If you don't like Crockford's license you are at liberty to write that code yourself. Please don't call people who contribute a great deal to advancing computing (Free Software or not) names like 'harmful to Free Software'.
Even if there is genuine concern in the license and its usage in Free Software, it should be raised by pointing to the code and the license, not by making a personal attack.
Articles like this are harmful to Free Software because it discourages people from contributing. Not Douglas Crockford's license written in good humour and with nice intentions.
The article was itself childish, but then again, it's a personal blog, not some kind of official statement.
> it discourages people from contributing
True, but my perspective is different - what discourages people from contributing are ego-driven testosterone-filled spoiled brats. Incidentally that's why we also have so few women contributing.
Indeed, I would go further and say that the fruits of Open Source are in significant part the result of young men trying to impress and outdo each other in mental contests and show each other who's smarter (aka whose organ is bigger). This kind of competition is driven by testosterone.
And we all benefit as a result.
Please name a case.
Name one single case where this holds true.
> True, but my perspective is different - what discourages people from contributing are ego-driven testosterone-filled spoiled brats. Incidentally that's why we also have so few women contributing.
Ego and Testosterone in the same sentence - that has to be bad! But it is a different conversation altogether.
Could clauses like these get you the author in legal trouble? Or it's just you the incautious users?
This only leads to more fragmentation and bad relations between Debian and upstream.
It's no different with using commercial code that was licensed to you, anyway. You still have to adhere to the licensing terms and if you don't they can sue you.
I think maybe I'll switch to an AGPLv3 license with a no-evil modification for my future personal projects...
No one is stopping some dude from taking a large chunk of MIT or BSD licensed code modifying it and then closing it off forever. That fork could become the one to use while the pre-forked one dies in a fire because the software is no longer compatible with the new shiny one with feature X. "Oh crap! I'd like to fix this bug that's been plaguing me since I switched over to the closed source one, but now I can't." -- Some sorry dude who used BSD licensed software
Those who say they don't care about this sort of thing are lying to themselves and everyone listening.
There's this stigma around the FSF licenses, which has never made sense to me. The whole point of them is simply "I share with you, please have some common decency and share with me." This seems like common courtesy to me, and only fair. If some corporation really wants to close everything up, well the same logic for avoiding Crockford's license applies, just rewrite it and don't use it. But, he who shares should always win.
: yes, this was a loaded argument.
I sincerely like the GPL and AGPL. I don't think potential confusion is a compelling argument against either, nor do I think it against the "do no evil" clause.
When I put the reference implementation onto the website, I needed to put a software license on it. I looked up all the licenses that are available, and there were a lot of them. I decided the one I liked the best was the MIT license, which was a notice that you would put on your source, and it would say: "you're allowed to use this for any purpose you want, just leave the notice in the source, and don't sue me." I love that license, it's really good.
But this was late in 2002, we'd just started the War On Terror, and we were going after the evil-doers with the President, and the Vice-President, and I felt like I need to do my part.
So I added one more line to my license, which was: "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil." I thought I'd done my job. About once a year I'll get a letter from a crank who says: "I should have a right to use it for evil!"
"I'm not going to use it until you change your license!" Or they'll write to me and say: "How do I know if it's evil or not? I don't think it's evil, but someone else might think it's evil, so I'm not going to use it." Great, it's working. My license works, I'm stopping the evil doers!
Audience member: If you ask for a separate license, can you use it for evil?
Douglas: That's an interesting point. Also about once a year, I get a letter from a lawyer, every year a different lawyer, at a company--I don't want to embarrass the company by saying their name, so I'll just say their initials--IBM...
...saying that they want to use something I wrote. Because I put this on everything I write, now. They want to use something that I wrote in something that they wrote, and they were pretty sure they weren't going to use it for evil, but they couldn't say for sure about their customers. So could I give them a special license for that?
Of course. So I wrote back--this happened literally two weeks ago--"I give permission for IBM, its customers, partners, and minions, to use JSLint for evil."
[laughter and applause]
And the attorney wrote back and said: "Thanks very much, Douglas!"
