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This might seems like a silly question to ask, but I can't really figure out the answer. The title pretty much says it all.

Let's say you have an open source music player, along comes someone, copies it, adds features, modifies the interface, etc and sells it. Nobody would find out. So how does it work?

Related: I'm working in some projects myself to make me more employable, so employers can take a look at my code but with some of them I don't feel like uploading them to an online repository, ie sourceforge, and make them visible for the general public.

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Considering the answers and your comments so far, you may want to edit your question to emphasize what exactly you want to know. Is it about prohibiting this act, or detecting it after it happened? –  Frank Nov 21 '11 at 6:24
    
I seriously doubt that any employer in London will be taking a look at your hobby code before interviewing you. You can mention your hobby project(s) in your CV and just bring some samples to the interview. –  Den Nov 21 '11 at 10:37
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If nobody finds out, then nobody finds out. There is no "magic law-breaking detector" for copyright infringement any more than there is for any other illegal act committed behind closed doors. –  OrbWeaver Nov 21 '11 at 10:48
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5 Answers

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Let's say you have an open source music player, along comes someone, copies it, adds features, modifies the interface, etc and sells it. Nobody would find out. So how does it work?

Pretty much like you described, except someone has to find out. If he doesn't, then no, you don't know. Which is pretty much the way it goes in a lot of software nowadays. Code and ideas get stolen, ... deal with it, always did, always will.

If somehow you do find out someone "ripped you off", then, presuming your country's laws apply and you have means to pursue, you can take them to court. Which depending on the juridisticial system you're under, can mean you have a practical shot at winning that or only a theoretical one at best.

Related: I'm working in some projects myself to make me more employable, so employers can take a look at my code but with some of them I don't feel like uploading them to an online repository, ie sourceforge, and make them visible for the general public.

Well, either make it a private/public repo. i.e. with a designated login/pass for visitors, a repo which mirrors your main repo where you keep most of your stuff (you don't want to be giving your main acc. to someone) or just mail to them or something. Or put it on a web page not easily found in the vasts of the web. Dropbox link also works.

Also, don't give all of your code (the complete package) away, remove the few relevant bits, but supply the binary. They can see the code and the app, but they can't build the app that way for themselves.

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"Let's say you have an open source music player, along comes someone, copies it, adds features, modifies the interface, etc and sells it."

Most open source licenses permit this. If you don't want other people to copy or modify the code then you need a different sort of license. Remember publishing the source does NOT make it open source.

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Your License.

When you create and distribute your code, you can choose the terms to distribute it with. You may choose to allow anyone to do anything with it, or you may choose to only allows those who pay to use it.

If you choose a restrictive license, and someone violates the terms, you may then take legal action. Of course laws are not the same everywhere and international issues may be harder to deal with.

If you are only writing code to show employers, consider sending them a link and credentials to an area where they can view it but the public cannot.

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Sorry, I should have specified. Hypothetically the code has a license, but a company takes it and sells it. Of course the company is liable. My question is, how is anyone going to find out about their infractions? About myself, I only added that on a marginal note, I'm mostly asking out of curiosity, not because I'm primarily interested to protect my projects. Thanks for the suggestion anyway, I'll do that. –  Jubbat Nov 21 '11 at 4:15
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If you're asking how will others learn of the infringement? I cannot say for certain, but I am sure there are legal (in court) ways to do this. Basically, anything about legality and what one can do is an "Ask a lawyer" answer waiting to happen. –  Glenn Nelson Nov 21 '11 at 4:20
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If you live in a country that recognized software licences, then you can sue them.

If not, only thing you can do is add them on your black list*.

* Scroll to the end of the page.

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As far as I can make out, the most common way to find out is by some whistle blower in the company who does the ripping off.

If you are really worried about this, you may consider posting a reward of some kind for whistle blowers.

You may also find this site useful in the event of code being ripped off.

http://www.softwarefreedom.org/

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