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MS Pulls Windows 7 Tool After GPL Violation Claim 186

Posted by kdawson
from the least-they-could-do dept.
Sam notes an Ars story on Microsoft pulling the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool from the Microsoft Store website after a report indicating that the tool incorporated open source code in a way that violated the GNU's General Public License. Whether the software giant is actually violating the GPL, a widely used (including by the Linux kernel) free software license, is not confirmed. "We are currently taking down the Windows USB/DVD Tool from the Microsoft Store site until our review of the tool is complete," a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. The fact the company pulled the tool doesn't bode well, so we'll have to watch closely to see what the company puts back on its servers.
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MS Pulls Windows 7 Tool After GPL Violation Claim

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  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:03AM (#30057406) Homepage

    What if it IS a GPL violation?

    Will they release the source code?
    And if not, if they just replace the GPL parts and release a new version, will people who downloaded the first version be legally able to demand the source code? Will the mere tainting of the code with GPL code cast a shadow on any future releases; "did they really replace the GPL parts or did they just refactor it"?

  • Re:more info (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Malc (1751) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:30AM (#30057536)

    If this is a GPL violation, I'm sure it wasn't deliberate by Microsoft. People around here no doubt think differently. I'd be interested to know what processes they have in place - at our company, any use of third party code (whatever license) has to be sign-off by the CTO, and the details get put away in a file somewhere. There's more to it than that, but in theory, something like this would be a screw-up by somebody or a break-down in the process.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:39AM (#30057586)

    What if it is a GPL violation and microsoft just comes out and says "ya, plenty of GPL'd code in there. We just took it and used it."

    Who, exactly, sues them in this case?

    Seriously - I don't understand the answer to this question. Somebody please explain it to me.

    I have a very strong intuition that GPL'd code is used every day by all sorts of software places, including a lot of embedded developers who simply think that the GPL is a toothless naive nothing of a license. Red hat and many others seem to have built multi-billion dollar businesses on brightlining the GPL. Can somebody explain to me how the GPL is NOT actually toothless, other than the teeth of potential derision on slashdot?

  • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @06:02AM (#30057948)

    how precisely do you determine that it is not a GPL violation

    How? By reading the complaint and checking that the evidence given in the complaint matches what is in the code. Then if there is any grounds for complaint it's a matter of talking to whoever was responsible for the code - all this should be blatantly obvious. If there is nothing I really can't see baseless conspiracy theories being a problem as it will fizzle out without evidence. The SCO fiasco required expenditure of money for PR to get their baseless rumours out so it's not a relevant example.
    Some people may recall when Microsoft was shipping developers CDROMs with gcc along with a copy of the GPL. They didn't always hate the GPL it was just another set of rules to follow to use other people's stuff. The BSD licence of course even allowed them to put "copyright Microsoft" in the etc/hosts file as if it wasn't copied from elsewhere but who really cares, it's just amusing and wouldn't stand up in a court anywhere.

  • Re:more info (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @06:06AM (#30057974)

    I worked once for a company where I was ask for a common stack implementation that would be ready to be used, I recomended to modify a BSD implementation instead of developing it ourselves from scratch or to buy one from a third party.
    Answer was "no no no, no free code in our software". I tried to explain the various free licenses policy that are currently used and to describe avantages of the BSD one, but finally my employer of that time decided to buy the stack it needed from a third party.

    So we received the stack sources from said third party, which were from the BSD one I recommanded in the first place.
    It is in fact quite common for a software producer who have to put its name over a piece of code to prefer to buy every pieces of code it does not produce itself rather than directly borrow and adapt it from the adequate license.
    Sometimes third parties are kind enough to really implement required code themselves or to at least borrow it from the right license for the job, sometimes they are not.

    If you want to make money in embedded software, for instance, just take every BSD implemented stacks, like TCP/IP, FTP, SNMP, adapt them to embedded use then just build a minimal company to sell them once properly tested over different architectures, finally, sell them to companies that produced embedded software. Such a stack can be sold between 50000 and 100000 euros, that corresponds more or less to the third of what a software engineer whould cost to the buyer to produce the stack itself, not to mention the time it would take.
    Then if in your day job someone ask you about a such a stack, kindly indicate her/him the appropriate company which sells it ;)

  • Have you actually read the Codeplex bylaws and what types of licenses they want? Microsoft is hard at work trying to redefine open source into something completely different than it is today.

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.