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Open Source Businesses The Internet

Wordpress Founder Accuses Wix Of Stealing Code (ma.tt) 176

An anonymous reader writes: "Wow, dude I did not even know we were fighting," Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami posted on the company's blog Saturday -- responding to Wordpress creator Matt Mullenweg, who on Friday accused Wix of stealing their code. "The claim is that the Wix mobile apps distribute GPL code and aren't themselves GPL, so they violate the license," Mullenweg wrote.

Abrahami argued that "Everything we improved there or modified, we submitted back as open source," adding "we will release the app you saw as well... " Mullenweg responded "It appears you and [lead engineer] Tal might share a misunderstanding of how the GPL works," ultimately adding "software licensing can be tricky and many people make honest mistakes."

Wix had also argued they're giving back to the open source community by listing 224 public projects on their GitHub page. "Thank you for the offer to use them," Mullenweg responded. "If we do, we'll make sure to follow the license you've put on the code very carefully."
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Wordpress Founder Accuses Wix Of Stealing Code

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  • by Alomex ( 148003 )

    How exactly the GPL works is still unclear as not many cases have gone through the courts. I know that because of this most companies absolutely prohibit any open source code within a mile of their commercial applications, even in cases where a light reading of the GPL would suggest it is ok to do so.

    Remember the GPL is designed to be viral. You don't want to run the risk of violating the GPL by inadvertently infecting your proprietary closed source code.

    • Re:GPL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday October 30, 2016 @08:50PM (#53181255) Homepage

      MOST embedded operating systems and compilers and libraries used by MOST companies are in fact GPL. Linux runs in almost ALL embedded systems like TV sets, BluRay players from Sony,LG,Samsung,Sharp,Panasonic,NEC,etc..., Every single Android Cellphone and Tablet ever made. Most automation systems use GPL tools in their compilers Like AMX,Crestron,TI,Intel, and all the little players like Samung Smartthings, Wink, etc.... In fact it's hard to find a company NOT using a GPL codebase somewhere, even Microsoft does.

      So I really think you need to update your knowledge of what businesses are using, because it seems the entirety of all you know about it is from 1995.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        Yes, GPL... version 2. Linux is v2. Android is Apache, not GPL. gcc is GPLv3, which is part of why it's being seriously overtaken by llvm, which is using a custom permissive license.

        That's the key: permissive. GPLv2 was relatively permissive, though LGPL is a lot more popular in the industry. Apache is very permissive. GPLv3 is not permissive, and so it's seeing most companies steer waaaay clear of it.
        • GPLv3, which is part of why it's being seriously overtaken by llvm, which is using a custom permissive license.

          Licensing has nothing to do with why GCC is being overtaken by clang. The reason is that clang is better, easier to modify, and has a community that's easier to work with. There's nothing about the GPLv3 license vs v2 that has any relevance to compilers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by caseih ( 160668 )

      This is absolutely false. Please stop posting this kind of FUD. Using a piece of GPL'd software does not magically infect your copyrighted code with the GPL. Using code under the terms of the GPL is absolutely no different from using code under *any other* source code license. If you use GPL'd code inappropriately you will find yourself in a copyright violation situation. Again I repeat this is no different than if you violated Microsoft's copyright or any other proprietary code license. When you are in

      • Re:GPL (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 ) <kai@@@automatica...com...au> on Sunday October 30, 2016 @11:13PM (#53181679) Homepage

        If you include GPL v3 code in your closed source project, under the terms of the licence agreement, you must comply with the licence which demands either you licence the software or you release ALL of the source of your closed-source project under the GPL v3.

        If you are producing a large, closed-source, product, option 1 is not an option at all.

        If you can't negotiate a licence with the copyright holders, or the copyright holders are unwilling to licence it to you on terms that are acceptable to both parties then option 2 is not an option at all.

        So, this leaves only option 3 - remove all GPL'd code from your project and write your own.

        • Wow slashdot sucks these days.

          That is as informative as a listing of alphabetical letters in the correct order. Basic, basic stuff. Plus the crazy inclusion of GPL v3 to confuse matters even more. Nothing in your post shed any light at all on why companies like apple are avoiding GPL v3. Its the patent and anti tivo provisions. I guess some genius will upvote this post as informative as well. Oh my god what has become of thee oh slashdot. News for idiotic peoples who think they are nerds.

        • by ( 4475953 )

          Well, of course, but as the OP said the same holds for all other licenses too. If you don't want to adhere to the licensing terms you cannot use the library. Duh, how surprising!

          But there is also LGPL...

          • Yes, there is Apache licensed code, BSD licensed code etc... The problem with the GPL is that it was previously able to be used as a part of a larger non-open source offering and with the change in the licence to v3, this is no longer possible.

