Open Source

Diebold and PES Sued for Stealing...

... Code?

A California software company has filed a lawsuit against Diebold and its subsidiary, Premier Election Solutions, claiming that PES' electronic voting machines violate its copyrights.

Artifex Software, of San Rafael, Calif., claims that PES systems infringe on its copyrighted Ghostscript PDF interpretation and printing software. Artifex claims PES is using Ghostscript in its electronic election systems even though Diebold and PES "have not been granted a license to modify, copy, or distribute any of Artifex's copyrighted works," Artifex claims in court papers filed late last month in U.S. District Court for Northern California.

Why is this important?

Obtaining GNU Ghostscript

GNU Ghostscript is a copyrighted work; it is distributed under the GNU General Public License. You can get the current version of GNU Ghostscript by Internet FTP from ftp.gnu.org/gnu/ghostscript from any of the GNU distribution sites; likely, alpha versions may be available on alpha.gnu.org/gnu/ghostscript.

As (h/t) lambert at Corrente pointed out, under GNU General Public Licensing, if Diebold and PES used Ghostscript to create their product they may be legally bound to make their product's code open for our inspection, as well.

The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. The GPL is the most popular and well-known example of the type of strong copyleft license that requires derived works to be available under the same copyleft. Under this philosophy, the GPL grants the recipients of a computer program the rights of the free software definition and uses copyleft to ensure the freedoms are preserved, even when the work is changed or added to. This is in distinction to permissive free software licences, of which the BSD licences are the standard examples.