MPAA hit with DMCA takedown after GPL violation

Ars Technica is reporting that the Motion Picture Association of America have been hit with a DMCA takedown notice after offering a download of an Ubuntu-based networking monitoring tool without source code, a direct violation of the GPL.

The MPAA software was supposedly designed to assist universities in detecting people using software to download and share copyrighted material and was apparently based on the Ubuntu Linux distribution.

The obvious irony here is that in trying to distribute a piece of software designed to prevent copyright infringement, the MPAA have - infringed copyright by breaking the GPL licence. Leaving that irony aside for a moment though, and it's clear that Matthew Garret, who filed the DMCA takedown on behalf of the Ubuntu team, is sending out a clear message - that GPL violation is exactly the same as violating any other copyright.

Those who aren't fans of the free software/open source movement often cite their doubt as to whether the GPL is enforceable, especially when you are dealing with individuals rights, who don't necessarily have the legal resources to chase up all possible violators. In this case, the MPAA obviously realised that not complying was definitely not an option, as the commercial arms involved in Ubuntu (and possibly others) would have piped up and put pressure on them.

Would this have happened with a small GPL'd project with limited resources, however, if a similar violation happened? It's not really an easy question to answer, although there are efforts such as GPL Violations to raise awareness of smaller violations of this nature.

Enforcing the licences is definitely important. It's important to send the message out to potential exploiters that there are consequences for not following those terms.

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold - http://peter.upfold.org.uk/

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: MPAA hit with DMCA takedown after GPL violation

  1. William (guest)

    # Posted on 04 December 2007 at 02:38 PM

    Frequently when smaller projects are involved the takedown notice are enforced by a vocal community of activists exerting the pressure of shame into compliance. There was a video codec chip maker that lifted XviD code and used it in their own algorithms. The specific routine left the fingerprint unique to XviD and they were discovered by the community. The company caved to the pressure without resorting to government interference at all. Most companies don't want the negative publicity.



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