Good talk, worth a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C-JoyNuQJs
Ha ha, stupid user, you took the legally binding joke which I inserted into a legally binding license seriously, hahah you sooo funny.
Yeah, a real barrel of laughs. Never mind that licensing law is a lot less flexible than contract law, in which unreasonable terms are readily removed.
The question is whether it is harmful to free software to put unfunny non-jokes like this into licenses. The answer is "yes, it is."
Debian is not entitled to Douglas Crockford's work and therefore Crockford cannot harm Debian through incompatibility. Someone else can write a replacement JSON library; it's an intern-level project.
If you feel like you can call someone an "asshole" for writing "use this software for good not evil" in their license, then, and I mean this respectfully but directly, you need to unplug for awhile and interact with actual human beings in the world.
Similarly, if you can write a whole blog post calling Douglas Crockford "childish" and implying that he's not only a hypocrite but hypocritically evil for working at Paypal simply because of something he put in the license of a piece of software he gave away for free, you are a whackjob nutbag and nobody should listen to you.
Here is a clue before 8 different HN'ers explain to me how damaging idiosyncratic license clauses are and why that justified this nutball post: you can write a post about why people shouldn't use a specific free library without calling its author names.
Obviously that's not easy for them to do, but nobody says they have to use his implementation if they don't like the terms it's licensed under.
We can also have the opinion that people who believe that someone who wrote a free software and gave the implementation for free should play by their rules and only use license which plays nice with their software are childish, entitled assholes.
IMHO, this is a most unfortunate development, sadly driven by license fundamentalists like Debian. It is high time that someone like Crockford throws a fistful of sand in those gears and causes butthurt. Maybe this will cause at least some people to start thinking again instead blindly following the perceived neccessities of some special OSS project.
And yes, if the Debian folk are this worried, it should be a matter of days to invent "GNU JSON (now with a proper LICENSE so we can kiss more enterprise ass)"
Software is written and licensed by people, and is susceptible to their quirks and foibles.
Software types are famously inclined toward libertarian views. An oft repeated mantra on HN is "let the market decide". Yet, here we have myriad complaints about a decision the market has made.
What I particularly love about the Open Source/Free Software world is that it is a market in the truest sense. Barriers to entry are extremely low and, while there aren't necessarily dollars to throw around, consumers vote with their time and attention, both quantities arguably more valuable than currency. It is interesting to watch this market choose benevolent dictatorship models of governance over more democratic rule. It is intriguing to see reinvented wheels succeed for seemingly inconsequential reasons.
And, in this case, it is rather informative to observe how expediency wins out, even to the potential detriment of the very consumers who have made this choice. Reimplementing the code in question would require work. Clarifying or requesting a change of licensing terms would require work. Instead, the "market" (many, many OSS projects in this case) has chosen the preexisting solution that contains a potential time bomb.
If I didn't know any better, I'd almost say that this article is a veiled call for regulation. It's almost as if the market, left to its own devices, doesn't always make the best long-term decisions when short-term benefit weighs in opposition.
The world of Open Source/Free Software really is fascinating to watch...
Since the author has chosen a non-standard license, I doubt government regulation would help (unless that regulation outlawed non-standard FLOSS licenses).
Probably would be better to reduce the information assymmetry. Maybe Github could have warning notifications for custom licenses, for example?
What's the next step, outlawing forks, since there are already enough projects?
And why do you see the very existence of the library with "no evil" clause as a market failure? Is that some people think that it's basic human right to be allowed to do evil? Doing evil, if we define evil as illegal, is already outlawed, so this one phrase is clearly redundant.
I said you, but it's not addressed to you, but to people that got so offended and turned up by this small "do no evil" purpose.
The market already decided, and that clause is there for a purpose. The author clearly didn't want people unsure if this piece of software will be used for good or evil to use it.
It's funny that people are ready to sign all kind of nonsense in commercial licenses, and this small clause makes so much pain to some "open source" developers.
If yes, then as much as you (the hacker/startup founder) might not care or have a second thought about licenses like this, you should keep in mind that your potential purchaser almost definitely will.
