Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague...

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tiger
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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by tiger » Sun May 29, 2011 6:59 pm

Tord Romstad wrote:
tiger wrote:There is a part that talks about copying another developper's work,
Yes. This is how it reads:
Apple's App Store Review Guidelines wrote:If you attempt to cheat the system (for example, by trying to trick the review process, steal data from users, copy another developer's work, or manipulate the ratings) your apps will be removed from the store and you will be expelled from the developer program.
tiger wrote:but I think it's about illegal copying.
You think it is. I think it is not. What they truly meant, only Apple can tell. All I can do is inform Apple about what is happening, and they decide what to do. If your interpretation turns out to be the correct one, it's of course not a problem to me. The existence of commercial copies of Stockfish on the App Store obviously doesn't harm me in any way. It only harms customers and authors of other commercial chess programs on the App Store. If and when someone complains to me about such clones, I can tell them that I have informed Apple, and that they seem to be OK with it.
The fact that you are the author of a GPL program does not give you the right to prevent others from selling it.

By releasing Stockfish under the GPL licence you have given up the right to prevent anyone from selling it.

Stockfish is not under your control anymore. You cannot dictate what others can do or cannot do with it. If you are not pleased with it, it's too late.
Once again, this isn't about the GPL at all. Nor is it about what I am pleased or not pleased with. It's entirely about Apple's rules. I'm providing Apple with the information they need to decide whether some programs conform to those rules, nothing more and nothing less.

;; Tord

Gian-Carlo has pointed out that the GPL is incompatible with the App Store licensing agreement, so it seems after all that you DO have some control on this.

I would really like to see you taking responsability about the issue.

Instead of hiding behind Apple's rules now, while you were apparently against the practice in an earlier post, please state clearly your stance on the matter.

Is it OK or not, in a general context, to charge for a copy of Stockfish (either the engine alone or the engine and some GUI), without your explicit consent, provided that the seller abides by the GPL terms?

This is not a thoretical question. I'm considering distributing Stockfish and charging for it.


// Christophe

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by tiger » Sun May 29, 2011 7:00 pm

Tord Romstad wrote:
tiger wrote:What if I release a legal derivative of Stockfish on the App Store and charge $5 for it?
Not sure I understand the question. It wouldn't be breaking any laws, by definition of the word "legal", so I guess that isn't what you're asking about. If you meant to ask whether it would break Apple's rules, this depends partly on whether the work "copy" in the guidelines mean any copy (like I think) or just illegal copy (like you think), and partly on how different your derivative is from the original. If your derivative would be significantly different and/or contain valuable additions compared to the official, free Stockfish, it would obviously be more than OK from any perspective. I, Apple and everybody else would be very happy about such a program. But this can't possibly be what you meant to ask about either.

The programs Julien mentioned at the beginning of this thread can hardly be described as "derivatives". They are exact copies apart from different app names and icons, and in one case (Deep Fish) superficial graphical tweaks.

;; Tord

I'm explicitely talking here about selling an exact copy. No change, no addition. Just the bare program, for $5.


// Christophe

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by tiger » Sun May 29, 2011 7:03 pm

Sven Schüle wrote:
Tord Romstad wrote:
tiger wrote:What if I release a legal derivative of Stockfish on the App Store and charge $5 for it?
Not sure I understand the question. It wouldn't be breaking any laws, by definition of the word "legal", so I guess that isn't what you're asking about. If you meant to ask whether it would break Apple's rules, this depends partly on whether the work "copy" in the guidelines mean any copy (like I think) or just illegal copy (like you think), and partly on how different your derivative is from the original. If your derivative would be significantly different and/or contain valuable additions compared to the official, free Stockfish, it would obviously be more than OK from any perspective. I, Apple and everybody else would be very happy about such a program. But this can't possibly be what you meant to ask about either.

The programs Julien mentioned at the beginning of this thread can hardly be described as "derivatives". They are exact copies apart from different app names and icons, and in one case (Deep Fish) superficial graphical tweaks.

;; Tord
It might be legal w.r.t. GPL if someone would sell a 100% Stockfish copy under its original name (including a copy of the license text), or under a different name while mentioning the original.

However, I doubt it can be legal from GPL viewpoint to sell a 99,99% Stockfish copy (graphics, strings, icons changed) while hiding its origin and also without the license text.

Sven

I'm not really interested by this case because if the stuff makes money the publisher will probably opt to abide by the GPL terms in order to keep his revenue stream.

Releasing a source code that anybody can get somewhere else is not like giving up a trade secret.

And how many iPhone owners are going to compile the source code themselves anyway?


// Christophe

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by tiger » Sun May 29, 2011 7:07 pm

Don wrote:I think there was a GPL violation.

This comes from the FAQ from the free software foundation:
If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive copies of the source code, along with the written offer.
Is there such a written offer that comes with the distribution?

Also, these "for sale" copies fall under GPL and they must be accompanied by a license. So there is a clearly a GPL violation.

I doubt GPL was designed to allow someone to market a free work by misrepresenting it as private without a GPL license.

Is this really all we are complaining about here?

You mean these guys just have to splash the GPL text somewhere, provide a link to Tord's source code or their own 2 lines changes and we are done?



// Christophe

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by tiger » Sun May 29, 2011 7:21 pm

Don wrote:
JuLieN wrote:
Don wrote:I think there was a GPL violation.

This comes from the FAQ from the free software foundation:
If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive copies of the source code, along with the written offer.
Is there such a written offer that comes with the distribution?

Also, these "for sale" copies fall under GPL and they must be accompanied by a license. So there is a clearly a GPL violation.

