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

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

Post by JuLieN » Sun May 29, 2011 9:39 am

Gian-Carlo Pascutto wrote:
tiger wrote: I'm talking seriously.

What if I release a legal derivative of Stockfish on the App Store and charge $5 for it?
// Christophe
It is not possible to legally publish a GPL program on the App Store by anyone but the original author. This is because the App Store terms of service are not compatible with the GPL.

This hasn't stopped many people from doing it anyway. Apple appear to be knowingly let its store be used for fraud and copyright infringement.
What Gian-Carlo wrote is true. We had a spectacular example a few months ago when one of VLC's developers, who just got hired by Nokia, asked Apple to pull-out VLC from the AppStore, and Apple had no choice but to comply. It annoyed everyone: all the other developers of VLC, all the users, but it happened anyway.

Why did it work? Because he noticed that according to the AppStore's agreement, you can only deploy an application on a handful of devices, which is in contradiction with the GPL that de facto forbids such limitations :
VLC Player for iPhone and iPad has finally been pulled off the App Store.

Stating that on their official blog, Rémi Denis-Courmont, the lead contributor of VLC project stated:
Apple removed VLC media player from its application store for iDevices. Thus the incompatibility between the GNU General Public License and the AppStore terms of use is resolved – the hard way. This end should not have come to a surprise to anyone, given the precedents.
This removal thus culminates all the speculations that were happening since Oct 2010 when Rémi Denis-Courmont had announced that they have sent a copyright infringement notice to Apple since they were violating the GPL license that VLC has been licensed under, by applying DRM to it which allowed users to install the application in 5 iOS devices only.

Apple therefore were left with 2 options: Either modify their iTunes Terms and Conditions to allow GNU licensed application or to remove the application from their app store altogether. And it looks like they chose the 2nd option.
Source: http://www.techknots.com/mobiles/vlc-fo ... app-store/

That's why Gian-Carlo is right: a GPLed program is just not compatible with the AppStore. (There are LOTS of GPLed programs in the AppStore that could be pulled out that way by one of their developers willing to annoy Apple/The other devs/the users).
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Tord Romstad
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Re: Stockfish clones in the AppStore: it's becoming a plague

Post by Tord Romstad » Sun May 29, 2011 9:45 am

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

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

Post by Mike S. » Sun May 29, 2011 9:56 am

They have thousands, if not millions of apps in the online store. I would not be surprised if they get dozens of copyright complains per week and I assume THAT is a problem (of response time). But I would be VERY surprised if Apple chose to ignore such things deliberately.

Even if the GPL license is liberal, THIS abuse is clearly not something intended or provided. As long as a license doesn't say "you can steal this software and sell it as your own", it is clear that these are fraudulent offers, unless someone has added some significant new value (more than other piece sets), and source+license.

I would collect ALL these offers and complain about the whole bunch, also by email to Apple directly, maybe to several Apple email addresses/countries which seem appropriate. And maybe repeat this weekly if required until something is done.

Also, I'd consider to claim the revenue these offers have generated so far (if any), from Apple. Maybe this can speed up things. :mrgreen: Although it probably is not a fortune (yet).

Good luck.
Regards, Mike

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

Post by Tord Romstad » Sun May 29, 2011 9:57 am

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

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

Post by Sven » Sun May 29, 2011 11:40 am

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

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

Post by Sven » Sun May 29, 2011 11:46 am

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

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

Post by Don » Sun May 29, 2011 12:16 pm

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.

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

Post by JuLieN » Sun May 29, 2011 12:28 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?

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

Post by Don » Sun May 29, 2011 6:05 pm

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.

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

Post by tiger » Sun May 29, 2011 6:47 pm

Mike S. wrote:They have thousands, if not millions of apps in the online store. I would not be surprised if they get dozens of copyright complains per week and I assume THAT is a problem (of response time). But I would be VERY surprised if Apple chose to ignore such things deliberately.

Even if the GPL license is liberal, THIS abuse is clearly not something intended or provided. As long as a license doesn't say "you can steal this software and sell it as your own", it is clear that these are fraudulent offers, unless someone has added some significant new value (more than other piece sets), and source+license.


Maybe you misunderstand the GPL terms.

The GPL is not about free as in price=0

From the GPL preamble:

Code: Select all

When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not
price.  Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you
want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new
free programs, and that you know you can do these things.
So it is wrong to consider that selling a GPL program is an abuse or was not really intended by the creators of the GPL licence.

It was done on purpose and is very explicitely allowed. The paragraph above is one of the first things you read when you read the GPL licence text.

If you feel this is wrong, then lobby against the GPL or the use of GPL in some particular cases. Don't target people who just do what is explicitely permitted.

NOTE: I'm playing the devil's advocate here. I'm not pleased either to see these "clones", but I think there is some misunderstanding on the subject and that the issue raised by them deserves a better look.


// Christophe


I would collect ALL these offers and complain about the whole bunch, also by email to Apple directly, maybe to several Apple email addresses/countries which seem appropriate. And maybe repeat this weekly if required until something is done.

Also, I'd consider to claim the revenue these offers have generated so far (if any), from Apple. Maybe this can speed up things. :mrgreen: Although it probably is not a fortune (yet).

Good luck.

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