So this very large company who shall remain nameless distributes a proprietary software development environment that includes a patched version of a certain, well-known open-source debugging tool.

The patch is to make said open-source tool support their products. It’s not even hidden or anything: the binary is sitting right there in the installation directory, it’s called the exact same thing the vanilla debugger is called and when I run it on the command line, it clearly says “patched for xyz”.

The tool in question is distributed under the GPLv2 and I need to modify it for my own project. So I sent an email to the company to request the source code for their modification, but they refuse by playing dumb and pretending they don’t understand the question. They keep telling me the source code to their IDE is not public. I keep telling them I don’t want their IDE but the source for the modified GPL backend tool they bundle with it. But no: they claim it’s part of their product and they won’t release it.

Anybody knows the best course of action to deal with this? It’s the first company I’ve dealt with that explicitly refuses to honor the GPL. I don’t even think it’s malice: I’m fairly sure the L2 support guy handling my ticket was told to deny my request by his clueless supervisor who didn’t bother escalating it. But it’s also a huge company that’s known to be aggressive and litigious, whereas I’m just one guy and I’m not lawyering up over this. I have other hills to die on.

Who should I pass the potato to? The FSF?

      • Hirom@beehaw.org
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        7 days ago

        Don’t waste time trying to reason them. If you’re not able and willing and sue them to enforce the GPL license, the company won’t care.

        You should directly informe one of the organisations mentioned previously, they may have a lawyer and experience fighting this kind of fight.

        Best you can do youself is collect evidence that they’re distributing modified GPL software, and write a precise description of the issue, to help these organisations kickstart their investigation into the GPL violation.

  • ramble81@lemm.ee
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    8 days ago

    And why leave them nameless? Name and shame. You can get multiple people asking at that point and apply more pressure.

    • ExtremeDullard@lemmy.sdf.orgOP
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      8 days ago

      Because I’m not interested in being sued for defamation. Even if I’m totally right and they’re totally wrong, they’ll bury me in legal fees. I’m not rich enough to afford the law.

        • ExtremeDullard@lemmy.sdf.orgOP
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          4 days ago

          With Rosehip. But good news: it would appear my ticket finally made its way to the development team and to legal. They sure are taking their own sweet time like a good giant corporation dealing with a pointless single guy, but things seem to be moving in the right direction.

          If they refuse again this time, considering they now acknowledged that my ticket is processed where it should be processed, I will contact the FSF, and name and shame. But for now they’re showing good will.

      • NostraDavid@programming.dev
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        6 days ago

        This is why we have journalists - worst case, take this information to some newspaper, who will likely LOVE to poke the bear.

        OK, maybe that’s a little idealistic, but at least you can try, eh?

      • muntedcrocodile@lemm.ee
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        8 days ago

        There a simple incantation u can mutter its the same shield the press uses its called “allegedly”. Otherwise talk to the press themselves doesnt matter who even if they are fucking tiny af doesnt matter then post the link to said article everywhere.

        • Thann@lemmy.ml
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          8 days ago

          Idk if you can say allegedly, when you’re the person doing the allegation 🤔

          • poweruser@lemmy.sdf.org
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            8 days ago

            Not to mention, OP didn’t specify where they live. Who knows defamation law for the whole world?

        • brbposting@sh.itjust.works
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          7 days ago

          Then you’d have a great defense right?

          A defense you could use if you’ve already been sued?

          Glad we have that law but seemingly unavoidably stacked in favor of the wealthy / those with assistants/teams/lawyers. Massive mental cost of getting involved in court for anything, one that isn’t possible to be “repaid” when you win.

          (Not to discourage people who know what they’re getting into! Fight the power, if ya can)

          Edit: typo

      • makeasnek@lemmy.ml
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        8 days ago

        Depending on your jurisdiction, you may have anti-SLAPP laws which render a baseless defamation lawsuit against you into a blessing which you can turn around, counter sue for, and end up with a nice payday.

          • Jayjader@jlai.lu
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            6 days ago

            Not necessarily cash, but definitely a bit of luck. Some lawyers, if they think a case is guaranteed to go your way, will do the work for free in exchange for receiving a portion of the damages the final judgement will award you. Even rarer, some lawyers care enough about some issues on a personal level that they’ll work for free, or reduced rates, on certain cases.

            In this case, I’m not sure there are any damages whatsoever to award to OP - a “win” is forcing the company to abide by the GPL, not pay up money. The EFF and the FSF, as others have brought up, are probably the best bet to find lawyers that would work on this case for the outcome instead of the pay.

      • BrianTheeBiscuiteer@lemmy.world
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        8 days ago

        This. Sucks we can’t just say shit like it is but it’s just as easy to make it up. I’m not going to verify the claims myself but if OP said it was Vandelay Industries I might make the decision to not do business with them.

        It’s a little late now since the accusation has already been made but it’s essentially legal to state verifiable facts without drawing conclusions from those facts. Still, doesn’t mean the company won’t come after you, just that they risk calling attention to the issue. Unfortunately I know of no remedy or repercussions for a company filing a baseless lawsuit.

        IANAL BTW.

      • JJLinux@lemmy.ml
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        8 days ago

        I’m pretty sure nobody here knows who you are. Say the name, and some of us will just make this company’s life a living he’ll by spamming them to give us the source. Win - win (except for that POS company)and you remain anonymous. What are they going to do, sue your Lemmy handle?

        • Fermion@feddit.nl
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          8 days ago

          That’s flawed logic. The company would pretty easily know who has been emailing to request the source code for that specific tool in the timeline just before this post. The lemmy profile may be anonymous, but I doubt OP’s emails were.

          • JJLinux@lemmy.ml
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            7 days ago

            Why would anyone mention anyone was emailing them? I’m talking about just doing the same without any type of other info.

            • Fermion@feddit.nl
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              Well the context was a concern about a defamation suit resulting from this post. If the company never found this post then the anonymity of the poster is irrelevant anyway. The company could easily tell who made this post based on the timing of their already existing email correspondance seeing as this is clearly not a request they receive often.

  • Skydancer@pawb.social
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    8 days ago

    Notify the maintainer of the open source tool - they’re in the best position to push for compliance. They have the power to revoke the company’s license.

    • mkwt@lemmy.world
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      8 days ago

      Especially talk to FSF if this “well known debugging tool” is a part of the GNU project, as FSF has the power and standing to enforce the copyrights on GNU software.

  • Björn Tantau@swg-empire.de
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    8 days ago

    One of the worst things about the GPL and similar licenses is that they cannot be enforced by the user.

    EA is also distributing a modified DOSBox but they only supply the unmodified source. Didn’t have the energy to pursue it.

  • blindsight@beehaw.org
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    I’d just email the CEO, media relations, and legal (if you can get all their email addresses), inform them of their non-compliance with the GPL and ask them to resolve this swiftly before it needs to be escalated. Then if you don’t hear back in 2 business days, reply all again CCing someone they might care about: local media to their jurisdiction, the FSF, the EFF, etc.

  • Jeena@jemmy.jeena.net
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    8 days ago

    The thing is that they only need to release the source code to a user of their installer. Also, perhaps they got a special exception from the original author like dynamically linked Linux drivers.

    • bitfucker@programming.dev
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      No, not just the installer. Actually the installer doesn’t even matter here as its sole purpose is placing the binary. GPL applies when you make modifications to the program AND you distribute the program. GPL states that you MUST also give the source of the modified binary WHEN requested by those who got the modified program (this is very simplifying it)

  • Psych@lemmy.sdf.org
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    8 days ago

    I have a solution but it is going to remain unsaid here . Good day to you sir .