×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Your License Is Your Interface

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the your-license-is-solid-color-rectangles dept.

Software 356

dp619 writes "License-free software has become a thing. Only 14.9% of repositories on GitHub have a license, according to recent Software Freedom Law Center research. Red Monk has observed that this trend is occurring principally among younger software developers. Outercurve Foundation technical evangelist Eric Schultz has offered up his opinion, saying, 'As an active developer I want to add a slightly different perspective on the dangers of releasing unlicensed software. My perspective is based on a simple phrase: "Your License Is Your Interface."' He adds, 'A license similarly defines the interaction between the software, or more precisely the creators of the software, and users. Just like an interface, a license defines intended behavior of users of the software, such as the four essential freedoms or the ten pillars of the Open Source Definition. Just like an interface, a license prevents unintended behavior of users of the software, which depending on the open source license, may disclaim the original author of liability for use of the software, prohibit redistribution without recognizing the original author or prohibit distribution of derivatives under a more restrictive license. When it comes to legal use and distribution of your software, your license IS your interface.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

356 comments

Ladies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990311)

Once you go black: you're a single mom!

Niggas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990425)

Shut yo' mouth bitch! Now git down on yo' knees and suck this big, nigga dick!

Re:Niggas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990629)

Shut yo' mouth bitch! Now git down on yo' knees and suck this big, nigga dick!

Spoken like a skinny, pasty white suburban white boy.

Bitch.

Re:Ladies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990627)

Nah, there are plenty of cuckold nerd virgins on slashdot they can still marry. But they still choose to be a poor single mother, sorry slashdot.

Re:Ladies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990675)

Or even nerd virgins have SOME taste so they dont wanna be with a known niggerlover. Sorry idealistic lib-tard.

equal opportunity does NOT guarantee equal results. Eat it, lib-tards! Yeah thats right chew it up good. Now swallow. Thats a good bitch.

and if license picking were mandatory... (2)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 10 months ago | (#43990329)

it always misleads with picking "GNU GPL" or "Creative Commons" but not actually representing the said license in the work itself. I've seen a few of these on Sourceforge that only exploited the service only to provide redistribution of non-Free materials contrary to their license.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (1, Interesting)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 10 months ago | (#43990369)

Everyone picks GNU GPL because they think it sounds cool, but it is toxic for people not making software they want to provide source code to. GNU GPL forces anyone who uses your work to release their source code under GNU GPL too. When you're a developer who believes obfuscation isn't the end of security, but is a layer, you don't want to release your source code with your software.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990477)

I know that posts like this always get modded down by OSS-fanatics, but it is true. If I was to write a small piece of software and wanted people to actually use it, I would never release as GPL. Every company I've worked for refuses to use GPL code, at least for some kinds of applications.

Release as BSD or similar with a warranty disclaimer and be done with it. That way it might actually be widely useful. Pretty much every industry-standard de-facto library I can think of is BSD licensed, such as openSSL. if openSSL was GPL, no one would use it.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (5, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 10 months ago | (#43990751)

I know that posts like this always get modded down by OSS-fanatics, but it is true. If I was to write a small piece of software and wanted people to actually use it, I would never release as GPL. [.. blah blah..] Release as BSD or similar with a warranty disclaimer and be done with it. [..blah blah..]

Or perhaps they're modded down because anyone outside the GPL vs. BSD zealotry sees them for what they are- the tedious and inevitable tendency of fanatics on either side to steer any vaguely license-related discussion into being yet another tedious identikit rehash of the GPL vs. BSD holy war.

As I already said [slashdot.org]

Never mind that we've had this discussion countless times before and every possible debating point and issue has been raised and discussed exhaustively a million times. Never mind that the chances of any new insight coming out of the billionth tedious discussion of this long-established subject is next to nothing. Never mind that those involved on both sides feel the need to repeat the same entrenched positions- which mostly come down to personal philosophy and not an incomplete understanding of the issues (which everyone knows full well by now) and will therefore be unlikely to change in the face of the discussion... not that this was the point anyway.

No, the point is that those involved in every one of these pointless rehashes of the exact same to-ing and fro-ing and restatements of the same old facts and arguments on both sides know this damn well, but can't reign in their desire to indulge in the argument yet again.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990485)

Obfuscation pretty much never has a place in security. Also, if the project is very important, you can always contact the creator and try to negotiate a different licence. It only becomes a bit problem when the project had contributions from several different sources where to get a different license, you have to contact way too many people.

