back to article Voice.ai denies claim it violated open source software license requirements

Voice.ai, maker of a voice-changing SDK and similar apps on several platforms, proclaims its commitment to ethics on its website. Yet according to a software developer and security researcher who goes by the name Ronsor, the company's software violates two open source licenses in its libraries and is failing to follow up on …

  1. chuckufarley Silver badge

    You get shovels...

    ...I get shovels full of Gold.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Praat?

    Seems like that is the heart of the problem for them, and by it's website I have to wonder what they WERE using it for that it was so "easily" ripped out.

    That said it's GPLv3, and that is not a particularly permissive license. So static linking to it was a big time Bozo no-no. It will be interesting to see what the accepted remedies are, aka rip it out and forget about it, or if they are going to grill them. Gotta read the fine print, and GPLv3 is pure Stallman, it's not very friendly to commercial projects. It's one of the reason why I never use it on my own code, and why I avoid projects licensed under it at work.

    "The GNU General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with the library. If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Lesser General Public License instead of this License. But first, please read <https://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-not-lgpl.html>."

    Praat had the option, and chose to go GPLv3. Their intent seemed pretty clear. It will be interesting to hear what VoiceAI was actually using. Since they distributed this version, they are not in a position to refuse.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >To alleviate any doubt, we have removed the GPL3 code

    That applies to all future releases.

    What about the past releases that were already published including the GPLv3 code? What happens to them? Are they forced to release anything?

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      If they wish to avoid an expensive court case and fines for stealing the Praat code in the first place (copyright violation is theft, isn't it?) then a reasonable compromise would be to remove the rubbish "reverse engineering" restrictions from their licence, and tell their Discord moderators that reverse engineering is not a banned topic. While they are about it, they should remove the problematic spy code from future releases along with the stolen GPL code.

      If they have a good product then they do not need reverse engineering bans. And reverse engineering is a completely valid thing for a user to do: you want to run on my machine, I will want to check what you are doing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > What about the past releases that were already published including the GPLv3 code? What happens to them? Are they forced to release anything?

      No, they're not forced to release anything. But they are restricted from distributing older versions of their software.

      Violating the GPL means you're no longer allowed to distribute the violating work. Additionally, version 3 of the GPL introduced a grace period for coming into compliance once informed of non-compliance. So, so long as they rectify the infringement, and don't continue to distribute older infringing versions of the software, they're good as far as the license is concerned.

      One _could_ sue them for damages for their past infringement, but such a court battle will likely be up a steep incline, given the company's apparent cooperation in correcting the issue, and the lack of any monetary losses to the copyright holders.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >But they are distributing it

        If I have an old affected release, can I email them asking for the corresponding GPL'd parts of the source (including any modifications to said GPL'd code)?

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Megaphone

        I’m not sure you can claim no financial loss when many software authors offer a dual licence option - get it for free under the GPL, or pay for a commercial licence.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contradicting themselves

    It seems clear they're either lying, or don't have any real idea what they're being accused of.

    > We are aware of recent speculation regarding the alleged misappropriation of source code. We take accusations of this nature very seriously and would like to categorically state that they are false

    "We didn't include GPLv3 code in our product"

    > To alleviate any doubt, we have removed the GPL3 code

    "We're removing the GPLv3 code from our product"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contradicting themselves

      >It seems clear they're either lying, or don't have any real idea what they're being accused of.

      They, and their lawyers, know full well what they're accused of.

      They made money off of this GPLv3 code, and are (so far) refusing to honour the license - what of that of their already-released releases that contain the GPLv3 code?

    2. flayman Bronze badge

      Re: Contradicting themselves

      These are the two sentences that directly contradict each other:

      "...we support the requirements around open source and we are in full compliance with all open source code licenses."

      "While the vast majority of our code is closed source and developed by Voice.ai, we have included a number of open source libraries."

      This is because they have not properly licensed libgcrypt through LGPL, which we know is true because they have not distributed the LGPL license. If they are also using any source code that is not licensed under LGPL, but instead under GPL, then they would have to distribute the entire source code for their product that uses it along with the GPL license. In that case, they really don't get it at all.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contradicting themselves

      "Make it sound like we're fixing our mistake without admitting that we did anything wrong"

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