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Trump's Social Media Platform and the Affero General Public License (of Mastodon)

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GNU
Legal

Trump's Group has 30 days to remedy the violation, or their rights in the software are permanently terminated

In 2002, we used phrases like “Web 2.0” and “AJAX” to describe the revolution that was happening in web technology for average consumers. This was just before names like Twitter and Facebook became famous worldwide. Web 2.0 was the groundwork infrastructure of the “social media” to come.

As software policy folks, my colleagues and I knew that these technologies were catalysts for change. Software applications, traditionally purchased on media and installed explicitly, were now implicitly installed through web browsers — delivered automatically, or even sometimes run on the user's behalf on someone else's computer. As copyleft activists specifically, we knew that copyleft licensing would have to adjust, too.

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TRUTH Social may not respect GPL licenses

  • TRUTH Social may not respect GPL licenses

    It doesn’t start out too well TRUTH Social, the new social network of Donald trump, still in the development phase and that, as we already told you yesterday, leaked after its official announcement, allowing some people to access the service (whose first beta phase is scheduled for November), creating parodic accounts. However, the joke did not last long (calling it a hacking, as I have seen in other media, seems like an excess to me), since its managers blocked the accounts created by said users and disabled access through the web address that had been leaked.

    However, and although what has captured the headlines has been precisely that, the accounts created impersonating the users that the network is expected to have once operational, the most interesting thing about the provisional access url being filtered is that as many users were able to dedicate themselves to analyzing TRUTH Social in depth. And when I say in-depth, I mean to go beyond checking its enormous resemblance to Twitter, only with fewer features.

In mainstream media

  • Trump’s New Social Network Is Already Breaking the Terms of Its Software License

    According to software developer and SFC policy fellow Bradley M. Kuhn, the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) broke the licensing agreement for an open-source software platform called Mastodon when it launched “a so-called ‘test site'” of its Truth Social product, which was built using Mastodon software. Although any company can use the code from Mastodon, according to the licensing agreement (AGPLv3), each user of the software must receive “an opportunity to receive the entire Corresponding Source for the website based on that code.” Early users of Truth Social, Kuhn alleged, did not get the source code, and TMTG is “currently ignoring their very public requests for it.”

  • Trump’s social network has 30 days to stop breaking the rules of its software license

    Truth Social doesn’t comply with that license and, in fact, refers to its service as “proprietary.” Its developers apparently attempted to scrub references that would make the Mastodon connection clear — at one point listing a “sighting” of the Mastodon logo as a bug — but included direct references to Mastodon in the site’s underlying HTML alongside obvious visual similarities.

Florida man accused of breaking Mastodon's open-source license

  • Florida man accused of breaking Mastodon's open-source license with botched social network launch

    A Florida man has been accused of breaking the copyleft license of Mastodon by running an online instance of the software without providing its source code as required.

    And not only that, the real-estate baron and wannabe tech tycoon has been told he has a month to fall in line with the fine print or put himself potentially at risk further action.

    Mastodon is a Twitter-like microblogging service that you host yourself. Servers running this software can form a larger, decentralized social network.

    The code is made available under version three of the Affero GPL. That means if someone modifies the software and runs it as a network-accessible service, such as a website, their users need to be offered a way to get hold of that customized source.

Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL...

  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL infringement

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)."

    Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more.

    The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel."

Things Aren't Going Well for Trump's Social Network

Salon

  • Trump's new social media platform could face legal issues after allegedly ripping off code

    This isn't necessarily unusual — Mastodon is an open-source software (with an AGPLv3 license, specifically) which allows other sites to create modified versions of its technology, called "forks," provided that they abide by a specific set of rules . This is where Trump's latest venture appears to have gone wrong: TRUTH Social's terms of service claim that "all source code" is proprietary, despite the fact that Mastodon requires anyone using its code base to acknowledge where its software came from and make any copied code public.

Donald Trump’s New Social Network Violated Software-Licensing...

  • Donald Trump’s New Social Network Violated Software-Licensing Terms, Tech Org Says

    A test version of Donald Trump’s Twitter-like social network violated open-source software licensing terms, according to the not-for-profit Software Freedom Conservancy.

    The Software Freedom Conservancy, which enforces open-source software agreements, said Trump’s Truth Social website — launched by the newly formed Trump Media & Technology Group — failed to provide the source code to users, as required under the Affero General Public License (AGPL), a “copyleft license” published by the Free Software Foundation.

    Truth Social’s site was using the free, open-source Mastodon social networking software, which is governed by the AGPL. TMTG ignored the licensing terms and “once caught in the act, Trump’s Group scrambled and took the site down,” Bradley Kuhn, policy fellow and hacker-in-residence at Software Freedom Conservancy, wrote in a blog post Thursday.

Trump Given 30 Days To Have His Social Media Site Comply..

