It just depends on how you want to look at it. Thievery, however, I'll say it again, it is not since no money is involved and nothing is stolen (taken away from someone). It may be breach of copyright, but not theft. Wrong term.
That said, I do think GPL tracks being copied to other platforms is promoting GPL as "the Original Mother of old tracks and cars". It *is* making GPL more well known outside its own circle of insiders - I've seen it happen online plenty of times.
If *only* GPL drivers knew about GPL, there would be few simracers having even heard of it today.
It's driver numbers are 100 times smaller than they used to be, because there are so many alternatives nowadays. Some of them bad, some good.
I agree that if possible, permission for conversion should be asked. But sometimes track authors simply disappear from the simracing world, and change mail addresses or online nicknames. I once tried to find Teru-san for a possible conversion of his Shutoko track (which hasn't happened yet), but being from 2001 it's very old and he's nowhere to be found online atm.
In such cases, it's simply a case of either the track rot away unused in ever-dwindling GPL land, or give it new life in a new sim. Personally I don't think that's bad, as long as you tried to give credit. Sometime authors are simply unavailable, but usually they don't mind conversion if credit is given.
Of course, if the tracks are old enough sometimes it's just better to start over and make a new version of the track.
PS. Personally, I have two tracks in the works, nearly ready and due for release in the short term future. I don't mind people converting and improving them later on - in fact, I intend to release their project files later. But because we know by now how hard it often is to find a track author who made something in 2002, I plan to include the conversion permission guidelines in the accompanying Readme. It's a pity we didn't think of these things earlier, would have made things in trackland often a whole lot easier.
Edited by Rudy Dingemans, Dec 01 2010 - 04:10 PM.