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Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code

From: Chris Jefferson
Subject: Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 10:10:29 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 0.6 (Windows/20040502)

Erik de Castro Lopo wrote:

Chris Jefferson wrote:

First of all, let me say Hello!

Also, let me point out that (I hope) I'm not a troll. I've just been
working on a project with some friends and we are now considering what
licence to release it under. I'd quite like the GPL, but a number of my
friends would perfer a "you can read the code, but you can't distribute
altered versions" style licence.

The reason for this is that they believe that really bad things can
happen to GPLed code.

If thats the case then don't use the GPL, but don't tell me not to.

I would never dream of telling you such a thing, I don't believe I ever did. What I'm trying to do here is to decide if I want to use the GPL.

Therefore I was hoping someone could tell me, what
is the worst someone can do?

Some example thoughts we had..

1) Someone could just take our source, remove all copyright notices from
both the source and displayed when the app is run and put their own on

There have already been a couple of cases of companies distributing
binaries derived from GPL sources which the company claimed was their
own code. A quick disassembly of the code showed otherwise and the
company was publicly humiliated.

Stealing and releasing source code like this is far, far, FAR more

I think you may have misunderstood my point. Of course people can illegally steal source. The question is can they do this, distribute the new source and remain GPL compliant?

2) Someone could take our source, make minor alterations to it, and then
redistribute it without admiting they'd changed it and leaving our
copyright notices intact (both in source and in the help/about box),
making it look like we wrote the evil version.

If it was a binary only version, then yes its possible, but again,
a comparison with the real binary would quickly reveal the truth.

You should also note that if you release a binary only product,
a semi skilled cracker/virus writer could still modify that binary to do evil things even without the source code.

ditto, the question is can they do this and remain within the GPL if they release source?
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