  • Trump Given 30 Days To Have His Social Media Site Comply With Open Source License

    Plenty of people have raised concerns that Donald Trump's sketchy new social media site, Truth Social, is just a lightly reskinned Mastodon, which is violating Mastodon's fairly strict AGPLv3 license. As we had previously discussed, the aggressive (and sloppy) terms of service for the site claim that the code is proprietary, and even claims that "all source code, databases, functionality, software, website designs, audio, video, text, photographs, and graphics on the Site (collectively, the “Content”) and the trademarks, service marks, and logos contained therein (the “Marks”) are owned or controlled by us or licensed to us..."

Trump's Truth Social beta site violates open source license

  • Trump's Truth Social beta site violates open source license

    Ex-President Donald Trump and his associates have been accused of many crimes, but here's a new one. The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit organization that promotes open source software and defends open source licenses such as the Gnu Affero GPL version 3 (AGPLv3) license, has accused the Trump Media and Technology Group of violating the AGPL by illegally copying the Mastodon social network source code for its Truth Social social network beta.

New video

  • Trump's Social Media Violating Open Source License - Invidious

    Software licencing and enforcement of those licenses is fundamental to the free software world but sometimes organizations don't care and use software in ways that they're not allowed to and Trump's social media platform truth social is one of those cases violating the AGPL

Two more reports on this...

  • Mastodon puts Trump’s social network on notice for improperly using its code

    Mastodon has sent former President Donald Trump’s company a formal notification that it’s breaking the rules by using Mastodon’s open-source code to build its social network, named Truth. This news comes from a blog post by Mastodon’s founder Eugen Rochko, but others have previously pointed out that the organization behind Truth, the Trump Media and Technology Group (or TMTG), was violating Mastodon’s software license by not providing the source code for the site built on top of it. Trump’s group has 30 days from when the letter was sent to comply with the license or stop using the software, or it could lose the right to do so.

  • Trump's Truth Social Could Have Software License Revoked Unless Source Code Made Public

    Trump announced his new social media site, Truth Social, last week, touting the platform as a new beacon of free expression online. Truth Social's terms of use claim that "all" its source code is its "proprietary property," but users quickly noticed that the site clearly used Mastodon code.

    Mastodon is an open-source social media framework that aims to allow people to create online platforms without relying on big tech. However, its AGPLv3 license requires users to make the source code and any modifications public. In the Friday blog post, Mastodon's founder, Eugen Rochko, said that his company had warned Truth Social that its license could be permanently revoked within a month if it does not comply with this requirement.

Trump’s Truth Social Platform Accused of Violating AGPL

  • Trump’s Truth Social Platform Accused of Violating AGPL

    Recently, accusations appeared in the press that the “Truth Social” platform are violating the terms of the Affero GPL (AGPL), which applies to the Mastodon software used to run the platform. Truth Social is run by the The Trump Media and Technology Group, which recently announced a SPAC.

    AGPL is a network copyleft license that requires sharing of source code, where the licensed software allows users to interact with it via a network, and the code has been modified from its upstream source.

    On October 21, 2021, Mastadon’s head developer, Eugen Rochko, stated that the software used to run Truth Social is “absolutely is based on Mastodon.” The Verge later reported that “Mastodon has sent former President Donald Trump’s company a formal notification” of breach. Tech Crunch also reported that Mastodon had issued a “30-day ultimatum.”

Social networking provider Mastodon is threatening to sue Donald

  • Mastodon Threatens to Sue Trump's Social Media Site for Violating Open-Source License

    Social networking provider Mastodon is threatening to sue Donald Trump’s upcoming social media platform for allegedly misusing Mastodon’s open-source computer code.

    On Friday, Mastodon announced it had sent a formal letter to Trump’s “Truth Social” platform, demanding it comply with the open-source license for Mastodon’s computer code within 30 days. If Truth Social doesn’t, then Mastodon could sue the platform for copyright infringement, according to Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko.

    The dispute centers on how Trump’s “Truth Social” platform appears to rely on Mastodon’s open-source computer code to power the site. A test version of Truth Social went live earlier this month and users immediately noticed it adopted several design elements from Mastodon’s software.

Now in TechDirt

  • Because Of Course: Trump's SPAC Deal May Have Broken The Law

    If you thought that Trump's new Truth Social website's potential legal problems with its apparent failure to abide by the license on the open source code it seems to be using would be the worst legal problems facing the site, well, you underestimated The Donald. There's been plenty of talk about the SPAC deal that valued the company at billions of dollars through one of those reverse merger IPOs. But, now the NY Times is reporting that the way the deal was done may have violated securities laws. So on brand.

More Software Isn't Better Software

Admission

  • Trump's Social Media Site Quietly Admits It's Based on Mastodon

    To avoid a lawsuit, Donald Trump’s social media site is quietly acknowledging the computer code powering the platform comes from Mastodon.

    Trump’s “Truth Social” site now features a dedicated section labeled “open source,” which contains a Zip archive to Mastodon’s source code. “Our goal is to support the open source community no matter what your political beliefs are. That's why the first place we go to find amazing software is the community and not ‘Big Tech,’” the site adds.

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