The whole point of GPL is that they try to ensure that everybody has the right to the source of a given work or derivate of that work.

2 points, if you can't provide security without showing the method how you provide security, you aren't providing security and if the license is a problem either don't use the code or negotiate for a different license.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0, Troll)

Score Whore (32328) | about 10 months ago | (#43990681)

Obfuscation pretty much never has a place in security.

Unless "pretty much never has a place in security" actually means "has a critical place in security", please tell me your usernames, passwords, crypto keys, host addresses, VPN token parameters, etc. Also your bank account numbers as well as your bank routing number.

Secrets == obfuscation. Crypto == obfuscation.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 10 months ago | (#43990755)

How now! Don't bring facts to the conversation and ruin his parroted misunderstanding of what "security through obscurity" means.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 10 months ago | (#43990933)

Unless "pretty much never has a place in security" actually means "has a critical place in security", please tell me your usernames, passwords, crypto keys, host addresses, VPN token parameters, etc. Also your bank account numbers as well as your bank routing number.

I think what the GP meant is that any crypto system in which the security of the data depends on the secrecy of the mechanism itself is fundamentally flawed. For example, keeping crypto keys secret is critical to security, which is why DRM doesn't work; the only thing protecting those keys from the user is the way in which the DRM code hides those keys, so as soon as that hiding mechanism is exposed, the entire scheme breaks down.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#43991323)

Unless it's rolling code remote technology, which is based entirely on the algorithm being secret. It remained unbroken for 30 or so years and is used on millions of cars and garage doors around the world.

Name one other "non-obfuscation-based" crypto method that widely used that has remained so secure.

obfuscation != secrets (5, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | about 10 months ago | (#43991201)

The definition of obfuscation is to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy, or to make obscure or unclear.

In security, the normal rule is that the algorithm chosen should still be secure _even if the attacker knows what it is_.

On the other hand, passwords, crypto keys, etc. are all pieces of data that are secrets. This is a very different thing from obscure.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 10 months ago | (#43990729)

So then Bruce Schneier has no place in security? [schneier.com]

Kerckhoffs' Principle is just one half of the decision process. Just because security does not require that something be kept secret, it doesn't mean that it is automatically smart to publicize it. There are two characteristics that make publication so powerful in cryptography. One, there is a large group of people who are capable and willing to evaluate cryptographic systems, and publishing is a way to harness the expertise of those people. And two, there are others who need to build cryptographic systems and are on the same side, so everyone can learn from the mistakes of others. If cryptography did not have these characteristics, there would be no benefit in publishing.

Missile guidance algorithms is another example. Would the government be better off publishing their algorithms for guiding missiles? I believe the answer is no, because the system lacks the second characteristic above. There isn't a large community of people who can benefit from the information, but there are potential enemies that could benefit from the information. Therefore, it is better for the government to keep the information classified and only disclose it to those it believes should know.

Oh and:

Because the secrecy requirements for security are rarely black and white, publishing now becomes a security trade-off. Does the security benefit of secrecy outweigh the benefits of publication? It might not be easy to make the decision, but the decision is straightforward. Historically, the NSA did not publish its cryptographic details -- not because their secrecy improved security, but because they did not want to give their Cold-War-world enemies the benefit of their expertise.

Basically you have no place lecturing about security practices.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 10 months ago | (#43991067)

So then Bruce Schneier has no place in security? [schneier.com]

Correct. Schneier wrote a book on crypto, at the time as a non-expert on crypto, because nobody else would write it. He used the fame that came from that book to build around himself the idea that he is a security expert. Really, he has a blog and a company. And a following, of course.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (4, Interesting)

devent (1627873) | about 10 months ago | (#43991049)

I make the observation quite frequently that people who complain about the GPL never seems to realize that you can just contact the original developer and negotiate with him a different license. For a big project like the Linux kernel there is of course the problem to contact every contributor, but most projects are rather small or the copyrights are belonging to a company or organization.

So if you see a GPL code out there just think of it as a demo version, that is fully functional. If you want to take the code for your proprietary project, you can contact the developer and negotiate a different license.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991123)

Obfuscation pretty much never has a place in security.

