Display Your License Proudly

When a developer is creating a library, or any other software package, that they want others to use it is absolutely vital that they choose a license for the project that will allow their target audience to use it.

It is just as important that the licensing information is included among the files that are downloaded when someone gets a copy of the library.

Most people remember these steps, but they are occasionally forgotten.

What is JUST AS IMPORTANT however, is to find some way to inform people who are downloading your code from a website or some other source of what the license is before they download it.

If I don’t know the licensing terms of your code, I am most likely just not going to download it. If I am working on a project, and I am looking for a library to make it easier, then I am looking for libraries that are released under compatible licenses. If the license is incompatible, then the code isn’t worth much to me at the time. It is a waist of my time and your bandwidth for me to download a library I can’t use.

This is especially sad when the developer has taken the time to create a beautiful website with a lot of description of what the program is, and does, but then they forget one of the most important pieces of information.

Please, if your code is licensed as GPL, say so on the site. If your code is BSD licensed, say so someplace on the site. Whatever license you use, display it proudly. If you are using a git repo, and it is set up to be web viewable, this is perfect. You can include it in the README file that your git repo software most likely wants to display to the web anyway.

If you are just offering tarballs/zips. then just include it on the download page.

To be honest, there are two common practices that I have seen most often on websites for successful projects. That is to either include the licensing information on the About page, or to just have a page that specifically addresses licensing issues. In either case, these would be included in the navigation bar/pain/whatever on the website.

Once you have already done all the work of making the code worthy of public display, you owe it to the project to take the last few steps needed to encourage adoption.

Microsoft and DRM

I am not a Microsoft fan. I use Linux on my own computers, windows mainly just at work because that is what my employer uses. Lately I have been hearing a lot of people complain about Microsoft and “their” DRM initiative. They feel that Microsoft is using DRM to strong-arm people into using their OS, since their OS is the one that can legally use the DRM enabled software. A lot of this sentiment comes from a misunderstanding of what DRM is. A lot of this post is similar to one I sent to a mailing list. It was in response to the assertion that Microsoft and Macintosh have a choice of whether or not to include DRM software in their operating systems.

There is one big issue. There are still a LOT of people among the average consumer that thinks of their computer as a “DVD Player Plus.” If Microsoft and/or Intel cannot provide them with that, then they lose a rather large chunk of the consumer base. They are too Large, and in the media too often to do this illegally without major repercussions. This means doing it legally, which means, sorry for the vulgarity, Hollywood has them by the short hairs. This is the same reason that the Packaged distros no longer ship with full DVD support built in. It is not because they do not have the ability, it is because they do not wish to face the legal firestorm that would result if they did so. Hollywood is watching us. They see us as a threat. πŸ˜› They are convinced that we will watch DVD’s under Linux in an unlicensed manner. >:)

From a purely moral standpoint, I personally feel that watching DVD’s under whatever platform is a Fair Use matter, as long as you have a legal copy of the DVD. I wish the courts still felt that way. :/ Instead, the organization producing your software has to pay out the nose for you to be able to use it legally.

I wonder how hard it would be to start a fund geared specifically towards raising the money for licensing of a DVD player program. The only problem is that while the majority of the code could be open sourced, the Important part, the part that actually decodes the video stream, could not.

Basically though, Hollywood is driving the DRM issue. πŸ˜›

In order to continue providing legal DVD playback under windows, they have to shell out the cash for the license. Under the terms of the license, it is revocable under most any reason that the corporation wishes. The thing is easily as bad as one of MS’s EULA’s.

I would say though that there are plenty of reasons to dislike Microsoft even without the DRM issue. ^^;; Yes, it is an agitation, but we cannot focus directly on MS if we hope to solve that problem. That will have to become an issue of dealing with the media industry.

We can encouraged MS to fight it, and if they choose to do so (and more importantly hold their ground) Then they can be a strong ally in that one area. They made noises in that direction once, but it only took a few threats from Hollywood lawyers to get them to back down. That WAS their decision, but it was a business decision based on how much it could cost them in the long run, and the fact that the courts they would have to deal with were already a bit angry with them anyway.

*grins* All it takes is one agitated lawyer to cause problems for a long time. ^^;; If you ever go to court, Don’t tell the judge he is computer illiterate.

Things we can target MS on. πŸ˜› Lousy performance. Strong-arm tactics (though we need more support from the computer manufacturers for this one), frivolous patent suits, jacked up standards. These things alone (especially performance issues, and jacked up code) are more than enough reason to dislike MS. Most of the reasons people apply to them work just fine. πŸ˜› We just need to make sure to keep each issue in proportion.