Oops. MPAA isn’t as pristine as they touted themselves to be.
I saw this and just about wet my pants, I laughed so hard. The MPAA has been accused of violating the copyright of a student who wrote a P2P sniffer. Excuse me while I laugh a bit again…
Back in October, the MPAA sent a letter to 25 universities encouraging them to install something they were referring to as a "university toolkit." This Ubuntu based tool would help track and report on students who were sharing files via P2P. This is something that the MPAA is trying to push and sponsor universally.
However, as you might suspect, there are a few problems with the software. First, depending on how given university’s network is setup, the software can pose a serious privacy problem. It appears to be a bit on the invasive side (I suppose). However, last Monday, one of the developers of the tool started posting take down notices.
While Ubuntu is licensed under the General Public License, compliance with the license demands that developers not only provide the completed binary, but the source code behind it as well as publish changes made to any Ubuntu core files. Without the source code, distributing the binary alone constitutes copyright infringement under the GPL.
As you might suspect, this is a problem for the MPAA. If they have to provide the source code with the app, experienced hackers would likely find a way around the app and still be able to swap files.
Of course, demands made to the MPAA to remove the tool were met with silence. As a last resort, the developer contacted the MPAA’s ISP and demanded that the files be taken down. THAT apparently did the trick, as the files are now strangely absent.
With all of the hub-bub that has been made over this issue with the RIAA and the MPAA, the two groups working towards a single, similar agenda, this situation bothers me. It seems that the groups don’t necessarily find value in upholding the rights of others, but insist that theirs are without question.
If it seems as though I am a little upset over this, I am. I don’t traffic in stolen MP3’s or movies (though I have been approached by friends to share files). Its just not worth the grief that I have seen and have reported on over the past few years. However, this move, a blatant violation of the GPL by the MPAA, seems a bit bone headed on their part; and they apparently didn’t even ask the developer’s permission to use the software.