Others have been nicer, and I'm happy to see so many responses to this absurdity, but someone also needs to put it bluntly:

You're a fool and have no business saying anything on the subject of security.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991137)

Obfuscation pretty much never has a place in security.

Obfuscation is an absolutely critical layer of security. You are so ridiculously wrong, and posting under a pseudonym, which in this context is hilarious.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990489)

You are free not to use GPL'ed code. Nobody forces you to.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 10 months ago | (#43990491)

It should be quite possible to have a simple license "filtering" mechanism with just a few carefully selected choices.
IMHO, Open Source licenses tend to fall into just a few broad categories with further distinction only in minor details and choice of words.

i.e. (based on very little data)
[ ] May other people use your code in their own projects? (filter open source licenses)
[ ] May your code be distributed in closed source applications? (filter GPL)
[ ] Do applications that distribute your code need to mention your name? (filter original BSD)

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0)

Millennium (2451) | about 10 months ago | (#43990527)

If you're a developer who believes obfuscation is a valid layer of security, you shouldn't be in your field.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (5, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 10 months ago | (#43990671)

Obscurity is a perfectly valid layer of security as long as the security mechanism's integrity is not based solely on that obscurity. Just because certain information can be made public about a security system without damaging its integrity as a whole does not mean you necessarily should make that information public. Bruce Schneier even says so himself:

Kerckhoffs' Principle is just one half of the decision process. Just because security does not require that something be kept secret, it doesn't mean that it is automatically smart to publicize it.

From: http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0205.html#1 [schneier.com]

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 10 months ago | (#43990687)

Oh and to add further he even states later in the article:

Missile guidance algorithms is another example. Would the government be better off publishing their algorithms for guiding missiles? I believe the answer is no, because the system lacks the second characteristic above. There isn't a large community of people who can benefit from the information, but there are potential enemies that could benefit from the information. Therefore, it is better for the government to keep the information classified and only disclose it to those it believes should know.

Basically, yes, you should have the least amount of secrets possible for a security system, but this does not mean that you publicize every single secret about the system.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990605)

If they are the copyright holders, they are free to release their source-less binaries under the GPL. They are in no way infringing unless they accept external contributions. If the servers ToS don't say otherwise, they are in the clear. This is how *copy*-right works.

The problem you state is meaningless if they are freely uploading their proprietary source for anyone to see. I'm sure Chinese companies looking for code to snatch will say "Hey this code isn't properly licensed under a two clause BSD like license! We better write our own!"

Your chances of finding out about the infringement are close to zero unless the copy is blatant(eg copying binary names or some hard to replicate functionality).

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990703)

The problem with posts like this is always equivocating on the word "use".
It happens so much it's hard not to see it as deliberate.
Using GPL software is of course free for everyone.
It's redistribution and derivative works that have restrictions--far relaxed from those imposed by copyright law.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0)

ewibble (1655195) | about 10 months ago | (#43990793)

Obfuscation, shouldn't have a place in security not just because your code doesn't rely on it (this inevitably leads to laziness). Which it shouldn't, It also should have a place since it means that the person has to trust the person who writes the code. Of course since most code you run is not examined by the user (but hopefully examined by someone independent), but having your code visible provides an extra level of trust.

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 10 months ago | (#43990821)

Obfuscation always has a place in security. Do you tell everyone your passwords? Do you give away your private signing key?

Re:and if license picking were mandatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991187)

A key is a "key" specifically because it's the only thing that must remain secret. A key isn't a key if the details to the lock must also remain secret in order for it to function according to specification.

Obfuscation is like adding redundant and shoddy supports to a bridge, just to because you want to be extra safe.

Respectable engineers do not add parts to a structure or machine which are unnecessary, unless they're just for show. Doing so only shows that you do not understand the problem at hand, and do not understand the characteristics of your solution.

I license mine with creative commons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990379)

My ego isn't so big that I care if it's attributed to me not.

Re:I license mine with creative commons (4, Insightful)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 10 months ago | (#43990457)

Most creative commons requires attribution. If you really "don't care", you should explicitly state that your software is CC0 [creativecommons.org]

Re: I license mine with creative commons (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990791)

ok, well our legal department wont let us use a library without a license. If we really like yours we might contact you and ask for one, but most likely we'll move on to an alternative.

