21.11.2023 – 21:05z

Reddit Post Claiming to be by FlyByWire Developer Accuses iniBuilds of Code Theft, Licensing Violations 

In a post on the Microsoft Flight Simulator subreddit, a since-deleted account by the name of NovaMoon827 has claimed that iniBuilds’s upcoming Airbus A320neo, which will be released in Microsoft Flight Simulator’s Sim Update 14, reuses code from FlyByWire’s own freeware A32NX project. The poster also claims that this is not the first time iniBuilds has done this, alleging that the ThrottleConfiguration.ini file from the iniBuilds A310, included with the MSFS 40th Anniversary Update, was similarly lifted from FlyByWire.

The poster supports their claims with screenshots showing identical log messages generated by iniBuilds’s A320neo and FlyByWire’s.

They then go on to claim that iniBuilds has illegally stolen FlyByWire’s source code and in doing so violated the open-source GPL (GNU General Public License) under which FlyByWire released its project. 

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The anonymous poster makes it clear that they are speaking on their own and were not authorized to do so by FlyByWire, adding that “We were told within FlyByWire to keep this knowledge internal for now, but I feel like the court of public opinion is valuable.” 

iniBuilds and FlyByWire Respond

iniBuilds commented on the matter on their Discord server saying they would not speak on the allegations at this time adding “Please bear with us.” 

FlyByWire while not commenting on the accusation of code theft made by the anonymous poster released a statement via their Discord and Twitter (X) condemning the unauthorized disclosure of internal team discussions and declining further comment.

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What is the GPL License?

At the core of the allegations around the alleged misuse of FlyByWire’s code lies the GNU General Public License, or GPL. A widely used free software license that was written by the Free Software Foundation and is used by a number of popular open-source software projects such as the Linux Kernel and GNU Complier Collection (GCC.)

The license enables end users to run, study, share, and modify the licensed software without restriction. The license includes a provision which states that for any person who is provided with the released software, that person must be given access to the accompanying source code in some form. The GPL is what’s known as a “viral license,” meaning that derivative works using GPL-licensed code must adopt the GPL or similar compatible license. 

What does this mean for FlyByWire and iniBuilds?

At this time it is not possible to prove or disprove the allegations of code theft in the anonymous Reddit post. However, given the nature of the GPL, any alleged use of FlyByWire’s code by iniBuilds would explicitly be permitted provided that iniBuilds complies with the terms of the GPL and applies the license to their product. 

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This is a developing story. 

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