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Qualcomm fires DMCA shotgun at alleged code thieves on GitHub – including itself

Takedown notices issued to dozens of accounts

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A company claiming to represent Qualcomm has shut down a number of repositories on source-code sharing site GitHub under provisions of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – including at least one repository belonging to Qualcomm itself.

In a letter published by GitHub this week, web intelligence outfit Cyveillance claims to have been authorized by Qualcomm to issue takedown notices to sites that unlawfully publish its copyrighted works – in this case, its source code.

"Cyveillance has recently discovered the unauthorized publication, disclosure, and copying of highly sensitive, confidential, trade secret, and copyright-protected documents on the below web site," the letter reads, referring to GitHub. "Specifically, we have confirmed that the documents whose locations and filenames identified below are confidential and proprietary to Qualcomm and were posted without Qualcomm's permission."

The letter goes on to list links to 116 files that Cyveillance claims are infringing, scattered across some 45 different GitHub accounts.

Judging by the filenames, however, it's hard to see how all of them could infringe Qualcomm IP, because they're all over the map. Some of them are C source code files, while others are written in C++, C#, Java, Objective-C, and even XML. One even appears to be a config file.

Even stranger, one of the repositories that has been flagged is "qcamain_open_hal_public," a source code tree belonging to GitHub user "qca" – otherwise known as Qualcomm Atheros, a division of the very company whose IP its source code is alleged to infringe.

Of course, it's possible that someone managed to sneak Qualcomm trade secrets into all of these documents, regardless of what language they were written in or who purports to own them. But there's no way to determine that now, because in keeping with its policy, GitHub has already taken down the repositories in question. Even if just one file was named in Cyveillance's letter, the whole repo has been made inaccessible.

Under the provisions of the DMCA, developers who feel their files have been wrongfully taken down can file a counter-notice with GitHub, asserting under penalty of perjury that their code is legit and non-infringing. At that point, if Qualcomm doesn't file a lawsuit within 14 business days or so, GitHub is free to reinstate the files.

Qualcomm has yet to respond to The Reg's request for clarification on the matter. ®

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