A Florida man has been charged with violating Mastodon’s copyleft license by running an online instance of the software without providing its source code as required.
And not just that, the real estate baron and aspiring tech mogul has been told he has a month to comply with the fine print or potentially put himself at risk from other actions.
Mastodon is a self-hosted Twitter-style microblogging service. The servers running this software can form a larger decentralized social network.
The code is available under version three of the Affero GPL. This means that if someone modifies the software and runs it as a network accessible service, such as a website, their users should be offered a way to get that custom source.
The aforementioned Palm Beach businessman, known for his failed casino, abandoned steak line and a recent stint in public office, chairs an online media group that this week vowed to launch a social network for selected users next month. A wider rollout is expected in the New Year after a period of beta testing, apparently.
The web service, which claims to want to foster “an honest global conversation without discrimination against political ideology,” has oddly banned in its terms of service one of its supremo’s most favorite things around the world : “Excessive use of capital letters.”
After an announcement on the social network, netizens discovered that they could sign up early at will for what looked like a test deployment of the platform, and posted prank ads and other items there. Someone was even able to create a profile on behalf of the canceled reality TV star, using it to share a photo of a pig defecating on himself.
The service, which was quickly phased out, appeared to be powered by a version of Mastodon modified to primarily remove any mention of its origins, although its HTML source and design reported where does the code come from.
Now the Software Freedom Conservancy – a nonprofit that defends free software and has just sued TV maker Vizio for allegedly violating the GPL – has denounced the half-baked social network project, accusing it to violate the Affero GPL by not distributing its modified version. source code if necessary. The platform has 30 days to remedy the situation, and if it doesn’t, it is open to legal action.
Bradley Kuhn, a policy scholar at the Conservancy, said in a statement Thursday that “early evidence strongly supports” claims that the social network was “based on the AGPLv3’d Mastodon software platform.”
âMany users were able to create accounts and use them – briefly,â he continued.
âHowever, when you license a site on the Internet AGPLv3, AGPLv3 requires that you provide each user with the ability to receive the entire corresponding source for the website based on this code. These early users do not ‘have not received this source code. “
Kuhn also said “very public requests” for the code were being ignored, adding that the source code must be made available by the online media group:
Further, responding to concerns that the social network was being compromised by pranksters, Kuhn concluded:
Spokesmen for the botched social network did not respond to a request for further comment. Â®