Also, just for the record, I'm actually a big fan of Crockford's "Do no evil" license. What bothers me is the number of people who don't pay any more attention to the licenses of the software on which they build entire companies than they do to the EULAs of the software they install. Casually agreeing to a EULA is not the same as disregarding an Open Source license.
But, you read the license, you decide if you are going to use it or not. That's it. If you are not sure, just don't use it. Use something else if available. Or build your own.
What I don't understand is the basis on which some people complain about the authors choice of the license, and feel offended by his license choice.
I suggest more information, such as "Be aware that this software is licensed under a custom license. Click here to view the license."
I don't think the author of the article suggests that evil should be allowed, but that it is very hard to define evil, and that this clause makes the license non-free software.
Also, to the point of regulation, the government is by no means the only vector by which it can be delivered. I think if you look through history, some of the most successful regulatory regimes have been separated from the traditional civil government.
Mandating a license (any license) but perhaps offering a selection to be automatically included would be a really good idea.
I wonder if you could actually put a license that gave permission to fork/clone but not actually to run/distribute outside github or otherwise use the code or derivatives thereof. I've not tried and wouldn't try to go against the spirit of Github in that way but it seems as if it might be permissible.
It's almost as if people look for any example, no matter how flimsy an analogy it is, to confirm their worldview.
So, the vast majority of people are very happy to use this software with this vague license because it doesn't fucking matter to 95% of all software developers. You could think of this as a market failure, if you like, because the license pisses this one person off. But you could also see it as a complete market triumph because this guy is completely free to write his own json parser! He's not compelled to use Crockford's or Google's or anyone else's.
Software types, particularly open source software types, are also known to have massive egos. This is just a childish rant (In conclusion: thank you so VERY much Doug Crockford for making the world of Free Software measurably worse.) from a guy who's getting worked up that GASP not everyone cares as much as he does about software licensing.
Yes, the license terms don't matter to 95% of all software developers. So what? Care to guess at the percentage of brokers that made out like bandits trading CDOs? My point is exactly that an ecosystem where the bulk of players can benefit by optimizing for the short-term at the potential expense of the long-term will fail to find the long-term optimal solution (at least, not without significant upheaval).
But then, I suppose I am completely free to till my own back yard, grow some vegetables, and raise chickens so...yeah, complete market triumph!
It does not.
To say it does is an extraordinary claim with deserves extraordinary proof --and, no, ideological ramblings from economists is not proof.
Furthermore, this opinion regarding the market, ie. the "free market" concept, is a very isolated in acceptance Anglo-Saxon idea.
Far from being a scientific conclusion, like gravity or evolution, even though it's touted as such from it's proponents.
That is, unless his intent is to keep every entity with sane lawyers from using his software. I don't think that's his intent. He said he wants to keep people without a sense of humor from using his software, but sane lawyers with a good sense of humor will object to the license just as strongly as sane lawyers with no sense of humor.
Venue matters. A lawsuit based on the evil clause of the license, in San Francisco or Los Angeles, would probably go nowhere. However, consider a jury in Birmingham, AL, and whether they would find that using some of Crockford's software in an abortion clinic was a violation of the license.
The post could have made a sane argument that the license is ambiguous and should be avoided in Free Software. But it focused on the author and made unjustifiable personal remarks. Not cool.
The author also seem to forget that there are advocates of the MIT license who would never use GPL software because of its viral nature. Does that mean Richard Stallman is 'harmful to software'? Criticize the license, but don't name-call the author who has made major positive contributions to the field.
You might argue that Crockford's contributions to Free Software outweigh the nuisance of his license, but to people who won't use his code because of the license (as you propose they do if they don't like it), his contributions are, sadly, rather worthless.
As for your last point, sure, Richard Stallman is arguably harmful to the Free Non-Copyleft Software movement, if such a thing exists. Is that a bad thing? I don't think there is a consensus in the Free Software community. Some OpenBSD folks certainly hate it...
There is a large difference here:
* The GPL is pushing an agenda in their licence, and attempts to clearly state your legal obligations.
