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PlayStation 2 Game ICO Violates the GPL

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  • Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:19AM (#21502627)

    Sony could end up having to release the source code for the entire game!
    Not going to happen.
    • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Informative)

      by OrangeTide (124937) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:47AM (#21502757) Homepage Journal
      Sony has to cease distribution of the game. Which they already have done. Because of the way licenses work GPL gives you the choice of cease distribution or release the source. Obviously the easiest route for a now defunct game that you no longer publish is to cease distribution.

      You can go after ever used game shop and stop them from redistributing the binaries without source too, if you'd like.
      • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RupW (515653) * on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:57AM (#21503061)

        Sony has to cease distribution of the game. Which they already have done. Because of the way licenses work GPL gives you the choice of cease distribution or release the source.
        Given this isn't FSF code, there's a third way: contact the original author and negotiate a commercial licence to distribute the code. If this was going to be a problem I expect that's the cheapest solution.
        • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:11AM (#21503137)
          Given this isn't FSF code, there's a third way: contact the original author and negotiate a commercial licence to distribute the code.

          Any chance that Sony may have done that in the first place and that this guy is making an issue where there isn't one?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)
            I hope not, I was looking forward to a good witchburning.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:04AM (#21504563)

              I hope not, I was looking forward to a good witchburning.
              You don't need a real issue to have a good witchburning. That's the great thing about it. All you need is a wild allegation and pack of frothing fanboys with pitchforks and you're good to go.
          • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Dr. Evil (3501) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:29AM (#21504859)

            Any chance that Sony may have done that in the first place and that this guy is making an issue where there isn't one?

            HAHAHAHAHA

            Intellectual property laws don't apply to big corporations!, they only apply to the little guy.

            I think it's more likely that a developer is an idiot and Sony's going to take a "wait until we get a letter from a lawyer" attitude.

            • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Intron (870560) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @12:48PM (#21506111)
              Of course the law applies to big corporations. Sony will be able to sue this guy for violating their EULA by disassembling their game. You don't buy a game from a big company, you just buy a license to use it under their terms and conditions. See? All legal.
        • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:35AM (#21503637)
          Assuming the original author wrote the entire thing from scratch, true. But if he used any GNU material (or other GPL licensed libraries) himself, then you're right back where you started.
      • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:08AM (#21503117) Homepage Journal
        Or you could not accept the GPL, and let the lawyers loose on the poor unsuspecting copyright holder that dares to take you to court. Sony are in the wrong, but it's unthinkable that a judge would order them to release the source to their entire game.
        • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:06AM (#21503397)

          Or you could not accept the GPL, and let the lawyers loose on the poor unsuspecting copyright holder that dares to take you to court. Sony are in the wrong, but it's unthinkable that a judge would order them to release the source to their entire game.
          It is indeed unthinkable, because the GPL is not a contract. A judge would likely say that copyright infringement has happened. And that damages have to be paid. Now the plaintiff may offer that Sony could publish the source code under the GPL instead of paying damages. In that case it is completely up to Sony to accept the offer or not, but nobody can force them.

          The only reason why people have published source code in the past was because it was the cheaper solution. If I had one million lines of Linux code and 1000 lines of my own, I would likely publish the source code. If I had 1000 lines of GPL'd code and one million lines of my own, I might be more willing to pay damages.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by notthe9 (800486)
            For something like this, it's probably almost entirely Sony code. However, since the game is six years old and I assume no longer a bit cash cow for them, there's a chance GPLing might be considered the best option on their end. However just GPLing the code now doesn't erase the copyright infringement, so it won't necessarily help at all. (The libarc people would have to agree that GPLing now will satisfy them.)

            libarc? That's an interesting library for them to be using. I guess for compressed storage on the
            • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Informative)

              by orclevegam (940336) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:58AM (#21503821) Journal

              libarc? That's an interesting library for them to be using. I guess for compressed storage on their game disk?
              According to the TFA that's exactly what it was used for. As a proof of concept (beyond the evidence in the disassembled code) the author of the article wrote a decompression utility using libarc that can decompress the contents of the game disc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Carewolf (581105)
      Exactly. Tag the story "notheydont" or "FUD". This is classic anti-GPL FUD.

