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CorB

How to protect your free code from companies predating on it ?

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Hi,

 

Hi, Some of the users of 43oh might have noted that @@Rei Vilo  has pulled out his LCD screen library suite (topic http://forum.43oh.com/topic/3911-energia-library-lcd-screen-library-suite/).

 

Initially it was unclear to me why this happened. Today Rei made it clear after some more people asked where the library had gone. It seems some - which company is not important for this discussion - company had used Rei's work regardless of the fact that in his library Rei had mentioned copyright and licence, Creative Commons, Attribution, Share Alike, Non Commercial and implemented a donation-based system.

 

In short ... it feels like a company was interested in the work of the shared work of Rei and decided to predate on it.

 

So the question is ... how can we protect our coding that we mainly build to share with other hobbyists and makers in such a way that companies that try to predate on us dont get a chance of claiming "that code is ours" and thus blocking our cooperative efforts as hobbyists/makers.

 

Anybody with a clear idea ?

 

regards.

Cor

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The problem is two-fold.

  1. Companies claim intellectual property (IP) on maker's work, even if the maker mentions all the credits and references she has used and the maker's development is truly genuine.
  2. Companies uses maker's work and violate the maker's IP and copyright, even if the maker protects her work with a licence like the Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/'>Attribution

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Maybe I'm misunderstanding the problem.

 

But regardless of how you license the code if a company has patents on intellectual property they have legal grounds. There isn't really much us hobbyists can do. A single hobbyist against a big company with lawyers doesn't feel like a fair fight.

 

Using git and online repo's probably helps. because it shows the development of the code over time. Thus showing original ideas / original code. Unless the "intellectual property issues and licence infringements" were related to UI design elements. then I guess you'd need to change them...

 

Edit: I did misunderstand the issue, @@Rei Vilo's post clears it up.

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I had no more contacts with the company and some time has passed, so I consider this specific case closed.

 

Now, for future projects, what are the recommendations to protect shared content from being used by non-hobbyists?

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And this is why a lot of my software is not shared...

I want to help like students and such, but many can take advantage to make money and not even give credit to the maker.

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The only way to protect it from being stolen is by not sharing it.

 

The next best is sharing only compiled binaries/hex, maybe.

 

Aside from that, it's hard to protect something, because you'd also have to figure out that they stole it in the first place. Unless it's so super unique, and you constantly monitor for it, you won't know. And if you did, you'd have to prove they stole it. Then the legal process, etc. For a hobbyist, it's near impossible.

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Unfortunately I have to agree with @@cde

 

It's a nuisance when it happens to code you wrote for your own edutainment. It starts to hurt when you helped to "inspire" your own competition.

 

But then, I believe in karma and giving back to the community that got me started. At least with my pet project, it wouldn't have come that far without the encouragement I received and contacts I made early on thanks to sharing source code and progress reports.

 

Though, I admit to holding back some material to keep at least the lazy copycats at bay.

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The issue seems to be a real one.

 

Stack Exchange has released A New Code License: The MIT, this time with Attribution Required and has sparked a wild reaction. 


Update: January 15, 2016
 
Thank you for your candidness, patience and feedback. We're going to delay the implementation for now - we'll be back soon to open some more discussions.

 

 

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Not sure if the controversy on Stack Exchange is comparable. There the main cause of conflict seems to be practicability of attribution and other license terms in the context of an educational resource (e.g. exemplary code snippets). As one of the commenters put it: Would you use a foreign language phrase book when it would require attribution? ("Wie komme ich zum Bahnhof? Source: Chicken's Pocket Phrasebook, distribution of this phrase must include the license terms, which are ....")

 

Publishing a complete library under a license and expecting people that use the library to comply with its terms seems more practical. Though even that can become unwieldy for large projects that draw from multiple sources with often conflicting terms.

 

IMHO many open source licenses are becoming as relevant (and questionable) as the despised EULA.

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@@chicken I doubt your example is fair, as quoting a single line from a "tourist guide" can be considered fair use. Though even in the cases where a single line is quoted it is often attributed ("To be or not to be, that is the question" -- Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

 

In code, a lot of solutions will prove to have similar strategies, so plagiarism is unavoidable. When an entire library is used without modification or attribution, this is clearly not fair use or coincidence, but violation of the license terms.

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Sorry, if that came across wrongly. I agree that using entire libraries without regard of the license terms is wrong.

 

Rei Vilo referred to the discussion on Stack Exchange (the phrase book), which IMHO is not really equivalent to the problem he faces.

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There's no way you can stop it, you can only make it difficult. I have seen people taking my code (or parts of it) and then claiming it as theirs. Even my board designs were "borrowed." If my code is simple and not unique, I don't mind when other's are using it. If I spend many hours writing the code, reading data sheets, and researching, that's another story.

 

Oh, and if you don't like when companies steal software, then you should stop using Android :) 

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There's no way you can stop it, you can only make it difficult. I have seen people taking my code (or parts of it) and then claiming it as theirs. Even my board designs were "borrowed." If my code is simple and not unique, I don't mind when other's are using it. If I spend many hours writing the code, reading data sheets, and researching, that's another story.

 

Oh, and if you don't like when companies steal software, then you should stop using Android :)

In addition to what Rob says. Our ideas are *not* unique. What I mean by this is that if any one of us can write code to do x.y.z, then there are probably thousands of other developers who could write identical, or very similar code. Without ever seeing our code initially.

 

So I kind of get the idea what we do is our thing, and all that. But "hoarding" code in my opinion is very bad form. Also, if one writes code around a bit of hardware that other wise does not have software written for it ( drivers ) I tend to look at that situation that the code is not owned by the writer anyhow. It's *not* their hardware IP, how in the hell can they claim software IP ? Anyone can read a datasheet, or technical reference manual, and write code around that . . .

 

All that said however, it is really bad form and quite honestly chicken s**t of a company, or business to behave in this manner. But you know . . . why else do you guys / gals think that companies make their hardware, and software designs open sourced ?

 

EDIT:

By the way, my thoughts have nothing to do with what is legal, and whats not. My idea are based on what I would consider good ethics.

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