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Thread: eBay Warning: Seller AAPro/XT-IDE Knockoffs

  1. #1
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    Default eBay Warning: Seller AAPro/XT-IDE Knockoffs

    EDIT: DISASTER AVERTED: FULL COMPLIANCE REACHED. Seller decided to do the Right Thing.

    Apparently the seller AAPro has decided it's OK to blow off the GNU GPL covering both the XT-IDE rev 3 design and the XT-IDE Universal BIOS:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/142539326204

    Interestingly, this seller recently bought several blank XT-IDE boards from me, then demanded a refund, claiming they were lost in the mail system. Of course, eBay forces the seller (me) to issue a refund in a case like that. So, I issued the refund and went on with life. But recently these boards turned up. They're obviously the XT-IDE rev 3 run with the name on the silkscreen changed, and a company logo added. Build quality aside, these are a blatant clone and in violation of the GNU GPL v3, which requires that the source be published and attribution to the original authors be retained.

    As seen in the screen shot showing the XT-IDE Universal BIOS, the seller has also removed the copyright information from the BIOS and put their own name in.

    I've sent the seller a message to see if this is an honest mistake, but considering they purchased boards, claimed that they were lost, and then show up with their own copy with their company branding on them, I doubt it's a mistake.

    Buyer beware, everyone's free to spend their money as they see fit.
    Last edited by glitch; October 30th, 2017 at 06:46 AM.

  2. #2
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    The board in the eBay listing photo has an Open Source Hardware logo on it. I don't know anything about GNU GPL vs Open Source Hardware compliance. You say that they are in violation of the GNU GPL v3. Would they also be in violation of the Open Source Hardware terms for doing what they have done? If so, is there anything that can be done about that? Just curious.

  3. #3
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    ROFL at that "original seal" authenticity hologram sticker they stuck on the back. (4th photo).

  4. #4

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    Does it seem he just re-screened your boards? I'd be pursuing legal counsel.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by zombienerd View Post
    Does it seem he just re-screened your boards? I'd be pursuing legal counsel.
    Not necessarily worthwhile at this stage, unfortunately. But it probably should be reported to eBay, if they care.

    This isn't the same bloke doing this in the past, is it?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by glitch View Post
    Interestingly, this seller recently bought several blank XT-IDE boards from me, then demanded a refund, claiming they were lost in the mail system.
    Is it just the one batch you sent and is there anything on the boards that could identify they were from you? If so, then surely that would be provable fraud as well as a violation of the GNU.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zombienerd View Post
    Does it seem he just re-screened your boards? I'd be pursuing legal counsel.
    I'm sure Glitch doesn't make enough extra to make his effort commercially worth the time he invests - even without the knock-offs. He, like many of us, keeps the project alive for the benefit of the community. So personally funding a lawyer to challenge a GPL issue in court isn't a smart use of funds - and historically a massive financial hole.

    But the FSF does pursue legal cases if a significant percentage of the original copyright holders sign over their copyright to the FSF. In this case, certainly Tomi and others would have to get on board. But there could be something done.

    In the interim, education of the community about this seller is the best foot forward.
    "Good engineers keep thick authoritative books on their shelf. Not for their own reference, but to throw at people who ask stupid questions; hoping a small fragment of knowledge will osmotically transfer with each cranial impact." - Me

  8. #8

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    I don't understand the seller's motivation behind this. It's not like there's a huge market for these. He could just sell assembled originals for the same price.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by glitch View Post
    ....I've sent the seller a message to see if this is an honest mistake, but considering they purchased boards, claimed that they were lost, and then show up with their own copy with their company branding on them, I doubt it's a mistake.
    I doubt it's a mistake as well, It's obviously a blatant copy of your board with ZERO attribution to you or the XT-IDE project, Report them to ebay but whether that will do any good or not, who knows!

  10. #10
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    Yeah, there's no way I'm investing personal money in fighting about this -- as eeguru said, it's a hobby thing, I'm not protecting some sort of secret IP here. The whole point of enforcing the license is to keep people from grabbing the design and not releasing their changes to the public. It started as a community effort; all derivative works should remain open for the community to benefit from. Commercialization of my work by someone else is not the problem -- I'd have chosen a noncommercial restricted license if it were. The problem is the source files aren't being made easily available to the community and the proper attribution has been removed from both the board artwork and the XT-IDE Universal BIOS.

    As to why they're doing it? It looks like they run a surplus hardware business. Presumably they think they're going to make money off of it, which they probably are as I'm sure their costs are lower than mine with lower-quality boards and used components. Same reason street vendors sell knockoff purses.

    Seller responded, claiming that having their design files on an unpublished link on their site is sufficient. Here it is, if anyone wants it:

    https://www.aapro.co.uk/downloads/xtide-aapro.tar.bz2

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