07 February 2007

About hacks and licenses

Quietly sometime in the last 2 months, I switched my CC License to something more strict than what the community of hackers and those who implement these hacks, is used to. Usually you see a 'Attribution/Non-commercial/Share Alike' license, if there is a license. I went a step further and believe a little explanation, and attention directing is required to all my respected readers :)

License and rules

My license is a Attribution/Non-commercial/No derivative Creative Commons 2.5 license. This specifically translates to:

  • Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by me.
  • Non-commercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
  • No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work

With the added caveats:

  • For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.
  • Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

The second caveat is the key here. My license doesn't aim to stop use of my work. It aims to 'make' people let me know about any and every use of my work, so that a) I know exactly where all my work is going and how many people are using it (to gauge popularity), and b) I can attribute and link to useful derivative or creative uses of my work. It is really as simple as that. So, along with my rules, there are a few general rules that everyone must follow.

Attribution is something that every hacker deserves, especially after the work they put in to develop their hacks, no matter how easy or simple they might seem. A lot of thinking and time goes into every hack, to make it easier for 'you' as users to implementWe might not succeed all the time in making them easy, but we do try :P. So as a personal request, whenever you implement a new hack on your blog, whether someone else's or mine, make it a point to at least make a post about it with a link backThat link will show up on the hack page's backlinks, so that's a good way of getting traffic to your blog as well!, or if you are really generous, add in a link to the author's post wherever the hack is visible (for eg. with the widget if the hack is like my Asynchronous Labels widget). This way, the hacker will show up on more people's radars, and get the recognition for good work that he deserves :)

Secondly, never use a hackers work for your commercial purposes without due attribution and permission. We make sure every license has the 'Non-commercial' clause, because we make our hacks for free, for the betterment of the community (and a little recognition as well :P). We don't mind you using it one bit, it's meant for you. But making money off of it, without anything coming back to hackers, is not only rude, but rather unfair! I am not asking you pay money to the hackers for your commercial use. That can be negotiated with hackers individually. Most people who implement our hacks aren't commercially blogging anyway (let's face it, they'd rather get professional coders to get their job done), but selling hacks and codes if they aren't yours, isn't the right thing either.

Share alike/No derivative is rather a Grey area, which should be left to individual hackers' discretion. Share alike opens up the work for other people to freely use to develop their own content, as long as they follow the same license. This might/might not cause the new work to attribute any derivation from the old work, which is again unfair since without the original work, the new work wouldn't have been there. This is where the 'No derivative' license does the trick. It forces people to ask for permission before starting their work. This makes sure the author knows that his work is being used. No author will want to hamper productivity and creativity, so the permission will usually fall through as green, but at least this way the author knows how his work is being used.

It can get hard to keep track of scripts and other content that bloggers/hackers come up with. Licenses help us to know exactly where everything is going. So please, respect the license. It's there for a reason. At the end of the day, there is practically nothing stopping you from using a piece of code you like which is on the Internet. If it's visible, you can take it. And we will not come knocking at your door with lawyers (CC let's us do that by the way) if we find you breaking our license. Atleast I won't. But, your adherence to it will enable hackers to generate more quality content, and with confidence that their work will not go unappreciated and wrongly/not credited.

We all like a little encouragement now, don't we? :) As always, thanks for the co-operation and support.

More on this

Mine and yours too - Ecmanaut's Johan posts about licensing
Why blogger's should blog with CC license
Creative Commons


9 comments

cyberbuff said...

well, it dint work for me :( . do I have to remove the other code you gave at the DLTP post?

Aditya said...

Yes. It's a replace-with code. Remove all the original content, and follow the new instructions :)

Efendi said...

say, this CC thing, supposedly someone, use it, and altered/modified it, but then he/she did not tell you, how do you handle this ?

if he/she refuse to remove the modified code, did he/she get sued ? even if they are in a different country ? how is the law-strength to this situation ?

and if someone used the idea, not the code, does it considered as a violation to your CC ?

Aditya said...

Alteration and modification for personal use is allowed. If a person alters the code to derive a new hack, we'll find out whenever it is released (I always go through a hacks code, to see how it's been done, if I don't get it at first). I would then ask them nicely, and if they didn't comply, use my license and the rights it gives me the way I see fit.

I have already said I will not sue them (although CC allows this trans-country). But I'm sure it'll be considered rude and wrong by the community if the person releases a derived hack, and doesn't attribute it to the original work. It's then up to the community to treat it as wrong or right.

CC is not for the idea, but for the code. You cannot license an idea, just the way it's been executed. I will admit to taking quite a few ideas (you can see them in a lot of places on this blog), but I haven't taken the code. I've executed the idea in my way, which shouldn't bother someone else.

A lot of it depends on the conscience of the person who takes someone else's CC'ed code. Like I said, if it's there, you can take it. It's 'how' you take it that makes the difference, and I'm sure someone who disrespects someone elses effort by breaking his terms, will not be held in high regard by the community!

I have said I will never deny permission to use my code. So if someone wants to use it, please let me know, and I'll gladly link to it if it improves or builds upon my work :)

Leon said...

This is a very good post Aditya. Most of my blogs are by-nc-nd. I am writing up an explaination of my cc this week with emaphasis on the nd and what it means in my blog directory.

Singpolyma said...

Not a horrible idea, but annoying for those of us who have built off your code in the past... I'll try to remember to ask permission in the future! ;) I like Johan's ideas really, and mostly use them in practise. I just keep byncsa on there in case someone really abuses it :)

Aditya said...

Hehe! I don't remember you building off my code in the past Steve. And even if you have, have I ever said anything to you about the license?

No, because you've always made it a point to attribute my part in your hacks, which is basically the point a license. Attribution is pretty much the key here.

And I've already explained the 'ND' part, so I won't do it again.

I knew this post would stir up something, because licensing has always been a touchy thing (we never know where the boundaries are), but I don't mean to say that I don't want people using my work. That'd be just stupid now, wouldn't it? :)

Insta-reaction to the ND clause is a "Well, that makes this blog worthless to me. Too bad.". (Glad you cleared that up, though, and your comment to Stephen is especially good.)

I believe many hackers with me find people placing legal tabs on their creativity best kept at (wouldn't-poke-on-that-with-a-)stick's length distance.

Love your comments sub-template; especially the permalink bit is the most stylish I've seen. I'd smack a title attribute onto the up link, though, making it somewhat less puzzling that it doesn't have any particular relation to the comment itself. (One on the author link won't hurt either, but those are at least strikingly apparrent.)

Aditya said...

“I'd smack a title attribute onto the up link”

Done! :)

I know, the ND clause, without the proper background information makes things a little dicey. Which is why I made it a point to make this post, and now will add a link to it with the license disclaimer at the bottom.

And the commenting template. Hehe! There are a few who find it confusing, but I like it! Adds something different :) So thanks!