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Would You Die To Respect a Software License? 233

Posted by timothy
from the visit-from-the-compliance-department dept.
Julie188 writes "Some 2,000 licenses cover the 230,000+ projects in Black Duck's open source knowledge base. While 10 licenses comprise 93% of the software, that leaves 1,980-odd licenses for the other 3% — and some of them have really crazy conditions. The Death and Repudiation License, for instance, requires the user to be dead."
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Would You Die To Respect a Software License?

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  • Hell No ! (Score:4, Funny)

    by lord_rob the only on (859100) <shiva3003.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:17PM (#32270190)

    Even if I like a software to be free as in freedom, I respect a software developer to do whatever with his software

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Even if I like a software to be free as in freedom, I respect a software developer to do whatever with his software

      There are and needs to be more stringent restrictions on what can be put in a license agreement. Right now you could sign away your first born with my Primary Recombinant DNA Acquisition license but I'd be SOL when I came to collect.

      License often carry unreasonable terms for the licensee and no responsibility for the licenser. I think that licenses should be standardised (as in ISO) and ha

  • by pluther (647209) <pluther@usaGAUSS.net minus math_god> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:19PM (#32270202) Homepage

    Which license redefines math so that 1980 + 10 = 2000, and taking 93% leaves only 3% remaining?

  • by Luke has no name (1423139) <fox@@@cyberfoxfire...com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:19PM (#32270204)

    Slow day.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:25PM (#32270314) Homepage

      Here's some more ideas:

      Would you smell a nasty fart to prevent terrorism?
      Would you give up your ability to see if it meant you could time travel?
      Would you listen to an entire Britney Spears album if it could bring about world peace?

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:37PM (#32270432) Journal
        Aw, come on, most of those are easy to pick. How about something that strains our decision engines a little bit?

        -- Would you take a job as Steve "Monkeyboy" Ballmer's toe-cheese extractor if it meant Microsoft would publish only via OSS licenses?

        -- Would you take a position as Steve "Tyrant" Jobs' fashion consultant if it meant Apple would open up the app store?

        -- Would you lick Stallman's neck and armpit if it meant GNU/Hurd became a complete, usable, modern kernel?

        These are the type of choices that would keep me up at night.
        • You owe me a meal and a bottle of brain bleach for that written Goatse/PainSeries.
          Please mod down.

        • by Godji (957148)
          I have no idea what toe-cheese is, but intuition tells me I should resist.
        • by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:11PM (#32270752) Homepage Journal

          -- Would you take a job as Steve "Monkeyboy" Ballmer's toe-cheese extractor if it meant Microsoft would publish only via OSS licenses?

          I suppose it would be a worthy sacrifice.

          -- Would you take a position as Steve "Tyrant" Jobs' fashion consultant if it meant Apple would open up the app store?

          I am willing to expend my life in pursuit of turtlenecks if it means Openness for all.

          -- Would you lick Stallman's neck and armpit if it meant GNU/Hurd became a complete, usable, modern kernel?

          No! Not in a thousand lifetimes, no! What do you think I am, you sick twisted fuck?!?

        • by selven (1556643)

          Microsoft to publish their source code under OSS licenses? So you want Steve Ballmer's toe cheese to not only be smelled by you but also to proliferate throughout the entire internet?

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:12PM (#32271586)

          -- Would you lick Stallman's neck and armpit if it meant GNU/Hurd became a complete, usable, modern kernel?

          Would get Stallman to finally shut up? If so, I'd definitely consider it.

        • you, sir, owe me a new keyboard, plus a case of hard liquor to remove the mental image of someone licking RMS's armpit from my brain

        • by ignavus (213578)

          -- Would you take a position as Steve "Tyrant" Jobs' fashion consultant if it meant Apple would open up the app store?

          That's easy. I could write a program to do that!

          #include <stdio.h>

          int main() {
                  printf("Ah, Mr Jobs. Try the black skivvy - I am sure you will like it.\n");
                  return 0;
          }

        • Would you lick Stallman's neck and armpit if it meant GNU/Hurd became a complete, usable, modern kernel?

          C'mon now, asking for someone to sacrifice his life for a cause, even as worthy as that, is too much!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by oldhack (1037484)
        Fuck world peace.
      • by Godji (957148)
        No, no, and.... hmmmm.... fuck no.
      • Would you listen to an entire Britney Spears album if it could bring about world peace?