* Crockford, on the other hand, is trying to crack a joke in a legal document. As the author states, this is dangerous to people who don't understand the legal ramifications of using this. From what I can see, the author is venting their frustration that Crockford appears to be treating the whole affair like a big joke, and I can totally understand that.
However, there is one way of looking at it that might not be legally objectionable. If you consider evil to be contrary to the good functioning of a civil society, then you could say that any act of evil is against the laws if this society. In which case the clause is legally enforceable, but completely unnecessary as no contract can stipulate a party undertake an illegal act.
If you consider evil to be contrary to the good functioning of a civil society, then you could say that any act of evil is against the laws if this society. In which case the clause is legally enforceable, but completely unnecessary as no contract can stipulate a party undertake an illegal act.
Which countries laws are we dealing with here? :P
e.g. I believe lots of US employee laws would be very illegal in EU.
Actually, I don't really care either way. If it becomes legally enforcable not to commit evil, I win. If it isn't legally enforcable, then I still win, only to a much lesser degree. By which I mean I lose through winning.
You merely illustrate my point. Too vague to be enforcable.
It's "evil" to use automation software because it eliminates jobs of hard working Americans. etc etc
But that seems to be the point, doesn't it? It's a license that filters out people who care too much. How much is too much? According to this license, the threshold is "listens to this ridiculous license".
Maybe in practice that makes it a non-commercial license, or a "hobby project only", license, or perhaps in the extreme, a "nobody" license.
Who really cares? He owns the copyright, he can license it as he pleases.
Vague on an international stage, maybe. But a national court (which is the only thing relevant), it might not be considered vague.
No, the problem is that the other guys WANT to use Douglas Crockford's code.
It's they who are needy and demanding, not Douglas, who doesn't have to "understand" anything.
Firstly, it's non-standard. As others have said, it's the author's right to make it non-standard, but I don't recommend people try that unless there's a really good reason to do so. If it's non-standard, a lot of companies simply won't use it. There's no box to check, so you can't have it. Good tracking software will of course allow for exceptions and deltas to the standard contracts, but it still creates delays and management overheads as if it's allowed at all, it will require someone's manual sign-off.
This gets worse when you consider the whole chain of software use. One library inside another library that's used by a subcontractor who added it to a build script that's used by the main contractor to distribute to developers. The whole thing needs to be linked through, which is hard enough with standard licenses.
Now startups don't need to worry about sign-off from some department, but they still need to stop and inspect the nature of the licenses they're using, and a non-standard license causes extra time and energy lost.
The second problem is ambiguity. A non-standard contract can still be precisely written, so developers know what they're getting into. In this case, though, it's not. It hinges around the definition of "evil", which is naturally ambiguous.
Comedy goes a long way, but is not always appropriate. This is a good article on the subject: http://www.natpryce.com/articles/000225.html
"It may be less amusing to the programmer writing the code but, more importantly, it is less infuriating for the programmer maintaining the code." Think the same applies to licenses.
A license is like a piece of code that binds to a system of laws at runtime. Effective license terms, like effective code, work within the problem domain and avoid ambiguity where it is likely to cause problems. His license compiles, but can throw runtime exceptions depending on context.
Most importantly though, one should refrain from making demands on people who are offering you things for free.
If you like the code and are willing to use it under the terms provided, use it. Otherwise you're no worse off than you were before. Write your own version and get on with life.
or taking the JSON grammar and implementing it from scratch. It's not exactly complex, the most complex part is strings and even those are rather simple.
It seems like this Debian developer is mad because an author didn't write a license the way he want it written?
That's not an option for Free Software distributions like Debian, so everybody loses except evildoers.
He may not go for it, but they are certainly capable of asking.
Guess what, I can't use GPL in my projects, because it's not compatible with the kind of license I release my programs. You can't use this software because it's not comapatible with GPL. Feel the pain. FSF would advice people not to use GPL software if they can't stand the license. The same applies to you, if you really want to use your software for evil purpose, just license it that way. Otherwise, use something else. It's that simple.
