你的授權被違反了,該怎麼辦?

如果你的軟體用 GPL 授權,但是卻被商業公司拿去散佈發行了,該怎麼辦?這是 slashdot 前幾天的一篇文章(What is the Best Way to Handle a GPL Violation?)的標題。我們都很好奇這樣的文章,會有什麼新東西?但是在看過很多篇回應之後,大部分的建議都是告訴你:付錢,去找律師吧。這也是很實際的做法。你掉了一塊錢,要不要把它撿回來呢?彎下腰對年輕人只需要一秒鐘,但是對脊椎有問題的老人家來說,彎腰的後果可能嚴重到要送命。你所喪失的資源跟花費力氣取回來的代價相比,你願不願意去付這個代價呢?

這就是自由的代價。自由不是免費的,不是天上掉下來的禮物,而是需要花代價去爭取,去捍衛的。在許多回應中,最寶貴的是類似經驗擁有者的分享。

I’ve got 4 current “investigations" open (Score:5, Interesting)
by hacker (14635) on Friday January 16, @10:33AM (#7994013)
Two projects I contribute heavily to, and one of them is a project I am the primary maintainer of, are being “tentatively" violated by 4 commercial companies, and there may be a 5th on the way.

I’ve sent emails, asking for the reasons why snippets of our source end up mysteriously in their commercial applications. In one case, a company (in Germany) came back stating that they happen to have the 5 same exact function names in their application, and byte-for-byte identical perror() strings to our application, but they insist they’re not using any of our code, but claim that they did use it “for documentation purposes" when writing their application. That one is still open and pending, and we’ll be doing protocol sniffs to see if theirs match ours. We have certain “fingerprints" in our protocol, which can only be done by using the source directly.

Another company I just found several days after the one above, seems to be using our code in a commercial BeOS project. They responded to my email, claiming that our code was used “as is" in their project, and then goes on to say “the use was re-configured to allow for easier additions". I don’t see how they can claim both, in the same project. Either the code was used as-is (impossible, our code doesn’t build on BeOS), or they modified it (and they must give us back the changes to those sources).

Another company directly took our code, removed all of our names from the project, replaced them with their own, slapped their own (non-GPL) license on it, and sold it to “partners" for quite a hefty fee. When we confronted them asking for an explanation, they basically told us to piss off. When we escalated, the CEO came back with, and I quote “If we end up in court, I will bankrupt these guys".

We also contacted this company’s “partners", and asked them for the source to the changes they were also distributing. Every time we would contact these companies, the original company would threaten to sue us if we contacted their partners.

The FSF is involved in all of the cases. The investigations are still open, and pending.

Companies seem to think that because they have money, and most Free Software developers do not, that they can just slap us around left and right. The other point companies seem to try to “leverage" when they are clearly violating the GPL, is that the common myth that the “GPL Has Never Been Tested In Court(tm)", and since it has no basis, they can take whatever they want, and not give back. They seem to forget that the U.S. Copyright system backs up all of this code.

So what do we do? There are dozens upon dozens of cases where the GPL is clearly being violated; the MPlayer [mplayerhq.hu] violation from KISS Technologies, the BusyBox [busybox.net] Hall of Shame, and many more.
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昨天在工業局也同樣碰到類似的問題。只是工業局問的是業者會不會很容易涉入自由軟體的糾紛;我心裡面想到的卻是,業界其實大部分都在誤判自由軟體「自由」兩字的重要性與代價。

這個代價會是什麼呢?你可以到 Wikipedia.org 來看看類似的案例:其他網站濫用 Wikipedia.org 的內容

People will find their way to freedom. In any price. Especially in the era of technology.

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