        Britney's albums are hardly what I would call "music", and the concept of world peace is the antithesis to human nature. Regardless, it's par for the course.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Would you listen to an entire Britney Spears album if it could bring about world peace?

        Depends, is "world peace" defined as "all humans exterminated" and is the Spears album the delivery method of said destruction?

      • Fantastic. MrEricSir is my new god.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:20PM (#32270232)

    If a software license exists, and no software is written that is available under the terms of that license, does it merit discussion on Slashdot?

    It looks to me as somebody set up a site to create a gallery of TOSes so software writers can get some ideas... but then the site got attacked by the typical forum trolls took over and we get a comedy site as the end result. This belongs to Idle next to news from The Onion.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      No software? I'm dissapointed...

      Seems like a decent fit for grave / graveyard info screens, embedded software used for some equipment required for transplants, controlling the morgue, etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Flea of Pain (1577213)

      Although would it be possible for this license to have close to an applicable use? Ie. Software for dealing with funeral expenses. You can only use it if you are dead, and being dead gives leave for your family to access the software license only. If you aren't dead, then they or you are breaking the terms of the license. Just a thought, obviously the terms of excessive punishment may need to be edited.

  • Severability (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:21PM (#32270238) Homepage

    I believe a court would find that clause unenforceable and sever it from the rest of the contract.

    • I believe a court would also find that you lack any sense of humor. The D&R license is a joke.

      • by Spazmania (174582)

        No, really?

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        So?

        It's still offered as license. Since it's offered as an option with a BSD license it doesn't really matter, but if the software was actually valuable and other license more restrictive making such a joke could end up costing you when someone tries to get a court to strip bits out and just leave "you can have it all"...

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      Only if it was unconditional. If (as with most free software licenses) it was conditioned on actions that would ordinarily violate copyright, the court might simply ignore the clause as irrelevant (and probably whimsical*), and rule that you're guilty of copyright violation. In fact, as with the GPL, it's unlikely that the license would ever be mentioned in court, since the plaintiff has a straightforward copyright violation case, and the defendant can't claim to be dead and thus protected from prosecutio

  • Quip on Contracts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:21PM (#32270252) Homepage Journal

    The "freedom to encumber" works is like the "freedom to punch someone" ... They are both 'freedoms' that only exist at the expense of others.
                    -- Gregory Maxwell, discussion on licensing

    • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:39PM (#32270462) Homepage

      That would be a good description of copyright, and thus copyright licenses, but not contracts in general. The terms of a contract are merely conditions which you require to be met before you will voluntarily give the other party some of your property, which you are in no way obligated to do. No matter what the terms may be, they impose no expense on others; one is always free to ignore the offer should one find the terms unpalatable. Licenses are similar, but the copyrights which give licenses their power are artificial social-engineering constructs which only exist at the expense of others.

      • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:45PM (#32270512) Homepage Journal

        Fair, although contract law has recognised certain topics where contracts are not free for good reason - situations of some sorts are considered generally either coercive or one-sided enough that the public good is ill-served by the absence of some (or significant regulation). Landlord-tenant law is one example, although English common law has accumulated a long list of other circumstances and remedies to specific abuses, many of which we've kept in the US.

        • I recognize that modern contract law has (incorrectly and unjustly, IMHO) rendered certain kinds of contractual terms void. However, even if such terms were fully enforceable they would still be nothing like the "freedom to punch someone" referred to in the Gregory Maxwell quote.

          I don't know about serving "the public good"—that isn't really the purpose of contracts, at least not directly—but no mere contractual term is ever truly coercive per se. Somewhere along the line the idea came about that

          • by Improv (2467)

            Many of us support the use of force to serve the public good, and feel that the public good is in fact the whole point of government and society.

            I see where you're coming from though - there's a number of ways to think about the goals/purposes of these things.

            • Many of us support the use of force to serve the public good, and feel that the public good is in fact the whole point of government and society.

              I would not really disagree with either of those statements. However, in my considered opinion the initiation of force against non-aggressors never serves the public good. The purpose of government may indeed be to serve the public good, but I feel its fundamental nature as a legitimized aggressor can only serve to undermine that purpose.

