Software should be used for good, not evil

By SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, 29 December 2009, 07:25 Hrs   |    7 Comments
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Bangalore: Google, which had developed 'don't be evil', as its corporate motto, is avoiding use of an open-source license variation that rejects the use of software for evil purposes. This issue popped up at Google Code, a site that hosts open-source projects from Google and others.

Google only permits software governed by a limited list of widely used open-source licenses to be hosted at Google Code; one that is permitted is the MIT License. Douglas Crockford, a Senior JavaScript Architect at Yahoo picked a variation of the MIT license for his JSMin program to shrink JavaScript programs so that Web browsers can download them faster.

JSMin-PHP was being used till it came to the notice of Chris DiBona, Google's open-source honcho, that the software's license had an extra requirement added to the regular MIT License. Reacting to this Ryan Grove, a Web Developer wrote on his blog, "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil. As Google (and some others) interpret it, this additional requirement constitutes a vague use restriction and thus makes the license non-free. Chris [DiBona] explained that if I were to remove that line from the license and 'return to a proper open source license that we support,' then jsmin-php could stay on Google Code. Otherwise, we can't host you. Of course, I can't change the license, because it's not my license. It's Douglas's license. All derivative works and copies of jsmin.c either include this license or are in violation of it."

Consequently, Grove moved JSMin-PHP to the GitHub collaborative programming site. "If you currently have a project on Google Code that is derived from or includes jsmin.c, you might want to consider migrating to a new host with less restrictive policies," added Grove.

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