Eric Schultz (3, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 10 months ago | (#43990381)

Eric Schultz appears to underestimate the ability of programmers to not give shit about licensing.
Lawyers want to wheedle their ways into all our lives. Ignore them, they won't go away, but it will simplify your life.

Re:Eric Schultz (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990553)

When I reuse code from GITHUB that does not have any licence, I always give them credit when I release my code without a licence. I think this helps us all.

Re:Eric Schultz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990667)

Well put. Lawyers are like internet trolls, basically parasites which feed on attention. If enough people start ignoring them, or doing as much as possible evade litigous douchebags instead of fighting them on their terms, eventually they will start dying off.

Re:Eric Schultz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990723)

Neither bullies nor trolls will vanish if you don't give them attention.
Worst case for them, they still have each other.

Re:Eric Schultz (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 10 months ago | (#43990727)

Well put. Lawyers are like internet trolls, basically parasites which feed on attention. If enough people start ignoring them, or doing as much as possible evade litigous douchebags instead of fighting them on their terms, eventually they will start dying off.

Exactly. No matter what you do, you break five laws every day just existing, so who cares?

Default: public domain (1)

mveloso (325617) | about 10 months ago | (#43990403)

Nobody wants your software. So you might as well release it totally unencumbered.

Re:Default: public domain (4, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#43990513)

Default: public domain

not in any jurisdictions that are party to the Berne Convention.

Re:Default: public domain (4, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 10 months ago | (#43990649)

If that is your wish, release under BSD

Legally the default is all rights reserved, so putting no license means that nobody can legally distribute or derive from your code

Re:Default: public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990759)

...and not even download nor use, unless it's stated otherwise (and well, that would be some kind of license, so it wouldn't be "putting no license" anymore).

Re: Default: public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991231)

No. Its github, where hosting those repos like that requires you concede to freeing the code.

Prevent unintended behavior? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990411)

No it isn't. I'm going to do whatever I want regardless of what your intentions are. You are not going to control my "behavior" with a "license."

does your license include an "i disagree" checkbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990413)

My electronic garbage can is full of your misplaced ideologies.

I sure do love licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990433)

I love ignoring them even more. The code is right there. Restricting redistribution via your license is probably the most laughable honor system I've ever seen, and I've been trick or treating to houses with a bowl of candy and "only take one" signs.

Re:I sure do love licenses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990621)

I agree, using the honor system on people with no honor is pointless. The problem for you is once you've demonstrated your sociopath behavior people tend to avoid you. You may be anonymous in your posting, but we can spot you a mile away.
Your trick or treating friends knew you were a bit of an asshole, but not as big as your mama was. You probably steal from her too.

Danger (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990451)

"different perspective on the dangers of releasing unlicensed software. "

Technically, you cannot release unlicensed software. Sure, go ahead and post it to a public repository, but without an explicit license, copyright law forbids anyone else to make use of it. So you haven't really released it, just posted it out there to tease people.

If you don't want to pick one and you don't care, at least say something like "released to the public domain" to make it explicit. (This option isn't available in all countries, though.)

Re:Danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990725)

Wrong in most countrys. Hint: Not every copyright-law is as fucked up as the one in the US.

Re:Danger (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991339)

Under the Berne Convention, copyright must be automatic.165 countries are parties to it.
There are about 200 countries in the world.
Maybe you have a private definition of "most"?

Real danger (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 10 months ago | (#43990847)

Speaking of danger, when someone sues you because your software crashed their airplane into a nuclear reactor, you're going to be wishing you'd picked a more restrictive license.

Specifically, one with a "no warranty" provision.

Re:Real danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990995)

That's utterly ridiculous. The presence or absence of a disclaimer doesn't determine whether or not the software author or distributor is liable for any damages.

Re:Danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990929)

Technically, you cannot release unlicensed software
Technically, maybe, but practically, this is exactly what they're doing. If it's posted on a code sharing site, with every opportunity to add an explicit licence, then people are going to assume they can do whatever they want with it, and act accordingly.
 
In the vast majority of cases the author is unlikely to try to stop them, and if they did, they're going to have a hard time explaining in court (if it ever got that far) why they release it on a well known code-sharing site, with no conditions, if they didn't want people using it.

I say go for it. What is true in fact will eventually become true in law.

Re:Danger (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 10 months ago | (#43991245)

Technically, you cannot release unlicensed software. Sure, go ahead and post it to a public repository, but without an explicit license, copyright law forbids anyone else to make use of it. So you haven't really released it, just posted it out there to tease people.

In the United States, that's not at all true.

Software can be released without any license at all (there is no obligation that it be licensed), and can be used by anyone who uses a lawfully made copy. This use includes modifying it for compatibility purposes, making copies necessary for running it (eg copying it into RAM), and making backups. Check out 17 USC 106, 109, and in particular 117 on this.

Additionally, it's entirely possible and extremely commonplace for copyright holders to create implicit licenses through their conduct, which are perfectly valid and reliable (except for exclusive licenses, which are not at issue here). For the copyright holder to put a piece of software on a public server from which third parties ordinarily download software, without any other action, at the very least gives rise to a good argument that there is an implies license for people to download it, and it probably does give rise to such a license in actuality.

Better to just rid ourselves of copyright (0)

argoff (142580) | about 10 months ago | (#43990493)

I think the problem is that people find themselves going to the licensing zoo, because they need to find a way to undo a lot of the damage caused by the very nature of copyright and patents (and the DMCA, etc ...). A better solution is just to get rid of copyright and patents (at least on things like media and software)

Then you're stuck with GitHub's terms. (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#43990495)

Here's what GitHub says in their terms of service [github.com]:

We claim no intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the Service. Your profile and materials uploaded remain yours. However, by setting your pages to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view your Content. By setting your repositories to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view and fork your repositories.

That creates some interesting issues. When someone "forks" something, what rights do they have?

I suspect that many people not specifying a license for what they put on GitHub just assume GitHub owns everything.

Re:Then you're stuck with GitHub's terms. (2)

devent (1627873) | about 10 months ago | (#43990981)

Not every web site out there is like Facebook.

"fork" means copy. So you can interpret "view and fork" as "view and copy" which implies that you give permission to copy your code unrestricted.

Re:Then you're stuck with GitHub's terms. (1)

reanjr (588767) | about 10 months ago | (#43991283)

My personal interpretation is that any project on GitHub that has no explicit license is covered under a very permissive BSD-style license (without any attribution requirements).

Typically a license grants you rights and informs you of your restrictions if you choose to exercise those rights. In this case, with no explicit attribution or GPL-like openness stated, but with forking a right implicit to public code on GitHub, I am led to believe I can take everything, then make closed modification to the software for my own personal or commercial use.

In other words - unless this is your intention in publishing on GitHub - you should definitely include a specific license.

Advantages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990497)

Are there any advantages to the publisher? Can't someone just take the code, throw a license on it, and own it?

Re:Advantages (3, Interesting)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 10 months ago | (#43990707)

Nope, not legally. Code is automatically copyrighted in any Berne signatory country. You can not relicense a work that you do not hold the copyright to.

My licenses are: (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 10 months ago | (#43990509)

3-clause BSD for small utilities, library function or scripts that are pretty much feature complete. It has the disclaimers and lets others used the code as they see fit without worrying about disclosing their source code.

GPL v.3 for code that are meant for open-source projects. It keeps the source code available and encourages others to contribute. I find that people are less likely to contribute if there is even a slight chance that someone else could make a commercial product out of it and keep the modifications to themselves.

The overwhelming bulk of my code is public-domain due to work requirements.

The Outercurve Foundation .. (-1, Troll)

dgharmon (2564621) | about 10 months ago | (#43990517)

Orchard: A free open source community-based Content Management System built on the ASP.NET platform ..

More than 27 Projects benefit from our IP management and infrastructure support ..

IP and Legal Affairs: We organize and manage IP assignments and contribution agreements, and provide regular reports to project leaders. We also provide committer indemnification and legal services to projects through our outside counsel.

Q: Why is Microsoft involved in the creation of an open source foundation [outercurve.org]?

Microsoft has an evolving engagement with open source ..

Licensing Doesn't fix Behaviour (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990521)

The only reason for programmers to have licensing in their products is so they can include a statement about the author not being responsible for any errors or faults in the program, and to abrogate any responsibility for them to write decent code and for the product to do what it is supposed to do

Re:Licensing Doesn't fix Behaviour (1)

Molochi (555357) | about 10 months ago | (#43990585)

Doesn't licensing also restrict (or define) how the software may be redistributed?

No license == sending poison to your users (4, Insightful)

dwheeler (321049) | about 10 months ago | (#43990543)

Software without a license is like a poison for everyone else. There's typically no legal risk to a developer in releasing their software, since it's likely he has the copyright. But it creates a legal minefield for anyone else who uses or modifies the software, either directly or by using software that stupidly embeds such things. At any time the developer, or his employer, could sue, and there's nothing the user could do.

Ignoring lawyers does not simplify your life. Sure, it'll simplify your life today, but only by creating potential disasters in the future. You need to think about other people, and whole lifetimes, not just think about yourself today.

If you think that copyright should only apply to software if it's marked, then work to get the law changed. It used to be that way before 1976. But it's not 1976. I suspect that the law won't get changed, really. But intentionally creating dangers for other people is a terrible, nasty thing to do.

Re:No license == sending poison to your users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990743)

How about this license?

http://www.wtfpl.net/

WE DONT NEED NO STINKINK LICENSE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990569)

Just give the shit away !! They will take it !! And if you do not want to give it away ?? Then do something else !!

Re:WE DONT NEED NO STINKINK LICENSE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990685)

Ok. I'll take your software and use it to make WMDs, and then you'll go to prison.

Re:WE DONT NEED NO STINKINK LICENSE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991319)

Thats not how the law works! You mostly likly will goto prison for ill intentions or maybe gitmo!

Maybe they don't care? (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 10 months ago | (#43990573)

Perhaps their view is "I don't care what is done with it" - thus don't apply a license. Most licenses feel like you need to be a lawyer to navigate, so most probably avoid them.

Re:Maybe they don't care? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990613)

Except that without a license, no one can do anything with it!

At least slap a CC0 on it, or a WTFPL.

Wrong consequence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990699)

Perhaps their view is "I don't care what is done with it" - thus don't apply a license.

You don't "apply" a license to software. You give users a license to use your software. A license is not a property of software, but of its transfer. I can place "This software is licensed under the GPL" all over my software, but that does not mean that you are free to break into my servers and copy it. License notices in software are just making sure that "I assumed this was licensed to me under other conditions" excuses are not plausible. But they do not, in itself, constitute permission or prohibition.

If your users are not licensed to use your software, then that's it. You can sue them for copyright infringement anytime you want. If your view is "I don't care what is done with it", then "this don't apply a license" is an absurd consequence.

"define" (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 10 months ago | (#43990587)

'A license similarly defines the interaction between the software, or more precisely the creators of the software, and users.

And by "define" he means "limit".

Not everything has to be, or should be, licensed. If you're worried about liability, use a disclaimer. But make your decision based upon what you want out of your work, not what someone else tells you you're supposed to want.

Re:"define" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990647)

This is not how copyright law works!

Re:"define" (4, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 10 months ago | (#43990663)

Here's the other thing: without a license I can't use a copy. All software is copyrighted by default, unless there's an explicit dedication to the public domain. Absent a license, only the author of the software may make and distribute copies of it. So with no license on the software I'm OK looking at it on Github of the like, but making a copy of it onto my machine to build, use and redistribute as part of my own software is right out. I have no license from the copyright holder to make and distribute those copies. So if your software doesn't include a license? I can't safely touch it nor can I use it.

If you want to put no restrictions on reuse of your code, put it under something like the BSD or Apache license. But if you don't put it under some license, it's automatically under a license that says "You may not copy or redistribute this work, nor may you make and distribute works based on or derived from this work.".

Re:"define" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990907)

Because contacting the author of said code and asking if they would license it under XYZ license to you is way too much work? (i do realise that there can be cases where that is a lot of work or impossible, but you dont have to dismiss it right away - not all programmers are antisocial tards with huge egos, they may just be better at programming than understanding licenses (even more so "the younger generation"))

Re:"define" (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 10 months ago | (#43991015)

If they're amenable to that, then there should be a rough listing of the terms they're willing to license the software on. There's simply a lot of software out there for any given application, more than I can reasonably sort through honestly, and one of my first filters is "Does it tell me what terms I can use it on?". Anything that doesn't, I can skip. If I don't find anything I can use that gives clear terms, then I may go back through the most promising of the rest and dig further into getting it.

As far as understanding licenses, my position is that if you're putting it out there in public you'd better have at least a basic understanding of copyright and licenses. Anyone who doesn't, probably also doesn't have enough development experience to put out something I can use readily. There may be exceptions, but again there's such a huge volume of software that I have to filter somehow and regardless of technical quality I probably don't want to deal with the legal tangle that comes with trying to license something from someone who doesn't understand licensing.

It's the same as with vendors: if they don't understand basic contracts, their product has to be really really special to make it worth dealing with them instead of one of the dozen other vendors who do know how to negotiate a contract.

License Paradox (1)

T333 (2949921) | about 10 months ago | (#43990673)

What if I license my software as: "My software is not licensed". Is my software licensed or not?

Re:Paradox resolved (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990857)

Your license is lawyer-ese for "Nobody is licensed to use this software."

Who cares? They will just steal it anyway. (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 10 months ago | (#43990717)

I see all these "older" programmers saying stuff like this, but I just don't think they get that everyone who isn't a fossil knows that people will just jack your code anyway.

And then patent it and sell it to some patent troll in the US.

The system is broken. Licenses are for old people.

Re:Who cares? They will just steal it anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991045)

If you don't care then just put a permissive licence on it anyway.

Then at least when YOU come to use a bit of code YOU know that there's not some OLD person behind it that will sue your stupid young ass for using some software they they have NO LICENSE TO USE.

You're not free unless we tell you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990735)

Just like an interface, a license defines intended behavior of users of the software, such as the four essential freedoms or the ten pillars of the Open Source Definition.

With talk like this, why do people even wonder that GNU and OSI are falling out of favor?

It's a crazy thought, that maybe people truly want to give something away and don't care how it's used. Shocking.
That, and if young people feel like "you didn't lose anything if I make a copy, so it's not theft", then honestly, why would they feel entitled to the source code of forks of their project when they still have the original? It's pretty clear the message being _received_ by young people in regards to commercial software is that copyright is just a speed bump.

Also, a disclaimer is a disclaimer is not a license for distribution.

Are there any valid licenses that allow you to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990807)

remain an Anonymous Coward?

Remember to use https links to licenses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990837)

!-- Licensed under the Academic Free License version 3.0
        - See a copy of the AFL-3.0 at https://spdx.org/licenses/AFL-3.0
        - Any copyright dedicated to the public domain: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ --

F*cking bullshit (-1, Flamebait)

vikingpower (768921) | about 10 months ago | (#43990909)

Sorry, Mr. Schultz. Although you usually get it right, this time you are way off the mark. For what do I do, like millions of other developers, once I find a piece of software, be it an API or a framework or single class or even a single cleverly written subroutine, somewhere on the internet ? License or not, I don't give a damn about what I am allowed or even ( smirk) intended to do with it. I carry on, change it, redistribute it without the license, incorporate it into whatever product or API or framework or class I want to incorporate it into. Yes, I will include a comment in the source code, stating where the stuff came from. And that's it. And we all do this. License as interface ? Bullshit. Period.

Re:F*cking bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43990991)

Your life is a ticking time bomb. It's only a matter of time until you end up bankrupt because of lawsuits and live on the street because you respectable company will hire you.

What you describe is not done by professional programmers. It's done by kids and wannabe script kiddies, hackers and tinkerers.

Re:F*cking bullshit (0)

vikingpower (768921) | about 10 months ago | (#43991155)

You are wrong in more than one sense.

First, I am a professional programmer with 19 years of experience, most of it in "respectable" companies.

Second, I just got hired by another respectable applied-research institute, who have full knowledge of this kind of practice.

Third, you reason along ( US-) American lines, with your "lawsuits" and "bankrupt". Who told you that this, mostly cultural, background applies outside of the US ?

Fourth, "hackers" and "tinkerers" are, by many, viewed upon as the real programmers. Being called a "hacker" would be quite the crown, for me and many of my peers.

Re:F*cking bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991029)

That's going to work great for you until one of those people you took code from decides to sue you or your employer for copying their code without a license. You've even done all their work for them, since you conveniently included in the code the evidence they need to prove that you copied from them.

It sucks because most of the people who post code without a license probably think they are putting it into the public domain, and would never sue you. But the 1% who intend to exercise their rights could get you in a lot of trouble.

Re:F*cking bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991347)

There's a good chance that a court would find that posting reuseable code on Github provides an implicit license in the absence of an explicit license. But it could still cause havoc, especially for downstream users.

