10.15.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Post About Whether Vivaldi is a GPL violation Was Quietly Knifed by the Mods of /r/uBlockOrigin in Reddit

Posted in GPL, Law at 4:58 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the originals [1, 2]

This is the most Reddit thing ever.

So I posted yesterday that Vivaldi Adblock is basically just a ripoff of Adblock Plus and uBlock-Origin code, and that code is licensed under the GNU GPLv3, which talks of “conveying” the software as part of a larger work.

Which is what Vivaldi does.

It’s really hard to write an ad blocker that works right, much less an entire web browser. Vivaldi admits that their browser engine is Chromium, but they’ve effectively plagiarized the ad blocker as their own by stamping a “Vivaldi Adblock” brand on it.

When you do this, your work becomes part of the whole, and must be under a compatible license. However, Vivaldi as a whole is proprietary, meaning it likely violates the licenses of Adblock Plus and uBlock-Origin.

However, when I posted to Reddit’s support forum for uBlock-Origin requesting a code review of Vivaldi’s source dump, they quietly changed it so that the only people who could see it are me and the moderators.

Have a look.

In Reddit on Vivaldi

Many GPL violators get away with it because none of the copyright holders bother to enforce their license.

If they’re not going to enforce their license, they should just go ahead and release it under a permissive license so that companies don’t get the idea that they can simply steal and misappropriate code and nothing will happen to them later involving the DMCA, similar laws, and court.

(Which is what those companies use against a single mother of 3 who downloaded 14 MP3 files.)

The copyright holders of the Linux kernel have never bothered enforcing their rights and so Linux gets stolen this way all the time. And yes, you can say someone stole/pirated Free Software if they misuse it against the terms of the license, assuming the concept of stealing/pirating software is a valid concept at all. The authors have as many rights as anyone else who releases a copyrighted work.

Companies who want to get away with “Free Software piracy” and not get dragged into court, like Sony, commission work to replace software where the author will assert their rights (like when Sony sponsored Toybox to replace Busybox), and they also discourage people from giving copyright assignment to entities that will use it to protect the software from being misused, such as how they attack the Free Software Foundation and make it seem unfair that they asked for assignment.

The result is, they are sometimes successful, and the project becomes hard to protect.

In the past, Jamie Zawinski worked for an employer called Lucid.

They forked Emacs because they wanted to add features to it without assigning copyright to the FSF. Some of them were good features, but the FSF had to implement them separately, without looking at “XEmacs”, and the two diverged, and eventually XEmacs faltered and died after Lucid went out of business.

That fork and the death of all of that code never would have happened had they agreed to give the FSF copyright assignment and work in a participatory fashion, instead of taking JWZ’s attitude that “the FSF is impossible to work with”, after they received more from GNU Emacs than they ever would have given back.

JWZ and others who encourage authors to strip the “or any later version” language from the LGPL and GPL licenses do the entire Free Software community a disservice years down the road, because newer versions of the licenses come out to address threats and harms to computing perpetuated by hostile entities such as Microsoft, Apple, and Sony, but people who find some software under, say, the GPLv2-only and the GPLv3 cannot legally convey them as part of a new work that takes the best of both and extends them, or “upgrade” the LGPLv2.1 to something compatible with the Apache v2 license, or any number of other possible combinations.

This ultimately leaves us all worse off because of lost potential innovation, and people should simple leave the “or any later version” alone and trust other users and developers to make the right decisions 10 or 20 years down the road, instead of watching their software become difficult to use in anything, and then dying. Do you want that for your software? Because you shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, Fedora and Red Hat are now part of IBM, and IBM attacks the GPL and FSF the same way Lucid and JWZ did, only they’re still a very large company who can do a lot more harm (on their own way down). The news has been overly kind to IBM, suggesting that they’re in anything other than some kind of a freefall, and I laugh when NPR is on in the car talking about IBM as if it has a bright future, then disclosing they take IBM money.


This is a blind paste from Reddit. Someone replied to my post about what would make Vivaldi Adblock a GPL violation and this is my response to that. The emphasis at the bottom, about extension store license policies is added to this blog for effect.