Like the GPL is misleadingly almost free? As in it's free but if you release software which uses GPL software, it is under GPL? I am not arguing about the meaning of free, I am arguing against your "it's a license that's misleadingly almost free". Just like GPL's terms doesn't make it non-free, "don't use it for evil" doesn't make it non-free.
EDIT: I see people arguing about "don't use it for evil" violates "can use it for any purpose" clause. Fine. GPL's clause violates "use it to distribute software without making my whole software GPL."
On the practical side: the GPL is established and popular enough that you should know what you're getting yourself in for with GPL code. In theory I can imagine someone unfamiliar with the free software movement hearing that a piece of GPL code was "free" and assuming that meant they could use it in their closed products, but in practice when people talk about "free" software they tend to either mean the free software definition, or "freeware" (i.e. binaries which can be downloaded without charge) - which generally doesn't permit modification and redistribution. So I don't think this is a practical concern.
By contrast Crockford's license is not popular or established. Worse, it looks exceedingly similar to a popular, established license - the MIT license - which is free (in the free software sense). So it's very possible to accidentally download a Crockford-licensed piece of code, thinking that you can use it in a free software project, when in fact the license does not grant all the rights you would need to do this - as is demonstrated by the fact that the author of this post did exactly that.
Crockford is free to distribute his code under whatever license he likes, but using a license that looks very much like the MIT license but grants you a much smaller set of rights (a set which puts it on the other side of a line that, while in many ways arbitrary, is of great practical relevance when it comes reusing code in the wider internet community) is not nice.
Maybe if would be easier if instead of "free" we started using more precise terms like Free(c)FSF, $Free, or name actual licenses, since each one goes under some assumptions.
So what is he supposed to do? His options are either use the MIT license unchanged, or invent his own? He liked the MIT license, and he wanted to add one of his own conditions. It's as simple as that.
As another commenter pointed out, the cognitive dissonance is the free software community is mind blowing. We are all for freedom and choice, as long as you are playing by our rules. We are against regulation, but only bad regulations. Ours are meant to do good and you are supposed to follow them.
What Crockford's done is the equivalent of changing a few bytes in the PNG format and making his software use this "new" format. Making a completely new file format/license is fine, but you should only do it when your improvements are big enough to justify the incompatibility. A new one that's just a trivial tweak to an existing one, but incompatible, is bad.
Don't write "use" when you mean something else entirely.
Lots of GPL in-compatible licences are "Free" according to the FSF. Here's a whole list of "GPL-Incompatible Free Software Licenses": http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#GPLIncompatibl... Some notable ones: Apache Licence, BSD licence, etc.
It takes me back to the frenzy over VLC on iOS. People write code, we need to respect their choices with respect to how they license it, even if their choice is whimsey with a dangerous side of legal morass.
This argument sounds dangerously like a tirade because Mr. Crockford did something that did not benefit the free software movement. His software is un-free, just as the GPL is un-free. I'm ok with that, even if my lawyer isn't ok with me using his code.
First of all, there's a clear distinction between the GPL and this modified MIT license - the GPL was written with the help of actual lawyers and it's a solid license that can stand on its own in a court of law. If you think that the GPL gives you certain privileges or takes away some freedoms, then it's actually easy to verify that by simply asking a lawyer.
Also, GPL is a license that has restrictions on distribution and not usage. Usage of GPL-software is completely free. Of course, sometimes the usage/distribution boundaries are blurred when you're speaking about platforms, so GPL 3 drew a line in the sand to prevent cases such as Tivo, however to quote Linus Tolvards which represents the other side of the coin in any talks related to GPL :
"""If you're a mad scientist, you can use GPLv2'd software for your evil plans to take over the world ("Sharks with lasers on their heads!!"), and the GPLv2 just says that you have to give source code back. And that's OK by me. I like sharks with lasers. I just want the mad scientists of the world to pay me back in kind. I made source code available to them, they have to make their changes to it available to me. After that, they can fry me with their shark-mounted lasers all they want."""
This is also not a matter of free / un-free. But rather a mater of legal liability. If somebody can prove that you used the software for "Evil", whatever that may mean, then you're legally liable. So what's evil anyway? Is making money evil?
