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There is no place for humor or overly subjective terms like "evil" in a software license or other legal document, and the problem with Douglas Crockford's license is that he fails to understand that.

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.




I don't disagree to this premise. Yes, it could be an issue - but Douglas Crockford is not morally obligated to worry about it. His code, his license. When you use it, you accept the risks that come with it.

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 as well say that Douglas Crockford is not morally obligated to be nice. Yes, I suppose he is entitled to behaving in ways that are harmful to Free Software, but we are also entitled to criticize him for that. The post criticizes both the license and Crockford's use of the license, focusing on the latter because licenses, like guns, are not harfmul in themselves.

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...


""" 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. """

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.


You can also say that GPL is pushing an agenda, while Crockford is standing up to his high moral principles. If you don't agree with it, just don't use it.


vaguely stated moral principles.


Listen, the clause is so ridiculously vague as to be unenforcable.

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.


Listen, the clause is so ridiculously vague as to be unenforcable.

You hope.

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.


You hope

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.

Which countries laws are we dealing with here? :P

e.g. I believe lots of US employee laws would be very illegal in EU.

You merely illustrate my point. Too vague to be enforcable.


I believe the general consensus is that "evil" is subjective. See the abortion argument above. "Evil" can be spun many different ways.

It's "evil" to use automation software because it eliminates jobs of hard working Americans. etc etc


All the things people are saying about this being a terrible legal clause are 100% true.

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.


You merely illustrate my point. Too vague to be enforcable.

Vague on an international stage, maybe. But a national court (which is the only thing relevant), it might not be considered vague.


>There is no place for humor or overly subjective terms like "evil" in a software license or other legal document, and the problem with Douglas Crockford's license is that he fails to understand that.

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.




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