GIMP developers in Copyright Violation scandal!
Now that I've got your attention I actually want to mention Google code search. Google code search was released a while back and people found various funny things to do with it. The obvious thing for any geek to do is an ego search, and amongst the results of the google code search for Alan Horkan the following comment jumped right out at me:
;; Alan Horkan 2004. Copyright. ;; I'll fix it and license it differntly later if anyone cares to askThe comment (spelling mistake and all) is from a gimp script to insert a guide by percent.
Okay so maybe not a huge copyright violation scandal but it gives you an idea of how little code review gets done. No wonder big corporations have serious concerns about where code comes from and SCO were able to create so much fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Without explicitly asking first the developers committed code I had never intended to be included. Scripts were an easy fix for my own use and I had attached them to a bug report as a good way to show what I thought was needed. I had hoped for a better properly integrated solution written in C instead of several smaller scripts cluttering up the menus (see also Inkscape). Rather than argue it I took the easy out and decided to let them continue on, one less argument I didn't need. In truth I did argue the point, this was just one of several scripts, and I did repeatedly ask them to correct the copyright information on at least one of the other scripts (which they eventually did) but it seems this last one slipped by.
If I were a litigious person where would the responsibility lie, the developer who committed the code, the maintainers, or the distributors? Not only did the GIMP developers fail to adequately review the code but none of the distributors reviewed the code either, contributory infringement anyone?
Comparesoft (founded by Michael Robertson) also appear to have violated my copyrights by distributing two of my scripts. Mostly I am unimpressed by their failure to ask or inform me of their intention to use my scripts and distribute them to users. Not sure how to proceed or if I should do anything about it at all. My scripts were marked as copyright, not GPL and were not intended for redistribution beyond personal use and I had expected people to ask before doing anything with them. Irregardless it is common courtesy to ask and vigilant lawyers usually insist on their clients asking (as can been seen from frequent letters from magazine publishers requesting permission) even for software released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Comparesoft are well within their rights to distribute rebranded open source software but I do hope their customers understand that they are really only being charged for the technical support and the same software is freely available from other sources.
The ego search reminded me of quite a few projects I had contributed to and where some of that copious spare time spent on Open Source software had gone to. It gave me a good feeling to realise quite how many different projects I have managed to have even a small influence on. A million monkeys on a million typewriters?