Well, the question has come up before in the context of the Linux kernel.

Their position is that the kernel exports “symbols” to drivers that are flagged “GPL-only” and ones that anyone can use. The programmers and lawyers decide which parts they feel are something that is “internal” and should be off limits to anything not under a compatible license.

Unless Vivaldi has changed something dramatically in how the ublock-origin or Adblock Plus code works, I believe it should be using WebRequest API.

Google’s (Chrome Extension) Manifest v3 didn’t go over so well because it wanted to set WebRequest API such that extensions can’t modify network requests and have to use a “DeclarativeNetRequest” API that has essentially been neutered to set an upper limit on the rules.

However, since these extensions can use tons and tons of rules, and Vivaldi Adblock reports success loading well over 150,000 rules, I think it’s probably still WebRequest.

Vivaldi said they were not happy with Google’s Manifest v3 and were moving ad blocking to an internal feature to safeguard against that. Obviously, if they don’t like the limitations on WebRequest, if Google decides to go through with them, Vivaldi can patch them back out and fork ad blocking to keep letting the user load as many rule sets as they like.

Of course, there are other concerns, like Vivaldi doesn’t have a large base of users, and at this point it would basically be them and possibly Firefox not going along with the neutered WebRequest, and are people going to maintain lists for browsers that don’t neuter the API?

Anyway, my point, I suppose, is if Vivaldi is distributing them as if it were two different programs and if they are just using WebRequest, that _might_ be okay as long as they release their modifications to the ad blocker code under the GPLv3.

However, if they move it, (or already have moved it) to use a special internal API (like Brave-Adblock does, which is okay because Brave wrote their own and licensed it under MPLv2) in the browser that is not generally available to other extensions (because it performs better or something), that’s really where *I* would think they’d be in non-compliance.

But I’m not a lawyer.

I’m just comparing this to the “Linux” model of “If it’s available to everyone, go for it.”.

Sniffing their description of “Vivaldi Adblock”, however, it seems they imply their built-in functionality performs better than an extension. If it uses WebRequest, then how does it perform better?

See: https://vivaldi.com/features/ad-blocker/

Note: They also border on slandering uBlock-Origin just because it’s an extension that they don’t bundle. Lots of extensions are shady, even if they end up in Google’s store, but Raymond Hill seems trustworthy and if you make sure to only install open source extensions, you’re probably okay.

In fact, one of the biggest downsides to Chromium browsers getting extensions from Google’s store vs. Firefox add-ons, is that Firefox lists what license you’re agreeing to, and Google doesn’t.

“Oh, you paid us five bucks? Yeah, sure do whatever! Toss your Chinese malware in there!” -Google

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 28/11/2021: Laravel 8.73 Released, GitHub Offline for Hours

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, November 27, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, November 27, 2021



  3. Links 27/11/2021: Nvidia’s DLSS Hype and Why GNU/Linux Matters

    Links for the day



  4. [Meme] Linus Gabriel Sebastian Takes GNU/Linux for a (Tail)'Spin'

    If you’re trying to prove that GNU/Linux is NOT Windows, then “haha! Well done…”



  5. GNU/Linux is for Freedom and It'll Gain Many Users When (or Where) People Understand What Software (or Computing) Freedom Means

    Software that respects people's freedom (and by extension privacy as well) is an alluring proposition; those who choose to try GNU/Linux for the wrong reasons are likely the wrong target audience for advocates



  6. Amid Reports of Microsoft's Competition Crimes in Europe...

    European companies are complaining, but they seem to overlook the principal aspect of an imperialistic system with bottomless pockets (almost 30 trillion dollars in debt already; US national debt soared again last month); Microsoft is shielded by a political system with military (“defence”) as bailout budget to help cushion international expansion for data grab and technical leverage, as we've seen in the case of EPO (this is all political, not technical, and should thus be treated as a political/corruption issue)



  7. Is Linus Trolling the GNU/Linux Community?

    This new video responds to what many sites have been provoked into amplifying



  8. Links 27/11/2021: Tux Paint 0.9.27 and SeaMonkey 1.1.19 in EasyOS

    Links for the day



  9. [Meme] Keeping Our Distance From Microsoft

    The OSI is the dagger, the Linux Foundation is the knife, and many others are the sword by which Microsoft tries to get into the very heart of GNU/Linux and extinguish the Free software movement



  10. Microsoft Edge Encourages Indebted Americans to Guilt-spend Just in Time for Christmas

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  11. IRC Proceedings: Friday, November 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, November 26, 2021



  12. 38+ Years of GNU and 19+ Years of FSF Associate Membership

    “On November 25, 2002,” Wikipedia notes, “the FSF launched the FSF Associate Membership program for individuals.” As the above video points out, it all started almost 40 years ago.



