities.

Re:Explanation. (1)

icedevil (450212) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568125)

No, last I read the GPL you had to *PROVIDE* the source code that you used to create the binaries that you distributed on request (for a reasonable fee, if necessary)

Now in many cases if you did not change the source code that you snagged from a sourceforge site or similar you would probably never be questioned, unless you're part of a hated organization (e.g. ??AA). For example a company I used to work for distributes a copy of libstdc++ that they built against for ease of use, they don't modify it, they tell you where they got it, and that you will probably fuck a lot of shit up if you try to build and install it on your system (e.g. out of date for most systems). And if you *really* want you to they will send you the source code, but ultimately if you play the GPL game it is your responsibility to provide the source code that you used for distribution.

Re:Explanation. (5, Interesting)

zonky (1153039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567145)

Should also be made clear that the tools only identified torrent users, and didn't make any attempt to distinguish between 'naughty' and legal torrents.

I bet he didn't do it right (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567191)

The ISP will probably receive a nastygram from an MPAA lawyer soon and put the material back up. Then the fireworks will really begin.

Re:I bet he didn't do it right (1)

Bob(TM) (104510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567993)

Indeed ... though the fireworks begin before the material is restored. Under the DMCA, a counter-notice starts the clock on a lawsuit filing deadline. If a lawsuit isn't filed in district court within 14 days, the material must be restored.

re sig (0, Offtopic)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567861)

"Why does Apple hate DRM on audio"

Are you kidding me? try pulling tracks off an ipod, they are mangled to hell. And acc IS drm. Mp3 is the only way and dont you tell me that apple releases everything on mp3s... quite the opposite.

MPA or MPAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567121)

Slashdot reports, you decide!

Ha! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567143)

Classic. Absolutely classic.

I have been waiting to post this link for so long: (-1, Offtopic)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567151)

http://www.angryfacts.com/ [angryfacts.com]

Encouraging result (5, Interesting)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567171)

but at the same time rather worrysome what a simple email to the ISP can do, even if it's for a good cause. Why not sue them and make things bullet-proof and at the same time strengthen the GPL in court, rather than sorting things out vigilantism-style? A pile of court-issued takedowns might be a more impressive repellant against future violations of the GPL (or any other such license) than a pile of social-engineering-issued takedowns. Don't associate "social engineering" with the negative connotation of spam/phising/etc. as I used it; instead, read it in its original meaning: someone requested a blocking of content from an ISP, essentially (TFA is void of details) only with convincing arguments but no hard proof that the GPL was indeed violated.

Re:Encouraging result (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567227)

On the other hand, the MPAA should have had all it's ducks lined up in a row. They're big boys, they can afford to do things right. The fact that they didn't bother is another indication of their above-the-law attitude. They really just don't care. I'll bet they're caring now, and I'll bet there are some heads rolling in the legal department right now.

The delicious irony here is that the MPAA drafted the DMCA and were primarily responsible for pushing it through Congress.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567313)

I'll bet they're caring now, and I'll bet there are some heads rolling in the legal department right now.

No shit. And, since this Livejournal entry made slashdot front page, the entire world and beyond knows. The only logical conclusion: the MPAA is preparing self termination out of shame and drafting the necessary papers as we speak.

Re:Encouraging result (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567509)

I'll bet they're caring now, and I'll bet there are some heads rolling in the legal department right now.

I hope that was sarcasm.

Re:Encouraging result (5, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567777)

They won't care. There's currently the idea that some people are above, below or completely outside the law. Since they were involved in drafting some copyright laws they are of the opinion that those laws are not for them and are only for the peasants.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568187)

> and I'll bet there are some heads rolling in the legal department right now

...or at least some eyes...

"Simple email" (4, Informative)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567293)

DMCA takedown notice is exactly the legal action you are supposed to take in these situations. It is not "social engineering". He has every legal right to do it.

Re:"Simple email" (1, Insightful)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567591)

Then let me ask in a different way. Was invoking the DMCA the only tool to achieve the goal? If not, then it was at least not a bad choice tactically, because it got the job done. But then it was also a bad strategic choice, because it honored the tool merely by using it.

Re:"Simple email" (2, Insightful)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567713)

Yes, and if instead he sued the MPAA and won damages in court, he'd be validating the MPAA tactic of suing individual users for posting copyrighted movies for damages.

Re:"Simple email" (1)

happyslayer (750738) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568129)

Yes...but the irony would be absolutely unbeatable!

On a more personal note, my Magic 8-Ball(tm) [slashdot.org] wins again! MWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA...*hack*..*cough*..

Re:"Simple email" (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568161)

Don't be ridiculous. If the GPL is never enforced or threatened to be enforced in court, you will continue to see violations such as this.

Re:Encouraging result (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567309)

The issue is the trademark violation. You can't call something "Xubuntu" (and the toolkit called itself that) without Canonical's permission. If it was simply a GPL issue, it could've been put back up instantly if the source was provided.

Re:Encouraging result (5, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567427)

No, the MPAA can't necessarily just reissue the toolkit with source code and suffer no further consequences.

