[Twisted-Python] Licence of examples

Glyph Lefkowitz glyph at twistedmatrix.com
Fri Jun 21 17:17:37 EDT 2002

From: "Benjamin Bruheim" <grolgh at online.no>
Subject: [Twisted-Python] Licence of examples
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 18:59:27 +0200

> That states: The examples are not a part of the library, thus they are just
> copyrighted by glyph. So, everyone who used the pb-echo-examples, Glyph owns
> that code (partly). I don't know what rights he inherently has, but he has
> the copyright.

I guess I've been looking for an excuse to talk about this for a while, so here
we go :)

There are two things to consider here:

    * What rights does Glyph have?
    * What is Glyph going to try to do?

Personally I couldn't care less whether anybody used the examples in their
code, not to mention the fact that they're supposed to be so trivial that
they're basically not copyrightable.  You can even cite this e-mail message in
court, if you want, since it's about as legally binding as a LICENSE file that
you don't have to sign... ;-) Even stealing small snippets of the Twisted code
is OK; it's probably fair use anyway, and even if it weren't, it's really not
worth my time (more importantly, it's not worth the non-trivial amounts of
money that my lawyer's time costs me) to track down and hassle people who have
used 3 lines from twistd's daemonization in their commercial application.

I take all these licensing issues with a grain of salt.  I would never use the
LGPL as a legal weapon except in defense.  The rules, as far as I'm concerned,
    * you share your code, or
    * you pay me or somebody I know to work on the code

preferably both.

This is one reason that copyright is centralized.  Having it copyrighted by
tons of different people in different countries makes it difficult to construct
a credible threat in cases where a big corporation doesn't want to support the
development of something which is helpful to them, but instead swallow it
whole.  This is really bad business, too, but that's a different issue. (I
don't care whether their mistakes hurt *them*, just that they can hurt *us*
too.)  Being able to get "inside" the corporate mindset, though, and deal on
their terms, is useful for propogation of ideals about free software.  I'm
willing to compromise with them; this gives me an opportunity to show them that
my way of working is really better, so they're much more willing to compromise
with me.

Given that I get this privilege (allowing others to use Twisted code without
sharing) it comes with a responsibility.  The responsibility is to be the front
line of defense against liability claims that people want to make about the
Twisted software.  I know the license says there isn't any warranty (expressed
or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranty of
merchantibility or fitness for a particular purpose... ^_^) but that doesn't
stop people from being assholes about it and trying to sue anyway.  I *never*
want a Twisted hacker to be in a position where they have to deal with legal
nonsense regarding some code that they wrote.

> What kind of licence should the example have? I would like to place it in
> Public Domain, because if stuff can be taken from there, then we should be
> able to place stuff there as well.

I wish that this were possible, but BSD license is about as good as it gets.

    "... it is not possible to voluntarily place your software into the public
    domain under United States law." -- http://zooko.com/license_quick_ref.html

If anything, I think that we should probably use a different license for the
documentation, and then put examples under that license.

 |    <`'>    |  Glyph Lefkowitz: Traveling Sorcerer   |
 |   < _/ >   |  Lead Developer,  the Twisted project  |
 |  < ___/ >  |      http://www.twistedmatrix.com      |
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