In August 2013, I started working on fooCam. It’s a little app that scratches my own itch. I quickly got the app to do everything I wanted it to do, slapped the MPL on it and submitted it to F-Droid. Without any intention to monetize, I did not want to spend $25 to submit the app to Google Play Store. All went well until today, GitHub user @programmin1 informed me that the app is already on Google Play Store.
Clearing the Doubts about Opensource
My first reaction was to start calling names. Somebody changed the name and icon of my app and make it look like it’s theirs! They even set a price of one dollar for the free app! However, I soon realized that they are only able to do that because I made it opensource in the first place. Was that a wrong choice?
After letting it sink in for a while, I came back to the same conclusion I had before. The freedom to use the software is the whole point of free software. It would be shameful of me to call myself an advocate of free software and not understand this. I should feel happy now that the app I wrote for myself is also useful enough for somebody to “steal” it.
I’m not completely happy, however, so I decided I would contact the developer.
I figured out the only problem I have with TheFoxute (the developer that published my app) is that they should have given me credit and showed respect for the license. Consulting the MPL FAQ I sent them this email:
I have noticed that this app is built from my project fooCam, available under the terms of the Mozilla Public License. It is an opensource project and you are welcome to use it. However, a few things seem to be missing and I hope that you will rectify them in a timely fashion. According to the license, you need to:
- Disclose the source code. If you have not made any change to the source will be enough.
- If you have made changes to the source code, you need to release the changes under the same license.
Looking forward to hear back from you.
At least this gives me the good feeling of knowing that I have done the right thing. I do hope that this is a misunderstanding and that TheFoxute will respond to my requests. I really don’t want to be involved in legal stuff.
Update: when I checked again on March 15, the app has been removed from Google Play Store. Success! Kind of. I didn’t hear back from the developer.
Some Notes about Google Play Store
Anyone can submit an app using any package name, for example
net.phunehehe.foocam, provided that it’s the first app to use that package
name. There is no way to claim parts of a package name, such as
net.phunehehe, to avoid “package name squatters”.
You cannot leave a review after uninstalling an app. I can see that it makes sense in some cases, but I feel like I should be able to review an app that I have just uninstalled. The fact that this is a paid app just makes it even more inconvenient. I can’t install the app again to review and then refund a second time.
Questions or comments can go to Google+ :)