Tuesday, July 04, 2006

CJD seeks FOL

Our world is a strange place. I started the GWT Widget Library with the intention of giving my code away for free. But I have found that it isn't quite that simple. You can't just give it away, you must license it.

I often find myself driving down the road, and see a pile of used baby toys with a sign that says "FREE". I now look at it a little differently. What I see is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Perhaps the person trying to get rid of the old toys (contributor) should have left a license next to the pile of junk, requiring a signature before a wanting individual (recipient) takes it away.

The cryptic title of this entry was meant to express a similar message as the wanted ads in the paper. In this case it means "Confused Java Developer seeks Friendly OpenSource Lawyer".

With the GWT Widget Library I have tried to protect myself by affixing the Apache 2.0 License, which allows for openness, and protects me from various litigation. The next problem is managing contributions to the library. I started looking at Individual Contributor License Agreements (ICLA), but from what I see, there aren't any agreements that I can just grab and reuse. Each agreement is specific in who is receiving the contribution, and in all cases that I have seen it is either a corporation or a foundation.

Do I need to start a foundation to allow for me to use ICLAs? Perhaps not, but then there is the issue with who's name appears as the copyright holder. Some contributors thus far have wanted there name to be there as a sort of recognition. I can understand this, after all, who want to look at a piece of source code that they contributed and at the top of the file see "Copyright Robert Hanson". I'll be honest, I don't want my name there. I feel that my name there takes away from the recognition that the original author deserves. But if I don't hold the copyright, how does that limit me down the road as other developers fix bugs and extend the contributed code.

It is a mess for sure. What can't "FREE" be free?

I have no solutions, only rants. I may decide to add a donation button to the GWT Widget Library SourceForge project so that I can pay for some legal advice, or maybe I will try to do some research myself (probably a bad idea).

So, with that said, I am open to suggestions... and donations... and free legal advice (with attribution of course).

36 comments:

Stuart said...

I have to agree. Your blog puts mine to shame! Now I'm on to the calculator tip.

Cheers.

Stuart said...

Actually, I have a cool widget on my blog -- a Clustrmap. Robert, know any other better blog trackers than this one?

Robert Hanson said...

I would announce your widget on the GWT dev list and maybe send Ed Burnett a note. Ed is hosting a growing list or widgets, demos, and articles. http://gwtpowered.org

The Yacht Broker said...

P.S. Robert, they playing soccer
here in Europe. They call it World
Football Cap (or Cup, I don't remember:o), it's quite like Super
Ball in States - everybody crazy about it. And France one of the guys who can win this Cap(or Cup:o)
See you around. ;o)

The Lost Crow said...

It seems like it is this way so that.. the people who give licenses out have set up the system in a way that you need to go through them to get a licsence in that way making money for themselves

R2K said...

Cool page : ) Didnt you die?

Emjae said...

So you cannot give them away, would it be a problem for people to steal the code? Just an idea>

Anonymous said...

Robert...
Just a comment re: the blog comment that is from "slack990" If you could write code that would keep low frequency comments like this one from ever being posted on a blog...much like the spam filters that work in email...I would be happy to "steal" your code...in fact, I would even pay for it and promote it. These types of comments can really ruin a blog...I do not know why BLOGGER has not caught onto this.

Robert Hanson said...

> re: the blog comment that is from "slack990"
> If you could write code that would keep low
> frequency comments like this one from ever
> being posted on a blog...

Well, Blogger does allow for moderating comments as well as the word verification, so it isn't too difficult to deal with. But if I do ever write code like that I will let you know.

...And Alex, no, not dead. ...And not a spy ;)

NIGHT said...

xD FRancce gonna win!!

Lunchbox said...

Robert,

Edit the post and change 'who's' to 'whose' in the phrase 'with who's name' .

Yes, it's extreme blogging.

TechnoBlogger said...

My peeve with license agreements is the type that state that you accept the agreement simply by opening the package (for example, shrink-wrapped software). You have to remove the wrapper to read the agreement which you accept when you remove the wrapper!?

pip said...

hey really good blog! come to mine i would love to read your opinions on my posts www.mutualmind.blogspot.com

Lilli said...

Someday soon we wtll need a
pre-license in order to get a license.