Now that's a contentous statement, depending on one's definition of "free" and "un-free". However the GPL, unlike this "no evil licence", is an FSF approved, and OSI approved, and DFSG approved licence. They aren't in the same category.
Trademark law isn't needed. There isn't really any disagreements over the terms "Free (as in freedom) Software" or "Open Source".
This story definitely makes me want to get more involved with organized free software.
GPL (whatever the version might be), in my opinion, is not a true "free" license because it forbids you to, for example, re-publish the source without attribution or using them without being GPL-compliant or any number of other restrictions. BSD is much better, but still has some restrictions. Even WTFPL is not "free" (as in speech/thought), because it requires you to change the "name" upon re-distribution.
So, yes; Douglas Crockford is harmful to "FSF"-kind of "free software", but I think GPL and BSD are also harmful to the more "idealistic" definition of "free software".
(I haven't done even 1/100000th of what Stallman has done, and don't think I ever will be, but still I'm sure I can criticize him. You didn't suggest I can't - I just wanted to say that I'm aware of this fact!).
Of course you can. Freedom is the lack of restrictions.
I think you're confusing freedom with rights, which do indeed need protection. An argument could be made that what the GPL attempts to do is assert a right to the source code which they protect with restrictions to the developer's freedom. (Just as the right to life is protected with restrictions to the freedom to kill.)
That's just the negative sense of freedom. People mean sometimes a different sense of "freedom" , where to be free to do something implies rights, which then implies duties.
There is nothing restrictive in BSD at all. Proprietary shops love BSD.
Just to be clear: only the name of the license, and only if you modify the license. So it's just the name "WTFPL" being protected. As for the thing being licensed, you are utterly and completely free to do anything you want with or to it.
It seems to be working. (Though I might add a "too" in front of seriously). Sometimes ridiculous things need mocking.
(And just for the record, I do fully expect future generations to find our preoccupation with "owning" and "licensing" every stray line of text or bar of musical notes to be thoroughly ridiculous.)
Blog post reads more like the author has a specific problem with Crockford and is doing this in public to try make him seem foolish.
Crockford's "Good, not evil" licence, it could be argued, is a free licence only if the definition of good/evil is a personal one. One of the main issues of Luther's reform is that good and evil are a personal choice . Crockford is succeeding at indirectly making people think of who has the right to tag something as good or evil.
 At least that's what I remember from school.
I wouldn't say it like that. Luther's main position was that salvation or forgiveness of sin was a personal matter between God and the sinner; that salvation comes directly from God and cannot not be conferred by a priest or church, in exchange for money, etc. and that the Bible itself was the source of divine knowledge, not the church.
Lawyers, licences, copyrights, patents are modern though police. So many people consider every creative action (and unfortunately often abandon it) afraid of what laws they might be potentially braking by executing this action.
I'm pretty sure court judgements have use moralistic statements and refered to things like "respect" or "evil", "inhuman". Judges are humans, not compilers.
In fact a search of the British court judgements shows many instances of "evil" being referred to in judgements ( http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/sino_search_1.cgi?sort=rank... ).
It's the legal ambiguity that is the problem.
This is exactly why I would not worry about it. No judge is going to look at that clause and think it is in any way intended to be enforced. Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of room for common sense in a courtroom.
Who will sue? EFF? Crockford?
I am no expert in "license law", but I am sure a you-are-using-this-for-evil accusations would not stand a chance.
Corporations troll each other in court quite often, in order to bleed the defendant and/or force them to resolve the case off-court, for a sum of money. Using code licensed under such a troll-bait like the "good, not evil" clause while having nice corporate revenue is a big mistake.
The man has the freedome to write up any license he wants and you have the freedom to not use it.
I like the article, it's well written but (once again ironically) it also reads like the typical "the stuff is cool, I really want to use it pleaaaaase change the license" which I typically hear from people complaining about the GPL.
I'm sorry, is there some definition of Open Source that I'm not aware of?
Another defintion is if the code is released under and OSI approved "open source licence" (http://opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical ) or an FSF approved "free software licence" ( http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html ). Again AFAIK, nearly exactly the same.
