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Cloned software and licensing issues

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Recently I wrote a review of ShareX (links below) which is a GPL screenshot grab and share software. Days later I also reviewed Lollipic which looked very much like a clone of ShareX. Of course the similarity was too obvious not to mention.
Today I received an email from "ShareX developers" with a request to remove the Lollipic review. The same email included a link to a reddit discussion about another apparent ShareX clone (NeoxScreen, not reviewed by me). The issue had been raised at reddit that at least [emphasis mine] NeoxScreen provides its source code and since ShareX is GPL it is free to copy, clone, fork. However, I don't see a link to the source code at the Lollipic site.

Any thoughts?

It's entirely up to you whether or not to comply with ShareX's request.

I generally don't like the current trend of trying to de-list web addresses or censor content.

It can also be problematic since you have no way of absolutely knowing whether or not ShareX's claim is true.

If ShareX is indeed correct (and I suspect they are) in their claims, then Lollipic is definitely in violation of the terms of the GPL by not providing their sourcecode. And that is legally actionable - although that isn't a realistic option for most small developers. If NeoxScreen is publishing source, then they are NOT in violation of the GPL. And aggravating as blatantly cloning something can be - it's still within the terms of the GPL IF source is made available.

So again it's your call. I find myself conflicted in that my personal sympathies are squarely with the SourceX developers; however, my political and ethical principles don't like the idea of taking down a review that was made in good faith just because somebody doesn't like it - for whatever reason - good or bad.

If the SourceX request was politely worded and non-threatening, I'd most likely leave the review up - but include a note up top about SourceX's complaint (or a copy of the request they sent you) plus a link to the Reddit discussion about it. I would not remove a review or link purely based on somebody's say-so.

(Note: if the FSF, or some other recognized 3rd party, formally called it out as a GPL violation, that would be an entirely different matter.)

But that's me. YMMV. :)

You don't have to remove the review if you don't want to. Your review does not infringe on anyone's rights, even if the Lollipic software is in violation of the GPL. You are not distributing the software.

If they have a problem with the software, they need to go after the "developer" of it, not the reviewers.

Personally, I'd leave the review up, and perhaps add a little note to it, if the SourceX developers decided to go after Lollipic directly, and won. Because what you wrote could have some significance in the long run, when you start to consider it's possible historical value in terms of documenting its existence and providing information to someone that may end up looking for it at some point in the future. Sometimes what was can be equally important as what is.

I wish I had a dime for every time I have gone looking for information on old apps that don't exist any more and not been able to find anything.

I'm with app there.  A note if you believe their claims might give more visiblility to the possibility of the infringement.  But its not your place to do so.  Of course, whether I'd do it would depend on the wording of the request (any legalese at all, and I'd tell them to pound sand), and their communications.

Thanks everybody, it is still up but I haven't replied to the email nor really decided personally. Leaning towards just removing the review text but leaving a note in its place.


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