Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), claims that former President Donald Trump's social network infringed on a free, open-source software licensing agreement. It ripped off Mastodon, a decentralized social network. Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), has 30 days to adhere to the terms of the license or its access to the platform will be terminated.
Yesterday, TMTG launched a fundraising campaign for a special purpose acquisition company. It promises to build a media empire. The company's sole product is Truth Social, a social network that seems strongly to have been forked from Mastodon. Mastodon's code can be freely reused by anyone (and Gab, a right-wing social network), has done so already. However, they must still comply with the Affero General Public License or AGPLv3 that governs that code. Its conditions include providing their source code to all users.
Truth Social does not comply with this license. In fact, it refers to its service and proprietary as proprietary.
Truth Social must provide its source code to those who defaced it
The SFC is a non-profit organization that enforces open-source and free software licenses. TMTGs strategy didn't go down well with them. Bradley Kuhn, a SFC policy fellow, wrote that the license is intended to treat everyone equally (even those we don't like or agree) but they must follow the same copyleft licenses as everyone else. We saw today that Trump Media and Technology Group ignored the important rules designed for the social benefit.
Truth Social is not yet officially launched. However, users were able to access a trial version of Truth Social. Many of these users created fake accounts and flooded the site with fake company announcements. The platform was replaced by a waiting list. SFC demands that TMTG provide all users with access to the Truth Social source codes. Kuhn states that if they do not comply within 30 days, all their rights and permissions to the software will be permanently and automatically terminated.
The SFC can sue Truth Social if it fails to make the source codes available. The group sued Vizio, an electronics manufacturer, earlier this year for repeatedly failing to comply with the requirements of free software licenses. Kuhn wrote that they will closely monitor this matter and demand that Trumps Group provide the source for all users of the site.
Yesterday, Eugen Rochko, Mastodon founder, stated that he would seek legal counsel regarding the situation. However he did not discuss any specific plan of action. Talking Points Memo: I believe compliance with our AGPLv3 licence is crucial to me because it is the only basis on which I and other developers will give away years worth of work.