Jin vs. IChessU
The Copyright Infringement Case (settled)

October 6th, 2008

The case has been settled. The official announcement follows.

IChessU and Alexander (Sasha) Maryanovsky mutually announce that they settled their dispute in relation to the use of Jin that was developed by Mr. Maryanovsky and licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

During the negotiations to this settlement, IChessU and its manager, Alexander Rabinovich, realized that their conduct in relation to the use of Jin personally hurt Maryanovsky and was against his wishes, and they regret doing so. Mr. Rabinovich emphasizes that IChessU and himself were acting in good faith and in accordance to their legal consultation at the time.

At the same time, Maryanovsky realized that his actions in response to IChessU and its manager's use of Jin hurt their business reputation and their name, and he emphasizes that this was not his aim but he was acting in order to protect what he saw as infringement of his rights.

The parties express satisfaction in ending their dispute and thank their attorneys, Adv. Jonathan Klinger (representing Mr. Maryanovsky) and Adv. Haim Ravia (representing IChessU and Mr. Rabinovich) for their contribution in ending this dispute. The content of the settlement is kept confidential.

April 15th, 2007

We have filed a reply to IChessU's defense (Hebrew, PDF, 64K).

March 27th, 2007

A month ago, there was a hearing regarding IChessU's appeal to move the case off the legal fast-track. IChessU were granted their request and the case is now off the fast-track. Today they have submitted their defense (Hebrew, PDF, 468K).

February 8th, 2007

A while ago, IChessU have filed a request to move the lawsuit off the legal fast track to the "standard" track. The judge said he will decide this when they submit their request for defense. IChessU have appealed this decision to another judge and we are now waiting for a discussion of this appeal, on February 27th. IChessU were granted a delay in their submission of the request-for-defense pending the appeal. There has been a multitude of boring (technical, irrelevant to the infringement issue itself) documents, which I didn't bother posting online. I will post once we have something substantial.

November 29th, 2006

I haven't been able to update this page for a while due to legal circumstances described below. Now, however, I am free to explain what has happened in the last few months. As Alexander Rabinovich has relocated to Canada (and not to the US, as he said), we have been having trouble serving him the court papers. Thanks to many attempts to serve them and a Linux.com article by Bruce Byfield (Rabinovich is quoted there on matters regarding the lawsuit), however, we had enough evidence to prove to the court that Rabinovich knows about the lawsuit, which is an adequate substitute according to Israeli law. Therefore, once IChessU's alotted time for submitting a request to defend themselves has elapsed, we submitted a request for default judgement (around October 27th). A week ago, however, Jonathan (my attorney), was contacted by Haim Ravia, a leading Israeli cyber-law attorney, who informed us that he is now representing Rabonovich and IChessU. Since this occurred before the court granted us the default judgement we requested, it was unclear whether it would be granted, or if the suit would return to its standard course - Ravia having 30 days to file a request for defense. Today, however, Jonathan informed me that the court has accepted our request, but allowed Rabinovich and IChessU 20 days to respond to it and argue why we should not be granted default judgement. We now await their replies.

October 8th, 2006

Found an interesting episode today: Alik Fishman (Rabinovich's friend, mentioned in "the story") attempting and failing (and getting banned for it) to get a link to IChessU published in the "External Links" of the Wikipedia article on chess. The interesting part is where he says that he is merely a player at IChessU and is not being paid to bring people in. The relevant links:

August 29th, 2006

Alexander told me yesterday that he has relocated to the US, although I don't know whether this is a consequence of me filing the lawsuit (or whether it's at all true).

The Story (August 2006)

About half a year ago, I was approached by a Mr. Alexander Rabinovich, who is an Israeli (I'm in Israel too) international master. He told me that his start-up, the International Chess University, is working on developing a chess server and a client, and asked whether I am available to help them.

Unfortunately, (or, in retrospect, fortunately) I was too busy finishing my CS degree at the time, so I told him that I could not help. I also told him that there was no need to develop a client from scratch - he could simply use Jin. I made it clear that he could either use it under the GPL, or pay me for a commercial license. He asked for a price, and I told him $4000, which is pretty cheap (for a niche application that you get the source code to, and get to redistribute it). It would have cost him about 10 times that to develop it himself, and would take at least a year or so, even with a team of very capable developers.

A few weeks went by, during which I've advised Alexander, free of charge, on some technical issues (which servers, clients are usable and which aren't), talked to the (Russian) development team he hired etc. I even invited him once to dinner with some friends who have experience in "starting-up".

Eventually, Alexander told me that $4000 was too expensive for them and asked to meet me and discuss alternatives. I met him and his friend Alik Fishman, who is a partial owner of IChessU, discussed a few options, but did not come to an agreement. During this meeting, Alik hinted that they could simply use Jin illegally, without paying me or releasing the IChessU Client source code under the GPL, but Alexander quickly interrupted him saying that they would of course not do that.

A few days later, Alexander told me that he has consulted with his lawyers and that IChessU have chosen to use Jin under the terms of the GPL. He also said that they are planning to wrap Jin in a layer that would allow it to be controlled via a socket. This would allow IChessU to write any additions "outside" of Jin, without releasing the source to them. I told Alexander that I believe this would still, most likely, be violating the GPL (GPL FAQ on aggregation). Eventually, however, Alexander told me that they abandoned the idea and would use Jin (still, under the GPL) in a straightforward manner.

When IChessU published their client (clearly based on Jin), I contacted Alexander and told him that in order to comply with the GPL, IChessU needs to publish the source code of its IChessU Client (which they haven't done themselves). Alexander stalled and delayed for a few weeks, but eventually had his Russian team publish partial source code on their website.

At this point I need to explain a bit about the IChessU client, to clarify what I mean by "partial source code". IChessU aim to develop a site which brings chess tutors and students together. An important feature is the ability to see and talk to your tutor and fellow students. This part is an external C++ library Alexander had obtained seperately (I believe another Russian team developed it for him), and is used as a library (via JNI) from the Java code. So, what IChessU have released was everything (which is, roughly speaking, 95% my code and 5% theirs) except this audio/video over IP library and the few Java classes used to interface with it.

I've then spent a week or so trying to explain Alexander that it does not matter that the A/V library is "a separate library" and that in order to comply with the GPL, he must publish the source code to that too. Our last chat ended with me telling him that I am contacting an IP lawyer and him telling me to enjoy it.

Since then, I have contacted an IP lawyer, Jonathan Klinger. We have sent Alexander and his lawyers a letter, detailing their violations and asking them to stop. They have responded with a letter demonstrating that they either have no understanding of the GPL or are trying to weasel their way around it. I have (personally) written a very detailed response to that too. All these documents are available at the bottom of this page.

About two and a half weeks ago, we have filed a lawsuit against Alexander Rabinovich and IChessU.


  1. Letter from Jonathan Klinger to IChessU (Hebrew, PDF, 325K)
  2. IChessU's response to letter (English, PDF, 345K)
  3. My response to IChessU's response (English, PDF, 37K)
  4. The lawsuit text (Hebrew, PDF, 120K)
  5. The request for default judgement (Hebrew, PDF, 316K)
  6. IChessU's defense (Hebrew, PDF, 468K)
  7. Our reply to IChessU's defense (Hebrew, PDF, 64K)