I doubt GPL was designed to allow someone to market a free work by misrepresenting it as private without a GPL license.
We, computer chess people, are keeping the poor FSF busy. I bet three programs, Fruit, Crafty and Stockfish, represent 90% of their legal notices ;)
I don't think the universe revolves around us. I'm sure they get numerous claims of violations from many different types of applications. If this type of thing is happening even in computer chess you can be sure it's a general epidemic.

I would bet copyright violations on computer chess engine does not even appear on their radar, and if it does they are probably planning to take action in 2050.

The GnuChess engine has been illegally used many times on many platforms including Windows for PC, Windows Mobile, Symbian and PalmOS to create illegal commercial products and nothing has ever been done.

This has been going on for 20 years.

It is very naive to release code under the GPL and assume that the work is safely protected. The author must take responsability and invest time and energy in order to enforce fair use.

GnuChess, Fruit and now Stockfish are brilliant demonstrations that the GPL is not safe for small projects.

The GPL works for big projects like Linux. I believe it makes Linux unbreakable, and that's a good thing (I use Linux on all my computers, when possible).

Using the GPL for small projects is in effect equivalent to releasing your work to the public domain. Not from a legal point of view. I mean from a practical point of view.



// Christophe

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by tiger » Sun May 29, 2011 7:25 pm

Sven Schüle wrote:
tiger wrote:The derivatives are bringing money to Apple. Do you think they want them out? If pressed to act, they will first ask the developpers to comply with the GPL.
I am not even sure about the GPL compliance of these commercial Stockfish copies. Two examples:

- Do they distribute the license text together with their application?

- Do they mark their programs as "changed" w.r.t. original Stockfish? They are clearly different from the original program at least on the user interface level (graphics, strings at least) so the GPL requires to mention that.

Not complying to any of these two items above (there might be even more examples) would already make them illegal without considering the AppStore guidelines. The original Stockfish authors would have the right to ask them to fully comply with the GPL in that case.

Sven

That's what I meant.

I they are not compying at this time, this does not mean they are going to be removed from the App Store.

They are just going to be asked politely to comply. And they will, most probably.

OK, let's say they comply with the GPL. I have heard that they were "stealing". Now do they steal or not?


// Christophe

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by Don » Sun May 29, 2011 8:56 pm

tiger wrote:
Don wrote:I think there was a GPL violation.

This comes from the FAQ from the free software foundation:
If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive copies of the source code, along with the written offer.
Is there such a written offer that comes with the distribution?

Also, these "for sale" copies fall under GPL and they must be accompanied by a license. So there is a clearly a GPL violation.

I doubt GPL was designed to allow someone to market a free work by misrepresenting it as private without a GPL license.

Is this really all we are complaining about here?
I like your question because I usually try get the heart of the matter myself and determine what it is that we are complaining about.

In this case, at least 2 questions come to mind.

1. What is it that many of us find so offensive about this?

2. What can we do about it if anything?

I cannot speak for everyone else, but it hurts my sense of justice to see someone taking the work of someone else, profiting and taking credit for it. The profit part is not nearly as offensive as the taking credit part - at least for me.

What can we do about it? Probably not much that "we" can do, but there are steps that Tord can take if that is what he decides.

So I guess the answer to your question, "is this really all we are complaining about here?" is a clear and resounding "maybe." I would like to see Tord and the Stockfish team be given full credit and for there to be full disclosure on the packaging about what is really happening.


You mean these guys just have to splash the GPL text somewhere, provide a link to Tord's source code or their own 2 lines changes and we are done?



// Christophe
Actually, yes. I don't know about the Apple issue which is another thing, but the GPL license encourages this. If you licence under GPL you are essentially giving away your rights in matters like this.

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by Evert » Sun May 29, 2011 9:08 pm

tiger wrote: Is it OK or not, in a general context, to charge for a copy of Stockfish (either the engine alone or the engine and some GUI), without your explicit consent, provided that the seller abides by the GPL terms?
My limited understanding is that the GPL is incompatible with the App-store. Therefore, to release something through the App-store, you have to change the licence for the App-store release. If you do not own the copyright to the GPL code, you can't do that. Therefore you cannot take someone else's GPL program and sell it in the App-store.
This is different from taking someone's GPL code and selling it on, which is fine as long as you follow the rules laid out by the GPL.

That's my understanding anyway.

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by Dirt » Sun May 29, 2011 9:11 pm

tiger wrote:You did not miss the part where it says that it is LEGAL to sell a GPL program as long as you comply with the GPL: in order to do so you just have to provide your source code to any CUSTOMER who ASKS FOR IT.
I don't think so. The applicable paragraph appears to be section 6d

Code: Select all

Convey the object code by offering access from a designated place (gratis or for a charge), and offer equivalent access to the Corresponding Source in the same way through the same place at no further charge.  You need not require recipients to copy the Corresponding Source along with the object code.  If the place to copy the object code is a network server, the Corresponding Source may be on a different server (operated by you or a third party) that supports equivalent copying facilities, provided you maintain clear directions next to the object code saying where to find the Corresponding Source.  Regardless of what server hosts the Corresponding Source, you remain obligated to ensure that it is available for as long as needed to satisfy these requirements.
I see nothing there that says the customer has to ask for it; I think a link should just be there when you download the program.

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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by Dirt » Sun May 29, 2011 9:28 pm

Don wrote:I think there was a GPL violation.

This comes from the FAQ from the free software foundation:
If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive copies of the source code, along with the written offer.
Is there such a written offer that comes with the distribution?
That appears to be from GPLv2. The Stockfish I have is under GPLv3.

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