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Free sparta and CodeTyphoon violates GPL

January 3, 2015 21 comments

Look around the net for alternatives to Delphi is like looking for water in the desert. To date there are really just 3 real options: Smart Mobile Studio, Freepascal & Lazarus– or Oxygene Pascal from Remobjects.

But FPC and Lazarus are open-source products, meaning that anyone can freely fork and create their own versions within certain limits. There is however one significant rule to this: you must publish whatever changes you have made, or at least provide a working download link so that people have free access to your variation of the root product. That is the deal you signed when you forked the source code and you have an obligation by law to honor that agreement.

Violating individual rights is not a good idea, you will get a response

Violating individual rights is not a good idea, you will get a response

What really pisses me off is that the two forks of Lazarus out there, being sold as commercial solutions, completely ignores the license. Recently I came across a fork of Lazarus called “free sparta” – which is, as it stands now, is a complete insult to the people who have created FPC and Lazarus, dedicating years of hard work to build and maintain both product and community.

First of all the product is commercial (GPL to commercial? Wow! That’s a new twist), meaning that you are basically asked to pay for a product which is bound by international law to be free. Secondly, and this just infuriates me so much, they do not provide any links or SVN/GIT access to the sources. Which they are bound to do by law since the original codebase is GPL.

A second product, called CodeTyphoon takes the whole thing even further; besides being “selective” about the GPL – they demonstrate no scruples re-naming components and units, removing author information and origin of code just to suit their own needs.

Clean up your act

If you are going to compete with commercial products then at least have the balls to follow the rules. Stop stealing code which is illegal, and stop re-branding other people’s work as your own to make a profit (which is not only illegal and a violation of the license but also immoral and intellectually bankrupt).

And what are the rules? You should think they were oh-so complex, but in both these cases they can be summed up as:

  • Ask the original authors about re-branding their units
  • Do not remove author notes and/or comments from the code
  • If they decline your question, show some bloody respect and either exclude it from your product, or use the names provided by the authors.
  • Stop violating the GPL license because that will have consequences
  • Stop trying to make money on other people’s work
  • Provide public read access to either SVN or GIT where people can fork your changes, that is how you got the code in the first place – denying others the same access tells volumes about what type of person you are

Ignoring these simple steps is not just a violation of the GPL license, it’s also a sure way to fuck-up the resolve and determination of the original authors. Why the hell should the FPC and Lazarus community keep working for free while you earn money on their work? Bet your mother must be real proud of you.

But yes, doing what you do is against the law and it is a violation of the GPL license. There is no middle ground here, you either follow the rules or you fucking leave it alone.

As you probably know the GPL license is connected to some of the largest companies in the world – back up by a bloody army of lawyers. As such, anyone violating the GPL can quickly find themselves in a shit-load of trouble, because the GPL is protected by the same organization which protects Linux. This means that if anyone reports your sorry-ass to the GNU foundation – you will be held financially accountable. No matter where you live.

Dont think it wont happen, I’ll happily make the phone-call myself if I have to. And believe you me, the GNU foundation have made examples out of smaller fish that you.

Stealing code and re-branding it is something that makes me furious. Sharing code, learning from each other is one things – but trying to gain financially on what other people have made? Thats just fucking rotten.

If you want to play soccer, then you play by the rules or you don’t play at all. It’s not a debate or open for your personal interpretations of the law. You publish the code ASAP or you will be reported to the GNU foundation.

How to make money on GPL

The open-source model was initially created “TO NOT MAKE MONEY”. So just wrap your mind around that straight away. No middle ground, no “but I could” — no. Forget it. It doesnt work that way. It’s founded on a 100% no-money philosophy.

Open Source pushes the potential of income away from the product, and places the potential in the use of the product and services around the product. In other words you dont have to publish your DOC’s as free, they can be sold separately. Also, you dont need to provide an installer – that can also be sold separately.

But the product itself, no matter if you spend 10 years evolving the code — if it’s GPL it’s free. And if you persist in forking FPC and Lazarus you must provide a working, open for all, SVN, GIT or otherwise functioning download URL.

End of debate.

I rarely get involved in stuff like this, but this time — failure to follow this and respect the original authors, will result in a formal report to the GNU foundation.

Boycott these products

Support FPC, say no to thieves!

Support FPC, say no to thieves!

I urge everyone to boycot these illegal products. Several individuals have already sent protest emails to pilotLogic, the company behind CodeTyphoon, as well as the “free sparta” cash-in project; They refuse to respond (as expected).

It is an insult to the programmers behind FPC and Lazarus and to show your support of FPC and Lazarus, I hope you agree and stay away or stop using these products.

You may also want to send an email requesting SVN/GIT access to both — reminding them that they are obliged by international law to provide this, regardless of their own personal “interpretation” of the law.