Violations of the GNU Licenses
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If you think you see a violation of the GNU
the first thing you
should do is double-check the facts:
- Does the distribution contain a copy of the License?
- Does it clearly state which software is covered by the License?
Does it say anything misleading, perhaps giving the impression
that something is covered by the License when in fact it is not?
- Is source code included in the distribution?
- Is a written offer for source code included with a distribution of
- Is the available source code complete, or is it designed for
linking in other non-free modules?
If there seems to be a real violation, the next thing you need to do
is record the details carefully:
- the precise name of the product
- the name of the person or organization distributing it
- email addresses, postal addresses and phone numbers for how to
contact the distributor(s)
- the exact name of the package whose license is violated
- how the license was violated:
- Is the copyright notice of the copyright holder included?
- Is the source code completely missing?
- Is there a written offer for source that's incomplete in some
way? This could happen if it provides a contact address or
network URL that's somehow incorrect.
- Is there a copy of the license included in the distribution?
- Is some of the source available, but not all? If so, what parts
The more of these details that you have, the easier it is for the
copyright holder to pursue the matter.
Once you have collected the details, you should send a precise report
to the copyright holder of the packages that are being misused. The
copyright holder is the one who is legally authorized to take action
to enforce the license.
If the copyright holder is the Free Software
Foundation, please send the report to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
It's important that we be able to write back to you to get more
information about the violation or product. So, if you use an
anonymous remailer, please provide a return path of some sort. If you'd
like to encrypt your correspondence, just send a brief mail saying so, and
we'll make appropriate arrangements.
Note that the GPL, and other copyleft licenses, are copyright licenses.
This means that only the copyright holders are empowered to act against
violations. The FSF acts on all GPL violations reported on FSF
copyrighted code, and we offer assistance to any other copyright holder
who wishes to do the same.
But, we cannot act on our own if we do not hold copyright. Thus, be sure
to find out who the copyright holders of the software are before reporting