      The result of breaking any license is that you have to stop breaking the license and pay compensation. You have the choice between removing the offending code, or start obeying the license. In this case Sony has no reason to not just remove it.
  • Could Would Should (Score:2, Informative)

    by pavel_987 (839726)
    The key word in there is "could". I doubt anything will actually happen. Never underestimate the power of bureaucracy.
  • by eclectro (227083) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:22AM (#21502639)

    Sony could end up having to release the source code for the entire game!"
    Rather than go to the all the hassle with lawyers and all, why don't we mail a CD with a Sony rootkit to the Sony CEO and get the source code that way?
  • reverse-engineering (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TwistedSpring (594284) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:28AM (#21502651) Homepage
    Isn't reverse engineering with the tools used in this article disallowed by the license agreement for the game? I know little about law, so who has the trump card here?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rjames13 (1178191)

      Isn't reverse engineering with the tools used in this article disallowed by the license agreement for the game? I know little about law, so who has the trump card here?

      Probably yes. But if a criminal broke into your house and found a drug lab and then phoned the police about it you are sunk. You are confusing the law that stops the police from doing this (entrapment) with the non-existent law that stops normal people from doing this.

    • by rindeee (530084)
      I don't know the answer to your question, but it raises an interesting point. Sony's claim could easily be, 'You find out we were doing something wrong by doing something wrong.' Two wrongs not making a right and whatnot. Same concept as in law enforcement (sorry, I don't know legal terms). They've still broken copyright which discovery process wont excuse, but it will be interesting to see if Sony tries to hide behind such a claim. As an aside, it's hilarious to watch huge companies that like to swing
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Belial6 (794905)
        I once saw a game crack that had a EULA that said, no one was ever allowed to run the software. I later got the opportunity to ask an EFF lawyer about that, and she said that the EULA would not protect you against copyright violation, and would likely just make any judge you faced annoyed. So, the EFF at least does not think that Sony would be in the right here. I know that the EFF are not judges, but since I actually asked an IP lawyer about this, I though I would relay what I was told.
    • Isn't reverse engineering with the tools used in this article disallowed by the license agreement for the game? I know little about law, so who has the trump card here?

      That depends on the validity of the license. In theory, at least, a license is only required if you want to do something that you wouldn't otherwise be allowed to do; for example, the GPL allows you to distribute software (otherwise a violation of copyright) if you follow its terms. So the question here is, is reverse engineering prohibited by law? If not, Sony can say "prohibited" all they want, but such terms would be legally meaningless--though, of course, they can still sue you and make you spend m

    • by Seahawk (70898) <(kd.egami) (ta) (stt)> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:27AM (#21502925)
      Well - in most sane countries reverse engineering is specifically allowed - no matter what the EULA's say. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eivind (15695)
      Doesn't matter in the least. You don't need to agree to the licence-agreement to aquire a copy of the game.

      If I sell you a shrinkwrapped book - no conditions attached - and then print, on the inside of the front cover, a "licence" prohibiting you from, say, reading the book aloud for your kids. Do you reckon you're bound by that "licence" ? At what point did you enter into the agreement ? Does any random text that you're exposed to subject you to the conditions spelled out -- even if you never AGREE to the
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by radarjd (931774)
        There is a difference between a license and an agreement (contract). A license (in this case) grants you a form of property. Specifically, it grants you some property with restrictions on how that property may be used. It was historically first used of real property, but has been extended to other forms of property as well. For example, a ticket to a show is generally a license to a particular seat at a particular time with some additional restrictions on your conduct at that show. Software is often transfe
      • by boaworm (180781) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @12:10PM (#21505527) Homepage Journal
        I found this a bit more interesting though: /* You can do whatever you like with this source file, though I would
              prefer that if you modify it and redistribute it that you include
              comments to that effect with your name and the date. Thank you. */

        After the standard GPL stuff, the guy writes this. IANAL, but this clearly sais you can do whatever you want with the code, without asking.