        • IANAL... though my understanding of GPL is that if you modify the source code, you must provide those modifications. If I use PostGRES as a backend to my proprietary software, I only have to provide those updates that I made to PostGRES.

          Of course, this could be a sticky situation if my proprietary software is "Wonder DB 9000". Though my guess is if it's something more like "Collection Manager 2016" then you'd be more in the clear.
      • by Cigaes ( 714444 )

        Actually, you are slightly wrong. The three options you suggest apply before you are in a situation of copyright violation: when you are considering distributing your project, you have to do one of these things.

        But after the copyright violation, it is too late. If you steal something, get caught and give it back, you still go to prison. The same applies to any kind of wrongdoing: undoing it after getting caught does not avoid the punishment.

        The GPL has an explicit provision for violations: (emphasis mine)

        • by caseih ( 160668 )

          Yes that's true that a copyright holder may choose to cut off options 1 and 2 after a violation occurred. And if you get caught there are monetary damages that can be awarded to the copyright holder, and the violator has to cease violating. In other words they have to stop selling the software and remove the GPL'd code from it. Despite the wording of the GPL, the copyright holder could, if they choose, still negotiate options 1 or 2. The copyright holder has the right to enforce or negate parts of the GP

    • How exactly the GPL works is still unclear as not many cases have gone through the courts.

      Actually its very well understood and has been tested again and again repeatedly in courts across the world.

      If you combine someone elses GPL code with yours and you distribute it, you must distribute your code as well. If you dont like that, dont distriibute (Its entirely fine to do whatever you want with it internally, the GPL only covers distribution).

      Variants:
      LGPL, assuming the code is only dynamically linked, you o

      • by Alomex ( 148003 )

        Actually its very well understood.

        Read the GPL Wikipedia page, where people can't even agree if it extends to static/dynamic linking.

        There have been about half a dozen cases involving the GPL. Companies usually like to have a few hundred behind them before they declare something "legally well understood".

    • 'Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC [softwarefreedom.org]) versus Xterasys Corporation and High-Gain Antennas, LLC'

      A Practical Guide to GPL Compliance [softwarefreedom.org] --

      "How exactly the GPL works is still unclear as not many cases have gone through the courts. I know that because of this most companies absolutely prohibit any open source code within a mile of their commercial applications, even in cases where a light reading of the GPL would suggest it is ok to do so. Remember the GPL is designed to be viral. You don't want to run the ris
    • >I know that because of this most companies absolutely prohibit any open source code within a mile of their commercial applications, even in cases where a light reading of the GPL would suggest it is ok to do so.

      Exactly where would "a light reading" suggest that you could include GPLed code in a proprietary application? Steering completely clear of integrating GPLed code in that case is exactly what the license is designed to promote. There are exceptions, and if you're careful you can walk up against

    • No. There is absolutely nothing unclear about how the GPL works. The small number of court cases is not a reason to think it is unclear- it's proof of how clear it is. Almost no cases go to court because as soon as violators are caught they almost always immediately make changes to comply - they don't go to court because the license is so explicitly clear that none of them think they have a chance of winning a defence.

      The few cases that were taken to trial all went for the plaintiffs. The only GPL case yet

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      I find that viral meme odd to say the least. As if proprietary licenses don't have a viral property to them. You can't even glance at a proprietary app without getting EULA on you.

      • by Alomex ( 148003 )

        If I use somebody else's code I have to properly license it, but my new code does not become theirs.

        If you use GPL code on the other hand, your code is now infected and the only way to legally use it is to make it join the GPL borg and make the new code public.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          But the code you wrote DOES remain yours, there are simply requirements on it's distribution.. If you use licensed proprietary code in your app, you are also restricted in your licensing and distribution choices. For example, you may have to pay for additional licenses, you probably cannot distribute the SDK. Odds are good you'll have to pay for it.

          It's not like some kind of infection either way. Don't want to pay the price, don't use the code. Buit as far as unintentional infringement, who would you rather

          • by Alomex ( 148003 )

            Again GPL changes the license on your code, no other commercial license does that. This is why GPL is viral.

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              So if I want to ship free software, no proprietary library vendor will object to providing their headers and object files so it can be re-linked? They'll be happy with the free re-distribution of those object files and libraries by anyone who downloads my code?

              Or perhaps they might require me to change the licence to a proprietary one, never to be opened.

              I have on more than one occasion had to reject nice hardware because the maker was forbidden to release driver source to me due to proprietary vendor code

    • by Vryl ( 31994 )

      This old chestnut?

      It's 2016, and we are STILL having this one?

      2001 wants it's bullshit arguments back.

  • Like, as in Windows Installer XML? [wikipedia.org] It wasn't a bad alternative to Installshield for especially complex installs, Strange that they... oh, it's just some lame free web builder website. Yeah - I'll keep ignoring that then. Ryan Fenton
  • not that complicated (Score:5, Informative)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Sunday October 30, 2016 @08:10PM (#53181125)

    People who READ the GPL can figure it out. Those who INTERPRET it to suit their own agenda get it wrong (like SCSI specs, for example).

