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Abuse of Open Source, or Fair use?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software  
Author Abuse of Open Source, or Fair use?
feedbackl00p
Hi Wigglers,

ive been having some heated back and forth with the creator of Modes, an IOS app that contains documentation for some modules.

Id really like some community input on this, as I personally feel its quite wrong, but I know this is a complicated area and there are better minds than mine.

My contention is that this app is being sold for $7, and contains open source-obtained documentation that does not cite the author of the firmware.

Im specifically talking about Parasites here. The author has copied and pasted various bits of a rewrite of the Parasites manual, has added some new basic word line art, and is now claiming it as his own work under an open source licence. I cant actually find any licence details on his webpage or github, or on the documentation itself. Theres certainly no mention of any creator on the Parasites page.


The author says he has permission for other content, but this is not referenced anywhere on his site. Im not concerned with commercial content here, but the exploitation of open source.

The author of parasites is not mentioned. Their IP is not mentioned.

The author of the rewrite is not mentioned.

After putting this to the author, he says he has reached out to the author of the rewrite of the manual. Note that he hasnt reached out to the author of the actual firmware.

Is this a worrying trend in coopting the open source spirit of modular, or am I overreacting?

The app itself is incredibly basic by a modern design point of view, its normally just long lists tens of pages long with no metadata.

It basically feels like a very cheap wrapup of community effort for personal profit.

I mean the author of Parasites doesnt charge for his actual hundreds of hours of work that benefit the community, but someone selling a third party version of his documentation without even citing them just feels wrong. The author doesnt even provide his donation link.

The author has made these available for download to the community, but is charging a premium app price for them on IOS.

Thoughts?
ayruos
Well it sounds wrong and is definitely not in good faith.

But I'm actually not sure whether it's outright illegal.

License of Parasite on Github reads:
Code (AVR projects): GPL3.0. Code (STM32F projects): MIT license. Hardware: cc-by-sa-3.0 By: Olivier Gillet (olivier@mutable-instruments.net)

The website, which contains the documentation, is hosted on this Github repo:
https://github.com/mqtthiqs/mqtthiqs.github.io

That repo nor the documentation mention explicitly how the documentation itself is licensed. So hmmm.....
soon_come
It sounds a bit shady (and immoral / disrespectful), but I also think you might be wasting your time. That guy isn't gonna make a million dollars.
luketeaford
I'm a software engineer (not a lawyer), but text is not a part of the software license as far as I am aware. I think it would be a separate IP claim for copyright like other prose etc.

That said, if the app doesn't cite the author it seems less useful to me as a user. Is this something someone said somewhere on MW? A mailing list? Some other forum? Etc etc etc

It sounds like the app is considerably less useful than the web equivalent.
feedbackl00p
I havent brought this up because i think the author is doing anything illegal, it just feels unethical and completely against the spirit of open source.

Im using the example of Parasites from the app.

You have no way of knowing from the text in the app who made it, who owns the IP, how to contact them, how to donate to them.

The author has claimed elsewhere that that this reformatting is now is own open source material so he doesnt need to cite the author.

The author has previously called this a community effort and asks for volunteers to help with formatting.

All while he is pocketing the $7 per, without even mentioning the maker of the software he is selling documentation for.

It just feels greasy.
dubonaire
I'm not sure this is a big issue. You would expect that anyone who gets this would know the origin of the content. And I think what you are paying for is not the content, but a means of accessing the content.

Another way to look at this is that easier access to manual information might actually increase sales of the module. I've been put off buying a Disting because of the number of people who complain about forgetting how to access certain functions. Maybe this is a solution that would encourage me to buy the module.

All this person's work has been provided as open source HTML to anyone. I expect that if the original manual writers have an issue they will complain.
nangu
Looks like $3.99 here, not $7.

Considering that Apple takes 30 percent of that - plus possibly another $99 per year for a developer account - I don’t think he’s in any danger of getting rich from this app. He could easily end up losing money.

Giving the guy a hard time when all he’s trying to do is provide us with a little app that might make our lives a bit easier seems kind of unnecessary..
Vortico
As mentioned by others, documentation is not source code, so the MIT license statement is unrelated.

Does Matthias Puech (who I assume wrote the Parasites documentation) care? If not, what are you worried about? You don't own the documentation, the "open-source community" (whatever that means) doesn't own it, he does. If Matthias is bothered by the plagiarism, then I suppose it's reasonable for some people to feel bothered for him, but if not, no sense wasting time thinking about it.
unexpectedbowtie
Quote:
As mentioned by others, documentation is not source code, so the MIT license statement is unrelated.


Quote:
I'm a software engineer (not a lawyer), but text is not a part of the software license as far as I am aware. I think it would be a separate IP claim for copyright like other prose etc.


