PHP encodingRecently it came to my attention that someone copied one of my free and GPL components for Joomla, made cosmetic changes and started selling it. According to GPL there wouldn't be anything wrong with that if they also didn't change the license to a proprietary one (which text they also copied from my non-GPL products) and if they didn't steal the component's name as well. For this reason I am getting emails asking for relation with this site, even asking me for support.

Things to get worse they are even publishing a module for their rip-off component on Joomla Extension Directory (JED) which is sold under the same proprietary license but claiming to be GPL. A week ago I submitted a report to JED team but they did nothing to remove this module, which is used by visitors to find this pirated component and their site, not even to reply my email. The same JED team who swear on GPL, were quick to remove all my non-GPL extensions, checked my site and manually examined the code for all my commercial GPL products. Of course there is no way for me to do anything about this component. Complaining didn't help and legal action is of course not feasible. It's people like this that make me reluctant to release anything GPL or open source any more. It also confirms why encoding my commercial products has been a good idea. Namely, a similar thing happened several years ago when I released SEF Advance, the first SEF component for Joomla and Mambo which later became widely popular and followed by many other extensions. At first, the script was not encoded but had a simple protection instead. It got easily broken and the component, being so wanted, started appearing on warez sites. About that time the first open source SEF components started to appear as well. Examining their code I could find the same principles, copies of my code, same variable names and comments as found in SEF Advance. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it so I just let it go and started encoding SEF Advance. However, these open source components had been picked up by others who continued the project as per GPL nature. Later on I could find bigger portions of my code even in OpenSEF. I personally know the OpenSEF author, a great guy. He acted in good faith taking over the previous GPL projects and had no idea they contained pirated code. This project later evolved and was recoded, picked up by other projects but it's interesting that many SEF components for Joomla originate from SEF Advance and its code, even though it never was open source. There has been a lot of buzz around GPL and encoding for Joomla extensions recently, both for and against. Why I am doing it is not because of some script kiddies who would find it on warez sites, who would never have bought it anyway. I do it because of authors without honour like the one from the beginning of this text. The authors that would breach your copyright, take the credit for themselves and try to earn some money out of your work. Other authors and users will then be unknowingly using illegal code and, in worst case, even ask you for support. Encoding is the easiest way to protect your customers, be able to give them support they deserve and clearly separate your work from the competition.

Emir Sakic Emir is Electrical Engineer turned web developer, co-founder of Joomla and a former member of the core development teams of Joomla and its predecessor Mambo.

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