Piracy, from another angle


So I bought 3 games from you after your slashdot pirate talk campaign. Played them a bit too, and found trivial issues in the first few days. They’re minor enough for me to ignore, but still. But this is not the point I’m writing this post.

While going through the game directories of Kudos and Democracy 2 I noticed this DLL: FreeImage.dll. It is also present in Kudos. So I went on Google to find out what it is. Found out that it is part of an open source project hosted at SourceForge. It is dual-licensed under the GPL and their own FIPL, with the FIPL being created so that you don’t have to GPL your entire work. I briefly read the license, and it is a nightmare, but that’s no reason to ignore it.

I’m not going to ask about the fmodx.dll as that’s a commercial pruduct, and I don’t care that much. :slight_smile:

So, what does your cat have to say about this? :stuck_out_tongue:


I really want an opinion on this.

I have no idea how I’ve missed this. I just need to change the readme to acknowledge its used as I read this? I’ll do this in the next patch.

Well, there are a few points of the license worth looking at:

If the FreeImage.dll was generated from modified code, you have to take note of this:

If not, you can skip over.

Then, you have to comply with this:

If your DLL is straight off the FreeImage site (looks a bit old, but I replaced it with the latest version and I didn’t see any noticeable difference), it looks to me that points 3.1-3.5 are satisfied, which leaves that fact that you need to include a note that states that the source code is available under the terms of the FIPL (I guess you have to put a link to the FreeImage website).

Let me know if your head spins yet, I know mine does :slight_smile:

I also see this on their website:

So things may be simpler:

  1. Add this file: freeimage.sourceforge.net/freeimage-license.txt to your distribution
  2. Write this in a README: “This software uses the FreeImage open source image library. See freeimage.sourceforge.net for details. FreeImage is used under the FIPL, version 1.0.”

So if you didn’t modify anything in the library, the last paragraph seems to be the way to go. If you did, things look pretty ugly.

I also have to mention that I’m not a lawyer, just open source savvy. To me, adding the FIPL license as a text file (FIPL.txt) and adding that notice in the README seems complying enough. And you’re off the hook with piracy of open source software :stuck_out_tongue:

PS. Don’t you wish it would be as easy with proprietary software? When they catch you, you could be offered to pay the regular price of the product, nicely, maybe with a 5% extra as penalty, because the people that found you don’t work for free, instead of being dragged into court like a thief, murderer, or rapist.

uplink: I’m sure cliffski appreciates the heads up, but I don’t think it’s really fair to refer to this as piracy. Piracy implies circumventing normal distribution channels to acquire software you’re not ‘supposed’ to have. This would be more like forgetting to perform a mandatory registration on software you paid for. Just a small semantic quibble, but ‘piracy’ is such a loaded phrase that it’s best not to overuse it, IMHO.

Don’t get me started :slight_smile: As long as “copyright infringement” and “theft” are synonyms in the court of law, this is piracy, and it’s fair to call it that way. Taking software without “paying what is due to whom is it due”. For commercial software you pay cash. For open source software, you pay respect :stuck_out_tongue:

Then, if I think about it, it’s not piracy. It’s plagiarism :slight_smile: Being free and all. Use of (licensed) free stuff without attribution = plagiarism. Is this better? :smiley:

He did say he’ll make the note in the next patch, so the problem is solved. Thanks cliffski!

But if you want a flame war on the topic, let’s do it :stuck_out_tongue: Let me start: how would you feel writing some software, make it available freely under an open license (that is not in the BSD-license area), and then find out that some closed source company took your program as if you never existed? Wouldn’t you go up against them? If you would: how would you classify the problem legally? Theft? Piracy? Copyright infringement? When all these seem equal in the court of law.

And what do you mean by ‘software that you’re not supposed to have’? This affirmation by itself translates that piracy is only when you copy top secret nuclear power plant applications, military grade encryption software from Area 51, or conspiracy-proving, alien technology (and I’m not talking about China and India here) documents. ‘Circumventing normal distribution channels’? What exactly is a ‘normal’ distribution channel? There’s a tendency of moving legal distribution channels to the torrent area, to reduce bandwidth requirements for digital distribution.

Otherwise, ‘piracy’ is simply ‘breach of license’, or ‘use without right’. Because it’s open source doesn’t mean you can use it and then go ‘oopsie…’ when it’s brought up and claim it’s not actually piracy on grounds that it’s open source. The only difference between commercial piracy and open source piracy is that if you pirate commercial software you go to jail an pay a huge fine, but if you pirate the second (fully knowing it, or by mistake), you get a note from Mr. Anonymous von Internet, you say “I’m sorry, I’ll correct the mistake”, and you’re done (without going to jail mind you). Actually two differences: looks like you can pirate open source software only if you’re a developer. As a user, you simply can’t pirate open source software. But it’s still piracy.

So the problem is not in the term. And, incidentally, I used the word because that’s what he debated recently: piracy, so it made a lot of sense to throw the ball back at him. Otherwise, the subject would have been “open source license violation”. That would have sounded a lot better :stuck_out_tongue: It would have attracted more vultures too.