iPhone Dev Team software stolen and resold

The popular group known as the iPhone Dev Team has worked hard to release an iPhone 3G unlock for no charge to the general public. Their hard work goes unpaid and is only for the benefit of the general populous and they ask for nothing in return.

Jody Sanders of the West Midlands, UK has decided that it is ok to steal the software and sell it for the hefty sum of £19.99 DIY (£49.99 in-store at either London or Birmingham).

A post written over at blog.iphone-dev.org states that "Jody's 'software' contains our code and also copyrighted code from elsewhere."

The iPhone Dev Team is asking that you help spread the word of this despicable act.

The team has also been the target of people who have registered the quickpwn.com and yellowsn0w.net domains. (Both sites have been intentionally not linked to) The owners have done a great job of making a huge profit from ad revenue by plastering the pages with so many adverts that the sites load slower than your gran on a bicycle. When visiting the sites it's not immediately clear that it isn't an official source and the owners have made no effort to clarify this amongst the volume of adverts. The only "official" source for these tools is the iPhone Dev Team Blog, and they are 100% free. While the team has tried to spread awareness of these non official sites, this hasn't stopped numerous other mainstream blogging sites from linking to them.

Neowin Managing Editor, Michael Stanclift, contributed to this report.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

7-Zip 4.64

Next Story

Lenovo planning to cut 200 jobs in China

61 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

So it appears that the article was reedited but there is another false statement in it:

When visiting the sites it's not immediately clear that it isn't an official source and the owners have made no effort to clarify this amongst the volume of adverts.

The part where you said that owners have made no effort to clarify that they're not an official statement is completely untrue so please take that out. I proved this in my post at comment #20 (http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/01/03/iphone-dev-teams-software-stolen-and-resold?cid=703746).

the less we talk about the guy with the domains with adverts the better. people will visit the site to see what its all about, which creates revenue for the guy.

In a legal sense, Jody Sanders is only breaking the GPL's agreement to "make the source code available to the users of the program as described in the GPL, and they must be allowed to redistribute and modify it as described in the GPL." He, however, is not breaking a law selling a GPL'ed program. Rather he is only breaking the law by not posting his "modifications" as well.

I am not condoning his actions, but from a legal stand point if he releases his "modifications," the whole problem vaporizes.

Directly from the GPL faq.

Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?

Yes, the GPL allows everyone to do this. The right to sell copies is part of the definition of free software. Except in one special situation, there is no limit on what price you can charge.

If I use a piece of software that has been obtained under the GNU GPL, am I allowed to modify the original code into a new program, then distribute and sell that new program commercially?

You are allowed to sell copies of the modified program commercially, but only under the terms of the GNU GPL. Thus, for instance, you must make the source code available to the users of the program as described in the GPL, and they must be allowed to redistribute and modify it as described in the GPL.

These requirements are the condition for including the GPL-covered code you received in a program of your own.

With the exception of a small portion of yellowsn0w, the new beta iPhone 3G unlocking tool, the source code of these tools has NOT been released. In addition, the GPL has never been associated with these tools - they're not open-source. Indeed, a bespoke license has been put on them specifically prohibiting the use of the tools in a commercial context.

Rob said,
With the exception of a small portion of yellowsn0w, the new beta iPhone 3G unlocking tool, the source code of these tools has NOT been released. In addition, the GPL has never been associated with these tools - they're not open-source. Indeed, a bespoke license has been put on them specifically prohibiting the use of the tools in a commercial context.

My mistake then. Was going off of their google code project page. -- At that rate, then they do have a larger case.

You may be thinking of XPwn which is a barebones open-source library for developers, separate and not up-to-date - the article refers to the actual released GUI tools which have a huge amount of extra code.

3. I would also like to add that I'm not a domain squatter. A domain squatter just registers domains in hope that someone will offer them something like money for the domains and they just let the domain sit and don't do anything with it! I actually developed the domains into websites and helped people out. So this doesn't make me a domain squatter as the author of this article stated.

Mate your sites have so many adverts it's ridiculous. That's the real reason you're doing this isn't it? That's pretty clear!

creamhackered said,
Mate your sites have so many adverts it's ridiculous. That's the real reason you're doing this isn't it? That's pretty clear!

Well creamhackered, that's one of the reasons I'm doing it. I also want to help out other iPhone/iPod Touch users and make QuickPWN.com into a better website. I know there are a lot of ads at the moment but I'm planning on professionally placing the ads around the site so that users don't find them annoying.

