Web Developer Rip-Off
Someone sent me an email the other day with a link to the AEVITA Web Inspector. Web Inspector is described as “an add-on component for your Internet Explorer browser…for testing and optimizing HTML pages without complexity”. It sounds like an equivalent to the Web Developer extension only for Internet Explorer instead of Firefox, but a quick glance at it’s home page reveals it is more of a rip-off than an equivalent.
The first thing I noticed was that the icons used in Web Inspector are identical to those in Web Developer. These icons were not created by me, but are part of the default Firefox themes on Windows and Mac OS X, and I believe these icons are copyrighted by Mozilla.
Looking at one of the Web Inspector screenshots it was clear that not only had the icons been taken from Web Developer, but that the menus had an almost identical structure in terms of naming and order, with only a few items added and removed.
I also noticed that most of the text on the Web Inspector home page had been copied from the Web Developer documentation. For example, from the Web Developer documentation:
And from the Web Inspector home page:
What is particularly amusing about this is that the text was copied verbatim even though there is no feature that disables the cache in Web Inspector! The Web Inspector home page also claims that the program allows “an unlimited number of configurable tools” and “custom sizes” in the resize feature, but these are features of the Web Developer extension and are not included in Web Inspector.
I downloaded and installed the program and it behaves in almost exactly the same way as the Web Developer extension. This makes me suspect that much of the logic was probably taken from my code, although this is most likely hard to prove as I would guess that the internal code of an Internet Explorer add-on is very different to that of a Firefox extension.
I sent AEVITA support a polite email pointing out what appear to me to be clear violations of the GNU General Public License that the Web Developer extension is distributed under and the copyright of the Mozilla icons. At the time of writing I have yet to receive a response.
I find it sad that there are people who would abuse open source software in this way and even charge $24.95 for a license. This is certainly not about trying to stop any competition for the Web Developer extension—I have always been fully supportive of the Web Accessibility Toolbar.
I am not sure what my next steps will be, but I will post any follow-ups here.
Update: Asa Dotzler from Mozilla has picked up the story on his blog and is encouraging people to contact AEVITA and express disapproval.
Update 2: Web Inspector is also available from Download.com and ZDNet Downloads. Feel free to add your opinion to the user reviews of the tool.
Update 3: Davenport points out that Web Inspector appears to have been removed from the AEVITA web site.
Update 4: Audoin points out that the AEVITA web site is now simply showing a “Bandwidth Limit Exceeded” message.
Update 5: The AEVITA web site is back up again and all references to the Web Inspector have been removed, although James says that the images can still be accessed by URL. AEVITA have not contacted me, but I now consider this matter closed and want to thank everybody for their support.