        So which one takes legal precedence, the standard GPL statement or his own personal addition to it.
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:28AM (#21502653) Homepage Journal
    And I quote [gnu.org]:

    8. Termination.

    You may not propagate or modify a covered work except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to propagate or modify it is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License (including any patent licenses granted under the third paragraph of section 11).

    However, if you cease all violation of this License, then your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated (a) provisionally, unless and until the copyright holder explicitly and finally terminates your license, and (b) permanently, if the copyright holder fails to notify you of the violation by some reasonable means prior to 60 days after the cessation.

    Moreover, your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated permanently if the copyright holder notifies you of the violation by some reasonable means, this is the first time you have received notice of violation of this License (for any work) from that copyright holder, and you cure the violation prior to 30 days after your receipt of the notice.

    Termination of your rights under this section does not terminate the licenses of parties who have received copies or rights from you under this License. If your rights have been terminated and not permanently reinstated, you do not qualify to receive new licenses for the same material under section 10.

    What that means is that they have to stop shipping the game entirely.

    Now, the FSF, often acting on behalf of the copyright holders, have often allowed infringers to comply by releasing the source under the GPL. But I recall reading here at Slashdot recently that they are starting to play hardball with violators, and not allowing them to comply simply by shipping source. The copyright holder would be fully within his rights to get a permanent injunction against the sale of the game.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EVil Lawyer (947367)
      And, as our trusty friend Amazon.com tells us, the game has already been discontinued by the manufacturer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bombastinator (812664)
        This would imply that Sony has to do precisely squat. While I have no reasonable authority to hold forth on this, I do think it might still have a few repercussions.

        For one thing it could make the game legal to run on an emulator. The other I can think of is it might possibly allow people to tear apart their binaries. "Legal" reverse engineering requires a lot of rigmarole that may not be necessary here. That might still be a lot more trouble than it's worth. The game is pushing 6 years old after all.
  • by One Childish N00b (780549) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:32AM (#21502683) Homepage
    As numerous other posters have pointed out, this will not result in Sony having to release the source code for their game. The myth of the 'viral GPL' is already going strong enough without /. fuelling it by posting articles like this.

    Oh well, time to sit back and watch the trolls have a field day...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The myth of the 'viral GPL' is already going strong enough without /. fuelling it by posting articles like this.
      What's this "viral GPL myth"? I thought the GPL was viral (and proud of it). Is there some confusion out there?
      • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:38AM (#21503269) Homepage
        The point is, there is nothing in copyright-law that will force anyone, under any circumstances, to release code.

        If you do not comply with the GPL, it is revoked, which means you have no right to distribute the work. Which makes you guilty of violating copyright.

        You would be punished like any other copyright-violator: By fines, by being forced to stop distribution, by paying compensation to the copyrigth-holders.

        It may be that you are able to -avoid- these other punishments by reaching an *agreement* with the copyright-holder. Such an agreement is a private matter, it can contain backrubs, money, source-releases or the delivery of albino chimpanzes. But its up to you what agreement you enter into, if any.

        The FSF has a history of saying: "We will forgive your past transgressions if you release the code", that is an OFFER by them, not a property of copyright-law or the GPL. You're free to take the offer, or decide -not- to take the offer.
    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:43AM (#21503285) Homepage
      That's because people are horribly confused about even blindingly obvious simple cases of law. They are likely confused by the fact that the FSF has a history of saying, "We offer you forgiveness if you release the code" and people somehow think that it says somewhere (it doesn't) that "if you break copyright you have to release the code".

