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Author Topic: What is the forum's policy on blatant software license abuse?  (Read 3653 times)
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August 14, 2014, 01:30:21 PM
 #1

An ever-increasing problem is the blatant ignoring of free software licenses from countries with no real recourse of action against them. Specifically my concern, being the author of cgminer, is that it is free software licensed under the Gnu Public License version 3 and there are now more and more hardware manufacturers from China creating their own forks and distributing binary-only versions of cgminer outside of China without any source code being provided and any requests for source are ignored. (Note that this is NOT universal and there are some manufacturers from China who strictly abide by the guidelines.)

Given the forum has a policy regarding that "Trading of goods that are illegal in the seller's or buyer's country is forbidden", the Chinese manufacturers selling their hardware to clients throughout the world means they are effectively violating this policy. They are using the forum as their main announce/advertising outlet for other countries while abusing the reach of laws that don't affect them across their borders. While cgminer is affected in this way, there is no doubt that with the vast majority of bitcoin-related code being released under free software licenses, that this problem will increase over time.

I've posted this in the public meta section because I wish public discourse on this issue along with hopefully an official stance on this issue.

Ref: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=3629.0

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August 14, 2014, 01:47:39 PM
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I have seen these closed source forks of cgminer too. It's not just a manufacturer thing, seems some altcoin developers have forked it too to mine other hashing algos and closed sourced it likely so they could put in trojans. It never even crossed my mind that cgminer was GPL.

As someone who plans to release software under GPLv3, this is very offputting. It would be nice if there was some way we could deal with this without having to rely on the legal system. Have you tried sending takedown notices to any websites/web hosts that are hosting the infringing software?

The forum should probably remove their threads too if they are providing the software on the forum (IE. they are linking to it).

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August 14, 2014, 10:42:33 PM
 #3

I have publicly and in private message requested source code on a few occasions and pretty much always been met with silence. There is no direct recourse against them unless they have distributors in the US, Europe etc. On the other hand, allowing them to advertise and sell their products in other continents via this forum is allowing them to contravene the laws abroad. If there are forks out there from people in these countries, using the law there would make it possible for me to send a takedown notice if I'm informed of it (I've not been informed of any so far so what you tell me about altcoins here is news).

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August 15, 2014, 12:12:31 AM
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Have you tried reporting the posts that include links to the aforementioned software? If so, what was the resulting moderator action, if any?

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August 15, 2014, 12:15:06 AM
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Have you tried reporting the posts that include links to the aforementioned software? If so, what was the resulting moderator action, if any?
I am the moderator in the (mining) section concerned which is why I wish this discussed publicly and there be a forum policy set on it if possible before taking any action that involves the forum.

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August 15, 2014, 02:29:53 AM
 #6

Name and shame is at least a start. I'll be adding software related stuff to the manufacturer trustworthiness thread in a future revision, so we can work on what is useful information (unscored) and what could be scored.

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August 15, 2014, 02:53:46 AM
 #7

It takes a special kind of asshole to take something alike open-source, then violate the alike provision presumably because they're worried someone will do exactly what they did.

Name&shame sounds like a good course of action. These companies are clearly untrustworthy and should have relevant accounts labeled as such. I don't think bans are really necessary or deletions favorable. I'd be worried about unintended consequences of a hard policy vs. a "decentralized" community response via the trust system. The more exposure the company has on the forum with an extremely negative trust rating, the better.
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August 15, 2014, 04:10:23 AM
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It takes a special kind of asshole to take something alike open-source, then violate the alike provision presumably because they're worried someone will do exactly what they did.

Name&shame sounds like a good course of action. These companies are clearly untrustworthy and should have relevant accounts labeled as such. I don't think bans are really necessary or deletions favorable. I'd be worried about unintended consequences of a hard policy vs. a "decentralized" community response via the trust system. The more exposure the company has on the forum with an extremely negative trust rating, the better.

I'm having it at the moment, everyone is using my pictures willy nilly without even attempting to credit me (which only covers for non profit), ask for permission or license. I've tried to avoid stopping to watermarks but... Searched for ONE image last night and came up with 92 infringements.

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August 15, 2014, 05:11:39 AM
 #9

I'm not really sure how international law deals with license violators. If I remember correctly, all the UN countries are supposedly obligated to follow a set of official legislation dealing with copyright violation. In essence, that should apply directly to copyleft works as well. However, even if that was the case, some countries (China, for example) flagrantly protect pirates and copyright violators to a legal extent. Since it is difficult to establish which country's laws cover a particular company transacting over the Internet, posts bordering on GPL license violations would have to be arbitrarily decided on by Theymos (and maybe the staff).

