Disclaimer

IANAL

Long post.

Introduction

As you know, VLC media player and VideoLAN's documentation are licenced under the GNU/GPL. But one person has, on Videolan's Forum, told us that iVivo was re-distributing VLC. We answered that we would investigate...

iVivo

iVivo is an Israëli company that has registered http://ivivo.net, http://ivivo.org, and http://ivivo.tv, and has its website located on yahoo servers. It is supposed to be based in Tel-Aviv.

The website

The website is banal, asp coded, not specially ugly, but not compliant and having a lot of problem being rendered by Firefox or Konqueror. The main page has some cool photos and animations, a users number count and a strange

"IVIVO supports the freedom to share open source code under GNU general public license."

that seemed great in the beginning. The about us section, the news are almost empty, the partners page is empty but displays a form to become a partner. The "Contact Us" page display a list of e-mail adresses and someone is answering to the mails.

The products

On the Products page, there is only one great product, in promotion at $99 (should be $399) and you can only try it for 90 days. There is also a bla-bla saying what the product can do (almost everything, this is so great ;-) ) and 10 good reasons to buy it, that goes from low CPU usage to DVD freezone player and DVD recording. Those reasons are some of the ones that people choose VLC...

Download

Then, when you try the 90 days version of the product, you access to a download page that has to be seen ! This player can be used under almost every OS existing.
They even support BeOS... an OS that no new company has ever supported, that has not gcc > 2.96, weird; and yopy... who knows what this one is ? But wait a minute, those OS reminds us the EXACT number of OS that VLC supports on his download page, which must just be a coincidence.

Now, just take two minutes to compare that download page with the old version of download page on VLC's website... Even the images are the same, the same ugly logo of Fedora that noone uses, because it is not the official logo... All the OS are the same. This seems like a copy of VideoLAN's website. But, well who cares ?

But when you try to download, you can only download the Windows version, since all the other OS gives you a page saying "this OS is only supported as a source code version". But nowhere I can find the code.

And believe me not, the program is a VLC 0.8.5 with a new skin and two new windows for the GUI... If you grep the strings in the dlls, you will find "xtophe" home PATH on the build server, where he builds the external libraries... I may add extra screenshoots here...

Copyright / Licence

One the right of the page, there is written a

1. Contracting party 1.1) This AGREEMENT is a contract between you as a user or a license and IVIVO L.T.D.

2. Copyright 2.1) The IVIVO ALL IN ONE MEDIA SYSTEM is owned by IVIVO L.T.D or IVIVO L.T.D has rights to take this agreement under GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE

and a link to a licence in PDF format.

First, the GNU/GPL is a distribution licence, and a copyleft licence, and though does not gives IVIVO L.T.D. the copyright for the software. Moreover you can see that they are keeping a great door for exit when this will be discovered, since they keep the right to go GPL. And this explains a bit the sentence at the bottom of the main page.

But, let's look at the PDF. Chosen parts

2.2) By the fact that you or your client download from the internet or load another medium, copy, install or otherwise use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, you must sign to this AGREEMENT. If you don't agree to this AGREEMENT you aren't authorized to use the IVIVO All in one media system further and you are obliged immediately to delete the IVIVO ALL IN ONE MEDIA SYSTEM and all copies of this.

As VLC is GPL, and iVivo is a derivated work of VLC, this is already infringing the GPL.

3.2.3) Single-LICENSE (your user): This LICENSE grants the licensee to install and to use the IVIVO ALL IN ONE MEDIA SYSTEM on at most 5 computers of the licensee of each customer.

This is against "the right to redistribute copies" that grants the GPL.

5.3) you aren't authorized to use the IVIVO All in one media system in any other way than described in this AGREEMENT. This includes all possibilities like coping, changing or distribution of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.

This is against "the right to run the program, for any desired purpose." that grants the GPL.