              I am not a utilitarian; I do not believe that it is possible to weight the benefits to some against involuntary costs imposed on others. The obvious corellary is that the o

              • by Improv (2467)

                It's not only utilitarians who consider such weighings - various principled philosophies do as well. Any concept of duty that's not wholly negative requires it. It sounds like your perspective is somewhere in the Libertarian-Objectivist spectrum - mine is somewhere in the Academic-Socialist spectrum - I suspect we're not going to see eye-to-eye on what you'd call coercion. To me, autonomy is one thing that's important for human happiness and well-being but it's something I'd sacrifice in certain structured

          • by oatworm (969674)
            Things start to get tricky, even from a libertarian/(min/an)archistic standpoint, when you're in either a monopolistic or monopsonistic environment (i.e. the number of buyers or sellers is constrained) or any other circumstance under which you're in a position where there's a clear imbalance of power.

            For example, in a fully free market (one in which there are no constraints on contracts), all landlords want maximum rents with minimal investment. Now, in theory, some landlords would become slumlords while
            • I already responded to all of this in the GP comment:

              Somewhere along the line the idea came about that because someone really wants something, it is somehow coercive to place conditions on giving it to them (even though you aren't required to give it to them at all). I obviously reject this notion; coercion is force, and only force.

              "Really want" includes things you think you need for survival: food, shelter, work. No one is obligated to provide you with any of that; if they choose to offer it to you they have an absolute right to impose whatever conditions they want. Of course you are free to reject their conditions, but they are equally free to keep their property.

              Tempering that somewhat, note that I consider contracts to only include transfers of alienable property. In other words

            • Things start to get tricky, even from a libertarian/(min/an)archistic standpoint

              Libertarian viewpoint which places liberty as the highest value is completely incompatible with the anarchistic viewpoint because liberty cannot exist in an anarchy, so those terms don't belong in the same sentence, never mind separated by a / as if they are two sides of the same coin.

              Trouble is, in many housing markets, housing is constrained, either due to resource shortages (water, usually) or geography (too many mountai
              • Libertarian viewpoint which places liberty as the highest value is completely incompatible with the anarchistic viewpoint because liberty cannot exist in an anarchy ...

                On the contrary, liberty cannot exist except in anarchy. Simply put, government is legitimized aggression; that is the only trait which distinguishes it from other private organizations, such as co-ops. Liberty is the absence of aggression. The libertarian viewpoint is that aggression (initiation of force against a non-aggressor) is never legitimate. The libertarian society can only be anarchistic; if it had a government then it would be endorsing aggression, and thus not libertarian.

                A fully libertarian soc

      • by mjwx (966435)

        That would be a good description of copyright, and thus copyright licenses, but not contracts in general.

        "Contracts in general" is a really bad description of software licenses. Contracts are rarely one sided and almost always negotiated between parties. More over they require express consent in the form of a signature to be valid. A software license is never negotiated, has no responsibilities for the vendor and uses implied consent (shrink wrap Eula, press F8, click I agree). Most contracts define the

    • Who on earth is Gregory Maxwell, and is there any reason we should care what he says? I can't find that quote on the internet, other than where you said it right there.....
      • by Improv (2467)

        The point of quips are that they state a position succinctly and with charm, not that they rely on the authority of the person who said them. I could tell you who he is, but it doesn't really matter.

  • Your honor it is clear the defendant rejected the BSD license. They must therefore have accepted the alternate D&R licenses. In recognition of this we demand the death of the defendant as fulfillment of the terms of the license.

  • The Death and Repudiation License is nothing compared to the EULA of iPhone OS 5.1

  • I remember many shareware authors writing strange things in their terms and licenses.

    I recall that a common graphics viewer those cool new GIF files (among many other formats) wrote that if you continued using their software after 30 days without paying then a demon would be visited by demons who would torment you.

    I was just a kid, didn't have a job, and I never paid. Demons rarely ever visited, and when they did it was just to borrow a cup of sugar or use the phone.

    • by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:43PM (#32270490) Homepage
      Along those lines I have read legal descriptions of real estate plats with all kinds of stuff in them. They are supposed to be verbose, boring descriptions like:

      A PARCEL OF LAND LOCATED IN THE STATE OF CA, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, WITH A SITUS ADDRESS OF 915 REAL ESTATE ST, LOS ANGELES CA 90010-3531 C059 CURRENTLY OWNED BY HOUSER HOMER J AND LOTS ROSE M AND HAVING A TAX ASSESSOR NUMBER OF 5090-012-034 AND BEING THE SAME PROPERTY MORE FULLY DESCRIBED AS TRACT # 8076 AND DESCRIBED IN DOCUMENT NUMBER 1020134 DATED 03/22/2003 AND RECORDED 04/14/2003.

