I recently sent a complaint to Trademe (New Zealand's eBay) about a trader called arenasports who appears to have been selling lots of GPL software at ridiculous prices, as well as claiming that he was the author of the software. Despite an automatic response from Trademe saying that I'd receive a proper response within 24 hours, I still haven't heard anything back. I have noticed, though, that most of the auctions (apart from the one for Proficient PM Software, which strangely keeps being advertised in the Vintage Computers section) have now been removed. From what I can tell, this guy has been on a VMware course recently, and has now discovered VMware's Virtual Appliances. For example, the Proficient PM Software above, which seems to be a fairly obscure piece of software from Technology for Solutions, has been released as a Virtual Appliance.

Anyway, I've attached my original email to Trademe below, for posterity.

Hi,

I don't know what your take on selling Open Source software is, especially if source code isn't supplied, but user 'arenasports' (http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2046352) appears to be selling free GPL software for $20,000 to $100,000.

I'm not willing to fork out the cash to buy this software and see if I get given the Source Code as well, but even if I did and this person's auctions are legal, they're not what I'd call 'fair', and anyone paying this much will almost definitely be complaining when and if they find out that they could have obtained a copy of the software for free.

This person is renaming the software he sells to make it hard to track down, such as Bugzilla (http://www.bugzilla.org/) becoming Bugbillza. They're also claiming authorship of software that they most certainly didn't write, such as Unattended (http://unattended.sourceforge.net/. This part of the auctions is definitely illegal. Others include )) on Mandriva (http://www.mandriva.com/), "Kiosk Application 2008", which seems to be Kiosk Appliance (https://launchpad.net/kiosk/) and "Hotel / Motel Application 2008", which from the screenshot given is obviously "ASI FrontDesk Free Edition" (http://www.dirfile.com/asi_frontdesk_free_edition.htm) - again, there's a false claim of authorship. There's also "Centralized PC hardware and software inventory", which is Linbox Rescue Server (http://www.linbox.com/ucome.rvt/any/en/Produits/LRS).

I can track the rest of the software ("WorkSave RSI Application", "Amazing Patients for PocketPC Professional", "Hair Salon Application 1.1 2008", "Vortex Accounting 6.0 2008", "Real Estate Property Manager 1.0 2008", "Payroll Application for NZ 2008", "ARC HelpDesk 1.0 2008", "Proficient PM Software" and "Pocket Proxy 2008") and their origins if you like, but hopefully the packages I've listed will be enough for a rap on the knuckles.

Hilariously, they've copied and pasted descriptions from some of the original software websites. Therefore the advertised "Security Console Elite 2008", which appears to be Security Stockade (http://www.comsecinc.com/stockade.php, which itself seems from the screenshots to be based on an old version of Webmin (http://www.webmin.com/)), has a description saying "Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars when you can get it free". This product is listed on trademe for $25,000!!!

The only good thing about this is that it appears from their feedback (http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Feedback.aspx?member=2046352) that they haven't managed to dupe anyone - yet!

Of course, if you don't think that the above is enough to take action against 'arenasports', I suggest having a look at auction 144100937 (http://www.trademe.co.nz/Art/Other/auction-144100937.htm), selling for a buy now price of $14,500 - criminal!

Regards,

mark.