      Possibly the source of the confusion is that if you -did- release the code originally, you wouldn't have been in violation of the GPL, and thus not of copyright.

      ReleaseCode, no_violation = true
      violation, mustReleaseCode = false

      Indeed, unless you're made a spesific offer of forgiveness in exchange for releasing the code by the copyright-holder, releasing the code after being in violation doens't even HELP. You still broke copyright-law, you're still responsible for the damages arising therefrom.

  • Other code is covered by other licences. These licences most likely explicitely restrict them from releasing the code. The GPL doesn't superscede these other licences.

    This is a simple case of copyright infringement. Sony will be obliged to pay damages, and possibly withdraw the game from sale.
  • by Thanshin (1188877)
    I've always thought that knowing the origin of all code is standard procedure. Where I've worked, hiding such a thing is reason enough to fire someone.

    Didn't they check? Or they knew perfectly well what they were doing but didn't care. I suppose it's the second.

    They didn't care because they are incompetent? Or simply their lawyers told them it didn't matter. I suppose it's the second.
  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <<elmuerte> <at> <drunksnipers.com>> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:39AM (#21502719) Homepage
    1) release the code for ICO under a GPL compatible license (and thereby conforming to the GPL)
    2) license the library under different terms (might be difficult depending on the fact if all copyright holders agree to do this)
    3) violate copyright (and thereby enter the usual legal road for copyright violations)

    They don't have to release the code if they don't want to.
  • by DraconPern (521756) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {nrepnocard}> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:40AM (#21502725) Homepage
    Arm chair lawyer alert! Slashdot, where programmers become legal vigilantes.
  • by renoX (11677) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:42AM (#21502735)
    Looking at libarc website http://libarc.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]: the license indicated here isn't the GPL..

    So either it's not the same libarc or its license has changed or the website is incorrect or the issue happen in some other file but not in libarc..
    • by xenocide2 (231786)
      In all claims, you should be looking at the header files on the individual source files, not what a project source claims. At any rate, all we've really found out thus far is that the code appears to be duplicated. It's possible that they both plagarized the same third source. But unlikely.
      • by johannesg (664142)
        Are you telling me that the license file could be incorrect, and that to know for sure I would need to manually inspect every last line of source code to see if a different license file is specified?

        1. I cannot see that hold up in court, but I'm not a lawyer.

        2. That means using Open Source software has just become about a thousand times more expensive. Rather than just send the license file down to our lawyers, now we need them to read the entire source code? That will be an easy answer then: "buy some comm
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by KanjiMonster (1016616)

          Are you telling me that the license file could be incorrect, and that to know for sure I would need to manually inspect every last line of source code to see if a different license file is specified?
          But in this case I happen to agree with the first poster: libarc appears to be covered by a NON-GPL license and therefore Sony is not going to have any problems. Even if libarc itself turns out to be in violation of GPL'ed code, then it is the problem of its author, rather than Sony.

          You are still thinking of the wrong libarc. The article talks about this library [onicos.com]called libarc, and if you open the archive for the source [onicos.com] you find a file COPYING that contains the GPL licence.
          And that is the only licence given for this library, no other is mentioned elsewere.

        • by ricegf (1059658)

          I would need to manually inspect every last line of source code...

          Oh, it's not a bad as all that - just inspect the top of every source file. In a good application, they have a copyright notice (asserting ownership) and a distribution license (GPL, BSD, whatever) at the top of every file. So, build a spreadsheet with filename, version, owner and license for each file, then verify that all of the licenses are compatible (check the Free Software Foundation's discussion on this if you need help). Any files w

    • by rjames13 (1178191) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:05AM (#21502843)

      Looking at libarc website http://libarc.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]: the license indicated here isn't the GPL..

      So either it's not the same libarc or its license has changed or the website is incorrect or the issue happen in some other file but not in libarc..

      Yeah I found that libarc too. But the article appears to be talking about another libarc from Link to articles libarc [onicos.com] It is written in C the libarc you found is written in C++. Not the same program, confusing names, how many libarcs are there?