Without commenting on the specific case above (since it isn't clear what license the documentation is released under), it's worth noting that someone can ostensibly release a whole package (images/documentation/code/etc) under a single license such as the GPL. Just because something is documentation rather than code doesn't mean that it is automatically precluded. It all depends on how it's been licensed by the author/IP holder.
Vortico
In this case, the license statement is "Code (STM32F projects): MIT license", so the documentation license is not specified.
th0mas
Edit Jan 17th 2019: I've spoken with Matthias (Parasites author) and he likes the application and is happy with the parasites firmware documentation, as long as it's credited with a link to the project website, which is now present in v1.3 which was released this week to the app store)

----

This is the third thread where this person has attempted to disparage me in regards to the app I've built, accusing me of stealing documentation. Which is not true.

The others are:
https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2980609#2980609

and

https://www.reddit.com/r/modular/comments/acwa9q/modes_for_ios_now_sup ports_9_modules_and_web/

I'm not going to repeat myself, except to say that I wrote the clouds parasites documentation in the application myself, so the OP's statement that the app contains open source documentation is a lie.

The next version of the app will have a "General" section on each module that links to the product pages of the module or firmware in question. I'm sorry I missed that in the current version, I've been trying to cover as much ground as possible as quickly as possible and until now people were happy with what I was doing.

If I were attempting to purposely ignore copyright I probably would have merged the O_C manual when a contributor opened a pull request, instead of emailing the manual authors and not merging the manual since I haven't heard back yet.

If anyone has a specific problem with the documentation in the application I urge them to open an issue on https://github.com/boourns/synthmodes so it can be addressed.

I'm going to go back to adding features and modules to the application now, bye.
Alliex
luketeaford wrote:
I'm a software engineer (not a lawyer), but text is not a part of the software license as far as I am aware. I think it would be a separate IP claim for copyright like other prose etc.
IANAL either, but I have worked in intellectual property in a few capacities. I don't know about documentation coverage under various licenses as mentioned above, but a copyright claim would certainly be a valid option if the original author wanted to pursue it. The cool thing about copyright, though, is that unlike trademarks there's no requirement to defend your work/mark. You can passively let people do whatever, and it has no bearing on any future claims that you want to make.
Rex Coil 7
feedbackl00p wrote:
Hi Wigglers,

ive been having some heated back and forth with the creator of Modes, an IOS app that contains documentation for some modules.

Thoughts?
You may wish to reevaluate the battles you elect to engage in. Some things are worth losing sleep over. This isn't one of them.

Alliex wrote:
IANAL either.
Geezis H. Chrysler ... can you show a molecule of respect for others within the membership here and take the four seconds required to spell that out? Is it really putting you out THAT MUCH to spell out a few lousy words rather than making everyone else work at trying to figure out what in hell you mean?

Seriously ... four fucking seconds.

Just four seconds of respect for others, that's all I ask. You probably wouldn't hold a door open for someone either. Two atoms of respect and decorum, you'd be amazed at how far that gets you in life.

Some people's children. Holy shit. meh
Vortico
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Geezis H. Chrysler ... can you show a molecule of respect for others within the membership here and take the four seconds required to spell that out? Is it really putting you out THAT MUCH to spell out a few lousy words rather than making everyone else work at trying to figure out what in hell you mean?

Takes four seconds to Google it, and the acronym has been around for 30 years.
poppinger
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Geezis H. Chrysler ... can you show a molecule of respect for others within the membership here and take the four seconds required to spell that out? Is it really putting you out THAT MUCH to spell out a few lousy words rather than making everyone else work at trying to figure out what in hell you mean?

Seriously ... four fucking seconds.

Just four seconds of respect for others, that's all I ask. You probably wouldn't hold a door open for someone either. Two atoms of respect and decorum, you'd be amazed at how far that gets you in life.

Some people's children. Holy shit. meh


Based on the quoted text, I can 100% guarantee that someone working at a restaurant has spit into your food before.
Shledge
The money is towards the app itself, not the documentation. Adding text in is trivial - having a system in place to render it is not.

The web version is free too.
3hands
I’m with Thomas on this.

To the OP. What exactly is your problem with the software? And how is it personally going to ruin your life?
snowday
pretty scummy, perhaps consider reporting it to the powers that be.
nangu
Yep, turning your first-ever post into an attempt to rekindle this silly shitstorm (just when it might have finally burned out) is kinda scummy. Please report yourself to the powers that be..
Shledge
snowday wrote:
pretty scummy, perhaps consider reporting it to the powers that be.


I sense greasy behaviour

Begone sockpuppet!
Majesticunicorn
Quote:
My contention is that this app is being sold for $7, and contains open source-obtained documentation that does not cite the author of the firmware.


If the dev team on the app made a closed door deal then I view it 'ok', but it adds risk to the dev team if they truly have 'ethical respect' towards the license or the open source maker doest care.... which is a liability to maybe both parties... I would just study them to see the challenges and present the data to other open source developers of the consequences if any arise

This is why I love the 'No-License' terms for things like this.
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