PearPC needs help (updated)
Wednesday, 30 March 2005
One of the risks of writing open-source software is people taking advantage of you. There is always some rat that will try to take your source and close it and making money off it. If you released your code under the BSD license this would not be a problem, but if you publish your source under the GPL license it is.
The GPL is a license in its most pure form. It’s a grant of rights. Rights you did not have before. In order to claim those rights you must follow the rules specified in the license. What happens if you break those rules? Simple, the license becomes void, which means that all of the additional rights are also retracted.
One of the restrictions of the GPL is that if you distribute code licensed under the GPL any derivative must also be licensed under the GPL. And licensing under the GPL means that you will have to open up the source. One of the additional rights the GPL grants is the right to distribute GPL licensed code or derivatives of that code. So, if you distribute GPL licensed code without opening up the source, you violate the GPL you loose the right to distribute and automatically become a copyright infringer.
Back to the PearPC project: an open-source – GPL licensed – PowerPC emulator. Written by several different authors and stolen by Maui X-Stream. They messed around with the source code and released it commercially as CherryOS. In itself not a problem, but when they released CherryOS they did not release the source code. Even worse they claimed that the CherryOS product did not use any PearPC source code. A fact that can be easily checked and proven to be false. DrunkenBlog has more background information on this.
As you can imagine, the creators of PearPC are angry and when they asked Maui X-Stream to abide by the rules of the GPL they were simply told to talk to a lawyer. And that is what they are going to do. Unfortunately, lawyers cost money. And that is the reason why I wrote this article.
If you want to help defend the GPL against pirates such as Maui X-Stream please donate!
A little side note: When I initially read about this story some time ago, I immediately recognized the name Maui X-Stream. This is not the first GPL-ed project that they pirated. Their VX30 Ad Stats product is without a doubt based on the open-source phpAdsNew ad server. How can I tell? Well, lets just say that as writer of phpAdsNew I can recognize what I wrote.