On the 3th of January 2012 GitHub received a letter from Scientiamobile (www.scientiamobile.com) requesting to remove from GitHub the repository OpenDDR-Resources (https://github.com/OpenDDR-org/OpenDDR-Resources). The letter claims that the repository contains material infringing Scientiamobile copyrighted work.

The following link shows the letter from Scientiamobile lawyer: https://github.com/github/dmca/blob/master/2012-01-04-scientiamobile.markdown

GitHub, according to DMCA act, was obliged to accomplish the request, without any evaluation of the correctness of the request. The only way to block a DMCA would be for OpenDDR people to pay an attorney officer to manage the litigation. We choose a more open (and less expensive) option: publish this story to clarify and to give Scientiamobile the opportunity to publicly remedy the mistake made in requesting the removal of OpenDDR-Resources repository.

Below some background to explain the origins of the story. OpenDDR project has been made by a group of web & mobile developers aware of the importance for their work of an always up-to-date Device Description Repository (DDR), and of good APIs to access it. The work on OpenDDR had a boost in September 2011, after the licensing change on wurfl.xml (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/wmlprogramming/message/34311): in fact, there was no other project available worldwide aiming to catalogue and share device descriptions, freely usable in commercial projects. We think that identifying hardware and software features of the accessing clients is a basic need, a commodity that should be available to any developer to allow a better software design.

We started looking for all the available and open sources of device descriptions and we thought how to guarantee for the future the freedom of choice to other developers, like us: the solution we found was relying on W3C standards. One of the sources we looked at was the content of the file wurfl.xml, in its version dated April 24th 2011, the last one with open terms of use, consistent with the initial spirit of wurfl.xml project, and respectful toward “many different people from many different countries” collecting over the years the data. Below its terms of use:

     Dear Developer, the WURFL file contains information about the
     capabilities of mobile devices, capabilities and features.
     The main scope of this file is to collect as
     many information as we can about all the existing wireless devices
     that access mobile pages so that developers will be able to build better
     applications and better services for the users.
     This project is open-source and is intended for developers working
     with the WAP environment. All the information listed here has been
     collected by many different people from many different
     countries. You are allowed to use WURFL in any of your applications,
     free or commercial. The only thing required is to make public any
     modification to this file, following the original
     spirit and idea of the creators of this project. This will help WURFL
     to grow better and better every day. The use of WURFL is at your own risk,
     there is no warranty that all agents and
     capabilities are correct. All the information, as stated, has been gathered
     by many users from many places around the world and as such there is
     no guarantee about the reliability of this
     information. Post any noteworthy modification and comment
     to the file on the WMLProgramming mailing list on Yahoo Groups:
     http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/wmlprogramming/ Alternatively,
     you can mail your modification to Luca Passani,
     the WURFL maintainer, at passani at eunet dot no


The file wurfl.xml dated April 24th 2011 cannot be found anymore on wurfl.sourceforge.net, but it has been distributed on several different channels, so it is very easy to find on the Web (a copy is available here https://github.com/bdelacretaz/wurfl). As a curious note, the announcement made on August 30th by Mr. Luca Passani of the new license says “Of course, the snapshot in July was released with the old (very liberal) licensing”, but the terms of use are someway ambiguous, stating “The data is meant for use with the WURFL API available on the official WURFL website at http://wurfl.sourceforge.net.” (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/wmlprogramming/message/34311). For this reason no data coming from July 2011 Snapshot has been used in OpenDDR, while April 2011 version has been used instead.

Someone can say we missed to officially mention WURFL as one of the sources in OpenDDR repository. We did not mention WURFL in the OpenDDR disclaimer because on the 8th of July 2011 Scientiamobile Inc. registered the “WURFL” trademark in the European Union trademark database and in several other regions, assigning arbitrary to itself the rights on a project contributed by many people. We hope this will not expose Scientiamobile inc. and its clients to Intellectual Property issues, given the fact that the wurfl project has been contributed by many people over the past years, without signing a Software Grant to assign to a third party the copyright on the data.

We still believe Scientiamobile is acting in good faith, even though imprudently, in its request toward GitHub, thinking that data protected by the new licensing acting since August 2011 have been used in OpenDDR repository. In this page we clarified it is not the case, and this can be verified easily analyzing the repository. We invite Scientiamobile to verify, to clarify publicly its position, and to revoke the DMCA letter toward OpenDDR-Resources repository.

By the way, in the middle of December 2011 an Apache Member contacted OpenDDR team asking to join DeviceMap, a new project aiming to catalogue and share device descriptions. OpenDDR reply was enthusiastic: the Apache DeviceMap project is completely inline with OpenDDR aims of providing a freely available device repository, so OpenDDR accepted the request and accommodated to donate the OpenDDR codebase to DeviceMap. On the 3rd of January 2012 the Apache PPMC approved DeviceMap project. We expect OpenDDR to have a great future as part of the Apache DeviceMap incubating project. In the meantime, don’t worry: the OpenDDR package, including code and resources, will continue to be released on a monthly basis, as usual, and will be distributed via OpenDDR website and via any other website willing to host the contents.

© 2012 OpenDDR LLC. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.