5.4) You are particularly not authorized: 5.4.1) You may not reverse assemble, reverse compile, or otherwise translate the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, except that such activity is expressed permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation. The activities are then restricted to the activities permitted by law particularly. 5.4.2) You may assign sub-licenses, rent or lease the SOFTWARE PRODUCT. 5.4.3) Amending the IVIVO ALL IN ONE MEDIA SYSTEM or the LICENSE.

This is against "the right to study how the program works, and modify it.", "the right to redistribute copies", "the right to improve the program, and release the improvements to the public."

11 Existing Law, Place of Jurisdiction 11.1) Exclusively USA law is valid. Place of jurisdiction is New York, USA. 11.2) If deviations exist between other languages and the English version of this agreement, then the English version is valid.

Great, many people know the GPL in the USA !!

Technologies

On the technologies page, there is some more bla-bla on what this great system can do, and how much low CPU it uses, and a link to a patent. <Homer voice>Ouh! A patent</Homer voice>

The present invention re-lates generally to vivo and more specifically it relates to a system that remotely deliver media and manage a client machine for A system that remotely (the client machine send a signal when it is alive), deliver media to and from clients machines and management bandwidth transmitting and receiving video or music and using the clients bandwidth as part of their media network...

Waouw, this is great... and vague... and what does it means ? VoD using RTSP/RTCP ? P2P-TV ?

Well for me, this patent is nothing new, has been done before and is just marketing.

Support and documentation

But they couldn't stop there ! The documentation page is a complete copy/paste of VLC's play Howto. Wow! They are not ashamed...

And the advance Howto is even worse, with the picture that clearly display "/home/dionoea" and MassConnecting.ogm, a video file we did when we where in the VIA Centrale Réseaux association...

Fight

So, now, let's act. As I am a very stupid person, I wanted to ask for the source code. So I have sent a mail to team@ivivo.net, but not in my name.

My action

Hello,

I just have a question.
There is written on your webpge: "IVIVO supports the freedom to share open source code under GNU general public license." Can I have the source code of your product to study it ? Moreover, for one of my OS, there is written that just the source code version is available... But I don't see where I can get it ? Thanks for your answer,

and, they answered

Hello

Our new version will be ready in 60 days from today

Thanks

IViVo team

Which did not answered my question... So I asked again:

Hello,

Does this mean that I will be able to have the source code with next version?

and the answer was:

Yes, we plan. IVIVO team

I asked then the source for this version and had no answers.

xtophe's action

However, when xtophe -a VLC dev - asked the same things to iVivo Team:

Hello, I have downloaded your ivivo player. In Help/About it says it's released under the GPL license. So could you tell me where i can find the source code or send it to me. Thanks in advance.

The answer was almost the same that the one I got:

Our new version will be ready in 60 days from today and than a registered customer will be able to download the bug free (almost) source code. Thanks

Great news, they are not using VLC : they said bug free :D

Of course, it wasn't enough, so xtophe tried another way:

This is not what the GPL is saying. As soon as you distribute binaries of your program, you have to provide the source code. Not the one for the next release. So could i have the code for the current release ? In the meantime I am very inerested by this next release. What would be the improvements ?

This time, someone else answered (sid):

The Linux version is not ready (at the moment we do not distribute binaries of our program except windows version). Are you interesting in the windows version of our old version? (not recommended) Our past release (Test Player) was based on VLC media player with some improvement. The new release is going to be totally different and our special functions will be a major part of a new player, not yet in the market.

So, they admit the version is a modified VLC. But there wasn't any new answer.

And well, if they have time to develop an application that can do all what they claim on their website, great for them.

Conclusion

IANAL, but that seems to be a VLC redistributed with a non copy-left licence, with some stolen documentation, and ideas. A lots of things are unclear, and very obscure, especially the possibility to change licence.

In the future, if they release a new version, not based on VLC, or a version open-source, then it will be fine, but until that day, it seems they are doing something illegal.

If they keep the download as it is, and don't change the licence soon, this seems to be a licence infrigement. Can someone help me on that matter ? Could you give us advice ? Could you make publicity of that news in order to stop this company ? Should I put that story on digg ? /. ?