  13. Gemini as a Platform for Gamers

    Contrary to what people often assume (or are led to assume), even without client-side scripting Gemini can accomplish a great deal; early adopters, many of whom are technical, test the limits of the very minimalistic (by design and intention) specification



  14. Improved Workflows: Achievement Unlocked

    Today we've completed a bunch of small projects that can make us more efficient (e.g. more Daily Links per day, more articles); the above video was recorded many hours ago to accompany the outline below



  15. Links 26/11/2021: New Complaint About Microsoft Competition Crimes in Europe, EuroLinux 8.5, GhostBSD 21.11.24, and Kiwi TCMS 10.5 Released

    Links for the day



  16. Links 26/11/2021: F35 Elections, Whonix 16.0.3.7, OSMC's November Refresh With Kodi 19.3

    Links for the day



  17. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, November 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, November 25, 2021



  18. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, November 24, 2021



  19. Links 25/11/2021: PHP 8.1.0 Released and Linux 5.15.5

    Links for the day



  20. IBM as Master of Hypocrisy

    Free software projects and Free software developers have long been humiliated by corporations of Western misogynists, falsely claiming that the Free software community isn’t inclusive enough (these are shameless projection tactics; as a matter of public record, the exact opposite is true) and even the eradication of supposedly offensive language isn’t something IBM takes seriously



  21. Links 25/11/2021: LibreOffice 7.2.3 and Mesa 21.2.6 Released

    Links for the day



  22. [Meme] So Desperate That Edge Cannot Even Exceed 4% That They Block Rival Web Browsers

    Linux/Android/Free Software/GNU (they go by very many names/brands) may continue to grow to the point where Windows is as irrelevant as Blackberry; this means that Microsoft’s grip on the Web too has slipped — to the point where Microsoft frantically uses 'bailout' money to hijack LinkedIn, GitHub, etc. (it also rebrands almost everything as "Azure" or clown to fake a perception of growth)



  23. Windows Vista Service Pack 11 (Vista 11) Has Failed to Curb the Growth of GNU/Linux

    Windows market share continues to decrease in spite of billions of dollars spent bribing the media for fake hype, especially in light of a new Windows Service Pack (SP), Vista SP 11



  24. Links 25/11/2021: Proton 6.3-8 and Linux Mint Compared to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  25. 3.5 Years Later the 'Master' of Fedora is Still Microsoft and IBM Cannot Be Bothered to Alter Git Branch Names (Refuting or Ignoring Its Very Own Directive About Supposedly Racially-Insensitive Terms)

    Today we demonstrate the hypocrisy of IBM; years after telling us that we should shun the term "master" and repeatedly insisting it had a racist connotation at least 65 Fedora repositories, still controlled by Microsoft, still use "master"



  26. Changing the Arrangement While News is a Bit Slow(er)

    I've made it easier for myself to keep abreast of things like IRC channels and networks (incidentally, a day ago Freenode reopened to anonymous logins) and I've improved monitoring of the Web sites, Gemini capsule etc. (this video is unplanned and improvised)



  27. Links 24/11/2021: Alpine Linux 3.15 and Endless OS 4.0 Released

    Links for the day



  28. [Meme] Jimmy Zemlin Loves Microsoft

    It’s funny, isn’t it? Lying for a living and sucking up to the liars pays off; you get to plunder actual Linux users while leaving Linux morally and financially bankrupt



  29. Links 24/11/2021: PHP Foundation and Flatpak Criticisms

    Links for the day



  30. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, November 23, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, November 23, 2021


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts