Camen Design Forum

Open Source & Licensing

append delete JJ

I'm about to release my site to the public. Everything was coded from scratch by myself, which is why I'm inclined to make it all open source and uploading it to google code. It's a weblog system written using PHP and SQLite.

I'm considering using a Creative Commons attribution & non-commercial license.

This post is mainly directed towards Kroc, but I'm interested in hearing any and all opinions. Kroc, I noticed you just use cc-by, thus allowing commercial use of your work. I would feel uncomfortable doing this with my own site. I'm not looking to make money off of it, but the idea of someone taking my work and making money when I gave it away for free is not appealing to me. The thought that someone could take my site's design and rip someone off by selling it to them doesn't sound good to me.

Like I said I'm not here to make money off of my website, so I have no problem making it open source and opening it up for anyone to use the design and backend freely as long as they credit me. (When you think about it, people will probably steal designs regardless of whether you reserve all your rights to copyright or not. You might as well just give it to those people and tell them they're free to use it. This way at least they'll give you credit for it.)

This is just my initial reaction to this issue. I would be happy to have my mind changed about the subject.

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append delete #1. JJ

I would just like to say, I am almost positive this is a intuitive knee-jerk reaction. I'm sitting here waiting for someone to change my mind really. I am also not terribly well-versed in any copyright law, US or otherwise.

append delete #2. Johann

I don't want to "change your mind", but consider this: someone might try using your software/design in combination with something commercial, but not directly making money off the software/design itself.

Surely there is a license which covers that, so you can "use it commercially" but not "sell it" -- ?

append delete #3. Kroc

I was going to mirror Johann, you can never know what someone else may come up with.

If someone has adverts on a site that uses your code, does that constitute commercial use?

When it comes to my site and my code, I do not want to be making myself stressed by having to know about, and manage, every use of my code everywhere. If people want to abuse it, I’d rather not know, thanks. That way I can spend more time caring about my own needs than micro-managing everybody else and wasting time chasing after copycats who won’t ever give a damn about what they’re doing, this century or the next.

It doesn’t matter what you make, how you licence it, people could abuse it. The decision is how involved you want to be in dealing with that abuse. Do you really want to be filing DMCA notices and hiring lawyers because you’re protective over your code? I cannot see this as being worth the hassle.

What makes code valuable is the minds behind it, not the lines of code itself. Anybody could copy my code, but nobody but me could have come up with it in the first place. That is where I focus my attention—generating new code, rather than fighting over what has already been given away. The copycats can never release your next product before you.

append delete #4. theraje

Kroc is right, it's better not to worry about it, because there will always be someone who breaks the rules, and even if you find out, you may not necessarily be able to do squat about it.

Copyright laws are good mostly in the US and parts of Europe, and a few other countries. Anywhere else, and the laws are either not recognized or not enforced. Not much can be done about it.

My analysis of your situation is to just use an MIT-style or CC license, and just let people do what they will. Less stress if you don't put too much investment into thinking about how others use your code.

I remember a case where a wiki was licensed under CC-BY, but some idiot came along, did a dump of the wiki, took out all the credits, and posted it online as his own. Nothing could really be done about it, except that the original site outpaced the copycat site, and basically left it in the dust.

So, yeah. Don't worry about it too much.

append delete #5. JJ

Thanks for the replies. Yeah, that's part of the reason I chose CC in the first place, because I didn't want to be tracking people down just to file a DMCA against them. So, yeah, when I think about it, my original choice on this matter is kind of contradictory.

And as you guys pointed out, there's a kind of grey area. Personally, I wouldn't consider someone using my code on their website with advertisements commercial use, because the site's visitors, who are clicking the ads, are there for the site's content, not the medium by which that content is delivered. But I get the point, adding that restriction to the license only seems to make things more complicated and doesn't really solve anything.

Thanks guys.

append delete #6. Kroc

Glad to talk it through.

append delete #7. JJ

Hmm, on a somewhat related note. I just realized Google code won't host projects using a Creative Commons license. It says it will allow all OSI-approved licenses: opensource.org/…

Apparently, CC isn't "OSI-approved", ironically it is the very license the OSI website uses? (wtf)

"Opensource.org site content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License"

append delete #8. indieinvader

The reason CC isn't OSI-approved is that it isn't a software license. It can be applied to software, sure, but it wasn't meant to. If you're looking for something similar to cc-by try taking a look at the New BSD or MIT/X11 licenses (permissive with attribution) or the WTFPL (practically in the public domain, and I like the name)

append delete #9. JJ

Yeah, that's what I figured, but why not? Why is it not typically applied to software just as simply?

I just wanted something simple. A license I can use to put my work out there without worrying about the legalese.

append delete #10. Kroc

I specifically use CC-BY on code for two reasons:

1. It pisses off the hardcore freedom zealots because they consider it "non-free"

2. Code is art. I don’t care about treating the specifics of code with a licence (like GPL). The work in its entirety is copyrighted and that’s about as much detail as I care for

Though, I like to rock the boat. If you do want an OSI approved licence, use MIT or BSD. Also, consider using GitHub instead of Google Code. Git is *far* better than SVN for starters, and GitHub has better services.

append delete #11. Martijn

> Also, consider using GitHub instead of Google Code.

Google Code doesn’t allow you to use CC licensing out of the box either.

append delete #12. JJ

Yeah, Kroc, that's what I was thinking, "Why does there have to be specific open source licenses? Why couldn't CC apply to anything? Is code not a work just like anything else?" It doesn't make sense.

I've never used GitHub, but I'll look into it.

append delete #13. JJ

I finally settled on cc-by and hosted my sites source using github.

github.com/…

The source if anyone is interested ^

and my site: epsilon-not.net/…

Thanks for all your help guys. :)

append delete #14. Kroc

Congratulations JJ! This is a really impressive bit of work. I've subscribed to your RSS and GitHub.

I can see how the code is inspired by my site (like the word wrapping algo), but you've attacked it with a great deal of skill and originality. I'll have to spend some time disassembling the code (more comments would be good!) before pointing out specifics.

Just keep working on it, It's a great piece of work and it can only get better.

append delete #15. JJ

I definitely draw a lot of influence from your code. I would say your site has really inspired me more than anything. Thank you for the compliments.

Yeah, there's still a lot that needs to be done, and I realize it should be better commented. I apologize for that. ;p It seems the more I work on it, the more work there is to be done, hehe.

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