COMPSCI 92L Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Viral License, Conditionality, Copyleft

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11 May 2016
Spring 2016
Programming and Ethics of Software Licensing
When we create a web app to display a randomized list of classmates’ birthdays, we can
code a set of instructions in PHP, which makes requests to the server, and then outputs
this request to the webpage.
East Coast, West Coast open source code
East Coast - don’t tamper with copyright code
West Coast - open to reusing open-source software in other programs, “new
Similar to copyright issues in music, where artists will remix, mashup and cover
prior recorded works (ex. Ice Ice Baby Baby, Vanilla Ice got sued for copying
someone else’s work)
bits/atoms, digital copying
It is possible to remix analog music
Linus Torvalds created an intersection between coding as a philosophical art (Richard
Stallman) and coding as a business model rather than ethical/software (Cathedral)
Definition of open source:
Free redistribution - can’t force someone to use it, nor can you prevent the sale
of open source code
Source code - must be available, cheap or free
License to modify, redistribute
Integrity of source, must be patchable, versioning
A code patch is inserted into software code to fix bugs and are used in
between major software updates. They are usually available as Internet
downloads and can be free or sold cheaply.
No discrimination against persons or groups
No discrimination against fields of endeavor
Distribution “no strings attached,” no further licensing
License not bound to whole, part redistribution is ok
No further restrictions
Technology neutral - can’t prefer one operating system over another
Copyleft license - viral, requires redistribution to be the same or similar whereas free
licenses have no downstream restrictions
GPL - Gnu public license, major open-source software database
Copyleft - right offered to users to freely distribute work with the assumption that the
original protections are retained at each level of distribution
Viral license - allows derivative works only when modified versions of the original work
are embedded into the new work; pejorative term describing copyleft systems
Applies specifically to GPL licenses
GPL is viral? Threat to intellectual property
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