chris pederick deserves better

| 29 Comments

I just read over at chrispederick.com Blog that an IE developer tool called Web Inspector from a company called AEVITA has totally ripped off his amazing Web Developer Toolbar.

It's one thing to take inspiration from another developer, but to steal the idea, the icons, and the documentation outright without any credit is just plain wrong.

If you're a fan of Chris and his hugely valuable Firefox extension, I encourage you to contact Aevita and express your disapproval -- especially about the blatant documentation theft.

29 Comments

That's just shameful. Truly. I'm going to contact them immediately. That's for the heads up, Asa.

Thanks for the support, Asa. I also emailed Gerv to let him know about the possible copyright infringement of the icons as these come from the default Firefox themes for Windows and Mac.

Of course, I may also be violating the copyright by using those icons and if so I am happy to remove them from the extension. I relied on the fact that my extension was free and ran as part of Firefox so I figured it wasn't a big issue to use the icons, but if others are going to just rip them off then maybe I should change them.

A couple of questions:

1. What is the status of the Web Developer Toolbar documentation? Is it GPL'd like the extension itself (in which case AEVITA is violating the GPL) or is it licensed differently (or not at all, making it a straight copyright violation).

2. What about the icons? Chris says they come from the default Firefox themes. I assume that these are MPL/GPL/LGPL'd as http://lxr.mozilla.org/seamonkey/source/browser/themes/LICENSE says. If they are, then AEVITA is in violation of the GPL (they presumably nicked Chris's distribution of the images, which would be GPL'd).

I can't see a problem with borrowing the actual idea though. Not like it was patented or anything.

I *think* the images are tri-licensed, which I *think* makes them ok under the MPL. Gerv would know more about the images and the MPL.

The documentation seems to be copyright Chris Pederick, so that's not legal to redistribute.

The web developer extension is under the GPL. Remember, it is OK for a company to charge for GPL'd products. They just have to offer the source to purchasers for no more money than what it costs to ship that source to them ($0 to send an email with an attachment). And they have to distribute this product also under the GPL.

It's not about what's scumbagish about it, it's what's illegal. Remember, that's the thing about the GPL. You give others the same rights that you have.

It's a disgrace.

If it's any consolation, Gaim started getting ripped off too last year: http://imblaze.com/

I think someone needs to organise an open source legal team to prevent stuff like this.

Actually, forget the second thing I said - I just saw the forums on that site.

That should be enough incentive to not do stuff like this.

Done... and I'll post this on my blog as well.

from the site: FAX: +1 (206) 600-5934
OK, everyone know the drill? get out the black construction paper, some scotch tape, and send away.


haha, just kidding.
This is really just wrong- everything stolen. Can't someone prosocute them?!? Argh...

A minor point, but they are also misusing the SPAM trademark (owned by Hormel Foods Corporation). See Hormel's position on the use of the SPAM trademark in reference to bulk email.

1. There's no proof of stolen code
2. There's nothing wrong with charging for a GPLed application

By the way, this company is in the UK. The fax number posted is (apparently) a valid US phone number if you omit the country code and international prefix (206 being an area code for the Seattle area), but anyone you reach by dialing it in the US has nothing to do with this company.

Just in case anyone interprets it (as I first did) as a US phone number.

> 1. There's no proof of stolen code
There is, however, clear proof of stolen copyright.

> 2. There's nothing wrong with charging for a GPLed application
There is if the source code isn't made available.

Nuandu, there's no indication on their page that they are releasing their software under the GPL. The GPL allows redistribution, even for a fee, but does not allow arbitrary re-licensing.

Another fun thing on their site.

They offer you the opportunity to send a recommendation to friends.

I doubt they will get many sales from the "recommendation" I sent.

Chris, I use your extension daily and you deserve much better than this.

Sent them an email...

They are offering the tool at Download.com as well:
http://www.download.com/Aevita-Web-Inspector/3000-2378_4-10411295.html?tag=lst-0-1

How about writing an appropriate review there? ;)

Dex

I left a disapproving review on Download.com and I intend to write to them later today. They're quite local to me, perhaps I'll deliver it personally.

Truly amazing, such a blatant copy. That tool by Chris has certainly been one of the best Firefox extensions ever, even if you are not a web developer.

On a side note though, it does give more credence to a simple fact: Firefox usage is growing. The fact that a company is able to charge for a Firefox extension, with the intention of course to make money is really quite amazing in itself.

Web Inspector seems to be a registered trademark already, see the following page: http://tinyurl.com/7jstn

It is not possible to "steal" an idea. The idea did not leave Chris Pederick's head when AEVITA made their program. Ideas don't work that way. Those who fight against software patents have to teach people this concept; it is not any more acceptable to read Mozilla people talking this way than it is to see elected representatives repeat the language of the patent-holding multinational corporations. It is acceptable to those who object to software patents that computer software should be regulated by copyright because copyright allows for multiple competing implementations of the same ideas.

You didn't say that the web developer toolbar program had been copied. But icons and documentation are copyrighted works too. The copyright holder might have leverage to sue AEVITA for distributing copies of them or derivatives of them without complying by the license under which they were distributed. It might be that AEVITA didn't follow the license; even the most liberal licenses (such as the new BSD and MIT X11 licenses) require credit to be given. It's reasonable to expect the copyright holder to enforce their license.

I agree that the blatant theft of icons and docs is horrible.

But for some creepy reason, I think these guys hsould get some credit for getting this toolbar to work in the big, stale, plate-of-spaghetti that is the IE codebase. I don't use IE fot anything but verifying that it doesn't mangle the sites I work on, so I'm not going to bother testing it. It wouldn't surprise me if it was really buggy.

@Marty Vance:
It does seem to be quite buggy. The �validate local CSS� function just spawned ~65 windows and then crashed IE. Now it won't startup at all - not that that's a bad thing of course ;)

It's gone from their site...

Guess they listened after all - wondwer how long it was there for and how many sales they made.

> It's gone from their site...

Hum... not really, take a look to the "purchase" page ( http://www.aevita.com/buy/online.htm )... He just removed the "Web Developer" documentation (probably the most compromising thing).

There is still a screenshot provided by Chris here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrispederick/36703639/

I've been using the Webdeveloper extension for a long time now - nearly a year? Thank you, Chris! It's wonderful. Especially the "Populate form fields" feature - I have a client with an email form that regularly has to be debugged, and it has about a dozen required fields on it. Being able to fill them all in at the click of a mouse really beats typing "asdfg asdfg" over and over again.

Anyway, I just found out about this mess, when I saw a mention of how "AEVITA Sucks" in the comments over on Mozilla Update's Webdeveloper Extension page. You might be amused to note that when I tried to look at Aevita's site, just to see how egregious their perfidy is... I got "509 Bandwidth Exceeded". Not just on http://www.aevita.com/support/contact.htm and http://www.aevita.com/webinspector/, but on the plain old www.aevita.com URL itself. The message stating " The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later" (emphasis added) is a real hoot. Makes it sound like Aevita was just some slob in his mother's basement.

Chris, I don't know if you follow the philosophy that "living well is the best revenge", but either way, I hope knowing this brightens up your day.

Thanks again for making the Webdeveloper extension. It's fabulous.

I got "509 Bandwidth Exceeded". Not just on http://www.aevita.com/support/contact.htm and http://www.aevita.com/webinspector/, but on the plain old www.aevita.com URL itself. The message stating " The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later" (emphasis added) is a real hoot.

Funny... the story hasn't been posted in slashdot yet (if ever), and the website is crushed under pressure. Must be a new record... Slashdotted before slashdot.

Or should we called it "dotzled"? Hehehe.

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