Once you violate the GPL, your right to distribute the licensed software is terminated. You can only start distributing it again if the copyright holder relicenses you to do so. In GPL violation disputes, the FSF have normally relicensed a distributer once they conform to the GPL's requirements - but this is not automatic, or written into the GPL.

From GPL v2:

"4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License."

There is no clause about reinstating rights under the license.

In other words - if any of the copyright holders in Xubuntu code insist, the MPAA can't ever distribute their software, even with source. IANAL, so I don't know if the courts would support this hard-line.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567981)

Uhh, no. That termination crap is false.

What can happen is that the copyright owners can still sue them for the copyright violation that they have already done.. but it never happens. Even the recent Busybox lawsuits have been settled before they got to court.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568007)

Once you violate the GPL, your right to distribute the licensed software is terminated. You can only start distributing it again if the copyright holder relicenses you to do so. In GPL violation disputes, the FSF have normally relicensed a distributer once they conform to the GPL's requirements - but this is not automatic, or written into the GPL.
This is interesting. What this basically means is that the MPAA may never use Xubuntu again. I highly doubt any of the developers will give them permission. And I think for them to get permission, they have to ask EVERY SINGLE ONE of them. They still can't use later versions either because those will be derivatives and it would violate the copyright of this older one.

Don't think that's true. (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568101)

If you are, in fact, a lawyer, I'll happily defer, but in my layman's opinion I don't think that's the correct conclusion.

If you violate one of the GPL terms, your license to use the software is terminated. Fine. However, as long as the software is still being offered to anyone under the GPL, you can just go, conform to every part of the GPL, and use it again. You can think of it as one license being terminated, but then going and getting a new one; the GPL is an "infinite stack" of licenses: all you need to do to get a new one is to play by the rules.

There's nothing in the GPL that says 'if you violate this once, you're out for good,' although I'm not sure that would be an entirely terrible idea. But that license-termination clause doesn't necessarily imply that.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568211)

"Once you violate the GPL, your right to distribute the licensed software is terminated. You can only start distributing it again if the copyright holder relicenses you to do so."

Sorta-kinda. They can terminate your license for that instance of that software (and that is, I believe, the intent of the portion of the license you quoted). Revoking your license to use any instance the software ever again for the rest of your life is, as you've stated, unenforceable.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567477)

Why not sue them and make things bullet-proof and at the same time strengthen the GPL in court, rather than sorting things out vigilantism-style?
He asked the offending party, the MPAA, to take it down, they ignored him. He asked the ISP to deal with it, they took it down. How is that "vigilantism-style"? Dealing with it himself rather than running to a lawyer? I don't get it.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567601)

Actually, I think that's the perfect word. The entire civil court system (at least in the US) is about vigilanteism (i.e., more concerned about personal revenge than justice). The rules for gathering evidence are much lower, and the rulings tend to make less sense (like burglars falling down somebody's stairs and suing for damages). While you won't go to jail, the financial burden might make you wish you had.

Re:Encouraging result (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567613)

Because now the ball is in their court,they either admit they violated copyright law and leave it down, or counter and puting it back up and letting the legal chips fall where they may by take legal responsibility. It'll be impossible for them to say "sorry, we didn't realize we were infringing" if they counter claim.

Re:Encouraging result (5, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567763)

but at the same time rather worrysome what a simple email to the ISP can do, even if it's for a good cause... A pile of court-issued takedowns might be a more impressive repellant against future violations of the GPL (or any other such license) than a pile of social-engineering-issued takedowns.

We're not talking about a "social-engineering" takedown, but about a takedown notice defined and authorized by federal law, and enforceable in any court in the land.

IMO, the takedown notice defined in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is one of the few good things in that law. It says that if someone is publishing your copyrighted materials on the Internet, all you have to do is send a notice to the ISP, stating that the material is yours. The ISP is then *required* to take it down, or else be considered guilty of infringement. On the other hand, if the ISP does take it down, they are granted a "Safe Harbor" status, meaning that they're absolutely free of any liability for the infringement.

If something you've published on-line is taken down as a result of a DMCA takedown and it is not infringing, all you have to do is send the ISP a notice stating that the material is not infringing. The ISP can then put the material back on-line, without losing the "Safe Harbor" status. The system is set up so that the ISP doesn't end up trying to determine what is infringing and what is not.

Both the DMCA takedown notice and the counter-notice are sworn affidavits, meaning that when the issue goes to court any untruths in the notices can be prosecuted as perjury. So there's a strong disincentive for someone to issue a DMCA takedown frivolously, as it will cost the publisher almost nothing to get the takedown reversed, and may land the issuer in hot water. Likewise, there's a strong disincentive for a publisher of infringing materials to issue a counter-notice.

And, above all, the ISP who is caught in the middle is shielded from any potential liability, and doesn't have to make any attempt to adjudicate the ownership of the materials (which, obviously, no rational ISP would do anyway -- if in doubt they'd just take it down and leave it that way).