      I have seen ones, approved by the permit people no less, with instructions to the 'bat cave', lyrics from Pink Floyd, and all kinds of weird junk.

    • by Tapewolf (1639955) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:43PM (#32271190)

      I recall that a common graphics viewer those cool new GIF files (among many other formats) wrote that if you continued using their software after 30 days without paying then a demon would be visited by demons who would torment you.

      Graphics Workshop had something like this. In fact:

      If you want to see additional features in Graphic Workshop, register
      it. If we had an Arcturian mega-dollar for everyone who has said
      they'd most certainly register their copy if we'd add just one
      more thing to it, we could buy ourselves a universe and retire.

      Oh yes, should you fail to support this program and continue to
      use it, a leather winged demon of the night will tear itself,
      shrieking blood and fury, from the endless caverns of the nether
      world, hurl itself into the darkness with a thirst for blood on
      its slavering fangs and search the very threads of time for the
      throbbing of your heartbeat. Just thought you'd want to know
      that.

      ...If I remember correctly, you could get a discount if you sent the author a photocopy of the cover of his novel.

    • This company had you agree that if you violated the terms of the license (fairly loose - basically use it like a book, only one copy running at a time, as I remember) in any way, the ownership of your immortal soul passed to them, with the understanding that anytime that a demon showed up they could pass it along to said demon or its assigns for any use (eternal torment, consumption as wine ala Screwtape Letters, etc) desired by the new owners.

      I was an adult, had a job, and never bought (mainly because I

  • by georgewilliamherbert (211790) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:32PM (#32270400)

    One of my schoolmates released some software with a custom license, which was basically the old-form original UC Berkeley BSD license with a restriction prohibiting any use by persons in "Country Code F", defined as (paraphrasing from memory):

    "France, Belgium, Quebec, Sengal, Ghana, Did we mention France?"

    I think it was bad experiences with language classes in high school, but I'm not sure.

  • D&R license (Score:3, Funny)

    by j0nb0y (107699) <jonboy300@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:39PM (#32270456) Homepage

    The D&R license doesn't require anyone to die... you just have to be dead to use software under it. The license even specifies how this is to be accomplished. You're allowed to tell your heirs to use the software on your behalf after you're dead.

    The really puzzling clause is the revocation clause, which not only allows the licensor to revoke the license, but proclaims that the licensor WILL revoke the license, and then the heirs will be punished "to the fullest extent of the law." I believe a court would only find liability for usage AFTER the licensor revoked, regardless of the drafter's intention.

    Another strange clause seems to say that ghosts and angels are not considered dead for purposes of the license. Pure silliness, of course. What court would claim jurisdiction over angels and ghosts? Certainly not a human one. And an inhuman one is not likely to respect software licenses. The drafter made a big mistake here in failing to define ghosts and angels. These words are just begging for a legal definition.

    I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

    • Your heirs are living beings. The EULA explicitly states that no living beings may use the software as-licensed. This clearly results in a vicious cycle in which your descendants are punished in perpetuity. I'm guessing the US budget deficit operates under a similar EULA...
  • Reminds me of this Eddie Izzard riff: (pardon the length)

    "Cake or death?" That's a pretty easy question. Anyone could answer that.

    • "Cake or death?"
    • "Eh, cake please."
    • "Very well! Give him cake!"
    • "Oh, thanks very much. It's very nice."
    • "You! Cake or death?"
    • Uh, cake for me, too, please."
    • "Very well! Give him cake, too! We're gonna run out of cake at this rate. You! Cake or death?"
    • "Uh, death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake, sorry. Sorry..."
    • "You said death first, uh-uh, death first!"
    • "Well, I meant cake!"
    • "Oh
  • "Would the software license [orig.: 'my country'] die for me?"

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:43PM (#32270492)
    Hey, some of us zombie programmers like to keep the code within a nice small circle. It's kind of a undead pride to release some code under the kill and kill-a-like license. Although the PCL's* don't usually understand the brotherhood that we zombies have, we can usually get those spineless incorporeal asses in HR to back us up. But it's not like we're elitists or a specifically close-minded group. We welcome wight web-masters, c/c++ cadavermen, matlab mummies, ZZT-oop zombies, go ghouls, and scripting skeletons. They're all welcome under my licenses.

    *Pointy Crowned Liches
  • by turgid (580780)

    I saw this once on the intertubes:

    I am willing to die to prove that my god exists!!! Are you willing to die to prove that he doesn't!

