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Open Source license ethics

Yuma Shankar

Joined: Jun 07, 2005
Posts: 24
I just had a conversation with a team member about adding the license agreement to a couple utility methods that he had copied from an Open Source API. He is arguing that since he is using only a couple methods and not the entire API, he did not see why he should include the license. Well, I replied back saying that say in a research paper, when quoting a few lines from a book, you do include the reference, so what is different here? He still insists it is overkill. Thoughts please?

Paul Clapham

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 19973

Read the licence for yourself. I picked one of the open source licences I have on my computer (Apache licence) and to me it looks like putting a part of their code into your program would make your program a "derivative work". And in that case the licence says what you have to do (which is not "do nothing").

However "derivative work" is a legal term that must finally be interpreted by lawyers, and the interpretation may vary from one place to another. However I don't think "It's only a small amount of code and it's too much trouble to comply with the licence" is guaranteed to be a good defence. But again that is a matter for the law. (Would you ask lawyers to advise you whether your code is object-oriented?)
Yuma Shankar

Joined: Jun 07, 2005
Posts: 24
You are right. That is exactly what I told my colleague-"small amount of code" is a poor excuse. And come on,if just including the license comments is a pain, even breathing is I guess!
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Open Source license ethics
It's not a secret anymore!