You might want to consult with this site though. It looks legit, but I only found it via Google, so I would be a bit wary anyway.
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August 15, 2014, 03:02:26 PM
 #10

Beyond being unethical and stupid, closed source miners are a risk to the ecosystem. What happens when some important update is needed to these devices? Or what if they're shipping with a back door? What if they need fixes to work with p2pool or some other future mining improvement?

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August 15, 2014, 03:30:50 PM
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Beyond being unethical and stupid, closed source miners are a risk to the ecosystem. What happens when some important update is needed to these devices? Or what if they're shipping with a back door? What if they need fixes to work with p2pool or some other future mining improvement?

Aren't you using monero? There is no open source ATI GPU miner for monero yet. It's one of the things that put me off CryptoNote completely.

Have a look at their thread:
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=583449.0

2/4 of the mining softwares listed are closed source.

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August 16, 2014, 06:56:57 AM
 #12

I think it'd be great to track this sort of stuff, and having a thread calling out known abusers. Would give us a clear list of vendors to boycott.
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August 16, 2014, 07:01:50 AM
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Dogie, it would be very helpful if you did compile this information as well. Thanks for your efforts on this forum.

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August 16, 2014, 07:03:40 AM
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I think it'd be great to track this sort of stuff, and having a thread calling out known abusers. Would give us a clear list of vendors to boycott.
I think many users would be very surprised and disappointed by possibly some of their more favourite vendors in such a list since they tend to run hand in hand with production in China and being at the best price point for hardware.

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August 16, 2014, 04:13:17 PM
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I think it'd be great to track this sort of stuff, and having a thread calling out known abusers. Would give us a clear list of vendors to boycott.
I think many users would be very surprised and disappointed by possibly some of their more favourite vendors in such a list since they tend to run hand in hand with production in China and being at the best price point for hardware.
Would you mind listing the others that you are aware of ? Aren't all the A1's abusing your license ? Does Bitmain publish their changes ?
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August 16, 2014, 04:16:59 PM
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You could conjure the ghost of RMS to haunt them..... or sue them, whatever suits you best.
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August 16, 2014, 05:53:50 PM
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Aren't you staff? Can't you just moderate them out of existence on this forum? There are dozens of other forums they could sell on but still you would have them gone from here.

The bad thing about proving someone stole your software for a closed source version is you can't really look at the code in their version to tell even though you know it's yours.

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August 16, 2014, 10:19:16 PM
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I think it'd be great to track this sort of stuff, and having a thread calling out known abusers. Would give us a clear list of vendors to boycott.
I think many users would be very surprised and disappointed by possibly some of their more favourite vendors in such a list since they tend to run hand in hand with production in China and being at the best price point for hardware.
Would you mind listing the others that you are aware of ? Aren't all the A1's abusing your license ? Does Bitmain publish their changes ?
All the A1 variants are abusing it, and every single dragon type miner thing and BTC olympus and some LKETC thingy and I lost track of all the other variants coming out since they all started blatantly ignoring my requests and I didn't have the energy to pursue them.

Yes the big surprise is bitmain. They released their S1 code easily, we almost had to beg them to get the S2 code and the S3 code they have silently ignored any requests for code.

Aren't you staff? Can't you just moderate them out of existence on this forum? There are dozens of other forums they could sell on but still you would have them gone from here.
Yes I can and that's what this thread is about. If it is deemed they are violating the forum policy I would be able to request they release their source code or threaten to have their threads removed. However there is no policy on this currently and I'm quite sure users would be outraged if I took it upon myself to start deleting all the bitmain threads with a GPL takedown notice without there at least being a forum policy on it being created and some warning.

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August 16, 2014, 11:36:57 PM
 #19

If it is deemed they are violating the forum policy I would be able to request they release their source code or threaten to have their threads removed.
I think this is a super idea - If you don't comply with cgminer GPL terms, don't expect to use these forums as a platform for selling your wares.
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August 16, 2014, 11:51:40 PM
 #20

There is an excellent post here concerning this very issue & highlighting ckolivas's (as well as most miners, I think) concerns:

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=417159.msg8382331#msg8382331

I believe public pressure should be applied in the first instance and, if that fails, some kind of moderation warning before any ban should be considered - and even then only in extreme cases or when these manufacturers are blatantly up to no good. Public humiliation is a very powerful tool that has served the Bitcoin community here well so far on previous occasions.

Something must be done for sure  Wink

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