The team has also been the target of domain squatters who registered the quickpwn.com and yellowsn0w.net domains. (Both sites have been intentionally not linked to) The squatters have done a great job of making themselves look like the creators of the jailbreaking and unlocking tools, but they are not.

This is the webmaster of QuickPWN.com and yellowsn0w.net. I would kindly like to ask you to please remove my domains from this article because I am not committing any acts of crimes with my domain names or selling any software. In fact I'm just helping out the community by creating the websites and making it easier for jailbreaking community to find the downloads that they need. I made my websites to help out and I never pretended to be the DevTeam so please check the facts first before making up false statements in your article.

1. Firstly, I want you to take a look at quickpwn.com/2008/10/this-is-unofficial-quickpwn-website.html. I clearly stated in this article that I am in no way affiliated with the DevTeam and that this is an unofficial website! I also gave credit to the people who created the QuickPWN software. I'm just providing mirrors of the download on there so people can easily find and download it, nothing else. I'm not selling the software!

2. yellowsn0w.net - I never claimed to be part of the DevTeam when I created yellowsn0w.net! It's actually a website I created to relay news about the DevTeam's yellowsn0w progress. Just like many other websites like Neowin, TUAW, Engadget, and others posted news about yellowsn0w, I did the same! I even helped people in the comments solve their issues whenever I could. I even mentioned everywhere on yellowsn0w that the DevTeam made the yellowsn0w software and I even gave credit to Muscle Nerd and DevTeam in my post here yellowsn0w.net/2008/12/yellowsn0w.html. When people sent me a message on Twitter I let them know I'm not related to the DevTeam and I had them thank the DevTeam instead of thanking me. I just helped out. Many other big websites like Engadget and TUAW have put news/download info of yellowsn0w and QuickPWN on their website so what's wrong with me getting these domain names and doing that as well? Please think about it and remove my names. Thanks.

Not going to reply directly to the above, but I'm just going to reference the post made by the Dev Team about the sites so other people can make their own minds up. The allegation is related to profiting on the reputation and name of these tools - Engadget or TUAW have their own brands and reputations whereas the above poster's site is just QuickPwn.com - and including copious advertisements. Indeed I have emails from the above poster stating that it is his express intention to make money, regardless of any secondary aim to help people in using the tools.

http://blog.iphone-dev.org/post/49979818/quickpwn-fake-sites

The iPhone Dev Team could simply combat it by setting up a commercial division and sell it themselves at a VERY low price, they money they make can be put back into google advertising, thus no profit is made but it kills off the competition very easily.

exactly. Giving anything away for free is about the dumbest move you can make.

Because Linux, web browsers, chat clients, and so forth are all the dumb moves. In fact, we should all have to pay for everything, especially in this recession. And advertising creates no potential income at all.

I don't see the problem here, it's like a double edged sword.
It can be compared to someone selling cracks for software, you can find the cracks for free if you search - but many can't be bothered and will click on the first link they find in Google and be prepared to pay.

The iPhone Dev Team could simply combat it by setting up a commercial division and sell it themselves at a VERY low price, they money they make can be put back into google advertising, thus no profit is made but it kills off the competition very easily.

Not exactly. Cracks allow you to not have to pay for the software. People who pirate in the first place won't be looking to pay for cracks anyhow. Kind of defeats the purpose.

But yes, they could do as you said. However, it defeats their goal. Simply asking the community to help them though will create a response. I mean, if someone did me a favor, I'd be gladly to return it back to them. Hell, as I stated above, I don't even have an iPhone, but I support them against this jackass Jody Sanders.

So it's ok for people like The Pirate Bay to make money through advertising, and actively refusing to stop the transfer of pirated software on their network, but to sell a service along side a free software is so bad as to provoke the responses thus far on this forum?

I'm sure if the topic was 'Adobe CS4 hits The Pirate Bay - Group refuse to remove torrent', the responses would be very supportive of TPB. I don't see the difference between the two.

It's a sort of "Robin Hood" thing, if you will. Take from the rich and give to the poor. In this case though, Jody Sanders is the anti-Robin Hood. Takes from the poor and attempts to make himself rich. Thus, there's a real negative response.

There are people here though, myself included, that are against pirating in general. Hell, I was ****ed off when Neowin posted about GTAIV being leaked to torrent before release. It's like, people know where to torrent crap at. It's like telling someone to "look it up", which generally leads to the person going to Google to find whatever it is they're searching for. You say that something has leaked to torrent, you might as well link the damn torrent site! I mean, many of us wouldn't even have been aware of it if it wasn't posted. (which a site being against piracy, should not mention what's available on so-n-so's torrent site.