    If you publish a program that incorporates GPL (not LGPL) source, you have to make that source, plus any of your changes, plus instructions/tools to build the program to those to whom you have distributed the program (no distribution -> no requirement), and you can not use a more-restrictive license on the program source. Putting the bundle on a web site is acceptable, but NOT a requirement, as long as you provide the bundle at nominal charge to the recipients of the program. You do NOT have to give it to anyone else.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday October 30, 2016 @10:30PM (#53181557) Homepage

      People who READ the GPL can figure it out. Those who INTERPRET it to suit their own agenda get it wrong (...) If you publish a program that incorporates GPL (not LGPL) source

      Actually I'd say it is a mess, not because of the GPL but the way software works. Any time you make a function, you make an interface. Any time you have an interface, you can have multiple implementations that don't really derivate from each other. Principally there's no difference between the Linux kernel's user API, module API and internal API. It's just ways for code to call other code. Or an application and plug-ins. Or a command line tool and a GUI. Or a service and its administration tool. What about interpreted languages, web services, JVMs and so on if you call it, you incorporate it?

      They try to exclude some bits:

      However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.

      What if you're making a set top box, could you distribute an open source tool on a proprietary OS if they accompany each other?

      The FSF is admitting this is a bit wobbly:

      Where's the line between two separate programs, and one program with two parts? This is a legal question, which ultimately judges will decide. We believe that a proper criterion depends both on the mechanism of communication (exec, pipes, rpc, function calls within a shared address space, etc.) and the semantics of the communication (what kinds of information are interchanged).

      If the program dynamically links plug-ins, but the communication between them is limited to invoking the âmainâ(TM) function of the plug-in with some options and waiting for it to return, that is a borderline case.

      And these questions presume the plug-in knows what's on the other side of the interface.

      Can I apply the GPL when writing a plug-in for a non-free program?
      Can I release a non-free program that's designed to load a GPL-covered plug-in?

      What if it's a standard? Say for the sake of argument both Photoshop and GIMP had a common tool plug-in. Could you legally write GPL plug-ins for it? Proprietary plug-ins? Could they live together on a CD?

      A modern service bus or something like that really makes a mess of the simple compiled/linked world of the GPL.

      • Note that this question is very likely to be clarified in the next year or so as Google vs Oracle goes back to the appellate court.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        What if you're making a set top box, could you distribute an open source tool on a proprietary OS if they accompany each other?

        This has been clarified in V3. And yes, you can distribute OS tools on a proprietary operating system, it happens all the time.

        Can I release a non-free program that's designed to load a GPL-covered plug-in?

        Note that this only applies to someone requiring or shipping a GPL plug-in with their proprietary app. If they just implement a common interface and the user chooses to load a GPL plug-in, that's fine.

        It's to cover proprietary apps using GPL dynamic libraries loaded at run time. Otherwise developers could use GPL code in their proprietary apps by just compiling it into a DLL rather

        • t's to cover proprietary apps using GPL dynamic libraries loaded at run time. Otherwise developers could use GPL code in their proprietary apps by just compiling it into a DLL rather than statically linking at compile time.

          Admittedly even Rosen - one of the authors - admits there is a gray area regarding linking and where the boundary falls. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License#Linking_and_derived_works)

  • by JediJorgie ( 700217 ) on Sunday October 30, 2016 @08:12PM (#53181139)

    How is there even any wiggle room? If you distribute a app that contains GPL code, you must make your source code available, period.

    Folks in general tolerate a little lag between app release and code release, but if you actually want to follow the spirit of the GPL, your source should be available at the time of distribution because you don't really have a fully valid license to distribute your GPL containing work until it is.

    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Informative)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday October 30, 2016 @08:36PM (#53181205) Journal

      If you distribute a app that contains GPL code, you must make your source code available,

      That depends on how your app "contains" the GPL code. This part of the GPL V2 is applicable:

      If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works.

  • caught redhanded (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Sunday October 30, 2016 @09:00PM (#53181277)

    Mullenweg: your app uses GPL code so you have to obey the licence, which you're not doing.

    Abrahami: OH WE LOVE OPEN SOURCE WE PUT STUFF ON GITHUB ALL THE TIME

    what a prick

  • Stolen -- incorrect and inflammatory verb use.

    Unattributed -- The repo is named "wix/WordPress-Editor-Android" ... I would call that a pretty explicit case of attribution.

    Wix seems to be in compliance with the GPL. The source for the entire version of their editor is available on GitHub. Matt Mullenweg seems to be aware of this repo and yet he insists that there is some additional and unidentified code that is not publicly available. When one uses terms like "stolen", it is irresponsible to not be explic

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