Free as in freedom, not free as in theft

Proprietary vendors are apparently stealing open-source software. Are you surprised?


Slashdot has an intriguing question posed by Scott_F:

I recently reviewed several commercial, closed-source slideshow authoring packages for Windows and came across an alarming trend. Several of the packages I installed included GPL and LGPL software without any mention of the GPL, much less source code. For example, DVD Photo Slideshow included mkisofs, cdrdao, dvdauthor, spumux, id3lib, lame, mpeg2enc, and mplex (all of which are GPL or LGPL). The company tried to hide this by wrapping them all in DLLs. There are other violations in other packages as well. Based on my testing of other software, it seems that use of GPL software in commercial Windows applications is on the rise. My question is how much are GPL violations in the Windows world being pursued?

Probably not. But the larger question is, why do these proprietary software companies think it's OK to steal from open source, but abhor the notion of anyone stealing from them?

And yes, it is theft. 100%. If you use software in violation of its license, you are using it illegally. In other words, you're stealing it.

Why does Anvsoft (maker of DVD Photo Slideshow) think it's OK to pilfer open-source software? Would it feel the same if I started "borrowing" its software? Of course not.

The new method proposed for detecting GPL violations can't come too soon. It will be a happy day when the irony of proprietary vendors misappropriating others' code is fully exposed.

Will we discover that it is proprietary software, and not open source, that is scornful of intellectual property? I think we'll be surprised by just how prevalent theft of open-source code by proprietary-software vendors is.

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