Anyhow, rant aside, it's bad when small companies or even small teams/individuals attempt to make money off their hard work only for it to be stolen. It's even worse when they do the job for free, only to have someone steal it, and attempt to take advantage of users that are unaware that it is supposed to be free.

But in response to that, the guy makes no claim to sell the software - only to sell support surrounding it. Unless he's updated his website recently, again, I don't see how it's provoking such a poor response. Maybe he's rebranding the software, but again, he's still only selling support to users that would otherwise risk bricking their phones as they are less tech-savvy than your general Neowin user.

This just doesn't seem as much 'news', as 'scapegoating' a specific person. I just hope it does turn out that the guy is legally doing something wrong, and is accountable, otherwise this is effectively slander, and damages will be due...

Didn't lots of people say selling pirated soft is ok? Talk about hypocrisy.

For me this is another proof of the hidden dangers of open source. It's obvious that people creating scams and people writing soft are different people. Guess who's getting the money.

Um, no they didn't. I've never heard a general group of people saying it's okay to sell pirated software. It isn't yours, why should you profit? In fact, I've never heard someone say this.

Maybe some don't agree with manufacturers overpricing software, yes. But that same disagreement would not hold with individuals stealing to make profit.

LTD said,
You mean the "hidden dangers" of something you know next to nothing about?

What is that precious something I don't know about open source?

At least I know what's the difference between "Open Source" and "Free Software". Something that zealots rarely know...

From my reading the original code is released under the GPL, this means any and all code will also fall under the same conditions regarding the original code. Basically he can sell for services, this is one of the main goals of the GPL, to allow free software and sell services along with it, but what gets me is the D.I.Y part, is he just selling the software or actually a support service with it, he needs to make it clear on his site that the software is under GPL and that they are paying for a support service.

Finally what you can do is flood this guy with requests for the code, since its under GPL he cannot refuse this, if anything he has to make it clearly known that you can download the software from his website or link to it clearly. If he has not done this then he is in violation of the GPL and can be actively perused by a lawyer.

If anything people like this should be flooded with requests for the source code since its original code was under GPL, there is just impossible for him to use it without following the GPL rules. EVERYONE send an email requesting the source code.

yellowperil said,
If anything people like this should be flooded with requests for the source code since its original code was under GPL, there is just impossible for him to use it without following the GPL rules. EVERYONE send an email requesting the source code. :)

It's ok. PGP Corp. provided the source code of their main product for many years. I think more than 99.9% of people bought the product instead.

As a person who is currently studying software engineering, I cannot believe someone would do such a thing!

The iPhone Dev Team has invested so much time and effort in this and all for free!

It is disgusting that someone could take their effort, try and make it seem like it is theirs and try to make a profit from it!

Jody Sanders is obviously a rubbish programmer If he's a programmer at all...

i say let him have his profits. if some people are unable to use google or their brains, then they have to pay for the stupidity :P

this is really sad. i dont have an iPhone so i haven't use their software, but i follow their progress very regularly and i really admire their dedication and the fact that they serve up their work free-of-charge to the public. i really hope the people profiting off of their work get what's coming to them because it's simply not fair, and beyond fairness, it's despicable.

Let's try to get these websites recognized as scam websites, so all the Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer user's get a warning when the access their domain names.

m-p{3} said,
Let's try to get these websites recognized as scam websites, so all the Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer user's get a warning when the access their domain names.

That's not a bad idea.

How do we go about doing that? If I have to go visit a page or click a link or something, let me know and I'll do it.

Fidelisprivatus said,
How do we go about doing that? If I have to go visit a page or click a link or something, let me know and I'll do it.

You can report Phishing Scams/Web Forgery sites by going to:
Help > Report Web Forgery

Legal action on behalf of a group that has written software to illegally unlock someone else's product has been stolen? I think the better question is: Who do they punish first?

Bri- said,
Legal action on behalf of a group that has written software to illegally unlock someone else's product has been stolen? I think the better question is: Who do they punish first?


where has it been proven that unlocking your phone is illeagle?

bdsams said,
where has it been proven that unlocking your phone is illegal?

That's exactly what I was thinking. If you bought the device locked as long as you pay for the contract or pay the EFT to get out of it and use it on a different provider then who cares?

QuarterSwede said,
Wow, that's pretty bad. Any legal action they can take?

What's so bad? It's FRRRRREEEEEEEEEEE software. Everybody is free to sell it.

It'd be like someone selling Google Chrome. You don't take something made by someone else and try to sell it just because you "can".

i dont agree with the store in london, it is not fair for dev team, because dev team doesnt ask us to pay anything for their software, and their software is the only one to unlock iphone now