Senor Cheeseburger said...

Which Hanson brother are you again? Zach???

Mmm-bop-bop-a-doo-bop
diidydiddydiddydadadad
doo-bop-bop-a-doo-bop

My Blog, learn about it...

PEACE!

tute said...

you are one of a hanson brothers?

Bryce said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bryce said...

I am not very knowledgable on these kind of things and I could be wrong but you may want to look at www.fsf.com The free software foundation.

Dude with Attitude said...

hey robert. really cool blog. need ur advice on mine. what can i do to make it sell. am new to this. please help. leave a comment or a suggestion. thanks tazz..

http://eighthcolor.blogspot.com

Robert Hanson said...

> Dude with Attitude said...
> hey robert. really cool blog.
> need ur advice on mine. what
> can i do to make it sell. am
> new to this. please help. leave
> a comment or a suggestion. thanks
> tazz..

DwA, first I would suggest not posting a link to a poetry site on a tech blog. There might be some overlap, but I don't think that is the market you want. Second, have good content... everyone likes free content. Third, attend poetry readings, read and advertise your work... and if people like it, then they will visit. Ii hope that helps.

Mysterious said...

I Like Your Blog!

ANDY said...

SORRY MATE, but I could detect some confusion around "Soccer" as you Americans call it.
Firstly I'm a Scot and I'm glad England are out ( we might get unbiased views from the BBC now that England are out. Secondly I hope Itally win this year, France got it in 98.

I won't even ask if you American's etc kow anything about the OFF SIDE rule?

Another onbservation, Baseball is so much more fun than Cricket when you watch it. I'd rather watch paint dry compared to Cricket.

Lastly good luck with your crusade CJD.

Cory Roberts said...

Wow, nice posting, but there's too many comments on this post ;)

R2K said...

I love the tag cloud, how does it work? What is the code?

2 stroke Tournaments said...

well I can't say much But you make a point.

Flyinfox_SATX said...

Robert,

One of the things I try to teach my kids in life is that the only thing that is free is that which has no value, or better put..."Nothing". The come back at me with, "Daddy, what about breathing" Nope sorry kids, if you pay taxes then you are paying for your right to breathe.

Sorry to hear that you are having issue getting your stuff posted with out these frustrating inconveniences...You do have a cool site.

Flyingfox_SATX

Prasoon Joshi said...

i'm surprised !! thought that open source was supposed to be 'open', heard somewhere that the current IP rights entitle one to the licence of the code once it is written and needs no further registration or fee of any kind. since it is your property once you write it, you have the right to distribue it or do watever you wish to do with it !!! the world is certainly incredible!!!

dimmi said...

You're popular. Mine will be the 28th comment!

Okay, I have a question. It looks like Alex just asked you the same thing.

I discovered the a tag cloud on someone else's blog and ended up joining del.icio.us a couple weeks ago.

I still haven't figured out how to put my cloud on my blog. And I lost whatever the URL was for the other person who had one.

How do you do that?

(As an aside, I know someone here in California named Robert Hanson. I went to check your other blogs just to check if you were the same person. You're not. He's not married and has no kids yet. Anyway, that's all.)

Robert Hanson said...

The tag cloud is juts a piece a JavaScript provided by del.icio.us. Once you have a del.icio.us account, go to "Help", then "Tag Rolls". From there just take the JavaScript that theyu give you and drop it in your page where you want the tag cloud to appear.

Cicily Corbett said...

Robert,

Can't you use Gnu copyleft (adapt the terms in the GNU GPL, embedded in your software)? See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
Or am I in left field? I have been out of programming for many years.

Robert Hanson said...

Cicily, I'm not sure, I haven't looked at these before. Thanks for the link.

Gambo said...

Wish I knew a good lawyer. Congrats on becoming a 'blog of note' from a fellow coder.

Mr Make Money Online said...

I've always thought that it is enough to place your GPL licence tag. Similar with copyrights, you should place it and exclude your responsibility.

Many similar cases you can find with products at www.sourceforge.net.

Robert Hanson (mkII ?) said...

Hi there,

Software aside, it looks like you have given your name away free too - It happens to be mine ! :0)

Nice to know there's a few of us about.

Robert Hanson said...

It definately is a good name :)

brook said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.