You would hate a person who took the time and effort to build a piece of software, then clean up and release the source code for anybody to use? A person who is doing a selflessly good thing that possibly benefits others and at the very least does no harm? You'd hate this person? Not just disagree with or be annoyed by, but hate?
Is that really the sort of person you want to be?
Crockford's act of granting special licenses to companies who may have evil-doing clients is a strong indicator that the clause is not a joke, that in practice it is taken seriously. A court would take this into account.
The real problem with this stupid joke is that it requires a trip to court to invalidate it. Thanks Douglas!
I find myself strangely okay with the idea of requiring people to walk into a courtroom and admit that they intend to enact or permit evil.
If it's not, it's a bit of harmless fun.
If it is, then potentially anyone using software licensed under the license discussed in the article is in some serious trouble, and the article itself has merit.
So, any lawyers around who can give us a definitive answer to that one? Sadly, all the lawyers I know specialise in UK rather than US law.
How would one enforce this license against a fictitious "Evil Inc." who self-proclaim "We do Evil", well now that's not subjective anymore? Hmm...
... oh hang on, aren't jokes supposed to be funny?
Generally, ambiguity in a contract goes against the party that wrote the ambiguous clause. I believe that applies both in the US and the UK (and I'd expect nearly anywhere else whose contract law arose out of English common law).
Based on that, I'd expect someone trying to enforce a "good, not evil" clause to have a tough time.
In this specific case, I'd argue Mono is intrinsically evil and therefore should be prevented from using Crockford's software at all. If Microsoft embeds a Crockford-based JSON parser in their own releases, they are in clear violation of its terms. ;-)
Could you explain why this is? I use Mono and I'm genuinely interested.
> Could you explain why this is? I use Mono and I'm genuinely interested.
From the op's profile: "I really don't like Microsoft much."
Apparently not liking MS much is reason enough to dislike an open source project implementing an interesting runtime and languages, which provides options to use aforementioned runtime and languages without being married to MS.
This has been on the horizon ever since Mono's inception. This is what wikipedia has to say:
On July 6, 2009, Microsoft announced that it was placing their ECMA 334 and ECMA 335 specifications under their Community Promise pledging that they would not assert their patents against anyone implementing, distributing, or using alternative implementations of .NET. However, their position regarding the non-ECMA components like ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and Windows Forms (which are the bone of contention) remains unclarified.
There are concerns regarding MS community promise, and of course about the components which remain unclarified. If it ever goes to court, it will be a battle similar to Google vs Oracle over Java. MS might create trouble, but when that happens, that isn't going to be easy.
Even considering that, how is Mono intrinsically evil? When MS sues, hindsight will say Mono team was misguided and naive to trust MS, but that still doesn't make mono evil.
The more people use Mono, the more valuable the .NET runtime, and Windows itself, becomes.
So the only people who are using that are people who started using it really quickly after it was released and haven't updated their code to stop using it.
I can do whatever the fuck I want with JSON and nobody can touch me.
Look, I can even use it for EVIL if I want!
So sue me.
Yes, it's stupid, and we should all lighten up and be able to laugh about it. We should also be able to laugh at obvious jokes about having weapons at an airport.
There are some really unfunny people in this world, and in the meantime we unfortunately have to just deal with it.
Why can't you do that?
Will someone punish you for that if author won't sue anybody?
Will his descendants inherit the right to sue distributor?
I read that you can't distribute code that has no license.
Because copyright law says so - it reserves the right to copy to the author.
I believe depends on whether you fall under a criminal or civil violation. http://www.chillingeffects.org/copyright/faq.cgi#QID885
Yes, it's pretty common for estates (of which the descendants are usually the executors) to sue distributors.
1) for commercial advantage or private financial gain
3) by distributing copyrighted work where the infringer knew or should have known the work was intended for public distribution.
Does that also cover non-American authors? And distribution of works of American authors abroad?
You can. It's just that unless otherwise stated, the owner has the copyright in most legislation. Without the license, if you derive from someone's code, he can sue you stating he never granted you the right to use his work.
Is this _really_ a big deal?