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Do what the fuck you want to public license (wtfpl.net)
9 points by henrygrew on Apr 16, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

Also known as the "I am willing to put my house at risk to make a political point nobody cares about" license:


If you're impatient, skip to the part in that thread about the model railroad Java software guy.

I tried to follow that tread but I got lost (not very verse in legalese :( )

Could someone recap me why giving something i created away for free could lead ME to troubles?

Basically this:

>>> Right now, the license does not properly disclaim any implied warranties, which puts the developer at risk.

3 main things bother me about this license:

1) The F word. I get it, lots of people don't care, use it, etc. But it's hard to be in a professional environment, use something that is WTFPL licensed and explain to another professional, a client, whatever, what it means. Wish there was another license that was just "Do whatever you want to" license.

2) OK, so I do whatever I want to with it. Is that "permission" I've been given? I'm not sure. But do you still own the copyright? Also, since I can do whatever I want, can I take your code, copyright it as my own and re-license it and sue you for giving it away for free?

3) So I can do what the F I want to with it, but is the person who licensed it now liable for any damages that may come from using it?

He addresses your third point in the FAQ:

Why is there no “no warranty” clause?

The WTFPL is an all-purpose license and does not cover only computer programs; it can be used for artwork, documentation and so on. As such, it only covers copying, distribution and modification. If you want to add a no warranty clause for a program, you may use the following wording in your source code:

/* This program is free software. It comes without any warranty, to * the extent permitted by applicable law. You can redistribute it * and/or modify it under the terms of the Do What The Fuck You Want * To Public License, Version 2, as published by Sam Hocevar. See * http://www.wtfpl.net/ for more details. */


It doesn't cover anything that I can see. It doesn't say I am granted a right to copy, distribute, or modify the associated code. Only that I have these rights for the license file itself. The only part which could be read as pertaining to my rights over the code is "You just DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO."

That doesn't clearly grant me those rights or any rights, it just tells me to do what I like. It doesn't specify any rights that the copyright holder is waiving or granting under the terms of the license; and it can't reasonably be construed to say that the copyright holder disclaims all rights. So I do what I like, but perhaps the copyright holder reserves the right to sue me for whatever it is I decide I like to do with their code.

By contrast, if you decide to sue me for using code you released under an MIT license, the language in that is clear enough that a court can dismiss your suit if what I've done falls under the specific provisions in the license you attached to that code.

I'm not willing to stipulate that artwork cannot have an implied warranty that needs to be disclaimed. I'm even less willing to stipulate that for documentation.

Previous discussion from 23 days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7457668

I don't think this is worthy of the front page. It's not useful or clever whatsoever.

It's useful in describing to people why this is a bad license.

If I do what I want to with your code, that doesn't mean you aren't going to sue me for doing it.

Although the validity of the license could be disputed because of the obscurity of the permission, the legal recourse you'd have is the "estoppel". Meaning if I have a license (and thus the author's permission that goes with it) to act, and the author later sues me for something that is already permitted, the estoppel defense is raised to dismiss the claim.

But the author hasn't clearly granted me any permissions. He just said to do what I want to. Which is what I do anyway. So why bother saying it?

Even if we can construe "do what you want to" as granting some kind of permission, it isn't clear what permissions it's granting. It can't really be that I have his permission to do literally anything I want to. That's not a reasonable contract. Since it appears to permit everything, it also permits things which the author would easily and rightfully be able to sue me for, which the author can't waive. So it doesn't permit just anything I want to do. But that's what it says. So what does it permit? The hell of it is that there is no way for me to know until I'm already in trouble. The language of the license doesn't specify any class of safe acts regarding the code, some court has to decide what it allows. And I really have no way of knowing whether what I'm doing with the code will trigger a suit or whether the court will decide it wasn't permitted. While estoppel could be worth trying if you got into this jam, it isn't clear that estoppel will save you as a user of WTFPL code. And if it isn't clear to me, it won't be clear to an author who licensed a project WTFPL and wants a legal remedy against me for some use of his code; even having an issue go to court threatens my livelihood pretty effectively.

Also known as the bargepole license.

URL Blocked

The URL that you are attempting to access is a potential security risk. Trend Micro OfficeScan has blocked this URL in keeping with the network security policy. URL: http://www.wtfpl.net/ Risk Level: Dangerous Details: Verified fraud page or threat source

Isnt dont use any license and dont put (c) more simple?

Simpler, but not effective. In almost every country in the world, copyright vests in the author automatically, even if the author doesn't use the old "All Rights Reserved" magic words.

Practically speaking, not including anything about copyright is just going to make your users (or their lawyers) ask questions before they ship, or before they're acquired, or....

If you really want to put it into the world for anyone to use without restriction, put it in the public domain (e.g., http://creativecommons.org/choose/zero/). But public domaining doesn't happen by accident — just failing to mention copyright doesn't cut it.

I agree that you're probably better off not mentioning license terms at all. That may keep people from using your thing as intended, but it will also keep people from maliciously misusing it and then dragging you into an unwinnable game as a consequence.

As such, I'd much rather say, "You can do whatever you want with this, provided that you don't use it to hurt me."

And as long as you're there already, you have lost the simplicity of a single sentence clause, and might as well just use the MIT license.

Nothing about this is news

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