He should also sue... (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567185)

for copyright infringement as well.

Now that would be poetic justice.

Re:He should also sue... (5, Funny)

sc0ob5 (836562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567385)

Everyone that has GPL code in xubuntu and the tools that come on the CD should file copyright violation for $9250 per line of code shared.

Re:He should also sue... (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567449)

Now that would be justice!

Well actually it wouldn't... but it would be funny.

Re:He should also sue... (1)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567889)

As funny and appropriate as that is, you wouldnt want people associating open source gpl code with greedy vigalante developers would you?

Re:He should also sue... (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568061)

What's the point of the GPL if no one is going to enforce it? Pretty much makes it useless eh?

Re:He should also sue... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567931)

Actually, they should sue for every line of code NOT shared.

Subtle but important difference.

Filthy Copyright Infringers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567267)

Bah, filthy copyright infringers like these make me sick! Ripping off an honest Joe by not respecting his Imaginary Property. The nerve!

Hope those blaggards get what's coming to them! Surprised he had so much trouble finding the right person, though. They should have a contact registered with the Copyright Office who handles all DMCA Takedown Notices. I'm sure that a few minutes alone with them could solve a lot of problems.

how about the (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567271)

fay1r55t pohesttt olololo0

MPAA Pwned by DMCA Takedown Notice (2, Funny)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567425)

Now THAT is the (accurate) headline I want to read!

Possible deterrent? (5, Interesting)

sessamoid (165542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567437)

IANAL, but why don't OSS developers offer a GPL-free version of their software for some really high price. That way, when big-media tries to steal (their words, not mine) their creative works, the developers can sue them for legitimate damages, citing a stratospheric market price per copy, then multiply the number of CDs they've distributed by their stratospheric market price to get damages from them?

"The MPAA/RIAA has distributed 1500 copies of my work. I offer that software at $50,000 per copy. They owe me 75 million dollars in damages!"

That's basically what they big media is trying to do to the consumers, isn't it?

Re:Possible deterrent? (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567599)

Now, if you could only pull the money-exchange game that big-business likes to pull, I'd think this strategy would actually work. (well, at least as well as the MPAA's version)

With a lot of "IP" issues, big business loves to sell these highly-priced items (patents, probably) back and forth. In the end, it's not actually any significant profit for any one player, but a lot of money changes hands making "sales" of their stuff.

So... if you could somehow get two Free Software groups to buy this commercial high-priced license from each other (net gain: $0), you'd be able to add "See? I have legitimate commercial sales!" as justification for those multi-million dollar damages.

Live by the sword, Die by the sword...
Or as we like to call those swords in modern times, "Copyright".

Re:Possible deterrent? (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567897)

"two Free Software groups to buy this commercial high-priced license from each other (net gain: $0)..."

Or possibly net loss $30,000 in taxes on two $50,000 sales. Check with your tax accountant before trying this.

Re:Possible deterrent? (3, Informative)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567617)

You don't really need "actual damages" because you can go for statutory damages. If you can prove willfull infringement, you can get 150,000 per offense. If you skip proving willfullness, I think this is the section that applies:

(1) Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just. For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work.

$30,000 a pop ain't bad money if you can swing it. I'm not sure exactly what the result would be if you claimed "actual damages" on a zillion dollar price tag despite never having had an "actual sale." Judge might throw out the claim, I suppose. AFAICT, worst case would just be to get laughed at with the huge price tag and then just fall back to statutory damages instead.

Re:Possible deterrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567987)

(1) Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just. For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work.


What the hell did you just say?

Re:Possible deterrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567885)

This is the best corporate-bastard-company-fucking idea I've read on slashdot.

Re:Possible deterrent? (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567893)

IANAL, but why don't OSS developers offer a GPL-free version of their software for some really high price. That way, when big-media tries to steal (their words, not mine) their creative works, the developers can sue them for legitimate damages, citing a stratospheric market price per copy, then multiply the number of CDs they've distributed by their stratospheric market price to get damages from them?

You jest, but the damages they arrive at are statutory. The ruse, technically, is unnecessary.

Re:Possible deterrent? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568141)

Do this anyway. They sue for thousands of dollars per song downloaded and I've never seen a song being sold for that much per copy.

Re:Possible deterrent? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568163)

Sorry MPAA not RIAA, so per movie, not per song. Same argument though.

Re:Possible deterrent? (1)

arashi no garou (699761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568255)

I don't know, something about "higher moral ground" or "don't stoop to their level" keeps going through my head when I read your post. Maybe it's just me though.

Nomenclature, please (5, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567627)

Instead of saying they "violated the GPL", let's keep this simple. They violated copyright law. By their own definition, they're "pirates". They stole. Etc.

Re:Nomenclature, please (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568105)

The breached the license and violated the copyright.

No GPL Violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21568175)

The MPAA doesn't need to ship source code with GPLed software if they didn't make any modifications. It doesn't sound like they changed anything. As for damages, since no one lost any money, good luck suing them for any money. /.ers are such hypocritical retards.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?