Steal this blog

This blog represents my personal opinions only and has nothing to do with my paid employment; I don’t make any money from it, and never expect to. I’ve done a lot of work related to software licensing as part of the Mozilla relicensing project and when I worked at CollabNet. As a result of enduring endess wrangling about licensing terms I’ve been put off complex licensing schemes, and prefer to make my own works available under very liberal terms.

For my writings I typically use the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. For software I prefer use of the MIT license as being the most simple and easy-to-understand license in common use, and the one least likely to cause issues for others who want to reuse my software. Note that there are some minor exceptions to the above for older works. However if for some reason you want to reuse one of my works under a different license just send me a request; I’ll almost certainly grant you whatever permissions you require.

One thing I’ve noticed with Creative Commons, open source and free software licensing is that many people don’t seem to take the licenses at face value, but are always asking questions about what they can and can’t do, even when the issue is directly addressed by the license itself. Here’s a mini-FAQ intended to forestall such questions:

  • Do I need to ask your permission before I do something with your writings or your software? No, you do not. However I’d appreciate it if you’d send me an email message if you find anything I’ve created to be of enough interest to you that you’re motivated to redistribute or reuse it; that will help motivate me to keep creating new stuff.
  • What sort of things can I do with your writings or software? Pretty much anything you’d like to: You can redistribute my writings or software to anyone you wish, use my software for any legal purpose, translate my writings to other languages, make various modifications to my writings or software and redistribute the modified works, create your own works that incorporate portions of my writings or software, and so on.
  • Can I use your writings or software in commercial products like books, newspapers, magazines, or proprietary software? Yes, you can, and you don’t have to pay me a cent. However if you’d like me to enhance something I’ve written or create new related material then I might be willing to do that for a fee, depending on the nature of the project and whether my work situation permits me to do so.
  • Can I replicate your blog posts in my own feed aggregator or on my ad-supported web site? Yes, as long as you comply with the license terms. See also the answer to the previous questions.
  • If I use your writings or software in creating my own works, what do I need to do in order to comply with your license terms? Not much at all: If you use brief extracts then you don’t need to do anything at all; this includes quoting material in blog postings, magazine articles, books and other contexts that would traditionally be considered fair use. (However both common courtesy and scholarly tradition would dictate that you attribute the material to me.) If you redistribute entire articles or source code files, or incorporate substantial portions of them in your own work, then the license terms require that you provide appropriate attribution and otherwise comply with the minimal terms of the licenses in question. For typical references to my writings (e.g., in your own blog posts) you can simply reference my name and provide a link to my original page or pages.