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126 votes
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How can a "crayon" license be a problem?

There are several issues: License proliferation - The more licenses we have floating around, the more work everyone has to do to understand them. Case law for one license will not necessarily apply ...
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47 votes
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Is illegally obtained GPLv2 software still subject to the terms and conditions of the GPL?

The Free Software Foundation thinks not. From the GPL FAQ: If someone steals a CD containing a version of a GPL-covered program, does the GPL give the thief the right to redistribute that version? ...
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46 votes
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Does open source qualify as being part of the public domain?

In a copyright context, public domain is a term which means the set of creative works not under copyright, because the work's copyright has either expired, never existed (such as U.S. government works)...
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34 votes

Is illegally obtained GPLv2 software still subject to the terms and conditions of the GPL?

The usual caveat: IANAL/IANYL. That said, a statement of intent is not usually considered a binding undertaking, and stolen goods are stolen goods. A licence does not inhere in software, it is ...
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34 votes
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Embedding GPL code in proprietary software

When your code contains (or links to) GPL licensed code, then the GPL license requires that you distribute your application under the GPL license. The GPL does not require that you distribute your ...
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33 votes

How can a "crayon" license be a problem?

In addition to the excellent (and accepted) answer posted by Kevin, I want to point out the following: It is sometimes argued that having license behaving predictable in a court of law only matters ...
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33 votes
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Why doesn't this GPL loophole work?

ArtOfCode's answer correctly describes Carol's situation relative to Alice's code: violation of Alice's original license (which is not the GPL) and therefore infringement of Alice's copyright. The ...
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32 votes
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Are open source developers at risk of being scammed?

I am not aware of this "scam" and am not aware of the issue being raised with the Open Source Initiative or other organizations promoting Free and Open Source Software (Free Software Foundation, ...
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31 votes

Does open source qualify as being part of the public domain?

The Public Domain in the US means the copyright of something is owned by nobody, and cannot be owned by anybody. Open source is a license model. The creator of the software holds the copyright, and ...
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29 votes
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What can/should I do when I see a violation to GPL restrictions?

If you do not own the copyright on the software whose license is being infringed: It is not up to you to prove there was a GPL violation. It is not up to you to enforce the license of software for ...
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26 votes

Can I change the caps to lowercase in licenses?

Programmers.SE has a similar question: Can I remove all-caps and shorten the disclaimer on my License? Tim Post's answer (which he says was derived from advice from a lawyer) says: The caps allow you ...
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25 votes
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What happens if I share code online without any licence declaration?

In that case copyright applies. In most countries, certainly in Europe, this is an automatic process: you publish something, and even without you adding the copyright symbol, you get the copyright. ...
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23 votes

How can a "crayon" license be a problem?

Developers inside big corporations (and perhaps even smaller ones) have lawyers and managers dictating them conditions for using (professionally) external free software. A "crayon license" is very ...
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22 votes
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Legal wording to exempt bug fixes to open-source framework from NDA?

To a very real extent, this is always going to depend on there being good faith between the parties. If working with someone I knew and trusted, I'd be happy with a clause along the lines of Fixes ...
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19 votes
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What happens if very common code is released under GPL?

German law has something named 'Schöpfungshöhe', which Wikipedia refers to as 'Threshold of originality'. If no sufficient level of originality or effort is reached for the works, it cannot be ...
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19 votes
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Am I in danger if a project component is relicensed?

The important thing to know is that they (almost certainly (*)) cannot retroactively change the license of the version that you are using. They can change the license to new versions they release. So, ...
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18 votes

Are open source developers at risk of being scammed?

The fact that the software is open source doesn't change anything about the contract that the developer has with their client. If the developer has done the work, the client owes the money. Contracts ...
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18 votes
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Why are you obliged to comply with the license of an anonymous project?

In order to sue you for copyright infringement, the authors need to reveal their identity. But just because they prefer to stay anonymous now doesn't necessarily mean that they will stay anonymous in ...
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18 votes
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Borrowing ideas rather than code from open source projects

If you have not copied the code directly, this sort of thing is usually OK, and exempt from copyright laws. Specifically, mathematical formulae, ideas, inventions, recipes and facts cannot be ...
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18 votes
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How much is "substantial portion" in MIT licence?

Substantial portion is a legal term. Its exact definition will depend on jurisdiction, be subject to interpretation and possibly including subjective analyses. When in doubt, ask a lawyer. To err on ...
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  • 8,463
17 votes

What happens if very common code is released under GPL?

Copyright protection only comes into play when an actual copy has been made of a work. If two people write a "hello world" program independently of each other, then both programs are protected by ...
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16 votes

What can/should I do when I see a violation to GPL restrictions?

The first step in any legal issues is to notify relevant people. Initially, you should notify the copied project's owner. Since you weren't part of the team, you don't know whether the owner made an ...
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16 votes

Have open source licenses been shut down in court?

Just for the record: Mattel didn't buy CPHack, CPHack was not released under GPL (but under an home-made variation based upon the GPL - a so-called "crayon" license), and no attempt to "unlicense" the ...
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  • 8,645
16 votes

Is it OK to remove the license terms for a code snippet?

If the code snippet is is authored by user, then adding the GPL just means that it is dual licensed under the GNU GPL as well as CC BY-SA (the default licence applied to all content posted on SE). ...
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16 votes

Is illegally obtained GPLv2 software still subject to the terms and conditions of the GPL?

I think the problem here is at a more fundamental level than the GPL. The GPL does not force you to publish your code under the GPL. It is still the right of the copyright holder to decide whether ...
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16 votes
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Why GitHub is not opensource when it's use Git that has GPLv2 license?

The GPL does not forbid you from using GPL'ed software. It requires something far more specific: if you modify the GPL'ed software and publish your modifications, then you can only publish under the ...
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16 votes

Is there a good license for a libertarian programmer who's against intellectual property?

Anyone may use the software for any purpose they choose ... However, no one may place any type of restrictions on my software Your basic problem is that these are self-contradictory aims. In the ...
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16 votes

If you distribute GPL-code as non-GPL, can the receiver redistribute it as GPL?

GPLv2 is clear about this: I have to release the whole program as GPLv2 if I want to distribute it. That would be the FSF's position, at least. It is clear that if I don't, I am subject to lawsuits ...
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16 votes
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Hypothetical conflict - incorrectly licensed code

You are right in your assessment: Widget Tech has a problem as it will need to replace the illegally-used library with something else. It may not be eligible for damages if you cease to do so ...
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