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(FYI: I've just moved this question over from Stackoverflow on recommendation.)

I just received a few emails, informing me that softpedia.com has added some of my "products" to their "database of scripts, code snippets and web applications". My products are in this case some smaller open source projects, which I have hosted and published on github.

Now I'm wondering how to react to this. This site is indirectly making money of my free work through ads on three pages before the actual download. They also seem to "invent" version numbers and I can't find out if they're hosting the latest or all versions of my projects. — I can see how this could lead to problems in the future, since I don't control what's "the latest" everywhere.

On the other hand I don't mind some extra publicity. I want as many people as possible to know about the projects, use them, fork them and hopefully improve them.

The projects in questions are really fairly small, but this might not be the case in the future for me and/or other people reading this question.

I'm sure that this must have happened to others around here. What's your opinion? Should I try to get the downloads removed?


Update 1

I've requested the removal and mentioned that I don't feel that Softpedia can provide the right environment for this kind of project.

Their team got back to me instantly with a friendly email saying, that they'll remove the links for now:

If you are worried that your projects won't be updated, then I must tell you that I have them bookmarked in my RSS reader, so any version changes will be forwarded to me when needed. So I promise I'll keep your script up to date as soon as I see an update in the repository.

I have to say, that I appreciate this kind of reaction quite a lot and so I sent them another email, describing in more detail what I'm worried about and what bothers me. I also stated, that I'm aware that my license clearly permits them to host the projects in any case, but that I'd be even happy if they would host the projects as long as they could convince me of a few details and maybe make some small changes to the way the projects are represented. — Let's see where this goes.


Update 2

After discussing with their contact and requesting some changes regarding display of version (they had given the possibility to do so) and authorship they put the projects back up on their site.

All in all a positive and definitely interesting experience.

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What does your license say? –  Sign Oct 14 '11 at 14:10
    
It's MIT & GPL. Might want to mention that I'm being told: "If you feel that having your product listed on Softpedia is not a benefit for you or simply need something changed or updated, please contact us […]". –  polarblau Oct 14 '11 at 14:16
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FWIW, I had the same situation a while ago. They copied the first alpha release of my tiny half-assed parsing library. I wrote a polite e-mail stating I'd prefer them to take it down and outlining how it's just a mutual hassle (none of their users would have downloaded it, except perhaps some expecting something completely different). I didn't get a reply, but the page was taken down shortly thereafter. –  delnan Oct 14 '11 at 14:58
    
Thanks for the update polarblau, it's good to know that softpedia are willing to sort out this sort of problem. –  Mark Booth Mar 28 '12 at 10:18
    
Yep, as surprised as I am, "working" with them was really okay in the end. Not sure how useful sites like Softpedia really are to anyone, though, but that’s a different issue ;) . –  polarblau Mar 29 '12 at 4:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you feel so strongly about someone "making money of my free work", then you should contact them and politely ask them to remove your work from their site. If you released your open source software with a license that does not permit this kind of use, you have legal grounds to have them remove it from their site.

Be polite at first, because you may benefit from this if it does bring more publicity to your software. They might even be willing to work with you to clarify any irregularities. Otherwise, if they do not do as you ask, you should be a little more aggressive with them. IANAL, but you could accuse them of infringing your copyright, especially if you licensed the software to specifically prevent this situation.

Good luck!

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I don't really know how I feel about this :D — hence the question. It’s not a "they make money with my stuff by I don’t" situation. Hell, I'm happy if someone can make some cash by using one of my scripts in his/her work. I'm just not sure if that's the case by simply half–assed "hosting" the code and glueing some ads onto it. –  polarblau Oct 14 '11 at 14:25
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But if your license for the code both allows someone else to host it and to use it in their projects, you don't really have a way to differentiate between people profiting from the code in true "work" or what you think is half-assed work - since this is totally subjective. I'm sure Softpedia considers what they are doing to be providing value and a service just as a contractor using your code would feel. I think you'd have to add clauses to the license restricting others from hosting the file, etc., but that sounds too hard to enforce. –  matt b Oct 14 '11 at 14:34
    
You're absolutely right of course. But since I'm given the chance to "have my work removed", I'd now like to see how people handle this generally? Do you use different licenses to avoid this? Am I getting confused over nothing? –  polarblau Oct 14 '11 at 14:42
    
Thanks for all comments. I've decided to request the removal. Let’s see what happens… –  polarblau Oct 14 '11 at 15:09

There are several aspects to this question, legal, commercial and moral.

If they are distributing your software according to the terms of your license then legally they are doing exactly what you have required of them.

If they are not adhering to your license then you should reasonably expect them to take it down if you ask them to. Don't even think about getting a lawyer involved though, unless you want to spend lots of money on being told "there's no money in it".

Commercially, they probably aren't making much money in ad. revenue and if you want to gain wider exposure, it may be good for your project to appear in softpedia search results.

Morally, you have to decide whether you want this kind of free advertising, which is essentially what it is. If softpedia were misrepresenting this work as their own then that would obviously be wrong, but that doesn't appear to be what they are doing.

You probably should enter into a dialogue with them though, if only to sort out versioning issues, and make sure that they link back to the original github projects, so that people can easily check if the version on softpedia is the latest version or not.

While DVCS's have many advantages, they don't often have a nice simple, linear version history, so it isn't always obvious when a new release version has been released. Using tags or having obviously named release branch can help with this, and can be equally important for end users as for services like softpedia.

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Thanks for your view. I've actually gotten in touch with them and I think we might maybe sort some difficulties out and get the stuff back there. –  polarblau Oct 17 '11 at 18:19

I personally would feel a bit wronged at someone making money off of my script unless I too benefit from it. For that reason I would consider having them remove the code.

The only way you have leverage* is if you put some license over your code that can be used to prevent them from hosting it. If you just said "Anyone can use it for whatever" for your code then your only hope is to politely ask them to not host your code.


*As usual, I'm no lawyer so you may want to contact an IP laywer.

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6  
If you would feel wronged by commercial, would you have chosen licenses that explicitly allow it? –  keppla Oct 14 '11 at 14:21
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@keppla You'd be amazed how some people just don't think about licensing at all. –  Glenn Nelson Oct 14 '11 at 15:11
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It is just me saying I'm not a lawyer nor do I claim to be so. I have no indication of how serious this person, or the situation is, so I like many others recommend a lawyer. If you have some problem with people appending "consult a lawyer" to the their answers, I suggest you take it to Meta. Otherwise good day sir. –  Glenn Nelson Oct 17 '11 at 15:43

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