    So it's all well and good.

    • Wow! That sort of quote is the quintessence of the median of American theological debate.

      Since the probability of the first happening is vanishingly small (at least for the moron who spouted it), and the probability of the second higher than the first (at least in this country), being rational, I'd tend to say no to the second. However, that still is not a proof of God's existence (or non-existence). A greater willingness to die stupidly does not a proof make.

      Of course, being a heathen (and somewhat snar

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      I'm willing to eat a tasty cupcake to prove your god doesn't exist. It may not be as dramatic as dying, but it is every bit as effective a proof! :)

  • I hope it's for a daemon...
  • Many years ago, a friend of mine came up with the term "thereware". As in "if it's there, you can use it".
  • by fishexe (168879) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:53PM (#32270586) Homepage
    ...."the design, construction, operation or maintenance of any nuclear facility." That's in Sun's EULA. For real.
    • by fishexe (168879)
      err...."in the design, construction...."

      There's my /. posting fail for the day.
    • by Shados (741919)

      A -lot- of commercial software have that in their licenses. So many, in fact, that I find myself wondering if there aren't laws in some first world countries that force that to be in there somewhere unless you have specific certifications.

    • by parlancex (1322105) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:24PM (#32270946)
      Windows server licenses have similar articles stating the OS is unsuitable for realtime applications, such as nuclear reactors. I don't know how they reconcile that with Windows for Battleships exactly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rahvin112 (446269)

        You don't think Windows for the Navy actually runs the mission critical systems like the reactor do you? Regardless, every system on the modern navy has a manual control system, not that you can actually hit a target with manual fire control as was proved many times during WWII, but the controls are there just in case you want to fire 1000 shells and only hit the target once.

        • by fishexe (168879)

          You don't think Windows for the Navy actually runs the mission critical systems like the reactor do you?

          I thought everything mission critical in the military had to be written in Ada?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fishexe (168879)

        I don't know how they reconcile that with Windows for Battleships exactly.

        I think that's a moot point, because nobody uses battleships anymore. [wikipedia.org]

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Windows for Battleships is specifically certified for such applications.

        It's just like the operating systems that run the equipment on fighter jets - they are very thoroughly tested and cleared by the military first.

        Unlike some oil companies I know, which buy the most expensive product then trust the vendor to tell them how awesome it is even though all their employees are screaming about how it runs slower and with fewer features than the 30 year old tech they were using before. *twitch*

    • by JamesP (688957)

      Well, thank god, really

      I wouldn't want a java program controlling a nuclear facility!

      Or better, I wouldn't want the average java programmer making a java program that will control a nuclear facility.

      • by fishexe (168879)

        Or better, I wouldn't want the average java programmer making a java program that will control a nuclear facility.

        Yeah, but that provision means even drawing up a rough preliminary schematic on a drawing program written in Java is verboten. And I believe I found that gem in the JRE EULA, so all common users have to agree to it, not just developers. But you can always get around it by switching to OpenJDK, so beware!

    • Don't forget about the infamous NBC weapons clause in iTunes's EULA:

      You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

      The reality distortion field will not be weaponized!

      • by fishexe (168879)

        You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

        That's a really stupid way for them to word that provision. What if you work at a DoD lab or Northrup Grumman and you like to jam out while you work?

    • ...."the design, construction, operation or maintenance of any nuclear facility." That's in Sun's EULA. For real.

      According to James Gosling, its there for good reason; to paraphrase: "During the early days of Java there were some guys getting support from Sun for a nuclear simulator. After some long discussions, they found out they were using it for the operation of a nuclear power plant. Sun and their lawyers wanted no part of anything like that, just in case."

  • Somewhat related is one of my favorite fortune cookies:

    NOTE: No warranties, either express or implied, are hereby given. All
    software is supplied as is, without guarantee. The user assumes all
    responsibility for damages resulting from the use of these features,
    including, but not limited to, frustration, disgust, system abends, disk
    head-crashes, general malfeasance, floods, fires, shark attack, nerve
    gas, locust infestation, cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis, local
    electromagnetic disruptions, hydraulic brake syst

  • My family and a few select friends that I believe to be better people than myself.

    I would like to think I would give my life if it meant saving more that one person. As Spock said (which probably came from someone else I'm sure): The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few or the one.

    There are several constraints on these things of course, and in reality if it comes right down to it, I would probably not have the courage to do so, even if I think I do now while I'm not facing the decision directl

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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