    • by aug24 (38229)
      I looked at this earlier, but it has a different developer and is listed as pre-alpha, so I think it's a different thing. The correct one (linked from TFA) is a japanese language page that I couldn't view, much less read ;-)

      J.
    • by muyuubyou (621373)
      Here http://sourceforge.net/projects/libarc/ [sourceforge.net] ... it specifies BSD license.
  • "Copyright (C) 2000 Masanao Izumo "

    I wish him all the best luck in chasing down Sony and enforcing his license. If this copyleft were held by FSF then maybe there would be some arm twisting.

    (also making a library GPL instead of LGPL, how annoying)
  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:53AM (#21502795)
    If I were starting a business, I'd just go on and bright-line and outright abuse the GPL. I would go into business (such as PS2 games or whatever) where any "outrage" by the OSS community would go unnoticed and would simply ignore the empty threats of lawsuits and what-have-you. Heck, many companies are doing this already. it's a very legitimate and none too risky business strategy. For all its good philosophical points that would encourage good hearted individuals to contribute to my bottom line, I would benefit from the fact that enforcement of the GPL is ultimately toothless.

    Please, do go on and tell me how, exactly, I'm wrong in this.
    • Leaving the moral aspects aside (after all, they don't mix with "business"), you still need to create some because you'll be competing against a free product with people who know your code better than you do. If you just plan to freeride, I wouldn't bet on your survival unless you find very stupid clients first.
    • You're absolutely right, but you need to consider that there are organisations that will pursue legal action on behalf of free software authors pro bono.

      The question then is, how much is your business worth to you; how much are you willing to bet that nobody will come after you?

      As another poster pointed out, the GPL is based on copyright law, which makes it difficult to wriggle out of. And if your company makes a habit of "outright abuse" of GPL'd code and gets to be even moderately successful, you're g

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by domatic (1128127)
      Not all GPL code was written by two hippie wannabees in their parents basement. An awful lot of it is owned by real corporations that can afford to pay real lawyers real money. If your business started making money, they'd either want some of it or compliance with the license on their code.
  • Does anyone else see the resemblance between the GNU icon used as a label on this story and a piece of poo? I know this is waaaaaay off topic (mod me down if you must) but it looks like a big whistling cartoon turd. Some long lost relative of Mr. Hankey's? Anyway, that is all.
    • by Megane (129182)

      Does anyone else see the resemblance between the GNU icon used as a label on this story and a piece of poo?

      I've always thought it looked like a penguin, with the gap between the horns being the penguin's eye.

      Now that you mention it, the feet do look somewhat turd-like, but only the feet.

  • Imagine this (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joaommp (685612)
    The CEOs for all the create IT companies are in a room. A big room.

    Suddenly someone screams "Hey, look at the news, it says here that PlayStation 2 Game ICO Violates the GPL!"

    And then everyone laughs and cries out "who doesn't?"

    It's already beyond common practice.
  • This is only the tip of an iceberg, you will find a lot of GPL source or extracts of GPL source almost everywhere. Maybe not complete libraries, but some snippets may be found now and then.

    The problem lies in the possibility to identify all those parts.

  • I might be a singleton demographic but has anybody else here checked out the Webkins community web site for young children? My 7 year old nephew is an addict and was showing it to me recently. One of his favorite games on the site is an obvious knock off (web enabled) of Frozen Bubble, a game included with many Linux Distributions. There was no attribution I could see and I wondered if it was a potential violation of that game's license.
  • Its that simple. Release the source! that would be just fucking awesome.
  • by apankrat (314147) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:06PM (#21507333) Homepage
    libarc borrows heavily from zlib, which is .. surprise ! .. BSD licensed. There is however no mention of BSD in libarc, which effectively means that it is in violation of BSD license.

    Gotta love the ethics of the freedom fighters.

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