Code theft

It has happened again. Some years ago during the time i developed core it happened from time to time that people took the code i had written and release it claiming that it was their work. With a compiled application this is kinda hard to prove, but having written the code yourself you generally know what to look for and get a feeling when somebody has used your code in their own applications.

As of yesterday it became apparent that another CMS was using code from e107. I won't name this CMS to avoid adding to an already heated debate. When the e107 dev team confronted the developer of the other CMS with the fact that he had been using our code and that he should state so in his code, to abide by the GPL he denied it. This started a debate on the CMS website about this accusation, and the developer denied having used any code from e107 what so ever. Anybody who has worked with e107 that took a peek at the other CMS code knew this to be false. So we compiled a list of the most obvious parts where e107 code was used, and presented it to the other developer. He has now stated that someparts of the code is indead from e107, and we are awaiting what will happen now.

The idea behind open source is that other developers should be able to use the code that you have written in their programs, its just that they need to credit you as the original author, and the new application must also be made available under the GPL. The problem with this other CMS is that they didn't provide the credits for the source used, and also they tried to make money from it, something that is not allowed for a GPL application that uses code from another GPL application.

Finally this whole mess got me interested in source code similarity tools, and ill talk to some friends that have studied computer linguistics about this in the next couple of weeks. If they think its doable (and it should be) ill let one of the available tools analyse the e107 code and the other CMS code to give you a run down on the similarities.

Carl Cedergren
2005-04-21 07:57

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