Anyhow, anybody who uses some kiddies Github code--or use projects which use such code--is begging for trouble. The least of his worries is licensing.

Licensing is a matter of detail. Programmers who can't be bothered with details are not exactly the type who produce bug free, reliable code. The people who obsess over licenses, standard's compliance, etc., regardless of their particular stance... these are the people who also obsess about writing clean, secure, algorithmically and practically efficient code.

Even the rabid genius who scrawls his formulas across the chalkboard... when it comes time to publish you can be sure he crosses his Ts and dots his Is. If the details are fubar'd, then it wasn't properly published. Don't use it!

I really hope not (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 10 months ago | (#43991233)

If this isn't a troll, you're giving actual software developers a bad name.

Re:I really hope not (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 10 months ago | (#43991313)

No, this is not a troll. And no, I am not. I am just crying out loud what I and many, many colleagues do on a regular basis. Let us look at this coolly. You browse some source on, say, github. By and by, you find a cool way to compute, say, Fibonacci( 1000000000 ), in Takahashi's paper [uni.wroc.pl]. So you duly quote the paper in your source code, right ? You maybe even name your class TakahashiFibo, or something like that. But now, in order to make it work, you need a fast implementation of ( java ) BigInteger, especially for the "#.add( int )" and "#.multiply( BigInteger )" routines. You find these, somewhere. Dude, who is going to copy the license file for these two subroutines into his project files ? C'mon. You have done it, too. Copy, paste, compile, test, deliver, done. See the WTFPL license if you don't get what I mean [wtfpl.net].

Re:F*cking bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991317)

License or not, I don't give a damn about what I am allowed or even ( smirk) intended to do with it. I carry on, change it, redistribute it without the license, incorporate it into whatever product or API or framework or class I want to incorporate it into.

The only fucking bullshit is your comment.

1. You are breaking the law
2. You knowingly break the law
3. You are liable to copyright infringement as per Berne Convention
4. Your employer is also criminally liable, since they are informed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention_for_the_Protection_of_Literary_and_Artistic_Works [wikipedia.org]

So perhaps you live in Uganda or Angola or Afghanistan where it doesn't apply. But it certainly applies in US or Austria or Germany or almost any nation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parties_to_international_copyright_agreements [wikipedia.org]

So big fuck you to you. You are one of the reasons that open sourcing anything is a bad idea.

Re:F*cking bullshit (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 10 months ago | (#43991341)

It would have been most becoming, to you, to have posted this under any other name than "Coward" and "anonymous", sir.

Personally, I prefer the WTFPL (4, Funny)

mathimus1863 (1120437) | about 10 months ago | (#43991007)

If you don't want to use a real license, just use the DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE [wtfpl.net]. It's one of the more permissive licenses...

Re:Personally, I prefer the WTFPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991315)

There's also the antiviral license [ecstaticlyrics.com] for those of us who almost don't care what people do with our code, the exception being that we don't want our code being used to promote the GNU GPL.

Did you ever think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43991205)

Did you ever thing that maybe people don't want to exercise the police power of government to protect "intellectual property" that is mostly a hack of something else someone else wrote who copied it from someone else, etc?

Did you ever think that maybe it's worthless because it's of no value?

Stupid (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 10 months ago | (#43991299)

So you post your project on github without a license. Anybody using it can now sue your for whatever damages the project does to his machine. You know what I'm talking about; I know that at least once in your life you have put "rm -rf" in your Makefile, typed "make clean" and cleaned out your entire home directory because some shell variable was set to something you did not expect. Those of you with lower intelligence might have ran that on a production server and erased the company website. Now imagine somebody doing that with whatever unmaintained garbage you dumped in a github repository. You would be directly liable for any such damages, forcing you to declare bankruptcy, lose your house, your bank account, and your wife (if you have one), and die from starvation. So next time, add a license to your project. All you really need to do is copy the LICENSE file to the project directory. It will only take five seconds, and it may save your life.

Re:Stupid (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#43991351)

On what law could anyone be able to sue me for damage on his machine if he uses my (licensed or unlicensed) code?

And no, in the last 30 years I never id a wrong "rm -rf".

And no again, even if I did, I would not be directly liable for damage caused in case I had made that mistake.

You are full of bullshit, sorry.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...