I have detected an abuse of GPLed software...

Loic Dachary loic at gnu.org
Sun Jun 16 16:58:22 UTC 2002

Luca Mercuri writes:
 > Any advice as to how proceed would be greatly appreciated.


	My first advice would be to be extremely cautious when you
state something like "I have detected an abuse of GPLed software".
This is a statement that will not be taken lightly by anyone, specialy
by the people you accuse. Before sending it to a public forum, you
should ask yourself : "Am I 100% sure there is an abuse ?" and "What
do I want to achieve by issuing such a statement ?".
	"Am I 100% sure there is an abuse ?"

	If this is the case, you should describe the abuse with
absolute precision. Anyone reading the description must come to the
same conclusion.  There must be 0% left to doubt. In that respect the
description you sent can be improved. I was not able to conclude that
the GPL was abused by reading your mail. Where are the copyright
notice displayed ? Where is the download area for the distribution ?
How can I see for myself that this is indeed a GPL'ed software ? What
is the original version ?

	I'd be very grateful if you could explore these points in
detail and send a precise report to discussion at fsfeurope.org. Until
there is a proven malice, the mails related to this exploration could
be titled "Analysis of bluesoft.it web site software" or something
similar. In any case, it is best *not* to assume malice. Everyone must
be given the benefit of doubt. What if bluesoft.it just misunderstood the
terms of the GNU GPL ? What if they would happily fix their mistakes ?

	"What do I want to achieve by issuing such a statement ?"

	Accusing someone of abusing the GNU GPL will certainly create
a hostile climate between you and the person you accuse. It may be the
intended purpose and in some rare cases it may even be necessary. In
general, though, it proved a lot more efficient to use diplomacy
instead of conflict to solve GNU GPL related problems. Instead of
accusing someone, therefore assuming you have an ennemy, you could try
to ask the person to cooperate with you, therefore assuming you have a

	It is often quite efficient to send a private mail to the
people who did a mistake related to the GNU GPL (a mistake, not an
abuse : the choice of words is important ;-). In this mail you can
kindly describe how they should fix their mistake. If they are
unresponsive after a while (let's say 3 weeks), send the mail
again. Maybe they were too overloaded to respond, maybe the mail was
lost, maybe they did not believe you. If they are unresponsive after a
while (let's say 2 weeks), send the mail again and cc:
discussion at fsfeurope.org or another public mailing list. Since your
mail was a kind offer, absolutely not agressive, they will understand
that this mistake is exposed to more people and may be more diligent
to fix it. Alternatively, you can ask other people involved in Free Software
to send them the same request. It could be Software Libero, for instance. 

	In my experience, most of the time, possibly after a few
months, the mistakes are fixed, Free Software is safe and noone feels


Loic   Dachary         http://www.dachary.org/  loic at dachary.org
12 bd  Magenta         http://www.senga.org/      loic at senga.org
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