Software Policies

April 7, 2008 by Noah
I just thought I would clarify how my software distribution policies worked, specifically in the area of licensing.

Now first of all, I'm all for the GNU General Public License. I've been distributing a good majority of my software under that license for years. However, sometimes I pick something that's just a little bit more restrictive. Back around the years of 2002 to 05, I was into programming chatterbots. I originally released them under the GPL license. And then a bunch of jerks had to go and entirely rip off my code, from #!/usr/bin/perl all the way to exit(0). They went through and edited all the source files to find every occurrence of my name and paste their own name in its place. Then, they would zip their new program which they "wrote all by themselves", build a clone of my site and upload their stolen bots and claim that they wrote the bot from scratch all by themselves.

And to make matters worse, when I would find out about this and make a big deal over it, they'd then go and tell their users that I was in fact the one who stole the software from them, and that I tried to set the time stamps on it back to try to prove I wrote the program first. And there was really nothing I could do about it.

So, here's how I divided up my software licensing: Anything that I created and really didn't care about other people stealing it (read: Metacity themes, Tk Calculator), I released under the GNU General Public License, because if somebody wanted to be such a douchebag as to completely rip off my code and stick their own name on it, I would only be a little bit aggravated but leave it at that. But any program that I actually spent a lot of time on and would be thoroughly pissed off to find it plagiarized, I put that under my own proprietary licensing scheme. Now, whether or not anybody actually cared and stole the software anyway, I don't know, but at least I put the license out there in text.

A minor incident came from this on the network. When I first released my Luna theme, I was linking to my site for the download. I hadn't yet created a page for the distribution of GPL-licensed software, so the download page had my own source code license on it. And this of course pisses people off in the Linux world. I fixed it by getting off my lazy butt and making a new download page that followed the GPL. And so divided the licensing scheme site-wide.

So, here's the new licensing deal: all my software will be released under the "I don't give a damn" license, also known as the GPL. That is, if you want to be a dick and steal my software, there's nothing I can do to stop you. Just don't expect any technical support. My technical support for my software extends as far as fixing actual, real bugs in the program, ones that will affect legitimate users just as much as the plagiarists. But don't give me any feature requests. I won't implement them. If the users of "Joe Shmoe's Error Message Generator" wants to have standalone errorbox executables, and Joe Schmoe doesn't know how to make my program do that, he can't ask me to do it for him so that he can rip it off again and offer it to his users. No. Just don't even ask.

So, you see what you shameless code-ripping jerks do? You ruin it for everybody. If you want to rip off my program and then you get stuck when somebody asks you a question that you can't answer, I will not tolerate it in the least if you relay that question to me and expect me to give you an answer that you can tell to your users. I will not put up with it.



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